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Thai Union, Nestlé Partner to Promote Human Rights in Thai Fishing Industry

Image credit: Alex Berger

A year after announcing its strategy to ensure 100 percent of its branded tuna is sustainably sourced, Thai Union, the company behind brands such as Chicken of the Sea, Bumble Bee, John West and Petit Navire, has embarked on a new partnership with Nestlé to help rebuild its damaged reputation. Together, the two companies, in collaboration with nonprofit Verité, have launched a demonstration boat to promote the human rights of workers in the Thai fishing industry.

The boat demonstrates the standards set for boats greater than 24 meters by the International Labor Organization’s (ILO) C188 convention for human rights at sea, as well as Thailand’s updated fisheries regulations. To meet these standards and regulations, boat owners must provide proper safety equipment as well as adequate and clean food and drinking water for the crew. Appropriate rest, dining and leisure areas onboard the vessel is mandatory, along with a first-aid kit and toilet facility with proper sanitation standards.

The demonstration boat will offer regularly scheduled viewings and training workshops to boat owners and crew to demonstrate how to improve working standards for fishers at sea. The initiative first in March 2016, supported by the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA), Southeast Asian Fisheries Development Center (SEAFDEC) and the Thai Department of Fisheries (DOF).

“Human rights abuses have no place in our supply chain. Nestlé is committed to improving livelihoods in the communities in which we operate. We will continue to work with the Thai fishing industry through our supply chain to exhibit best practices in respecting and promoting human rights for fishery workers,” said Benjamin Ware, Global Head of Responsible Sourcing for Nestlé.

“Holding up human rights and providing safe, legal and freely-chosen employment in our own facilities and in supply chains is critically important to Thai Union,” said Dr. Darian McBain, Global Director for Sustainable Development at Thai Union. “While we have significant programs in place for our own employees, we partner with government and stakeholders on projects such as this to ensure that those working in the wider industry are protected.

Thai Union and Nestlé helped fund development of the refurbished boat, providing required tools and equipment and financing various ongoing expenses associated with its demonstration and training sessions.

The project aligns with Nestlé’s Thai Action Plan for Responsible Sourcing of Seafood and Thai Union’s sustainability strategy SeaChange® — an integrated plan of initiatives, organized into four programs, to drive meaningful improvements across the entire global industry.

This marks the second major partnership Thai Union has entered into this year to make good on its environmental and social sustainability commitments. Earlier this year, the seafood giant teamed up with Greenpeace to create a comprehensive package of reforms and commitments the company will make to eliminate exploitative and unsustainable practices from its supply chains.

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