Fishing for the Future
Using Technology Innovation for Sustainability
As one of the world’s leading seafood companies, Thai Union has positioned sustainability at the heart of its business and is constantly exploring new ways to ensure that it can be a leader for positive change.
Technology and innovation are key aspects of the Thai Union sustainability journey. As modern technology advances, there are more solutions and options available to innovate and continue to improve. In turn, this enables us to lead the industry and be a force for change across the world. Starting with the can tracker used across the world by Thai Union Group brands, we are constantly looking for new technologies to help us on our sustainability journey.
We are committed to our four programs under SeaChange®. These are: Safe & Legal Labor, Responsible Sourcing, Responsible Operations and People & Communities. Finding the best ways to achieve our goals is an ongoing process of investigation, trial and evolution. We are constantly updating our methods and technology in order to deliver meaningful change, not just for Thai Union, but for the entire global seafood industry. We work with partners across the world, from major corporations to new startups. The below are just a few of our technology solutions:
We believe traceability is one of the keys to combating IUU fishing. Traceability allows us to trace where each and every tuna fish is caught, how it’s caught and by which vessel.
Thai Union brands globally have a can tracking service. For example, in the U.K., customers can take their can of John West tuna to the website and find out where their fish came from, even down to the region and vessel that caught it. In the US, Chicken of the Sea customers can do the same, with even more detail. This traceability helps companies enforce fishing quotas and guarantee fish quality—while being held directly accountable by end customers.
E-Logbook & Digital Traceability
In 2017, we worked with our partners Mars Petcare and Inmarsat, as well as a coalition of other industry and government groups such as the U.S. Agency for International Development’s Oceans and Fisheries Partnership (USAID Oceans) to launch our digital traceability pilot program. Immarsat’s Fleet One terminals were successfully installed in fishing vessels in Thailand, while the crew members, captains and fleet owners were trained on Fish Talk chat applications developed by Xsense that enable them to connect with families and peers round the world—an industry first for Thai fisheries. To help ensure that the learning from our program was widely shared, USAID undertook an independent evaluation of the project.
In 2018, we released a short film to document the introduction of digital traceability and e-logbooks in supply chains to promote digital sustainability in the fishing industry. Footage in the most recent film explores how e-logbooks were used as a key link in the digital chain of custody verification system. They also supported industry efforts to guard against illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, monitor labor standards on vessels and protect stock levels for the future.
The success of the digital traceability pilot has led to the Royal Thai Government implementing regulation requiring Thai vessel owners operating outside of national waters to provide a satellite communication system and device onboard for workers at sea.
Perhaps one of the most exciting new technologies of the last few years is the development of the blockchain. Often best known for powering cryptocurrencies, the blockchain is also finding a wide range of applications across sectors. Seafood production is no exception and we have been working with partners to explore and trial blockchain initiatives across the world. Our current blockchain activities are set out below, as well as media coverage and other information around the application of the technology in our industry.
Thai Union is working with Eachmile to implement Fishcoin, a data ecosystem powered by blockchain and designed to establish a virtuous cycle of data collection and its use. Fishcoin matches each transaction of seafood for fiat currency with a transaction of data for Etherium-based cryptocurrency tokens. This incentivizes accurate reporting on catch sizes, locations and species, helping to generate a large pool of publicly available data that can be used by governments, NGOs and businesses to draw up effective fishery management policies.
We have a number of other exciting and innovative technologies in the pipeline. In 2019, we are trialling our e-Observer program, with Satlink and Digital Observer Services. This will harness Artificial Intelligence (AI) and facial recognition solutions to monitor a range of issues, including modern slavery, human trafficking, bycatch and overfishing issues.
Click on the headlines below to find out more about how Thai Union is using tech to ensure our oceans are sustainable now and for future generations.
How the Blockchain Ledger can Drive Sustainability in Fishing
Technology and innovation are key aspects of the Thai Union sustainability journey. As modern technology advances, there are more solutions and options available to innovate and continue to improve. In turn, this enables us to lead the industry and be a force for change across the world.
Starting with the can tracker used across the world by Thai Union Group brands, we are constantly looking for new technologies to help us on our sustainability journey.
The Future of Farming: Robots, Bees and Plant Jacuzzis
As part of an in-depth report on how the way we produce and consume food is changing, Raconteur highlighted how Thai Union and Eachmile are using blockchain and Fishcoin to monitor production from the fishing vessel to shop floor.
What We’re Saying
Thai Union’s Global Director of Corporate Affairs and Sustainability, Dr Darian McBain, has written a selection of articles and essays providing a unique insight into how new technologies can revolutionize sustainable fishing.
Dr. McBain discusses how blockchain technology is set to revolutionize supply chain management, with the seafood supply chain an excellent starting point at a time that sustainable and ethical food production is at the top of the consumer agenda.
19 June 2018
In an essay first published in the Harvard International Review, Dr McBain discusses how the world’s biggest seafood companies are collaborating on ocean stewardship and how Thai Union’s SeaChange® sustainable development strategy is effecting genuine change on the ground (and water).
7 November 2017
Dr McBain explains how a digital revolution is introducing a whole new level of transparency and traceability to the fishing and seafood industry. Through tech-driven traceability programs, Thai Union is working with industry partners to address human rights abuses and illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.
Click on our partners’ logos to read a selection of blogs on how technology is transforming the seafood industry.