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Thai Union, Mars Petcare, USAID Oceans going digital for sustainability

Jun 08. 2017
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By The Nation

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Thai Union Group and Mars Petcare, along with a coalition of other industry and government groups such as the US Agency for International Development's Oceans and Fisheries Partnership (USAID Oceans), recently launched a digital traceability pilot programme.

Inmarsat’s “Fleet One” terminals were successfully installed on fishing vessels in Thailand, while the crew members, captains and fleet owners were trained on “Fish Talk” chat applications developed by Xsense that enable them to connect with families and peers around the world while at sea – an industry first for Thai fisheries.

The pilot programme will test scalable platforms for electronic catch data and traceability (eCDT) systems that utilise mobile applications and satellite connectivity, making it possible to demonstrate true electronic end-to-end traceability and supply-chain management.

More important for human rights, the pilot brings with it the ability for the workers on the vessels to use “Fish Talk”, a compressed chat function that allows crew to communicate with loved ones back onshore.

The system gives suppliers the ability to improve efficiency of traceability records validated by fishery managers and manage risk in the supply chain, and to demonstrate true electronic end-to-end traceability and supply-chain management with linkages to markets such as the United States and European Union to address concerns with IUU (illegal, unreported and unregulated) fishing and labour issues in fisheries.

The seafood industry has to continue to work to bring full transparency and digital traceability into the supply chain, and this pilot is a major step in the right direction, said Darian McBain, Thai Union’s group director for sustainable development. 

“In the long run, traceability will help make the entire fishing industry more sustainable, protecting the environment and workers, while delivering high-quality products and important nutrition to consumers across the globe.” 

Isabelle Aelvoet, global sustainability director at Mars Petcare, said: “We are proud to partner with Thai Union to launch this pilot programme. Providing connectivity at sea for workers is a milestone in responsible and ethical sourcing. 

“We know it will contribute to assuring traceability and we are confident it will soon become a standard across entire fishing industry.”

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