July 5, 2021
GAA: Three-year study concludes with recommendations to strengthen BAP social, labor standards
The findings and recommendations of a three-year impact assessment gauging the effectiveness of the social and labor requirements of Global Aquaculture Alliance's (GAA) Best Aquaculture Practices (BAP) third-party certification programme were unveiled last month.
Contracted by GAA in 2018, Netherlands-based KIT Royal Tropical Institute set out to better understand how BAP standards are applied in practice and to determine how they affect practices among farmers, processors and buyers.
Focused on Indonesia, Vietnam and Chile, the 70-page study involved an analysis of audit results and in-depth interviews with employees throughout the seafood supply chain. The study's recommendations will be used to further strengthen the BAP standards and to improve compliance with the standards.
Birgitte Poulsen, a member of the GAA Standards Oversight Committee, said: "The independent impact assessment of BAP's social clauses is a milestone in understanding how audit-based certification can increasingly become a tool for social change. While certification may, in the past, have been mostly about compliance, we need to realise certification's potential contributions to systemic changes that protect workers and prevent harmful and exploitative working conditions. I think this study provides great insights that are relevant beyond BAP and probably also beyond the seafood sector."
Among the study's findings were:
- Social and labor practices are continuously monitored and evolving in certified facilities, and most companies made major changes to comply with BAP standards;
- Attention was increased on due diligence and ensuring compliance, especially through improved monitoring systems;
- Workers note clear improvements around well-being related to shifts and regulations on workers time. This alleviated stress for employees;
- In Vietnam, improved practices were perceived to lead to higher staff retention levels and lower occurrence of accidents;
- The BAP certification is seen as a long-term investment in economic sustainability and way to demonstrate compliance with key legal frameworks;
- The certification did not necessarily lead to higher profitably directly but expanded market access.
Based on the study's findings, the authors offered 11 recommendations on what BAP can do to further strengthen the BAP standards. These recommendations include improving compliance; monitoring, remediation and promotion of sustainable seafood productions and consumption; and ensuring that BAP audits maintain high levels of credibility in the future.