GLOBEFISH - Information and Analysis on World Fish Trade

Vigo Dialogue on decent work in fisheries and aquaculture

02/10/2018 - 02/10/2018

Decent Work for Human and Labour Rights: Towards Social Responsibility in the Seafood Industry

2 October 2018  Vigo, Spain 


Fish is one of the world’s most traded food commodities with millions of people depending on fisheries as a source of jobs, income and livelihoods. In 2016, FAO data indicates that 59 million people were directly engaged in the primary sector of capture fisheries and aquaculture. 

Numerous international and national initiatives are now calling for increased social responsibility and improvements of social and labour conditions in fisheries value chains. Such initiatives are increasingly supported by governments, non-governmental organizations, industry, certification schemes and international governmental organizations and agencies.

In particular, the media has highlighted cases of labour rights violations and human rights abuses, found to take place at different stages of the fisheries’ value chain – especially in fish harvesting, farming and processing stages.

As a result of the increased awareness, industry associations, labour unions and policymakers have undertaken initiatives aiming to address current weaknesses, seeking remedies and improving performance through increased monitoring, transparency, traceability and certification.

Scope and Programme 

The COFI Sub-Committee on Fish Trade (COFI:FT) has a specific mandate to promote social sustainability in fisheries value chains, mainly the recognition and protection of human and labour rights in national and international value chains, and to collaborate with international partner organizations – such as International Labour Organization (ILO), United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and others.

FAO: Progress made and next actions 

FAO Member countries through the COFI:FT session in 2017 recognized the complexity of addressing social issues relative to human and labour rights in fisheries value chains, recommending that FAO collaborate with interested partner organizations and stakeholders to develop a guidance document to assist fish value chain actors. This should seek to improve the implementation of existing instruments and measures that encompass responsible business conduct, human rights and international labour standards.

At its thirty-third session in July 2018, the FAO Committee on Fisheries (COFI) decided that the guidance on social sustainability should be developed in cooperation with relevant stakeholders, including industry and fish worker associations, building on experience from the development of the OECD/FAO – Guidance for Responsible Agricultural Supply Chains. This would help improve the sector and move towards the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The role of the 2018 Vigo dialogue

This year's 2018 Vigo Dialogue will focus on measures for social responsibility in the fisheries and aquaculture sector as strategic approaches to combat abuses of human and labour rights in fish value chains. The overall objective is to facilitate an open discussion to enable feedback and inputs from stakeholders in order to address the challenges and complexity of this topic.

In particular, the Dialogue will focus on the mandate from COFI on social responsibility and the process and roadmap for the guidance development and stakeholder involvement. The final outcome of the guidance development process will be presented to COFI-FT in 2019 and COFI in 2020.

This event is arranged by FAO and will take place during the 20th International Frozen Seafood Exhibition organized by CONXEMAR in Vigo, 2-4 October 2018. 

For further event details see below: 

Time and venue:  October 2nd from 10:00-12:30 at the Vigo Fair (IFEVI), room “Carlos Casares” (Floor 2B) 

Languages: English/French and Spanish interpretation will be provided 

Web streaming: The live webcast of the 2018 Vigo Dialogue will be shown at this link: 

Discussion: We also encourage participants to send any questions or share their experiences in their efforts of advancing decent work in their fisheries value chains here:

Provisional agenda: Agenda 

See below for more in-depth information on the topics presented during the 2018 Vigo Dialogue. 

Documents -Panellist Presentations 

Share this page