The Gulf of Thailand Mixed-Trawl Fishery case: addressing social and environmental issues

The need to address environmental and social issues in the Thai fishmeal industry has led via a complex journey, to a well-subscribed Fisheries Improvement Project in the Gulf of Thailand and to the fishery applying to join the MarinTrust (formerly IFFO RS) Improver Programme.

Seven years ago, the fast-developing shrimp industry decided to answer the concerns of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) about the sustainability of its feed by working towards eventual acceptance onto a certification programme. This could be achieved by setting up a fishery improvement project (FIP), which was agreed by the eight private sector Thai fisheries organisations. They got together as the Thai Sustainable Fisheries Round Table. [i]

The industry prioritised social aspects within the supply chain with human rights, including forced labour and worker voice, being targeted. With these issues often being intertwined with broader themes, it was decided that this approach should also cover fisheries management and governance, together with environmental responsibility and transparent traceability throughout the supply chain. The approach involved various stakeholders, including fishermen and processors, governmental departments along with experts and representatives from the whole supply chain.

In October 2016, the Thai Sustainable Fisheries Round Table was finally able to announce a cooperation with the Thai government to adopt international fishing standards in the Gulf of Thailand. This paved the way towards creating a long-term sustainable fishery, taking into account the ongoing issues with overfishing, and illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) activities. The announcement marked the formal establishment of the FIP.

The project is the first in the world to apply the newly developed MarinTrust multispecies fisheries criteria. “The MarinTrust programme is the most suitable for marine fisheries resource management in Thailand, as it is developing a method to address complex multi-species fisheries. The Gulf of Thailand is home to a multitude of different species of fish, so the assessment is a good test case,” Dr Rawee Viriyatum, the initial FIP coordinator for the Gulf of Thailand, says.

According to Vorapong Iamtrakul, General Manager for Sustainable Standard for Feed Raw Material Office at CP Foods : “There has been a lot of progress in the industry over the last few years in order to demonstrate real improvements within Thai fisheries, and we believe that this will continue through the FIP, and its commitment to the MarinTrust process”.

 

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Contact:
Nicola Clark, Impacts Manager, MarinTrust: nclark@marin-trust.com

 

[i] It is worth mentioning that a separate FIP project was put in place in the Andaman Sea with WWF Thailand.