Agadir Dialogue on: “Traceability and Socially Responsible Fisheries and Aquaculture Value Chains”

Fish and fishery products are among the world’s most traded commodities with about 35 percent of global fish production (live-weight equivalent) entering international trade. For many developing countries, trade in fish and fishery products from capture and aquaculture combined, represents a significant source of foreign currency earnings, employment, value addition and food security.

In light of an increasingly globalized environment, the inherent complexity of fish and fish product supply chains and growing concerns over environmental issues and sustainability, traceability has a great significance to key stakeholders along the supply chain. Aside from its explicit role to comply with food safety and quality requirements, traceability is witnessing a notable expansion in its role in addressing concerns related to Illegal, Unregulated and Unreported (IUU) fishing, seafood fraud and social responsibility.

Likewise, social responsibility has become a major concern in fisheries due to cases of labor rights violations and human rights abuses, which have been found at different stages of the fisheries value chain – especially during fish harvesting, farming and processing. Like in other sectors, numerous international and national initiatives are now calling for increased social responsibility and improvements of social and labor conditions in fisheries and aquaculture value chains.

In this respect, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) with the assistance of INFOSAMAK and the collaboration of the Swiss Import Promotion Programme (SIPPO), the General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM) and the Moroccan National Federation of Seafood Processing and Valorization Industries (FENIP) co-organized the Agadir Dialogue under the theme: “Traceability and Socially Responsible Fisheries and Aquaculture Value Chains” which was being held during the 5th edition of Salon Halieutis in Agadir, Morocco on 22 February 2019.

It was attended by 30 participants representing panelists from processing and exporting companies, professional producers and exporters Associations, National and Regional Institutions, Fishermen and workers representatives and other relevant stakeholders.

The “Agadir Dialogue” was a step to facilitate effective discussions during two roundtables: one on traceability and the other on social responsibility.
The Traceability roundtable allowed participants to discuss current practices and requirements to meet traceability needs of national and international markets. Potential incentives to drive buy-in to the value of full chain traceability systems were discussed by participants, who also identified challenges and priority actions to the adoption of such systems. Additionally, the roundtable established an industry-supported learning and collaborative convening for the African fishery industry striving to engage and keep up-to-date with emerging and advancing technologies that support traceability implementation.

The Social Responsibility roundtable fostered an open dialogue with a focus on measures for social responsibility in the fisheries and aquaculture sector as strategic approaches to promote and ensure sustainable human and labor rights along the value chain.

In light of these concerns, the sixteenth session of the FAO Sub-Committee on Fish Trade placed social responsibility on its agenda for the very first time. At the thirty-third session of the FAO Committee on Fisheries (COFI) in July 2018, the Committee recommended that a guidance on social sustainability be developed in cooperation with relevant stakeholders, including industry and fish workers associations. The roundtable provided an important opportunity for all relevant stakeholders to give inputs and feedback on the FAO’s ongoing work on social sustainability in the fisheries value chain.