Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is the Seafood Slavery Risk Tool?

The Risk Tool rates the likelihood that forced labor, human trafficking, or hazardous child labor is occurring on fishing boats in a fishery. Ratings are not produced for countries. Evidence from credible media and authoritative institutions and civil society organizations is evaluated according to the Risk’s Tool criteria to determine a profile fishery’s rating. A fishery can be rated critical, high, moderate, or low risk. Read Methodology for more information. 

Who is the intended user of the Risk Tool? 

The Risk Tool was primarily created to give businesses in the seafood and financial industries credible information about the risks of forced labor, human trafficking, and hazardous child labor in the at sea portion of seafood supply chains, so they will engage with suppliers and other stakeholders to improve conditions. Of course, producers, NGOs, consumers, and other groups that have an interest in promoting sustainable seafood and human rights are welcome to use the Risk Tool. Read What Businesses Can Do

What evidence is used to generate ratings? 

Ratings are generated exclusively from credible, open-source information. Sources may include media reports and investigative journalism, publications by inter-governmental organizations, government reports, NGO reports, and academic and think tank publications. The Risk Tool collects and organizes the available evidence and reveals where information gaps exist. 

Does the Risk Tool produce a risk rating for countries? 

No. Ratings are not produced for countries, but country-level information informs the Risk Tool’s rating of a profile fishery. For example, the profile fishery may be scored high or moderate risk if evidence of abuse exists in fisheries in the country. Country-level information also is evaluated to determine if protections are in place and enforcement is effective with respect to forced labor, human trafficking, and hazardous child labor. The Risk Tool’s country criteria do not constitute a complete analysis of law enforcement effectiveness in a country. 

Does the Risk Tool produce ratings for fish farms/aquaculture and seafood processing facilities? 

No, not yet. The Risk Tool currently evaluates the risk of forced labor, human trafficking, or hazardous child labor on fishing vessels. We hope to increase our capacity so that we can evaluate the risks in aquaculture and seafood processing in the near future. However, evidence of forced labor, human trafficking, or hazardous child labor in a country’s seafood processing, forestry, agriculture, and aquaculture industries may be examined as indicators of risk for the at sea portion of a fishery. See the Seafood Slavery Risk Tool’s conceptual model to view which pathways trigger an examination of related industries. Read Methodology

Why does the Risk Tool look at seafood processing, forestry, agriculture, and aquaculture as an “indicator” of risk?

Currently, the relatively limited research and investigation in this field could mean credible evidence about a fishery or a country’s fisheries doesn’t exist yet. During the two-year development of the Risk Tool, human rights experts advised that it have a precautionary indicator of risk when there’s no or limited evidence. They noted the absence of evidence doesn’t necessarily equate to low risk.  

As related or similar renewable resource industries, seafood processing, agriculture, forestry, and aquaculture were selected. The Risk Tool’s decision tree prompts an examination of these related industries when there’s credible evidence in fisheries and the country criteria have been met OR when there’s no evidence in fisheries, but the country criteria have not been met.  

Why? Forced labor, human trafficking, or hazardous child labor in these related industries can be an indication that abuses at sea are occurring undetected, of how well protections for workers and children are being implemented and enforced, and/or how pervasive human rights abuses may be countrywide. See the Seafood Slavery Risk Tool’s conceptual model to view which pathways trigger an examination of related industries. Read Methodology

Does the Risk Tool use evidence of illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing to rate a profile fishery’s risk of forced labor, human trafficking, or hazardous child labor?  

No. If a country has been cited with a red or yellow card for inaction on IUU fishing by the European Union, that citation is factored in the assessment of a country’s regulatory effectiveness. However, IUU fishing is not used as a criterion by itself to rate the level of risk. In some fisheries, an explicit link between IUU fishing, human trafficking, and forced labor is clearly documented. Indeed, human trafficking and IUU often are caused by the same or similar underlying issues such as lack of enforcement and diminishing profitability caused by depleted fish stocks. However, we don’t know if these illegal practices are closely linked in all fisheries around the world. Until more research and analysis is available from more fisheries, using evidence of IUU fishing as an indicator of forced labor, human trafficking, or hazardous child labor in a fishery could lead to unreliable conclusions.

Does the Risk Tool assess the number of days at sea, transshipping, distance from shore, and IUU fishing when determining risk ratings?  

No, not at this time. Long periods at sea far from landtransshipping, and IUU fishing have been linked to increased risk of human rights abuse, but it’s uncertain how much these practices increase the risk. That said, our analysts are recording the number of days at sea, when known, where the fishery takes place, and if transshipping occurs in a fishery. We’re also tracking alleged and confirmed IUU fishing.These data are being compiled with an eye towards a future, quantitative analysis that examines the relationship between these practices and the risk of forced labor, human trafficking, or hazardous child labor.

Do I still need to conduct due diligence? 

Yes, absolutely. The Risk Tool’s fishery profile ratings can inform a company’s due diligence process, but it cannot replace robust due diligence and supply chain management practices. Read What Businesses Can Do

Will the tool affect Seafood Watch ratings? 

The Risk Tool will not affect Seafood Watch ratings. Unlike Seafood Watch’s environmental ratings, the Risk Tool doesn’t make recommendations about what should or should not be purchased.

Does the Risk Tool assess other aspects of social responsibility in seafood like equal pay or food security? 

No. There are many aspects of social responsibility in fishing, ranging from human rights abuses to discrimination and food security. Kittinger et al. (2017) created a framework for social responsibility in seafood that outlines three essential components: 1) protect human rights, dignity, and access to resources; 2) ensure equality and equitable opportunity to benefit; and 3) improve food livelihood security. Many nonprofit, governmental, academic, and international aid organizations are working to address various issues along the spectrum of social issues in seafood.  

How can I submit information about a risk rating or fishery? 

We value feedback from all users, and we’ll evaluate and use any publicly available, evidence-based information if it’s deemed credible. Information can be submitted via Contact Us.