Navigating responsibility for human rights compliance in the fishing industry

Julia Cirne Lima Weston, Ingrid Kelling*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


The surge in visibility of human rights abuses within the seafood supply chain has propelled scrutiny into the sustainability of global fisheries, leading to heightened interest in the social performance of seafood companies and questioning the obligations of States in upholding human rights under international law. This review aims to bring clarity on where responsibility for ensuring compliance with human rights law lies within the context of the fishing industry. It provides a comprehensive analysis of international legal provisions related to the human rights of fishers, derived from both treaty law and State practice. To effectively address human rights and labor abuses, a transformative approach that prioritizes the wellbeing of workers over profit is needed, involving the implementation of participatory strategies, empowering workers and the cultivation of shared responsibility. Despite the proactive role played by the private sector in developing global standards, the review uncovers inherent limitations in relying solely on certifications for comprehensive human rights protection. The study concludes that international human right law unequivocally applies to fishers, with States primarily responsible for enforcement. As enforcement remains a challenge in the maritime context, particularly on the high seas, the burden for solutions should rest on a collaborative effort within the international arena to ensure a sustainable and ethical future for global seafood.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages16
JournalReviews in Fisheries Science and Aquaculture
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 18 Apr 2024


  • Labor
  • Inteernational law
  • States
  • Participatory approaches
  • Due diligence


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