It’s Human Rights Day. But what does that have to do with seafood?
Do you know what the most translated document in history is? It’s not any religious holy book, and it’s not an ancient masterpiece like The Art of War, and believe it or not, it’s not even Harry Potter.
All of the above have been translated countless times, but not as many as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which is available in more than 500 different languages. That answer might surprise you, but it’s a reflection of just how important this document is, and today (10 December) it is celebrating its birthday.
It was 10 December 1948 that the Declaration was adopted by the newly formed United Nations (UN), and it proclaimed the inalienable rights that every human being is entitled to, no matter who they are or where they are (we told you it was important).
All human, all equal
As a result, every 10 December is Human Rights Day, a chance to celebrate this achievement but more importantly reflect on what more can be done to ensure that the rights enshrined in the Declaration are actually enjoyed by everyone on earth.
Every year’s Human Rights Day has a different theme, and the 2021 theme is ‘All human, all equal’. Equality is at the heart of human rights, but it is also a vital ingredient of strong and resilient societies. The shadow of Covid is still looming over the world, and the emergence of new variants is a reminder that the unequal global distribution of vaccines could have far-reaching consequences. More generally, ensuring societies are equal removes grievances and reduces the likelihood of conflicts.
Human rights and seafood
But what does this have to do with ASC, or seafood generally? Well, food production doesn’t exist in a vacuum – it can have many direct and indirect consequences, including for the human rights of people around the world. Protecting the environment is one of our fundamental passions at ASC, but we’re just as determined to improve the social side of the seafood industry, and you might be surprised at just how much crossover there is between responsible seafood and Human Rights Day.
As you might have guessed, that also means that what food you choose can help (or hinder) the spread of human rights around the world.
ASC certified seafood and equality
Here’s how ASC is helping to support the fight for greater equality and freedom from discrimination…
All of ASC’s standards include social requirements that forbid any kind of discrimination of farm workers and also require positive interactions with local or indigenous communities. This might not seem like much when it comes to fighting global discrimination, but it’s these small steps that can effect more widespread change.
Inequalities are always brought to the fore when dealing with crises and reducing them means the world is better prepared to deal with the challenges of tomorrow. Aquaculture is a hugely important industry and employer in many developing regions, and the seafood supply chain also employs a lot of women in these regions. This helps to improve economic realities and reduce inequalities: but only if it’s done responsibly. Damaging the environment only leads to bigger inequalities further down the line, and only farms that treat their workers and neighbours with respect can truly help to reduce inequality.
Climate justice, human rights, and ASC seafood
But it’s not just about economic or political justice. Many protestors made clear at the recent climate conference that the impacts of climate change will not fall equally. Developing nations will bear the brunt of these impacts, making it even more important that we do everything we can to mitigate them, and support the people on the front line of this crisis. Climate justice goes beyond that, though, and means treating the environment with respect, protecting habitats and natural resources for future generations.
Only farms that are environmentally sustainable and socially responsible can become ASC certified. They must minimise their impacts on water and seabed quality, their use of medications, monitor their energy use and only use feed from responsible and sustainable sources. Farms are just one part of how we impact the environment, but climate justice requires that we all do our part. Which brings us on to…
How you can help
Your shopping choices are a small action when compared with the challenge of international human rights, but a lot of small actions soon add up. Responsible seafood farming can help to reduce inequalities and protect human rights. By choosing ASC certified seafood you are fighting for human rights by rewarding those farmers who are already acting responsibly, and that could encourage more farmers to follow suit.