The global firm, based out of Thailand, boasts Chicken of the Sea, John West and Fisho among its brands and specialises in bringing tuna to the market. Its new pledge will see it working to overcome challenges such as illegal fishing, overfishing, and to improve the lives of the workers throughout its supply chain. This will fit into its SeaChange sustainability strategy, which promotes best-practice fisheries, as well as improving other fisheries, reducing illegal and unethical practices in international supply chains, and making way for more responsibly caught tuna to market.
The news comes after two years of campaigning from Greenpeace, which wanted to change the alleged over-exploitation and labour conditions of the industry. The activist group said that it hoped the move by Thai Union would encourage other seafood firms to follow in its footsteps. “This marks huge progress for our oceans and marine life, and for the rights of people working in the seafood industry,” commented Greenpeace international executive director Bunny McDiarmid.
“If Thai Union implements these reforms, it will pressure other industry players to show the same level of ambition and drive much-needed change. Now is the time for other companies to step up and show similar leadership.”
Thai Union has set out a number of goals, including:
• Reducing the number of fish aggregating devices (FADs) used on an international level in its supply chains in half by 2020. At the same time, it aims to double the amount of FAD-free fish available in markets within the same timeframe. FADs are floating objects that create mini ecosystems. However, they can often catch marine species including sharks and turtles.
• Extend its transshipment across its supply chain. As they are at sea for months or even years at a time, they have the potential to facilitate illegal activities.
• Make sure independent observers are present on longline vessels at sea to inspect possible labour abuse.
• Develop a code of conduct for its vessels to comply with, which will complement the Business Ethics and Labor Code of Conduct, helping make sure that labourers at sea are being treated appropriately and fairly.
• Prevent bycatch such as seabirds, turtles and sharks.
• Embrace full digital traceability, which will allow consumers to track their tuna back to the vessel it was caught on and identify the method of fishing used.
“Thai Union has fully embraced its role as a leader for positive change as one of the largest seafood companies in the world,” commented Thiraphong Chansiri, CEO of Thai Union.
“Thai Union looks forward to continuing to execute our SeaChange sustainabiltiy strategy, strengthened and enhanced by the joint agreement with Greenpeace and our shared vision for healthy seas now and for future generations.”
To ensure that all targets are being met, Thai Union has agreed to meet with Greenpeace every six months to analyse its implementation and progress. An independent third party will review progress made at the end of 2018.
“Thai Union has set a new standard for the seafood industry to deal with destructive fishing, labour abuse, and unethical practices,” added McDiarmid. “This is a great day for the hundreds of thousands of people around the world who want the seafood industry to take stronger action to eliminate these problems.”