Thai Union Group has pledged to only source fish from vessels that implement best practices to avoid bycatch as the seafood giant aims to protect endangered species.
The move follows research conducted by Sustainable Fisheries Partnership (SFP) on the risks to sharks, seabirds, turtles and other marine wildlife in the fisheries that supply the company.
Adam Brennan, group director of sustainability at Thai Union, said, "Environmental organisations are pointing to the biodiversity and species loss crisis that the planet is facing. The report by SFP notes the significant loss of ETP species in the Western Central Pacific Ocean region.
"We want to do more to ensure that we are sourcing from vessels that are doing everything they can to avoid and reduce bycatch."
Thai Union's brands include Chicken of the Sea and John West, among others.
The company highlighted a new 2030 commitment for its fisheries, which build on its seafood sustainability efforts over the past seven years.
The provisions include implementation of best practices to protect endangered, threatened and protected (ETP) species by 2030 by all vessels that supply the company.
It also aims to fulfil its ongoing commitment of achieving 100% observer coverage (human or electronic) on tuna vessels by 2025 through direct collaboration with its suppliers and service providers.
Kathryn Novak, biodiversity and nature director at SFP said, "Biodiversity loss is the greatest threat to fisheries sustainability. Thai Union is setting new expectations for the seafood industry to protect endangered, protected and threatened species by looking at their supply chains and only sourcing from vessels actively working to address bycatch."
A recent report by SFP on the impact of commercial tuna longline fishing in the Western Central Pacific Ocean on ETP species unveiled a profound loss of nature and the decline of an estimated 70% of several species of shark, seabird, and sea turtle populations.
This region accounts for more than 50% of the world's tuna production, with most going to North America and Japan.
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Thai Union's 'bycatch audit' was part of SFP's Protecting Ocean Wildlife initiative, an international, industry-led effort to address marine wildlife bycatch.
As part of the audit, SFP reviewed and assessed Thai Union's source fisheries using existing sustainability data to determine risks, overlaps with the company's key products, and identified areas where most impact can be made to reduce ocean wildlife bycatch.
The research identified tuna longline fisheries as high risk for sharks, sea birds, and sea turtles and recommended gear modifications to reduce the interaction rate and mortality risks associated with these fisheries.
The research also found insufficient observer coverage in Pacific Ocean fisheries, consistent with Thai Union's commitment for 100% observer coverage in its tuna fisheries.
Analysis by Key Traceability found that many fisheries supplying Thai Union have documented actions around ETP management and meet or exceed the audit report recommendations.
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