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Seafood producers and manufacturing organisations are coming under increasing pressure to demonstrate legal fishing compliance and assurance across all levels of their supply chain.

Many have relied on their immediate suppliers to deliver legally caught and purchased seafood to their organisation. However, the lack of transparency and traceability between suppliers has meant that Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) still enters the supply chain.

OceanMind works with large and small seafood producers around the world to analyse and monitor their documentation and supply chains, right back to the fishing vessel’s movements at sea, to identify areas of non-compliance and suspicious activity for further investigation.

To find out how we can help your business – in confidence – contact us for an informal chat.

Case Study: Thai Vessel Trial – Pilot Programme

In April 2015, the European Commission put Thailand on formal notice for taking insufficient measures to combat illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing by issuing a Yellow Card. This led the Royal Thai Government (RTG) and the Thailand seafood industry to look carefully at their country’s monitoring, control and surveillance (MCS) of their fisheries, with a fundamental desire to establish a legitimate and transparent supply chain to address some of the complex fisheries issues which had been prevalent for some time. The Royal Thai Government demonstrated a strong political will to improve compliance in the fishing industry by committing to thousands of hours of work and devoting significant financial resources into building its MCS system from the ground up.

 

The seafood industry leaders, who have strong business links in Thailand, formed the Seafood Task Force to “lead Thailand’s seafood supply chain towards a more sustainable pathway” while supporting the MCS capability improvements. The Seafood Task Force objective is to provide supply chain oversight with a focus on IUU to tackle the issues of forced labour and human trafficking.

Responding to The Royal Thai Government’s requirement to establish a legitimate and transparent supply chain, The Pew Charitable Trusts funded a vessel behaviour analysis pilot project to add greater understanding to the full nature of illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing taking place in Thailand’s waters. The Seafood Task Force led the pilot in partnership with OceanMind to deliver the monitoring and analysis results. (www.seafoodtaskforce.global)

The Task Force requested a 5-month pilot project to analyse the fishing behaviour of Thai-flagged fishing vessels in support of the compliance activities of the Thai Department of Fisheries, including those sponsored by four leading Thai Seafood Task Force members: Thai Union, Thai Royal Frozen, Kingfisher and CP Foods.

With the seafood companies’ recommendations and the permission of the vessel owners, OceanMind analysed vessel monitoring system tracking data alongside a variety of other data sources for the entire year of 2016 to identify historic trends.

In partnership with the Thai Department of Fisheries, all applicable regulations and electronic files for trawling and tongol purse seining were reviewed. Using unique machine learning algorithms developed by OceanMind to support the automated analysis of track information, any indicators of non-compliance were identified for follow up and action.

OceanMind’s dedicated team of expert fisheries analysts carefully reviewed the activities of all vessels that were a part of the pilot project. Numerous notifications of abnormal behaviour and suspicious activity in Thai waters were reported during this time and forwarded to the Thai Department of Fisheries and participating seafood companies for investigation, along with recommendations for each seafood company to use in their work with the vessel owners to mitigate against identified risks.

A secondary analysis against further data sets compared catch and port records against the track history of fishing vessels to look for gaps, abnormalities and discrepancies between the various pieces of operational catch and effort documentation that has been used by the Government and private companies to adjust policies and refine procedures to encourage compliance with Thai law and regulations.

The Seafood Task Force’s traceability pilot has demonstrated how governments, markets and technology can all work together to offer greater transparency in seafood’s journey from bait to port.

OceanMind provided the essential information to challenge the assumption that vessels were following the rules and has empowered seafood buyers to make more sustainable evidence-based choices. The pilot has also helped the Royal Thai Government develop a better understanding of the activities of its fishing fleet, including the types of equipment that fishing vessels are using, how they’re using it and its effect on fleet dynamics. The application of in-depth fisheries expertise together with advanced technology has demonstrated how Thailand can more effectively monitor and enforce its waters.

The independent third party verification of vessel compliance provided by OceanMind has enabled seafood buyers to hold transformational conversations with vessel owners and captains to address the issues of noncompliance and provide tangible examples of how the seafood industry can track and verify interactions throughout the entire supply chain.

As a result of the Seafood Task Force pilot, there has been a positive, noted behavior change in all participating vessels after receiving guidance on how to avoid even the perception of wrong-doing.

Since the delivery of the Seafood Task Force pilot, Thai officials have reformed and improved many of Thailand’s fishing governance policies regarding vessel tracking, port controls, data sharing and vessel identification. As the world’s third largest seafood exporter, their participation in this pilot has received considerable positive attention from other nations.

This pilot has further spurred unprecedented collaboration between the Royal Thai Government and members of the seafood supply chain, and has built enthusiasm to sustain this cooperation into the future.

As the third largest import/export and processing countries in the world, Thailand, in its effort to tackle IUU fishing ratified the Post State Measures Agreement (PSMA). Under the obligations of the PSMA, Thailand has continued to work in partnership with OceanMind to monitor and verify the legitimacy of catch arriving in Thailand’s ports.

 

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