Impact of Fair Trade Fishing: Every Purchase Matters
Have you ever wondered how your purchasing decisions impact the livelihoods of other people and regions? Buying fair trade certified products takes the guesswork out of it. Thanks to strict standards developed by leading industry experts, your purchase of Fair Trade CertifiedTM tuna helps to empower fishing communities while also protecting fragile ecosystems.
Hayunan Wangse is a 35 year old fisherman from the village of Waepure on Buru Island, Indonesia. He started fishing yellowfin tuna after his uncle took him fishing 14 years ago. He flies a kite with a fishing lure that mimics a flying fish on the surface; this handline method of catching fish helps to reduce bycatch (non-target species captured during fishing) and the minimal gear helps to avoid habitat destruction. As part of the Fair Trade certification process, Fisher Associations (like the one he belongs to) must collect a variety of information about their catch in order to inform science-based management decisions and avoid overfishing. Environmental compliance must meet independently audited standards in addition to social compliance standards which ensure that fishermen operate under internationally-recognized fair working conditions that protect fundamental human rights. This is a welcome development to coastal regions like Indonesia where peoples’ livelihoods depend on sustaining this important resource. Hayunan counts himself lucky to be fishing for a living, he says "It feels like my hobby".
However, not all fishermen are as lucky as Hayunan. The fishing industry employs more than 50 million people worldwide, but International Labor Organization (ILO) studies have found that people in this sector are often exposed to challenging and risky conditions. Some of the more serious incidents of abuse can include forced labor and human trafficking.
Purchasing Fair Trade products helps empower fishermen like Hayunan and ensure they receive fair compensation for their labor. For every Fair Trade Certified tuna sold, fishermen receive an additional Community Development Premium—10 percent of the dock-side price—which they can collectively invest in much-needed projects that improve the welfare of the community. According to Hayunan:
“The Fair Trade program has really helped us as a small fishing group. The use of Premium funds is discussed by the entire group, and decisions are made by everyone, for example to develop health facilities or scholarships for education.”
Safeway is committed to responsibly sourced seafood and is on track to meet its 2015 goal to ensure 100% of its fresh and frozen private label brands are responsibly caught or farmed. Earlier this year, Safeway launched an exclusive retail partnership with Fair Trade USA to bring the world’s first Fair Trade certified tuna from Indonesia. This product debuted in Safeway’s Northern California, Portland, and Seattle divisions. However, it has now expanded to at least 17 states and includes other banners such as Acme, Vons and Pavilions.
Offering Fair Trade tuna in new markets has increased the number of fishermen, like Hayunan, who enjoy the benefits of Fair Trade certification. As of June 2015, there are now 514 fishermen—a 5x growth from the original 106 fishermen at the start of the program. Twenty one NEW Fisher Associations are now registered as part of the Fair Trade program, with the reach spreading to 16 villages. So far, these Fisher Associations have received more than $30,000 from Fair Trade premiums. In the village of Waipure, these premiums were used to build a water tank and two hand washing facilities for the village. Other regions have used funds to purchase metal garbage receptacles for the community, or compasses for the fishermen to navigate their way back to land.
Learn more at Fair Trade USA about how your Fair Trade certified purchases matter, and be sure to join their upcoming promotional contest on social media. Take a photo of the Fair Trade tuna and post it on social media using the hashtag #FairSeafood for a chance to win a $50 gift certificate at participating Safeway, Acme, Vons, and Pavilions stores. Check out Fair Trade USA’s official contest rules for more information.