The Commissioner has been working closely with Seafish, a non-departmental public body set up to raise standards across the seafood industry in order to tackle slavery, as well as others in the fishing industry.
The Commissioner has directly addressed key businesses in the seafood industry with whom he will work with to develop prevention models. One in particular is Seafish, whom the Commissioner has worked with to encourage action and steps to tackle modern slavery within their supply chains.
The Commissioner has supported Seafish on the revision of their Responsible Fishing Scheme (RFS) – a voluntary programme certifying ethical practices on fishing vessels – which now includes requirements to ensure that there is no forced labour on accredited vessels. The RFS is the only programme certifying crew welfare as well as responsible catching practices on vessels. Seafish hopes the scheme will be available for future roll out internationally.
Further to this the Commissioner has been working to enhance the ability of law enforcement to tackle labour exploitation in the fishing industry in UK and Irish waters, through the establishment of the North Atlantic Maritime Project with the Santa Marta Group. The project has led to increased operational activity and brought improved communication and collaboration by linking key partners from law enforcement, the private sector, and civil society including Police Service Northern Ireland (PSNI), An Garda Síochána, Police Scotland, Seafish, Immigration Enforcement, the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the Gangmasters Licensing Authority (GLA).
The Commissioner has also been supporting the Apostleship of the Sea (AoS), a charity offering pastoral and welfare support to seafarers to improve the care and support of victims of labour exploitation at sea. The Commissioner developed a leaflet with AoS to publicise available services to those in need in ports across the UK.