Thai Union Group has announced its support for new regulation from the Thai government requiring Thai vessel owners operating outside of national waters to provide a satellite communication system and device on board for workers at sea.

The regulation (Ministerial Regulation on Labor Protection in Sea Fishing Work (No. 2) B.E. 2561) states the system must be able to support the transmission of at least 1mb of text messages per person per month for at least one-fourth of crew, and the employer must pay for these devices. The initiative aims to enhance the crews’ quality of life by providing communication channels to contact families or make a complaints and report any problems that might have occurred at sea.

The development reflects the government’s commitment to protect workers in the fisheries sector from falling victim to forced labour and human trafficking, to improve the management of labour in Thai fisheries to be more effective and to work toward the ratification of the International Labour Organization’s (ILO) Work in Fishing Convention (C188).

This comes after Thai Union, Mars Petcare and Inmarsat, along with the Department of Fisheries and others, in 2017 launched a digital traceability pilot programme ahead of this new regulation.

Inmarsat Fleet One terminals were successfully installed on Thai fishing vessels, and crew members, skippers and vessel operators were trained to use the Fish Talk chat applications developed by Xsense that enables them to connect with families around the world while at sea – an industry first for Thai fisheries.

The pilot programme tested 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.

‘The seafood industry has to continue to work to bring full transparency and digital traceability into the supply chain, and this pilot, as well as the Thai government’s new regulation, are steps in the right direction,’ said Dr. Darian McBain, Thai Union’s global 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 a high-quality products and important nutrition to consumers across the globe.’

The system provides the ability to improve the efficiency of traceability records validated by fishery managers and manage risk in the supply chain, demonstrate true electronic end-to-end traceability and supply chain management with links to markets to better address concerns over IUU fishing and labour issues, and to provide crew with a voice at sea to communicate with families ashore or alert the authorities in the event of a problem.

Source: Thai Union