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SSCI and GSSI public consultation on At-Sea Operations Social Benchmarking Criteria. Marking a significant milestone in a two-year partnership, The Consumer Goods Forum’s (CGF) Sustainable Supply Chain Initiative (SSCI) and the Global Sustainable Seafood Initiative (GSSI) are pleased to launch a public consultation on their jointly developed social compliance criteria under the At-Sea Operations scope of the SSCI benchmark. The criteria, developed by industry leaders, experts and stakeholders from SSCI and GSSI, cover social and scheme management requirements specifically for third-party social compliance schemes evaluating At-Sea Operations in the seafood sector.

SSCI and GSSI welcome comments from the public as part of their commitment to engaging multiple stakeholders, upholding transparency and building trust in certification standards. All stakeholders are invited to partake in the consultation until August 31, 2020 on the SSCI website where they can view benchmarking documents and leave comments. Feedback can also be emailed to ssci@theconsumergoodsforum.com.

This milestone comes at a critical moment, as the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has clearly put a light on the various social sustainability risks that exist within the complex global supply chains. The seafood industry is particularly concerning: as one of the largest sectors in the world, employing 260 million people, and with existing concerns ranging from operational health and safety to forced labour, it was already one of the most at-risk industries from a sustainability perspective prior to the COVID-19 outbreak. The pandemic has the potential to make the situation worse for those already vulnerable to poor working conditions; in the seafood industry, these workers are the ones not only in direct employment but also in less visible levels of the supply chain—especially those employed in the informal economy and migrant workers—where the social safety net may be lacking or altogether absent.

As the COVID-19 continues to spread and impact the world, the SSCI and the GSSI’s shared concern for social sustainability in the seafood industry continues to grow as well. With the effects of the pandemic threatening the income security, working conditions and personal health of these already vulnerable individuals, now is a critical time to act. In a pandemic, a sustainable seafood industry—one that protects natural spaces, reducing the risk of further outbreaks, and keeps working environments clean and healthy – is essential for slowing the spread of disease, speeding up recovery, and building back stronger.