April 13, 2021

Looking back to 2020

2020 was a difficult year for the tuna fishery industry with significant business disruption caused by the pandemic. During this period, FCF has also been facing numerous challenges in the implementation of a number of sustainability projects, but the company was able to maintain a focused effort on ensuring the health and safety of all its employees including crew members of the suppliers within its supply chain. FCF devoted strong efforts to avoid disruption in the implementation of all its latest sustainability initiatives and ensuring progress in the implementation of clearly defined sustainability projects, while continuously engaging with customers, suppliers and international NGOs. The company firmly believes the situation will improve going forward and continue to be excited about rolling out the sustainability plan in 2021.

Training for health and safety measures
COVID-19 does not stop us from continuous educating to our suppliers regarding sustainability and social responsibility.

More than three symposiums held (or participate) by FCF in Taiwan

Despite the fact that travel restrictions are ongoing, FCF still endeavored to work actively on sustainability projects despite the fact that auditing vessel owners and related fishing vessels became more challenging.

FCF was planning to visit a large number of vessels in transshipment ports around the world and the offices of vessel owners to raise awareness about tuna sustainability and social responsibility, but this plan could not be fully implemented due to the COVID situation. Instead, in the second half of 2020, FCF hosted 3 sustainability and social responsibility-related workshops and participated the high level panel discussion following the safety guidelines of Taiwan Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in both Kaohsiung and Tong Kang, the two major distant water fishing ports in Taiwan. The objective of the workshops was to raise awareness about the importance of fisheries sustainability among FCF’s suppliers and ultimately to get their commitments to collaborate on improving the social and environmental performance of the tuna fishing industry.

Brief summary of seminars that FCF held/attended in late 2020
left to right - Taiwan Fisheries Agency Director General (DG), ex-DG, FCF CEO Mr. Lee
FCF presented its MSC programs during the seminar.

Development of grievance tool – “Worker’s Voice” platform

Social issues have been a main focus of FCF’s sustainability and social responsibility developments over the last few years, and FCF has been focusing on the monitoring of its supply chain’s labor practice through office and site (vessel) social verification audits. The audit coverage was delayed in the second half of the year due to the COVID-19 outbreak, but this did not stop FCF from progressing with the implementation of its newly launched QR Code-based mechanism. To overcome the challenges faced, FCF has partnered with an online platform provider e-Audit Services to pilot test solutions for the continuous monitoring and management of social risk onboard fishing vessels while at sea as well as an anonymous complaint mechanism.

The QR Code was made available to all crew members across the pilot fleet, which allows them to provide periodic feedback in accordance with the FCF social requirements, predominately the grievance mechanism. By running this pilot project, it is expected that FCF could help out its suppliers to identify potential social risks on their vessels or during recruitment process before most of the countries lift the restrictions for traveling. 

In addition to the feedback, this e-Audit solution also allows crew members to raise complaints in an anonymous and confidential way. All complaints raised will be directly submitted to independent third parties that will be in charge of investigating the issues, advising the crew member(s) as required and help them in resolving the issues identified. Complaints can be submitted anonymously and all complaints received will be securely recorded, and individual follow-up will take place by third- parties like The Presbyterian Church in Taiwan (PCT) designated to complaints from crew members of Taiwan-flagged vessels. After an initial pilot testing, FCF is planning to roll-out this solution across all its supply chain in 2021 and 2022.

This FCF grievance mechanism solution will eventually involve more Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) who will ensure that complaints are adequately addressed in line with FCF conflict resolution procedure, and provide all crew members with a safe, reliable and confidential channel when they need to raise a complaint. The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed on April 8th, 2021, see news release HERE.

Expanding sustainable sourcing

Since 2018, FCF has been awarded two MSC Certificates, the Fisheries Certificate for Purse Seine Free School fishing in the Western Central Pacific Ocean (WCPO) and the group Chain of Custody (CoC) certificate that ensures the traceability of its MSC-eligible products delivered to its customers. FCF is also working closely with the newly acquired seafood brand, Bumble Bee Seafood on two longline Fisheries Improvement Projects (FIPs) in both Pacific and Indian Oceans.

Furthermore, FCF is actively progressing on the MSC scope extension of FAD fishing to the existing Purse Seine fisheries in WCPO as well as working with Nauru Fisheries on the Purse Seine MSC Fisheries project for the vessels flying their flags.

FCF also endeavors to extend its sustainable Longline supply chain, and this project will include engaging in MSC assessment for longline fisheries in Pacific Ocean, Indian Ocean and Atlantic Ocean. If any of these fisheries cannot immediately meet the requirement of MSC standard, FCF will continue its effort in improvement projects to ensure that the fishing sectors working with various industrial partners will commit in tuna sustainability.

Study of bio-degradable materials for MSC/FIP action plan
Carrier training on handling of MSC tuna

2020 hasn’t been like what we expected but we’ve found new ways to stay connected. FCF is committed to leading the tuna industry, providing practical solutions for fishing sectors, engaging with retailers, NGOs and many other stakeholders to achieve its vision of a sustainable tuna resources for generations to come.

For further information, please keep follow our latest Sustainability Page – TUNATOPIA.

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