Steps by Australia’s Supermarket Chains

People often ask me, “How can I be sure that I am not supporting slavery?” It is a good and earnest question without a simple answer. The name of the report of the Government into Modern Slavery was “Hidden in Plain Sight” and that is exactly what this major organised crime is. We see it but we don’t recognise it; we eat it but we don’t taste it; we wear it but we don’t feel it; we use it but we aren’t personally abused by it. Yet it will take of us, Governments, business, civil society, consumers and unions working together to end it. 

 

So, what about seafood? We are pretty lucky in Australia, in general our domestic fishing and seafood industry is well relatively regulated and managed in terms of both the environment and labour. We can always do better and must protect these standards from decline. As a recent1 article in Nature entitled “Modern Slavery and the Race to Fish” highlights the following; 

Much additional work is required to quantify the prevalence of labour abuses and modern slavery in seafood capture, aquaculture, processing and in the seafood supply chain. Generating comprehensive and accurate estimates of the prevalence of modern slavery in the fishing industry and seafood supply chain will not be easy, as fishing vessels rank among the world’s most inaccessible workplaces. However, like the challenge of enforcing environmentally more benign fishing practices, it is an obstacle that must be overcome. 

70% of seafood Australian’s consume (by weight) is imported. The Australian Government has a country of origin food labelling system, which commenced on 1 July 2016 and has been fully implemented from June 2018. All food must be labelled with the country of origin and contact details of the food supplier. If it isn’t labelled, then ask who their supplier is and contact the supplier and ask them where it is sourced from. This approach is particularly useful in smaller seafood sellers. 

 

The bigger supermarket have been addressing the environmental questions for a long time and are now picking up the labour issues. Basically, they are pretty good at tracing their supply chains and if and when slavery is found; they have policies to work with their suppliers to address it. They are all using slightly different approaches with a very similar same end result. 

 

Aldi 

Aldi uses the Future Fish logo on its seafood, which means that the product has been independently certified as sustainably fished, responsibly farmed, or sourced from a fishery that is actively improving the conservation of wild fish populations. The Future Fish logo means that it has been certified as sustainable by one of the independent certification schemes Aldi accepts. 

You can trace any tuna that you buy in ALDI. All you need to do is enter the ‘FAO’ number printed on the top of each can to find out more detailed information on the where the fish was caught and go to the webpage of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization . All of  canned tuna is now fully traceable to the area where it was caught 

 

Coles 

All Coles Brand seafood is responsibly sourced. This includes seafood available at the deli, canned Coles Brand tuna in the grocery aisle and frozen Coles Brand products such as fish fingers. This includes wild-caught and farmed seafood. Their seafood comes from fisheries and aquaculture farms that have been independently assessed. They use either the Marine Stewardship Council or Coles Responsibly Sourced Seafood labels according to the method they have been certified under. 

 

Woolworths 

Woolworths and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Australia have recently partnered to further improve sustainable sourcing of their seafood. The collaboration will see WWF-Australia assess all of Woolworths’ Own Brand seafood on shelves and at the seafood counter using WWF’s independently developed methodology, and implement standards of traceability to make it easier for customers to choose sustainably produced seafood. 

 

Carolyn Kitto, carolyn.kitto@stopthetraffik.com.au Co-Director STOP THE TRAFFIK Australia.