Victory for Sharks, Turtles, and Ocean Lovers! World’s Largest Tuna Company Commits to Ocean Protections

700,000 people spoke out for oceans and the people and animals that depend on them. Now the world’s biggest tuna company, owner of Chicken of the Sea, has committed to clean up its act!

© Wason Wanichakorn / Greenpeac

It took two years of relentless campaigning and nearly 700,000 concerned people from around the world, but today we are sharing the good news that together we convinced the world’s largest tuna company to clean up its act!

Tuna giant Thai Union, which owns brands such as Chicken of the Sea and supplies tuna to many others like Walmart, has committed to a series of changes to its business that will help to protect seafood workers, reduce destructive fishing practices, and increase support for more sustainable fishing. This marks a major shift for the corporation, and sends a signal to the entire fishing industry to do better for the oceans and seafood industry workers.

How People Power Protected The Oceans

As the world’s biggest tuna producer, one in five cans of tuna sold globally are canned by Thai Union. Greenpeace’s global campaign to transform the tuna industry has included targeting its brands for several years through tuna rankings, along with assessments of food service companies, supermarkets, and other brands supplied by the company.

Almost two years ago, we launched a global campaign, calling on Thai Union to bring the tuna industry out of the shadows where a cycle of over-exploitation, devastation and appalling labor practices flourish in the name of profit. Since hundreds of thousands of people — and allies like labor unions and human rights groups — pushed Thai Union brands like Chicken of the Sea and Thai Union customers like Walmart toward a brighter future for our oceans, seafood workers and ocean-dependent communities.

From our ships on the high seas, to supermarkets, industry conferences, and company headquarters, we called on companies supplied by Thai Union to sell better products and commit to policies that help workers and our oceans, including tackling practices like transshipment that fuel illegal activity and human rights abuses.

So Will Thai Union Change to Protect The Oceans?

Thanks to the mounting pressure, starting immediately, the company will begin making the following changes across its global business

  1. Reduce fish aggregating device (FAD) use by an average of 50 perce, and double supply of verifiable FAD-free caught fish globally by 2020. FADs are floating objects that create mini ecosystems and result in the catch and killing of many marine species, including sharks, turtles, and juvenile tuna.
  2. Shift significant portions of longline caught tuna to best practice pole and line or troll caught tuna by 2020 and implement strong requirements in place to help reduce bycatch. Longline vessels are known for catching and killing non-target species like seabirds, turtles, and sharks.
  3. Extend its current moratorium on at-sea transshipment across its entire global supply chain unless strict conditions are met by suppliers. Transshipment at sea enables vessels to continue fishing for months or years at a time and facilitates illegal activity.
  4. Ensure independent observers are present on all longline vessels transshipping at sea to inspect and report on potential labor abuse, and ensure human or electronic observer coverage across all tuna longline vessels it sources from. Much of the abuse that plagues fishing vessels takes place out of sight without authorities to report to.
  5. Develop a comprehensive code of conduct for all vessels in its supply chains to help ensure workers at sea are being treated humanely and fairly, beginning in January 2018.

An audit will be conducted by an independent third party next year to measure progress, and in the meantime, we will all be watching and waiting for positive results.

Calling On Other Major Tuna Buyers To Protect Oceans

Thai Union cannot and should not be taking this on alone. Not only will the vessels catching the fish need to fully cooperate for these commitments to turn into real action and positive change, but all major buyers and sellers of tuna need to recognize that the status quo is no longer acceptable. Supporting more sustainable and socially responsible fisheries, particularly those that are small-scale, is an essential part of any sound tuna sourcing policy. Customers should not have to choose between bad or better, all tuna should be responsibly-caught to help address the oceans’ overfishing crisis.

Thai Union’s commitment is not the end of the story to transform the fishing industry, but the continuation of a growing movement to stop out of control companies from wreaking havoc on ocean ecosystems and people’s lives. We need to continue to hold companies accountable and all do our part to reduce the threats to our oceans.

Want to help protect our oceans and push for better tuna fisheries? Urge your favourite brand or supermarket to ensure it’s sourcing more responsibly-caught tuna, avoid brands poorly rated in Greenpeace’s tuna rankings, eat less tuna to help struggling populations to recover, and when in doubt, choose vegan “tuna” — yes, that’s a thing!

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