GAA To Exclude Outsourcing Of Shrimp Processing To Prevent Labor Abuse

The Global Aquaculture Alliance’s Best Aquaculture Practices (BAP) third-party certification program on Dec. 15 took a stand against child labor and forced labor in the shrimp supply chain by prohibiting BAP-certified processing plants from outsourcing the processing of shrimp to third-party entities. The prohibition will take effect Jan. 1, 2016.

The decision to prohibit the practice follows reports of child labor and forced labor in the shrimp supply chain, specifically at peeling and heading “sheds.” A shed refers to a seasonal, temporary processing plant that operates independently and is unregistered and unlicensed. Licensed facilities that operate as part of a larger processing plant are not included in the prohibition.

Click here for a PDF of frequently asked questions regarding GAA’s Dec. 15 announcement.

“Our experience over many years with farmed shrimp is that most of the peeling and heading of shrimp is conducted at well run processing facilities, and it is only during infrequent periods of peak supply from farms that outsourcing takes place. The current BAP processing plant standards require facilities that outsource their peeling or heading operations to maintain appropriate controls over the environmental, social and food-safety practices of those outsourced operations. But obviously it would be far better if these processing steps were conducted in-house,” said GAA Executive Director Wally Stevens. “Accordingly, we will prohibit BAP-certified facilities from outsourcing their peeling and heading operations, effective Jan. 1, 2016.”

BAP is the world’s only third-party aquaculture certification program with seafood processing plant standards; no other aquaculture program addresses the outsourcing of processing to a third-party entity. The BAP standards are comprehensive, encompassing the entire aquaculture value chain, from hatcheries and feed mills to farms and processing plants.

GAA takes very seriously allegations of child labor and forced labor in the seafood supply chain, and allegations of non-compliance can trigger an unannounced audit, in addition to routine annual audits. Since its inception in 1997, GAA has proactively addressed issues such as social justice by working with stakeholders to find practical solutions that can be implemented effectively and continuously improved over time.

GAA is fully committed to social justice as one of the pillars of its responsible aquaculture program. BAP-certified processing plants, farms, hatcheries and feed mills are required to meet standards for adequate wages, a safe and healthy working environment and prevention of child labor and forced labor. The BAP program is based on third-party audits by independent certification bodies to ensure compliance with the BAP standards.

However, the prevention of child labor and forced labor can only be accomplished with the cooperation of all stakeholders — industry, the marketplace, government and non-governmental players promoting labor rights. Third-party certification programs like BAP are a key component of the solution. But the eradication of child labor and forced labor will not be achieved without the consistent enforcement of labor laws by local officials.

About GAA
The Global Aquaculture Alliance is an international, nonprofit trade association dedicated to advancing environmentally and socially responsible aquaculture. Through the development of its Best Aquaculture Practices certification standards, GAA has become the leading standards-setting organization for aquaculture seafood.