Thai Union Pilots Digital Traceability Program to Strengthen Sustainability Efforts

Thai Union Group PCL, in line with its sustainability strategy, SeaChange®, has launched a pilot program to test scalable platforms for electronic Catch Data and Traceability (eCDT) systems that utilize mobile applications and satellite connectivity to combat IUU fishing from the point of catch, promote worker voice at sea and demonstrate fair labor compliance in Thai fisheries. Thai Union anticipates this initiative will help to develop efficiencies around catch reporting, traceability, business communications and operations management.

The program seeks to improve efficiency of traceability records validated by fishery managers, as well as bring worker voice to fishermen at sea to support fair and legal labor. Additionally, it aims to demonstrate true electronic end-to-end traceability and supply chain management with linkages to markets such as the United States and European Union that are concerned with IUU and labor issues in fisheries.

Thai Union, which believes traceability is the backbone of sustainability, routinely engages in traceability programs, such as this pilot project, that monitor product from catch to consumption. Traceability is critical to the company’s responsible sourcing program, enabling Thai Union to prove its seafood is legally and ethically sourced, helping promote workers’ voices both at sea and on land, while providing operation efficiencies.

Currently, traceability systems monitor and manage the exclusion of IUU fish from the supply chain. However, because these systems are paper-based the potential for errors remain. In response, Thai Union implemented this digital traceability program, serving as a cross-sectoral initiative between Thai Union and other industry and government groups, including the U.S. Agency for International Development’s Oceans and Fisheries Partnership (USAID Oceans).

According to Darian McBain, Ph.D., Thai Union’s global director of sustainable development: “The program’s first phase will look at vessel to support in the supply chain and deliver a pragmatic solution for connectivity at sea, along with the development of mobile applications that enable crew communications and trip-log reporting.”

Thai Union successfully installed Inmarsat’s “Fleet One” terminals on fishing vessels, 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 around the world while at sea – an industry first for Thai fisheries, as well as eLogbook and fleet management applications. The pilot will also seek to integrate fishery stakeholders and thought leaders to explore scalable options, drivers, and incentives for fisheries to transition toward electronic traceability platforms.

“We see this system creating efficiencies in various ways, not only for crew communications at sea and operations between captains and vessel owners during fishing trips, but also by eliminating manual inputs for catch reporting that are typically conducted at the port,” said McBain. “Thai Union is committed to demonstrating full transparency and digital traceability in our supply chain, and this pilot program is another example of the how Thai Union continues to proactively work to put sustainability at the heart of business.”