Seafood producer gets tough on human rights abuses

29 September 2021

Thai Union, a global producer of canned tuna, has promised to deploy electronic monitoring systems in suppliers’ tuna fishing vessels to track working conditions.

The company said it would partner with non-profit the Nature Conservancy to work towards implementing 100% “on-the-water” monitoring of its tuna supply chain by 2025.

This will include the deployment of electronic monitoring on vessels in the company’s international tuna supply chains, Thai Union added.

The move is expected to lead to significant changes in the Asian fishing industry, which has been plagued by accusations of human rights abuses.

The EU threatened to ban seafood imports from Thailand in 2015 due to these allegations – pressuring companies in the sector to do more.

Thai Union said it had already started installed electronic monitoring on longline vessels in 2020 to increase transparency.

In its sustainability progress report, the company pledged that by 2025 it will only source tuna from vessels and suppliers that demonstrate operational best practice, as part of its updated “tuna commitment”.

This will prevent illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and modern slavery, the company added.

According to Thai Union, 87% of its branded tuna was sourced from Marine Stewardship Council certified fisheries and fishery improvement projects in 2020 – beating its target of 75%.

The company said it had joined the Ocean Disclosure Project, which it said provided “full transparency” of its global seafood sourcing and had conducted third party audits of human rights and social standards on fishing vessels in the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans.

Thiraphong Chansiri, president and CEO of Thai Union, said: “We know we have a lot more work to do, which is why we have set new goals for 2025.

“Traceability remains critical to achieving these goals, and we will continue to work with our customers and stakeholders to ensure these are met.”

Thai Union supplies about 20% of the world’s canned tuna, and its pledge has sparked hopes that other seafood producers will follow suit.

 Want to stay up to date with the news? Sign up to our daily bulletin.

CIPS Knowledge
Find out more with CIPS Knowledge:
  • best practice insights
  • guidance
  • tools and templates