San Diego Business Journal

The parent company of San Diego-based Chicken of the Sea, which sells canned and packaged tuna and other fish and shellfish, has committed to making its business practices more sustainable and socially responsible.

Thai Union Group PCL, the largest tuna producer in the world and owner of a number of well-known tuna brands, has partnered with environmental organization Greenpeace International on the effort.

The group has agreed to a package of reforms it says are intended to support best practice fisheries, improve other fisheries, reduce illegal and unethical practices in its global supply chains and bring more responsibly-caught tuna to key markets.

Thai Union promised to reduce the number of traps called “fish aggregating devices” that contribute to overfishing in its supply chains by an average of 50 percent by 2020 and to extend its moratorium on at-sea transshipment – which, by allowing vessels to fish for months or years at a time, has the potential to facilitate illegal fishing and trafficking and exploitation of workers - across its entire global supply chain unless new strict conditions are met by suppliers.

Thai Union said it would also ensure independent observers are present on all longline vessels transshipping at sea to inspect and report on potential labor abuse; develop a comprehensive code of conduct for all vessels in its supply chains; shift “significant portions” of longline caught tuna to pole and line or troll-caught tuna by 2020 and implement requirements to help reduce bycatch.

The group also said it would move to full digital traceability, which would allow people to track how and where their tuna was caught.

“If Thai Union implements these reforms, it will pressure other industry players to show the same level of ambition and drive much-needed change,” said Bunny McDiarmid, executive director of Greenpeace. “Now is the time for other companies to step up, and show similar leadership.”

Greenpeace and Thai Union have agreed to meet every six months to assess the company’s progress.

At the end of 2018, a third party will review progress.