Thai Union Group participated in the World Tuna Conference 2021 in Vigo, Spain, sharing insights into challenges facing the tuna industry while also looking at targeted improvements and opportunities through to 2025.
Tony Lazazzara, Global Fisheries Sustainability Director & European Fish Procurement Director and Tracy Cambridge, Responsible Sourcing Director (Europe), represented Thai Union at the conference.
The World Tuna Conference attracts key players in the tuna sector, including seafood producers and manufacturers, regulators and suppliers, who not just share important information on the industry but also discuss topics currently affecting the sector and potential risks for the future.
At the conference, Lazazzara and Cambridge shared details on Thai Union’s corporate goal of ‘Healthy Living, Healthy Oceans’ and the Company’s strategies towards achieving both of these.
Lazazzara discussed some of the major challenges in the industry, including volatile tuna prices and unprecedented increases in components such as metal, plastics, ingredients and freight.
“In the case of transportation, the availability of containers has, and will for a good part of 2022, have a significant impact with most likely the need to require more cash to be certain about having materials and finished products on time,” he said. “This is in addition to the pressing demand in terms of audits, in particular growing requests related to labor rights, and sustainability.”
Lazazzara said sustainability remains a significant issue for Thai Union and the entire seafood industry, and that there can be no compromise on the sustainable management of fish stocks, ensuring seafood is caught legally and that there are no issues in terms of labor and human rights.
“We need to continue to be clear about the policies and procedures that we have in place to ensure that no fish caught by illegal operations, such as those involved in drug trafficking or modern slavery, will enter our supply chains, and communicate clearly that we are doing everything that we can to demonstrate legal origin of seafood.”
Looking ahead to 2025, Lazazzara and Cambridge said that the challenges that have existed for the past 20 years will not disappear and Thai Union and the industry need to continue to drive continuous improvements.
They said the industry must work together to find more solutions to ensure traceability and transparency, while more data was needed to support decision-making and demonstrate that tuna vessels are fishing at operational best practice, such as fishing legally and offering good working conditions for the crew.
“There is also the need to not only have a plateau in the health of the ocean but to restore and improve what we have at the moment,” they said. “Challenges such as climate change and reducing our carbon footprint, managing our energy better, implementing strategies to address the biodiversity crisis, ensuring our use of plastic and management of pollution, all require our immediate attention.
“But alongside these new challenges are new opportunities for solutions that will strengthen the sustainability journey such as working on blue financing and better exploring the role of seafood as a low carbon protein that brings a myriad of benefits to people’s health.”