Thai Union, AENOR, and GSA team up to collaborate on fishing vessel standards

Thai Union Group, AENOR, and Global Seafood Assurances (GSA) have avowed to share knowledge and resources with one another “to create efficiencies across their individual, respective and proprietary programs,” according to a 3 September announcement.

The organizations, which have each established standards and best practice for fishing vessels and crew welfare, signed a memorandum of understanding at the start of the month that “represents an opportunity to collaborate on constant improvement for the future,” they said in a press release.

Thai Union’s Vessel Improvement Program and Code of Conduct (VCOC), published in 2017, involves regular, third-party audits; more than 120 vessel audits have taken place per the code as of 2018.

The Organization of Associated Producers of Large Freezer Tuna Freezers (OPAGAC) was a key backer of APR, the public-private standard that assures comply with requirements set by the 2007 International Work Organization Work in Fishing Convention (ILO 188). The standards is certified by the Spanish Association for Standardization and Certification (AENOR).

GSA recently completed a two-year transparent and collaborative process to develop its Responsible Fishing Vessel Standard, and collaboration between AENOR and GSA will result in the two organizations continue to formulate best practices for the global fishing fleet when it comes to social standards.

“We see vessel standards, particularly around crew welfare, as critical in seafood supply chain assurance,” GSA Director Melanie Siggs said. “It is no longer acceptable to view the environmental management of fisheries as a separate issue from the provision of safe and legal labor to the people working in them and we have a collective responsibility to support those seeking to achieve best practices. Collaborating to create greater efficiencies, such as in audit costs or training, or by recognizing and adapting other standards, is an important step in providing that support. This MOU is a great start and we hope to invite others to join us in time.”

AENOR CEO Rafael García Meiro highlighted the importance of cooperation when developing meaningful industry standards, a pursuit his organization looks forward to continuing with its new partners.

“It is of great importance that the companies and organizations that cooperate in the development and maintaining of standards work together to achieve the same objectives,” Meiro said. “It is key that the same consideration be given to crews on fishing vessels as to workers in land-based sectors, namely safe working conditions, proper contracts and properly upheld and understood rights. We are pleased to work with Thai Union and Global Seafood Assurances to seek to make these standards achievable and normal around the world.”

Crew welfare and safety has long been a priority for Thai Union, Responsible Sourcing Director Tracy Cambridge said, and the company is eager to enhance its processes through the collaboration with AENOR and GSA.

“Ensuring the welfare of crew and other fishery workers is of paramount importance and we have been working on our standards and improvement programs for some time,” Cambridge said. “Being able to join forces with AENOR and Global Seafood Assurances is a great step to ensure that we are able to reduce costs and improve efficiencies. Our standards are all based on globally-agreed conventions such as ILO Convention #188 so there is a lot of commonality we can draw on.”


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