ERS Blog

The QMS Ethics, Responsibility and Sustainability Blog 

The QMS ERS Blog exists to share information on our educational activities, research output, and societal engagement in relation to ethics, responsibility and sustainability in a fast, informative and accessible way.   

In addition, the ERS Blog allows us to provide updates on our progress in relation to the implementation of PRME, as well as discuss how our work supports the advancement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Blog Post

Author: Lauren Patricia

So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish: Modern Slavery within Seafood Supply Chains

Big fish is bigger industry than ever before; global fish consumption per capita more than doubled between 1961 and 2015 according to FAO figures. With this huge growth comes concerns for ensuring that the fish we eat is ethically produced and not harming the world around us. In seeking sustainable seafood, one may find themselves confronted with dozens of questions and few clear answers. These questions may include:

  • Which has a greater impact on the environment, farmed or wild-caught fish?
  • Is the fish farm polluting the local area or introducing invasive species?
  • Is the species overfished or the regional source depleted?
  • Is the fishing method causing wider ecological impacts, such as the accidental capture of dolphins and turtles or destruction of sea-beds?

Now there’s another question for ethical seafood lovers to ask themselves:

  • Is my choice contributing to modern-day slavery? 

Today’s consumers are generally aware of environmental issues within the seafood industry, brought to light through schemes such as Dolphin-Safe labelling, campaigns including Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s ‘Fish Fight’ launched in 2010, and media reports on stock crises such as the North Sea cod collapse of the mid-2000s. 

However, growing media attention is now being paid to the previously hidden social impacts of the seafood industry, which employed an estimated 56.6 million people globally in 2014. These claims span all oceans and affect numerous products, from cat-food to sashimi. Investigations over the last few years have found exploitation of migrant fishermen on Irish boats, human trafficking within the Thai shrimp supply-chain, and Southeast Asian fishermen living in squalor on-board boats in Hawaii. Exploitation hotspots have been revealed within the supply chains of wild tuna and farmed shrimp, with a focus on Southeast Asia and international fishing fleets; Asia represented 75% of the world’s fishing fleet in 2014. According to research by the Global Slavery Index, between 2011 and 2016 ‘76 percent of migrant workers in the Thai fishing industry had been held in debt bondage and almost 38 percent had been trafficked into the Thai fishing industry in that time-frame’. The focus of this post is the tuna industry due to the huge media interest surrounding it.

We cannot ignore that sea fishing is demanding and dangerous work. The United States’ 2016 ‘Census of Occupational Industries’ as reported by Time listed ‘Fishers and related fishing workers’ as the second most dangerous profession in the States, with 86 fatal injuries per 100,000 people. Whilst global figures are not available, risks may be higher still outside of the US and onto the high seas where boats operate beyond scrutiny. Beyond the inherent risks in fishing are the human risks of abuse and exploitation, which mar the industry with another black mark.

By Lauren Patricia, BSc Business Management student at Queen’s Management School.

Click here to view the full document

Read more Read less

Author: Laura Steele

QMS: Our Commitment to Ethics, Responsibility and Sustainability (ERS)

In 2017, Queen’s Management School became a signatory to the United Nations backed Principles of Responsible Management Education (PRME) initiative. PRME was founded in 2007 as a platform to raise the profile of sustainability in universities around the world and equip today’s business  students with the understanding and ability to deliver change tomorrow. Over the last decade PRME has grown to encompass over 650 signatories worldwide, who regularly work together to advance the Six Principles underpinning the initiative. 

These include creating educational frameworks, materials, processes and environments that enable effective learning experiences for responsible leadership, as well as interacting with managers of businesses to extend our knowledge of their challenges in meeting social and environmental responsibilities. 

In addition to our work in relation to PRME, we are also placing an increasing focus on how our teaching, research, and engagement activities can support the UN Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs). The 17 SDGs, which form part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, were adopted by world leaders in 2015 and officially came into force on 1 January 2016. The aim of the SDGs is to encourage countries to focus their efforts on ending all forms of poverty, fighting inequalities, addressing climate change, and ensuring that no one is left behind. 

The objectives of the SDGs – and indeed PRME – are undoubtedly ambitious. In order to achieve them, or even come close, as many institutions, organisations and individuals as possible need to play a role. At QMS we recognise our responsibility in this regard. While our membership of the PRME community is relatively new, our commitment to ethics, responsibility and sustainability is long-standing and steadfast. One example of how we address ERS within the School is through our portfolio of modules.  In some cases this takes the form of analysing ERS issues within the context of a subject such as supply chain management, financial accounting, or behavioural economics. Alternatively, there are a number of dedicated modules, such as undergraduate Business Ethics, which requires final year students to analyse and report on real world organisations that have arguably failed to uphold their ethical obligations. In addition, the 2018-2019 academic year will see the introduction of a new postgraduate module on Business Governance and Ethics that will blend theory, research and professional practice to advance the knowledge and skills of participants.  

We look forward to sharing our work in relation to ERS through this new blog. In the meantime, if you would like more information please contact the QMS ERS Champion, Dr Laura Steele.

Read more Read less

Queen's University Belfast is committed to Equality, Diversity and Inclusion.
For more information please read our Equality and Diversity Policy.

Queen's University Belfast is registered with the Charity Commission for Northern Ireland NIC101788
VAT registration number: GB 254 7995 11