John West makes waves in improving sustainable image

John West’s parent company, Thai Union, has announced its commitment to more responsible fishing. 

The Thailand-based tuna giant has set out guidelines on how it is taking measures to tackle illegal fishing and overfishing, and to improve the lives of those working in the industry.

The new pledge fits into its SeaChange strategy, which has been designed to support best practice fisheries, improve other fisheries, reduce illegal and unethical practices in the global supply chain and deliver responsibly-caught tuna to the market.

Thai Union’s announcement comes after a two-year campaign from Greenpeace to make tuna fishing more sustainable, which gained the support of almost 700,000 people.

“This marks huge progress for our oceans and marine life, and for the rights of people working in the seafood industry,” said Bunny McDiarmid, international executive director for Greenpeace. “If Thai Union implements these reforms, it will pressure other industry players to show the same level of ambition and drive much-needed change. Now is the time for other companies to step up and show similar leadership.”

As part of its strategy, Thai Union is hoping to reduce the amount of fish aggregating devices (FADs) used on an international level by 50% by 2020, and at the same time double the amount of verifiable FAD-free fish available on the market. FADs are floating objects used to attract fish, such as marlin or tuna, but their use can lead to the unintentional capture of sharks or turtles.

It also set out guidelines to have independent observers present on longline vessels, ensuring that no labour abuse takes place. To further make sure that workers are being treated fairly, Thai Union will develop a comprehensive code of conduct for all vessels that will build upon its Business Ethics and Labor Code of Conduct. Third-party independent audits will take place to ensure that requirements are being met.

“Thai Union has fully embraced its role as a leader for positive change as one of the largest seafood companies in the world,” said Thiraphong Chansiri, CEO of Thai Union. “Thai Union looks forward to continuing to execute our SeaChange sustainability strategy, strengthened and enhanced by the joint agreement with Greenpeace and our shared vision for healthy seas now and for future generations.”

Thai Union has agreed to meet with Greenpeace every six months to assess progress and implentation of the strategy. At the end of 2018, an independent third party will review progress.

“Thai Union has set a new standard for the seafood industry to deal with destructive fishing, labour abuse and unethical practices,” added McDiarmid. “This is a great day for the hundreds of thousands of people around the world who want the seafood industry to take stronger action to eliminate these problems.”

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