USAID And Thai Union Partner to Implement Digital Traceability to Combat Illegal Fishing in the Asia Pacific Region

Thai Union Group PCL and the United States Agency for International Development Oceans and Fisheries Partnership (USAID Oceans) are pleased to announce a partnership to combat illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, promote fair and ethical seafood supply chains, and improve the sustainability of fisheries in the Asia-Pacific region.

Together, USAID Oceans and Thai Union will support the design and implementation of digital catch documentation and traceability (CDT) systems in tuna fisheries in Thailand and Indonesia, with future expansion to other countries and fisheries in the Asia-Pacific region. USAID Oceans and Thai Union will also partner to improve fisheries management practices; form partnerships with governments and other industry stakeholders to improve transparency in seafood supply chains; and explore linking additional features to CDT systems including labor data and crew communications to promote responsible and equitable labor practices in the seafood sector.

USAID Oceans is a five-year, $19.95 million program that works to strengthen regional cooperation to combat IUU fishing and promote sustainable fisheries to conserve marine biodiversity in the Asia-Pacific region. The program is working with governments and industry to design and demonstrate an electronic CDT system that will enable the collection and validation of key data elements on the seafood product including legality and movement from the point of harvest to import in key markets. The system will be demonstrated in General Santos City, Philippines, Bitung, Indonesia, and now in Thai Union’s supply chains, to ensure it meets industry requirements and supports compliance with local, national and international traceability regulations and standards.

Thai Union is the one of the world’s leading seafood companies with annual sales exceeding THB 134 billion ($3.8 billion). Sustainability is of critical importance for Thai Union. As a leading seafood company, Thai Union is determined to drive positive change throughout the industry. Thai Union believes traceability is the backbone of sustainability and is investing in trials of new digital technology which will improve transparency in the supply chain. With digital traceability, the company can address IUU fishing through tracking, ensuring vessels comply with all regulations and monitoring the labor standards that are in place along the supply chain. Thai Union will aim to achieve a minimum of 75 percent of its branded tuna are from sustainable fisheries by the end of 2020—an initiative supported by this partnership.

“Thai Union is looking forward to this collaboration with USAID Oceans to further combat IUU fishing, promote fair and ethical supply chains, and improve sustainable fisheries and marine conservation in the Asia-Pacific region,” said Dr. Darian McBain, Thai Union’s global director for sustainable development. “We believe public and private sector collaboration is a key component to drive positive change ensuring the seas are sustainable now and in the future. Involvement from international institutions such as USAID Oceans not only assists industry participants to understand the importance of change in these critical areas, but also helps validate the progress which is achieved.”

Together, USAID Oceans and Thai Union will collaborate to demonstrate best practices in implementing electronic traceability, as a model for the industry and governments to address IUU fishing, sustainable fisheries management and fair labor monitoring. Most immediately, USAID Oceans and Thai Union will test CDT systems and labor reporting tools on fishing vessels in southern Thailand in partnership with the Thai Department of Fisheries and several technology companies.