The largest tuna producer in the world makes huge commitments to marine life sustainability

By: AnthonyVolz

Thai Union recently announced that it will reduce its controversial use of ‘fish-aggregating devices (FADs), which attract fish to one area, making it easier to catch them.

It will also address Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated Fishing, and increase traceability of its products.

Thai Union produces one in five tuna cans sold all over the globe.

This company is a major player in the seafood sector and has a lot of international influence. We are pleased to hear that Thai Union will decrease its use of FADs by 2020 in order to improve sustainability and protect sea creatures.

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What does the Thai Union’s commitment to animal welfare, conservation, and our campaign against lost and abandoned fishing equipment, also known as ghost gear, mean?

Thai Union’s new commitment is closely tied to the issue of ghost gear. We are hopeful that the company’s new commitment will reduce the number inadvertently endangered sea animals by its fishing.

Ghost gear can be made from floating ‘fish aggregating device’

A floating object is a device that can be used by fishing boats to transport at sea a FAD. Fish naturally gravitate to floating objects, so FADs serve as beacons to hundreds of fish species.

Each year, thousands of FADs are deployed across the oceans.

FADs are a problem in commercial fishing due to the widespread use of FADs. Ghost gear is a serious problem that can pose a danger to all types of sea creatures if they are not removed. It can entangle and even kill animals like seals, turtles, seabirds, and whales.

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The FADs are not only for fishers. FADs can also be attractive to animals such as sharks, turtles, whales, seals, and whales. They can become dependent on the aggregated food source. These animals are also at greater risk for becoming entangled in the FAD’s netting or other parts.

These animals can become entangled and are often unable to swim or feed.

Sea change to protect marine life

Our collaboration with the Global Ghost Gear Initiative was instrumental in identifying FADs as the third most likely type of gear to aid ghost fishing, after gillnets and pots.

If FADs are lost, abandoned, or discarded, they contribute to global ghost fishing problems until they sink or wash up as marine debris in one of three ways.

They continue to attract fish and could alter the behavior or structure of tuna population;

if not specifically-designed to avoid accidental entanglement of non-target marine life, they continue to do so, even after being lost or abandoned;

They interact with fragile coral reefs, and other marine habitats.

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Education of seafood companies

With the GGGI, we have developed guidance that allows companies to verify that they are taking the necessary steps to reduce the negative impact of their practices on the marine environment.

A pilot project is also being conducted in the Pacific for better understanding the role of FAD tracking, marking and disposal in the solution.

We are grateful for the Thai Union’s commitment to FADs, as they are used in more than 40% world-wide tropical tuna catches.

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We are looking forward to more companies taking this step to protect our oceans and ensure sustainability.