Committing to Socially Responsible Seafood

A new paper titled “Committing to socially responsible seafood” published in Science highlights the need for ocean science to evolve to address the social challenges in the seafood sector.

Authored by Conservation International (CI) and leading researchers in the field, including contributions from Ocean Outcomes, the paper is a response to recent investigative reports by the Associated Press, New York Times, and the Guardian which highlighted social abuse in select seafood supply chains.

“The scientific community has not kept pace with concerns for social issues in the seafood sector,” says Jack Kittinger, CI’s Senior Director, Global Fisheries and Aquaculture and the paper’s primary author. “The purpose of this initiative is to ensure that governments, businesses, and nonprofits are working together to improve human rights, equality and food and livelihood security. This is a holistic and comprehensive approach that establishes a global standard to address these social challenges.”

According to CI, the paper “identifies three key principles that together establish a global standard for social responsibility in the seafood sector: protecting human rights, dignity and respecting access to resources; ensuring equality and equitable opportunities to benefit; and improving food and livelihood security.”

The paper’s abstract can be seen below and the full article can be found on

Committing to socially responsible seafood

Seafood is the world's most internationally traded food commodity. Approximately three out of every seven people globally rely on seafood as a primary source of animal protein (1). Revelations about slavery and labor rights abuses in fisheries have sparked outrage and shifted the conversation (2, 3), placing social issues at the forefront of a sector that has spent decades working to improve environmental sustainability. In response, businesses are seeking to reduce unethical practices and reputational risks in their supply chains. Governments are formulating policy responses, and nonprofit and philanthropic organizations are deploying resources and expertise to address critical social issues. Yet the scientific community has not kept pace with concerns for social issues in the sector. As the United Nations Ocean Conference convenes in New York (5 to 9 June), we propose a framework for social responsibility and identify key steps the scientific community must take to inform policy and practice for this global challenge.