GAA to ‘Seaspiracy’ Documentary: Join Us On Our Responsible-Seafood Journey

Global Aquaculture Alliance (GAA) is committed to continually raising the bar on social accountability through the adoption of standards and certification demonstrating best practices in aquaculture and fisheries as well as through its pre-competitive education and advocacy work.

In light of the documentary “Seaspiracy,” released on Netflix on March 24, GAA invites director Ali Tabrizi and executive producer Kip Anderson to join the nonprofit organization’s responsible-seafood journey by participating in its upcoming discussion on social accountability as part of its series of GOAL 2021 virtual events. (Forced labor was among the topics addressed in Seaspiracy.)

Along with environmental responsibility, animal health and welfare and food safety, social accountability is a pillar of GAA’s well established Best Aquaculture Practices (BAP) standards, the first set of which (BAP Shrimp Farm Standard) was released in 2003. Developed by GAA’s independent 12-member Standards Oversight Committee (SOC), which consists of representatives of industry, academia and conservation, BAP standards are regularly reviewed and strengthened. The standards-development process is transparent, and all standards are subject to a 60-day public comment period.

GAA’s standards-improvement work is unending, as evidenced by the March 1 release of Issue 3.0 of the Best Aquaculture Practices (BAP) Farm Standard, which was strengthened to include additional social-accountability clauses related to worker safety and equality. GAA has a history of meaningful action in the field of social responsibility, including taking a stand against forced labor and child labor in the shrimp supply chain in 2015 by prohibiting BAP-certified processing plants from outsourcing the processing of shrimp to third-party entities, where labor abuse is more likely to occur.

GAA’s work also increasingly encompasses wild fisheries. (GAA will transition to the Global Seafood Alliance later this year.) GAA’s sister organization, Global Seafood Assurances, acquired the Responsible Fishing Vessel Standard from the United Kingdom’s Sea Fish Industry Authority in 2019, and in January Australian Longline Fishing’s Antarctic Discovery became the first vessel to be RFVS certified. RFVS addresses working conditions aboard fishing vessels.

While certification against sets of standards like the BAP Farm Standard and Responsible Fishing Vessel Standard demonstrate through annual third-party audits that best practices in aquaculture and fisheries are being followed, the conversation doesn’t end there. GAA provides pre-competitive vehicles for industry, academia and the NGO community to collaborate, often resulting in on-the-ground solutions to the challenges facing aquaculture and fisheries. These challenges are addressed at length at GAA’s GOAL conference (since 2001) and in its Global Aquaculture Advocate publication (since 1998). That’s why GAA is calling on the people behind the Seaspiracy documentary to take meaningful action by joining the responsible-seafood journey.

Through a stepwise approach, GAA and other reputable NGOs have worked tirelessly with industry over the past 20-plus years to continually improve the lives of the people working in aquaculture and fisheries as well as the ecosystems in which aquaculture and fisheries are practiced. Simply ending aquaculture and fishing, as the people behind Seaspiracy advocate for in the documentary, will do nothing but deprive approximately 820 million people of jobs and rob billions of people of a healthful source of protein.

About GAA
The Global Aquaculture Alliance is an international, nonprofit trade association dedicated to advancing environmentally and socially responsible aquaculture. Through the development of its Best Aquaculture Practices certification standards, GAA has become the leading standards-setting organization for aquaculture seafood.

Editor’s note: In addition to labor abuse aboard fishing vessels, mangrove deforestation is addressed in the Seaspiracy documentary, which claimed that 38% of mangrove deforestation was caused by shrimp farming. This claim is wildly exaggerated. While it’s understood that up to 60 percent of the world’s historic mangrove resource has been lost to urban development, logging and agriculture, shrimp farming represents less than 5 percent of the total, and further mangrove deforestation due to shrimp farming has virtually stopped due to regulation and education.

Editor’s note: A summary of the industry response to Seaspiracy can be found in the Global Aquaculture Advocate article “Seaspiracy film assails fishing and aquaculture sectors that seem ready for a good fight.”

Other responses to Seaspiracy:

Aquaculture Stewardship Council: https://www.asc-aqua.org/seaspiracy-why-we-believe-responsible-aquaculture-is-more-important-than-ever/

Marine Stewardship Council: https://www.msc.org/media-centre/news-opinion/news/2021/03/26/response-to-netflix-seaspiracy-film

National Fisheries Institute: https://aboutseafood.com/seaspiracy-recognizable-propaganda/

Sea Fish Industry Authority: https://www.seafish.org/about-us/news-blogs/responding-to-seaspiracy-10-reasons-to-feel-good-about-seafood-in-the-uk/

Ocean Wise: https://www.aquablog.ca/2021/03/ocean-wise-responds-to-the-seaspiracy-film/