Social Responsibility Tops ASC Agenda at Seaweb Conference
February 3, 2016
Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) Standards & Certification Coordinator Iain Pollard gave attendees at the SeaWeb Seafood Summit in Malta an overview of the social welfare provisions in the ASC standards during a pre-conference workshop.
The Summit is sponsored by Seafish, and is billed as the world’s premiere conference for those dedicated to creating an environmentally, socially and economically sustainable marketplace for seafood. The annual event features a host of panellists from across the seafood industry.
During the Seafish Social Responsibility in Seafood Workshop, Iain provided an overview on accreditation and certification. He also discussed the governance of the ASC, with a focus on social accountability, the reduction of negative community impacts and scheme development.
Worker and community rights integral to ASC certification
The ASC Farm Standards on Worker & Community Rights are primarily based on the United Nations International Labour Organisation (ILO) conventions relating to child labour, forced labour, discrimination, health and safety, working hours and remuneration. The standards help farms set better salaries for workers, encourage employee development, improve safety on the job and promote both community rights and basic human rights.
To achieve and retain certification, the ASC requires site visits by a qualified and experienced social auditor tasked with evaluating each farms’ approach to the rights of workers and the community.
The process also includes a series of interviews to assess compliance in a number of areas, including community consultation, neighbourly consideration and conflict resolution. Direct observation and reviews of documentary evidence are also conducted.
Transparency plays a critical role in the process, as every audit report is posted on the ASC website to allow for public scrutiny and comment before a farm achieves final certification.
Farms report significant social improvements
Farms that have achieved ASC certification report a variety of operational and economic benefits.
When asked to name the most valuable aspects of meeting the ASC standards, 100 per cent of farms surveyed reported improved social conditions as a top advantage of certification. Among these same respondents, 88 percent described improved employee conditions and a 100 per cent believe that ASC certification has led to better community relations.