13 November 2020, BANGKOK – When PM2.5 dust blanketed cities across Thailand a few years ago, Thai actor and singer Tono Pakin Khamwilaisak started researching more about pollution and found out that many environmental issues were linked: trash plastic, ghost gear, PM2.5, and climate change. Reading further, he discovered that some 70% of the oxygen produced on Earth comes from its oceans.
If the oceans, home to marine plants and animals, were full of litter and debris, how were they and humans going to survive, he wondered. This, and other questions, were the catalyst for Tono to start his first mission to save the sea turtles, a key indicator of ocean health given that they foster a healthy marine ecosystem.
He launched a fundraising campaign known as ‘One Man and the Sea’ to help three animal hospitals - operated by the Department of Marine and Coastal Resource, Ministry of Natural Resource and Environment in Rayong and Phuket - buy equipment to save these precious turtles.
Tono’s mission started in March 2020 with a serious determination to swim 82 kilometers across 12 islands in the gulf of Thailand. While the mission was not fully completed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Tono successfully raised more than THB 15 million, with THB 3 million coming from Thai Union Group PCL, the global seafood leader. Thai Union also provided the program with SEALECT tuna products, which were distributed to schools around the animal hospitals.
“On behalf of Thai Union and all its employees, I would like to express our admiration for Tono in creating this impactful campaign to help protect our marine ecosystem for generations to come,” said Peter Galli, Thai Union’s Group Global Director of Corporate Communications. “We remain committed to being a responsible Corporate citizen for both our employees and global community through our sustainability strategy, SeaChange®, which underpins our vision of being the world’s most trusted seafood leader, caring for our resources, improving our business and leading meaningful change across the industry.”
The donated funds were used to buy veterinary laser equipment to speed up wound healing, basic surgical instruments and trolleys, an animal gastrointestinal endoscope, a prefabricated cold storage unit and an ambulance to transport marine animals.