March 3, 2021. Arlington, VA – As ocean ecosystems continue to face unprecedented pressure Thai Union, one of the world’s largest seafood companies, has partnered with leading global conservation organization The Nature Conservancy (TNC), on a pioneering commitment to full supply-chain transparency in its global tuna supply chains. This commitment has the potential to push the entire industry in a more sustainable direction by addressing widespread illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing practices.
Caption: The camera inside an Electronic Monitoring device used on fishing vessels.
Thai Union Group, a global leading seafood provider with annual revenues of more than US$4.1 billion, will work with TNC’s sustainable fisheries experts to implement 100% ‘on-the-water’ monitoring of its vast tuna supply chain by 2025. This work includes deploying electronic monitoring on all of its partner vessels in our supply chains –including onboard video cameras, GPS, and sensors to automatically track activities onboard–and/or human observers.
Jennifer Morris, CEO of The Nature Conservancy, said: “We are very excited about the potential of this partnership to shift the sustainability needle across the entire canned seafood sector. Consumers and retailers send powerful signals when they choose sustainable products, and TNC hopes this commitment will catalyze rapid growth in electronic monitoring and transparency in fisheries all over the world.”
IUU malpractice has serious repercussions for everything from overfishing of dwindling tuna stocks, to unsustainable levels of bycatch of at-risk sea life like sharks and sea turtles. The lack of adequate monitoring also contributes to hundreds of millions of dollars in lost revenues for local fishing communities and national governments alike.
Thiraphong Chansiri, President & CEO of Thai Union, said: “Thai Union has made significant strides in making sustainability a key attribute of our company, from the creation of our global sustainability strategy, SeaChange® to partnering with leading organisations like The Nature Conservancy. We understand that change does not happen in a vacuum, it is through collaboration and partnership that we shape the future. Change takes more than a wish and well-crafted words, those that are in a leadership position must define the path forward through actions and results. I look forward to the sustainable future Thai Union and TNC can help create through increased electronic monitoring and transparency throughout the seafood industry.”
With the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission continuing to suspend observer coverage on purse seine fishing vessels due to COVID-19 and without nearly enough at-sea monitoring happening globally, this commitment is more significant and timely than ever. Not only has fishing continued during the pandemic (a recent study estimated that COVID-19 has reduced fishing efforts by just 4%), the pandemic has in fact sparked a surge in the purchase of canned tuna globally. Data recently released by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) showed that wholesale prices for tuna were up 41% from the previous year, and food companies reported doubling of sales in 2020. pandemic has in fact sparked a surge in the purchase of canned tuna globally. Data recently released by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) showed that wholesale prices for tuna were up 41% from the previous year, and food companies reported doubling of sales in 2020.
Mark Zimring, Director of The Nature Conservancy’s Large Scale Fisheries Program, said: “Electronic monitoring creates transparency critical to consumers having confidence that their seafood products have been harvested legally, sustainably and without labor abuses. Effective monitoring contributes vital data, the current absence of which makes regulation of even the most vulnerable fisheries difficult. By partnering with one of the biggest players in the seafood supply sector to plug this data gap, Thai Union and TNC have a real chance to achieve durable change at a global scale.”
Through this partnership, Thai Union and TNC will jointly advocate and engage with governments, regulators, and supply chain actors to drive progress towards 100% monitoring at sea by 2025 within its European wild caught sprat, mackerel, herring and whiting supply chains. In addition, Thai Union will implement a fish aggregating device (FAD) management plan in their wild caught purse seine tuna supply chain that mitigates environmental risks no later than 2025. FAD devices are floating objects that are designed to attract pelagic fish, but can lead to bycatch such as entanglement of turtles and impacts on vulnerable reefs.
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The Nature Conservancy (TNC) is a global conservation organisation dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world’s toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at an unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable. Working in 72 countries, we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit www.nature.org or follow @nature_press on Twitter.
Thai Union Group
Thai Union Group PCL is the world’s seafood leader, bringing high quality, healthy, tasty and innovative seafood products to customers across the world for more than 40 years.
Today, Thai Union is regarded as one of the world’s leading seafood producers and is one of the largest producers of shelf-stable tuna products with annual sales exceeding THB 126.3 billion (US$ 4.1 billion) and a global workforce of more than 44,000 people who are dedicated to pioneering sustainable, innovative seafood products.
The company’s global brand portfolio includes market-leading international brands such as Chicken of the Sea, John West, Petit Navire, Parmentier, Mareblu, King Oscar, and Rügen Fisch and Thai-leading brands SEALECT, Fisho, Qfresh, Monori, Bellotta and Marvo.
As a company committed to innovation and globally responsible behavior, Thai Union is proud to be a member of the United Nations Global Compact, and a founding member of the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (ISSF). In 2015, Thai Union introduced its SeaChange® sustainability strategy. Find out more at seachangesustainability.org. Thai Union’s on-going work on sustainability issues was recognized in 2018 and 2019 by being ranked number one in the world in the Food Products Industry in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index, achieving a 100th percentile ranking for total sustainability score. Thai Union has now been named to the DJSI for seven consecutive years. Thai Union was also named to the FTSE4Good Emerging Index for the fourth straight year in 2019.