The social impact of aquaculture
It is imperative that organisations such as the ASC provide ways to help protect the welfare of the people who work in the seafood sector and the communities who may be affected by aquaculture activities. No matter what country or company is involved, ASC certification imposes strict requirements based on the core principles of the International Labour Organisation (ILO). These include:
- Effective abolition of child labour – Child labour is strictly prohibited on ASC certified farms.
- Elimination of discrimination in respect to employment and occupation – In order to ensure that discrimination (on any basis) does not occur at ASC certified farms, employers must have an official anti-discrimination policy, a policy of equal pay for equal work, and clearly outlined procedures to raise, file and respond to a discrimination complaint.
- Elimination of all forms of forced or compulsory labour – Forced labour such as slavery, debt bondage and human trafficking is a serious concern. All ASC certified farms must ensure that workers’ contracts are clearly articulated and understood, that they are fairly paid, and are able to leave employment at any time without threat to their financial and personal wellbeing.
- Freedom of association and the effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining – Having the freedom to associate and bargain collectively is a critical right of workers because it enables them to engage over issues such as wages and other working conditions.
As a supporting member of the GLWC Action Network, ASC is committed to alignment on living wage definitions and measurement and to supporting the production and use of high quality living wage estimates.
Certification to the ASC standards also helps ensure:
Health and Safety at farms
Farms must provide safe environments and workplace health and safety training. When an accident happens, it must be recorded and investigated thoroughly and preventative measures taken. Employers must also prove they are insured to cover 100 per cent of workers costs when a job-related accident or injury occurs.
Fair wages and contracts
Farms must demonstrate they are working toward paying a basic needs wage, not just meeting minimum wage, by sharing a transparent mechanism for wage-setting and a labour conflict resolution. Additionally, contracts must ensure transparency between the employer and employee and cannot be used to avoid paying benefits or to deny other rights.
A farm must respond to concerns that arise in communities located near the farm and to concerns related to the farm’s overall operations, including indigenous communities.
Fair grievance and disciplinary procedures
Companies must have a clear labour conflict resolution policy in place for the presentation, treatment and resolution of worker grievances in a confidential manner. Additionally, a certified farm shall never employ threatening, humiliating or punishing disciplinary practices that negatively impact a worker’s physical and mental health or dignity. Wage or financial deductions as a means of disciplinary action is also unacceptable.
Equality in aquaculture
Women’s engagement in aquaculture is plays an important role in the sector. But although women account for large percentage of total workers, they frequently see less return than men for their work.
Women are essential to the aquaculture industry. WorldFish explains that “women have a vital role in fisheries and aquaculture — as fishers, fish farmers, processors and traders.” Most women work in post-harvest roles, including 90 percent of jobs tied to processing in developing countries.
It can be tough trying to be a socially conscious consumer – there is a lot of information out there but it’s not always obvious what you can trust. But at least your choice of farmed seafood can be a simple one – just look for the ASC logo!
Learn about seafood farming
How are mussels farmed, does farmed salmon have Omega 3, and what are the environmental impacts of seafood farming? Explore seafood farming topics.
Why choose ASC?
Seafood lovers choose ASC labelled seafood because it’s good for you and good for the planet.
What’s for dinner?
Browse our collection of delicious recipes featuring ASC labelled seafood.