The Global Aquaculture Alliance (GAA) carried out an unannounced audit at the Narong Seafood Co. Ltd. shrimp processing plant in Samutsakorn, Thailand, in mid-June. As a result of the audit, the organization recommends that the plant maintain its Best Aquaculture Practices (BAP) certification.
The BAP third-party certification program has a rigorous grievances procedure in place. Allegations of non-compliance can trigger an unannounced audit after an annual audit is conducted. In a June 6 report, Warehouse Workers United and the International Labor Rights Forum alleged that Narong Seafood mistreated its workers.
Two auditors were dispatched to inspect the Narong Seafood plant between June 14 and 17. During daytime and nighttime hours, the auditors interviewed dozens of employees to attain first-hand knowledge of the working conditions, checked the company’s records back to January 2012 and gathered more than 300 pages of objective evidence.
After more than 30 hours at the plant, the auditors found no evidence at the time of the audit substantiating the severe allegations cited in the June 6 report. Additionally, during the audit the auditors found no evidence that previous BAP audits conducted by the certification bodies had been compromised in any way, as alleged in the report.
The auditors did find a number of non-conformities in the plant. However, these constituted isolated instances rather than systematic problems. The BAP program requires that all certified facilities correct any deficiencies and provide objective evidence verifying this in order to maintain BAP certification. Narong Seafood’s BAP certification is valid through October 2013 providing that the deficiencies are corrected within the required time frame.
GAA said it is committed to promoting social responsibility through its BAP program. In total, the BAP processing plant standards contain 48 clauses related to worker safety, health and employee relations.
Processing plants and farms certified against the BAP standards must ensure a safe, healthy working environment. The BAP standards also address wages and other terms of employment and the use of child and forced labor. The BAP program is based on independent third-party accredited certification body audits evaluating compliance with the BAP standards.