SEA Alliance Statement to the Press – Urgent action needed by countries to ensure minimum labour standards in fishing are met says major alliance of retailers and seafood businesses

26 April 2023

At Seafood Expo Global in Barcelona, the Seafood Ethics Action Alliance called on countries to make progress on crucial international labour agreement.

The Statement to the Press read:

The SEA Alliance – a group of 31 leading UK retailers and seafood businesses, that have come together to ensure the prominence of human rights and labour standards as a consideration in developing truly sustainable seafood supply – is urgently calling on labour ministers of key seafood sourcing countries to make progress in ratifying and implementing the ILO Working in Fishing Convention (C.188).

Despite being in force since 2017, C.188 has so far only been ratified by an extremely limited number of countries. This critical international agreement aims to protect the rights of fishers and ensure that they are working safely. It sets out binding minimum requirements relating to occupational safety and health, rest periods, written work agreements, and social security protection, as well as providing for regulation of the recruitment process and investigation of complaints by fishers. With only a few countries having ratified the convention, many workers in supply chains for SEA Alliance member companies are not yet covered by these essential protections.

Spain, a major supplying country for international seafood markets and host of this year’s Seafood Expo Global, became the 21st country to ratify the Convention earlier in 2023. Now the SEA Alliance is calling on other countries to urgently follow suit, in order to provide a basis for effective regulation and enforcement of minimum labour standards in the global fishing sector.

The SEA Alliance attended the Global Seafood Expo in Barcelona, not only to advance advocacy efforts around the ratification of C.188, but also to drive forward action amongst its membership and other companies. The Alliance convened a meeting of retailers, seafood businesses, trade union representatives, and NGOs to launch the development of a set of powerful, co-designed commitments that will be refined and finalised over the next 12 months, alongside its existing work programme.

The commitments will focus specifically on advancing human rights and labour standards in seafood supply chains. Once finalised, they will provide a clear anchor-point around which retailers and seafood businesses can coalesce in a joint mission to play an impactful role in safeguarding the rights of fishers and other workers in their seafood supply chains. The commitments will provide a clear framework for ongoing action and progress reporting across the SEA Alliance membership, and beyond – with the Alliance hoping to engage a wide range of businesses internationally to strengthen this mission.


As a collective voice the SEA Alliance will in specific instances support and engage with advocacy initiatives. The SEA Alliance will also make statements and respond when there are concerns about ethical issues in the supply chain.

These advocacy initiatives will always be supported by the great majority of SEA Alliance participants but they do not necessarily represent the views of every participant organisation on every occasion.

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