Jul 1st, 2020

The balancing act of sustainability – achieving our Tuna Commitment

Demand for fish has never been higher. Eating plenty of fish can play a vital role in a healthy, active lifestyle, providing vital protein to consumers. Adding to this the recommendation from the High Level Panel for Building a Sustainable Ocean Economy that dietary shifts—including eating more sustainably-harvested fish—can play a significant role in combatting climate change, it’s clear that fish is on the menu and will stay there.

At the same time, the FAO’s recent State of Fisheries and Aquaculture (SOFIA) report also warns about overfishing, claiming that the 33.1 percent of overfished wild stocks in 2018 has increased to 34.2 percent. It’s clear then that there’s important work to be done in ensuring that fish remains available to everyone, while not exhausting supplies. It’s a balancing act that is fortunately being addressed by a wide range of companies and organizations around the world.

In 2016, Thai Union introduced our Tuna Commitment, which set out our promise for all of our tuna to be sustainably sourced, with an aim to achieve a minimum of 75 percent of our own brands of tuna coming from fisheries that are Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certified, or in a Fishery Improvement Project (FIP) by the end of 2020. We’re extremely proud that we have achieved this ahead of schedule, reaching 79 percent at the end of 2019. We recognize the importance of protecting fish stocks while also ensuring that our customers and consumers receive the protein they need and our Tuna Commitment is a crucial step in keeping the balance.

But we couldn’t have done this alone. Over the years we have worked with a number of partners, including The Nature Conservancy and WWF, as well as other large seafood providers to carry out initiatives such as Fishery Improvement Projects (FIPs) to champion sustainable fish stocks throughout the world. In fact, as a result of our efforts, and the way the entire seafood industry has come together, the FAO report also highlights some good news. In fact, 77.8 percent of all marine fish landed by volume come from biologically sustainable stocks. Furthermore, two thirds of tuna stocks are now fished at biologically sustainable levels—an increase of 10 percentage points in just two years. Our work with the industry is also demonstrated through our Vessel Code of Conduct, which helps our suppliers make sure they’re observing best practices.

Every year in June, we mark World Oceans Day. This event gives us the opportunity every year to stop and consider all the great work that has been done but also reflect on all the work that there is still to do. We are constantly considering how we can improve and keep making a measurable, meaningful impact on our industry and helping to protect our oceans.

This year we also participated in a webinar hosted by INFOFISH on the topic of ‘Redefining the Global Tuna Industry’. You can also read more about our activities, including a full update on our Tuna Commitment and our work with partners in our 2019 Sustainability Report here.