Thai Union Welcomes Fishery Improvement Project in Seychelles to Protect Indian Ocean Tuna Stocks

Thai Union Europe is delighted that the Seychelles government has defined a detailed roadmap to launch a tuna Fishery Improvement Project (FIP) later in 2016.

This agreement builds on the work that Thai Union Europe undertook earlier this year to establish stakeholder and governmental support for a FIP in the region.

The launch of the FIP coincides with the publication of IOTC’s (Indian Ocean Tuna Commission) latest scientific advice on yellowfin which indicates that the stocks levels now require action.

Thai Union Europe – which represents John West, Petit Navire and Mareblu among other seafood brands – currently sources over 60% of its tuna from the Indian Ocean for its European brands. All of the Thai Union Europe brands have robust sustainability plans and targets in place.

Central to these plans is the endorsement of the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) approach to fisheries sustainability and the ambition to substantially increase the volume and number of MSC certified products across the species they sell.

A FIP is an important step towards achieving MSC certification.

One of the key organisations working to develop the Seychelles FIP is WWF, with which John West in the UK has a four year partnership to deliver full sustainability across all the species it sells. WWF has analysed and conducted an in-depth risk assessment for John West’s supply chain and has concluded that while some species, including wild salmon, are already at the level necessary for MSC certification others, including tuna, require more work. Once developed, this FIP in the Seychelles will, amongst other benefits, contribute significantly to improve the management of Indian Ocean tuna resources, ultimately offering considerable protection for tuna stocks in the region.

Sylvain Cuperlier, Sustainability Director for Thai Union Europe, said: “MSC is recognised across the industry, and increasingly among consumers, as the best guarantee of the highest levels of sustainability in fisheries. We are extremely pleased that the Seychelles Government has agreed to launch a FIP to safeguard tuna stock levels in the Indian Ocean for the future. While this supports Thai Union’s ambitions, more importantly it contributes to increase the sustainability of the entire fishing industry in the region.”

The fishing industry is vital to the Seychelles; the ‘blue economy’ – national income derived from the fishing industry – has driven growth in the country for more than 30 years. At a meeting of stakeholders in April 2016, the Seychelles Minister for Finance, Trade and the Blue Economy, Mr Jean-Paul Adam, emphasised the importance of maintaining healthy tuna stocks and reiterated the government’s commitment to implementing the initiatives necessary to protect fishery resources and ensure the long-term future of the Seychelles fishing industry.