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Governance and Standardization in Fish Value Chains: Do They Take Care of Key Animal Welfare Issues?


This article discusses the extent to which Global Value Chain (GVC) governance may lead to animal welfare (AW) improvement and help to alleviate animal suffering in food producing chains. Our approach relied on scrutinizing two of the most used compulsory certification templates which are enforced by major buyers to their suppliers in order to assure responsible activity in the farmed fish chain (GlobalG.A.P. certification scheme) and in the wild-captured fish chain (Marine Stewardship Council—MSC). Since fish may experience intense suffering in regular activities involved in catching, maintenance, transport and management, we analyzed whether those instruments can contribute to improve the welfare of fish. Although positive outcomes may be expected in aquaculture production, serious welfare issues regarding wild-capture fish are brought to the fore and preliminary action is proposed. We present recommendations for improving the positive impacts of such certification schemes in GVCs and argue that sustainability-driven standards (MSC) could also embrace more AW-focused criteria in order to contribute with reducing unnecessary animal suffering in the fish chain.

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This research did not receive any specific grant from funding agencies in the public, commercial, or not-for-profit sectors.

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GGR conceptualization, methodology, writing—original draft, writing—review & editing, visualization, supervision. CFMM validation, writing—review & editing. APOS methodology, formal analysis, writing—original draft, writing—review & editing, visualization.

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Correspondence to Germano Glufke Reis.

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Reis, G.G., Molento, C.F.M. & Souza, A.P.O. Governance and Standardization in Fish Value Chains: Do They Take Care of Key Animal Welfare Issues?. J Agric Environ Ethics 34, 30 (2021).

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  • Global value chain
  • Fish
  • Standardization
  • Animal welfare
  • Corporate social responsibility