By Dr. Darian McBain
Today, tuna represents one of the most readily available sources of protein in a world where more than one billion people depend upon our oceans for nourishment or employment.
As a result, worldwide demand for tuna continues to climb year after year with numerous concerns regarding the sustainability of the seafood industry surfacing. While suppliers work to meet this demand, it is imperative stakeholders in the industry do everything in our power to conserve fisheries for future generations.
With that in mind, Thai Union is making a $90 million investment — the largest of its kind — to a new tuna strategy and global tuna commitment:
Thai Union commits to sourcing 100% of our branded tuna from fisheries that are either Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certified, or engaged in Fishery Improvement Projects (FIPs) to move them towards MSC certification. We will aim to achieve a minimum of 75% by the end of 2020.
In simple terms, this means Thai Union’s tuna will be sourced from areas around the world that follow strict standards and meet MSC certification — MSC certification is widely recognized by global experts as the best mark of seafood sustainability. These standards ensure fish are caught at levels that allow the species to continue indefinitely, minimize potential environmental impact, and protect the diversity of the ecosystem.
As a global seafood leader and tuna producer, Thai Union has assumed a responsibility to protect tuna stocks for future generations as well as drive positive transformation throughout the industry.
When customers see our products, such as Chicken of the Sea (North America), Genova (North America), John West (Northern Europe and Middle East), Mareblu (Italy), Petit Navire (France), and SEALECT (Thailand), we want to them to know that they are purchasing a product that is not only nutritious, it is sustainable too.
Each of these brands will publicly report on their progress to meet the 2020 tuna commitment on a regular basis, while Thai Union will also report on our efforts at least once a year.
What does that mean to consumers?
Our goal is to transform the industry by significantly increasing the supply of sustainably sourced tuna available to processors, retailers and, ultimately, you — the consumer.
But this effort is not just about Thai Union. It is about accelerating the pace of reform and transforming the sourcing of tuna across the entire industry.
For example, currently there are only 11 MSC certified tuna fisheries around the world, supplying 14% of demand. The establishment of 11 new fisheries will increase the supply of available tuna to other seafood processors, retailers and consumers.
Thai Union also sees traceability as the backbone of our sustainability strategy, and was the first in the industry to bring to consumers a can tracker on our brands of tuna globally. This allows consumers at home to trace where their tuna was sourced, giving confidence not only in the origin of the fish but also its sustainability credentials.
In short, Thai Union is committed to doing our part — it is one reason we have placed sustainability at the heart of our business strategy — and we will continue to work with stakeholders across the industry, from NGOs to governments, even our competitors, to ensure tuna is sustainable.