BANGKOK – November 22, 2022 – In May this year, Thai Union commissioned the first consultant to spend a period of weeks working on board a carrier vessel to assess working conditions and welfare of the crew working on longline vessels. This was in addition to the in-port audits the company has been conducting with that fleet since 2018 and the first at–sea assessment of its kind conducted anywhere.
An independent fisheries and aquatic resourcing company carried out the project for Thai Union on a Malaysian flagged carrier vessel operating in the Indian Ocean. It is part of the Indian Ocean Longline Fishery Improvement Project.
Thai Union’s aim of the assessment was to explore if this type of assessment can complement existing satellite and electronic monitoring as well as in port inspections and add value to assessing conformance with the Fisher Work and Welfare Program (FWW). The FWW Program applies globally to the fishing vessels that supply Thai Union with fish and other seafood.
The consultant selected to complete the trip was at sea for 34 days and assessed 19 longline vessels. The consultant said about his at-sea work: “It was a priceless experience to board the longline vessels within a program which was implemented to improve the health, safety and living conditions of the fishers. In my 13 years of field experience, this was the first time that I saw that fishers felt cared for and not alone and have a voice. The at-sea assessment program for labor conditions could be an effective way to provide this worldwide. It is a highly valuable bridge between the fishers and their human rights that could be implemented more regularly.”
Caption: Thai Union is committed to making operations in fishing more transparent.
Dangerous job – invaluable insights
These types of inspections at sea are not without their risks and Thai Union did not take the decision to conduct this project lightly. Fishery observers working at sea can be subject to harassment, intimidation, or, in worst cases, death. According to the Association of Professional Observers (APO), there were one or two deaths per year between 2015 and 2020. It was therefore critical that Thai Union worked closely with a highly capable partner who could advise the Company and ensure the safety of the consultant.
Assessment partner MRAG is experienced in sending observers and assessors on board fishing and carrier vessels. The consultant selected to complete the trip had already worked on the same carrier vessel previously and the vessels were already audited in-port and were part of a vessel improvement program.
The project provided invaluable insight into what could be gained during an at sea assessment and the processes involved compared to only conducting an in-port audit. You can read the findings in this blog on Thai Union’s SeaChange® sustainability website.
Caption: This year, Thai Union commissioned the first consultant to assess working conditions and welfare of the crew on longline vessels.
The future of at-sea assessments
After completing this project, Thai Union will be able to build on the experience gained and include this into their Fisher Work and Welfare program. Thai Union wants to help create protocols around what should be covered in an at-sea assessment versus an in-port audit, not just in their program but any of the other programs and initiatives that are aiming to drive continuous improvement in the fishing sector. Thai Union is planning to conduct further at-sea assessments in other fisheries involved in improvement projects.
Thai Union is committed to making operations in fishing more transparent – an ambition that can only be achieved by deepening relationships with suppliers, demonstrating accountability and supporting suppliers on their improvement journey.
You will find the full blog about Thai Union’s first at-sea assessment here.
Caption: The consultant was at sea for 34 days and assessed 19 longline vessels.
About Thai Union
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 45 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 141.0 billion (US$ 4.5 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, Hawesta, and Rügen Fisch, Thai-leading brands SEALECT, Fisho, Qfresh, Monori, OMG Meat, Bellotta and Marvo, and ingredient and supplement brands UniQ®BONE, UniQ®DHA and ZEAvita.
As a company committed to “Healthy Living, Healthy Oceans,” Thai Union is proud to be a member of the United Nations Global Compact, a founding participating company of the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (ISSF), and current Chair of Seafood Business for Ocean Stewardship (SeaBOS). Thai Union’s on-going work through its SeaChange® sustainability strategy was recognized when the company was listed on the Dow Jones Sustainability Indices (DJSI) for the eighth consecutive year in 2021. Thai Union was also named to the FTSE4Good Emerging Index for the sixth straight year in 2021. Find out more about our work at seachangesustainability.org.
European Communications Director
Thai Union Europe
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