Members of the Global Roundtable on Marine Ingredients were very active in 2023, with a strong focus on West Africa. There is a momentum, and we want to make the most of it to catalyze action. Our involvement in an FAO workshop in Ghana in December 2023 was a turning point in both our understanding of the salient challenges and our engagement with local communities. I see a huge potential to progress the situation locally.
Árni M. Mathiesen
In December 2023, the Global Roundtable on Marine Ingredients is composed of 14 Members, covering the whole marine ingredients value chain and committed to an annual membership fee.
The Secretariat is run by the two co-founding organisations, Sustainable Fisheries Partnership (SFP) and IFFO – The Marine Ingredients Organisation, in close coordination with the Independent Chair, Arni Mathiesen, former Assistant DG at FAO.
In 2023, the Global Roundtable welcomed a new Member: Mars Petcare.
(5th October 2023) This human rights impact assessment (HRIA) was conducted in Senegal and Mauritania (July and September 2022, January 2023) to better understand the situation on the ground, and to link the impacts in the small pelagic fish value chain in Senegal and Mauritania with the United Nations’ business and human rights framework.
Overall, the HRIA identified a number of actual and potential human rights impacts associated with small pelagic fisheries in Mauritania and Senegal, including the rights to a healthy environment, adequate standard of living and labourrights. These impacts apply to different rights holders in different ways and were found at a range of scales including artisanal and industrial fisheries and various steps in supply chains. In Mauritania and Senegal, the report found that small scale fishers and supply chains have been displaced and food security undermined by the growth of the FMFO sector. Most importantly, the HRIA highlighted that a responsible small pelagics industry has much potential to positively impact human rights of the local population: bringing stability to the fisheries in this region can support economic growth and provide a stable employment to local populations in a place where it is sorely needed.
(5th-7th December 2023)
The workshop was organized in collaboration with the Global Roundtable and the Iceland Ocean Cluster. It brought together 50 representatives of the local communities, governments, private sector actors, research institutions and relevant professional and interest organisations. Presentationsincluded the Mauritania Fishery Improvement Project and the Partner Africa Human Rights Impact Assessment as well as presentations by artisanal organisations and women fish processors. The participants reached a consensus based on nine points, which include the recognition that the socio-cultural context in Western Africa is very important and the level of reliance on aquatic food consumption varies across between countries. It enables to understand the trade-offs between fish for human consumption vs fish for animal feed. The joint conclusions also stress that the marine ingredients producers and importers should be made to respect existing legislations and to share information as requested. A responsible fishmeal and fish oil industry can play a role in Western Africa if valorising fish that cannot be destined to direct human consumption. At the same time, states should put in place policies that encourage direct human consumption of small pelagics. A report of the workshop, with summaries of all the presentations, will be published in 2024.
“Fishmeal and fish oil production taking place in West Africa is not up to global standards, despite efforts being currently undertaken by Mauritania’s authorities to better regulate the sector. The Global Roundtable wants to be part of the solution to issues raised by local communities. To achieve this, collaboration between governments and private actors must be strengthened, based on a clear understanding of everyone’s responsibilities”.
“Publishing the Track the Fish report represents a step forward for the seafood industry for human rights due diligence. Market pressure is a very powerful way to drive positive change. It creates an enabling environment in which regulators feel confident to act. Regulators are among the standards setters who hold the key to improvements being tangible and lasting”.
“A responsible fishmeal industry has a role to play in West Africa, using responsibly sourced raw materials that have no direct human consumption market, such as fish by-products, as well as some fish which are not considered suitable by the food industry.”