No food safety or other clearances can be done on food products arriving in Australia until the Government biosecurity team has completed its assessments and are happy that the goods do not pose a biosecurity risk.
Product is inspected by the governments biosecurity officers following a risk based regime. This often entails multiple officers being present at an inspection and containers not being opened until government inspectors are present, a seals intact inspection. Only once product is released by Biosecurity can other checks on product be undertaken. Any product that does not meet Biosecurity assessment is re-exported.
Once product arrives in Australia it then has to meet the Australian Food Standards Code and falls under the federal government's inspection regime. This has a tiered approach to product inspection and testing based on risk.
Third Party Certification
In 2000 the major global food retailers led the push for an international benchmark on Food Safety certification. This occurred under the GFSI (Global Food Safety Initiative). Many of the global third party food safety certification schemes are now assessed as meeting the GFSI benchmark standard.
Importers now expect seafood product they buy to come from a factory accredited to a GFSI standard and ensure they obtain up to date factory certifications prior to product being shipped, as part of their supplier approval process.
Third Party Certification
With the advent of ever more powerful fishing vessels and fish finding technology in the 1970's and 80's it became important to ensure fisheries did not become overfished. So by the 1990's methods to assess a fisheries sustainability status were developed, stemming out of the Caddy checklist from FAO.
Following the food safety industry model Third Party Certifications were created and a benchmarking platform - GSSI (Global Seafood Sustainability Initiative) was set up to ensure the third party schemes were credible.
The graphic to the right lists these GSSI benchmarked seafood sustainability schemes.
Many imported seafood products are certified to one or other of these schemes.
Worker Welfare / Modern Slavery
This topic has been a concern in some parts of the seafood industry for at least a decade.
Following the publication of human rights abuses in Thailand more than 10 years ago many organisations / processes were put in place in that part of the world to address the global concerns including; Verite; Seafood Task Force; Migrant Workers Rights Network; Labour Rights Promotion Foundation Network; the Issara Institute and the UN ILO.
Since then this has become a global issue for any traded goods and third party service providers have now created tools and methodologies to help businesses assess and address these risks.
Some countries notably the UK and now Australia have implemented Modern Slavery legislation, that mandates action by big businesses.
Seafood importing businesses into Australia now have to map their supply chain, undertake risk assessments of their supply chain partners, identify any 'hot spots' and determine methods to address any concerns. They also have to publish a report to the government on the approach they have taken. (This all comes into effect over the next 12 months).
Support tools/organisations that are now available to address these concerns are; Ethical Trading Initiative - ETI, SEDEX SMETA audits, SA8000 audits, NGO's who can provide assistance such as Stop the Traffik, The Mekong Club, Stronger Togeather.
Seafood certifications for other topics such as food safety and sustainability are now building worker welfare aspects into their schemes, notably GAA's BAP scheme and more recently the MSC scheme.