This is the 6th Company Update Report that FCF Co., Ltd. (FCF) has published.
December 29, 2022
© 2022 FCF Co., Ltd. All Rights Reserved.
“Shaping the Future of Our Ocean Together.”
Since our founding in 1972, FCF has evolved through different phases. We would like to thank all senior leaders and employees who have supported the company over the years and contributed to its competitiveness. Only through the dedicated work of each and every one of them, have we even managed to celebrate half a century this year. We would also like to take this opportunity to thank you, dear stakeholders and industry partners, for the trust and support you have placed in us. Without your contribution, cooperation, and shared vision, Taiwan's distant water fishing industry would not be able to grow along a stable track.
The year 2022 marks a new phase in the history of FCF. As we have all recognized, today's industrial environment is very different from when we started. The distant-water fishery has evolved into a "new traditional industry" that focuses more on a product’s added value instead of focusing on fishing efforts and market price. To confront the coming challenges, FCF unveiled a new brand concept –Shaping the Future of Our Ocean Together– to reaffirm our “Fishtopia” sustainability blueprint that supports those pursuing a better, more sustainable future for the industry.
Here’s to the next 50 years. FCF will keep committing to improving marine conservation, supporting science-based fishing strategies, and reducing the industry’s ecological impact. Concurrently, we will further implement corporate social responsibility programs, promote responsible recruitment in the fishing industry, and work with industry participants to improve the working environment for fishery workers. Despite the current challenging conditions, FCF will always stand with our stakeholders to confront the turmoil together and stride forward on the path to sustainability.
FCF Co., Ltd. President/CEO
The continued and consistent growth in sustainable sourcing commitments from global markets was accompanied by a rapid expansion in the certifications of Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) fisheries or in fishery improvement projects (FIPs), which aim to increase a fishery’s performance and help it meet the requirements of the MSC standard.
Across the seafood supply chain, FCF is working with the fishing sector, processors, retailers, and relevant stakeholders to procure responsibly-sourced seafood products. To advance responsible fishery management, FCF uses a multi-step process to identify sustainability issues, implement improvements, and report the results. This is done to ensure that FIPs are ongoing continuously and in well improved progress.
As a result of fishery advancements over the past several months in FCF’s longline FIPs, the progress fully represents the efforts through communication with suppliers, promoting best practices on the water, providing instant consulting services, and other activities. These improvements fully reflect the expectations of FCF and its supply chain partners to support fishery sustainability and marine resource conservation.
Expanding Tech Solutions Across Fisheries
Along with the continuous growth of the concern of marine resource conservation and biodiversity in longline fishery, there are more and more immediate action and information exchange of catch management taken by the stakeholders. One of the innovative approaches is electronic monitoring (EM), which is widely being developed in recent years and even expanding to practices in multiple aspects. Through technological equipment, electronic monitor and data transition, it will not only increase the effective monitor management but strengthen the capacity of data collection for scientific analysis.
Bumble Bee Seafoods, FCF’s newly acquired brand subsidiary, led an EM project for longline fishery in 2016, aimed at supporting such innovative technology with its supplying vessels and seeking a solution to improve observer coverage. Though the development of EM has met with many challenges, with its advanced monitoring technologies and industrial trends t it also reflects a significant change in the interaction between the supply chain and stakeholders including industry, government and academic sectors in recent years. Meanwhile, FCF is well-aware that the need for scientific data is important to fishery management. We continue communicating with several EM providers and information consulting firms for the best approach to the fishery improvement projects (FIPs). In November 2022, visiting representatives from Satlink, one of the experienced technology companies had an in-person meeting with FCF and exchanged the information on technical issues and weighing the pros and the cons of the EM plan, with a main purpose to improve the coverage rate in general, scientific data accuracy and strengthen the scheme of fisheries monitoring, control, and surveillance (MCS) among the longline fisheries.
Assisting in Development of Eco-Friendly FADs
In September 2022, FCF and the Pacific Community (SPC) signed a Memorandum of Cooperation for a joint project to trial “Jelly FADs”— non-entangling and biodegradable fish aggregating devices (FADs), in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean (WCPO). The goal of these trials is to support the industry’s uptake of more ecologically sustainable drifting FAD designs. Through the collaboration, FCF hopes to promote the research and development of eco-friendly FADs.
The “Jelly-FAD”, tested by FCF and SPC, was originally designed by the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (ISSF). The design reduces the size of the FAD structure itself so that if a Jelly FAD is lost, the ecological impact is minimized. The structure of the Jelly FAD also eliminates the netting materials to avoid entanglement if it is lost, abandoned, or discarded. Such adjustment is expected to eliminate ghost fishing. In addition, the entire Jelly-FAD is made of biodegradable materials, such as cotton and bamboo, instead of plastic derived components, which reduces marine pollution.
In December, SPC invited FCF to attend a workshop lead by ISSF held in Micronesia to learn more about the Jelly-FAD concept, construction and tests. At present, all the Jelly-FADs that will be used in the trial have been built. Next, FCF will assist in introducing the Jelly -FAD to its participants fishing vessels for the ten-month at-sea trials. Through the project, FCF hopes to promote and support the development of biodegradable fishing gear to promote a more sustainable FAD fishery.
FCF’s Endangered, Threatened, and Protected (ETP) Species Conservation Efforts
Improper fishery management is one of the main drivers of ecological destruction and stock depletion. To address these issues, FCF placed additional emphasis on the management of endangered, threatened, and protected (ETP) in the second half of 2022.
Actions FCF has taken the past six months:
SUSTAINABILITY OUTREACH INITIATIVES
FCF Advocates for Seafood Traceability at Seafood Expo Asia
FCF Project Manager Metilda Chu was asked to present during two panel discussions at the Seafood Expo Asia in Singapore in September 2022. During the September 15th session, Chu discussed FCF’s role as a trader and how the company connects upstream and downstream supply chains in order to implement a traceability system that meets both consumer expectations and market demand.
During the September 16th panel discussion —Advancing Seafood Traceability Systems to Help Eliminate IUU Fishing and Seafood Fraud from Asian Seafood Supply Chains— Chu explained how FCFs management tools and verification mechanisms provide greater transparency for stakeholders.
Engaging with the Taiwan Wild Bird Federation and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds to Combat Seabird Bycatch
In order to strengthen its continued efforts in combating seabird bycatch, FCF welcomed representatives from the Taiwan Wild Bird Federation (TWBF) and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) to discuss this important topic at their Kaohsiung headquarters in November.
The visiting representatives from the TWBF and the RSPB are experts in seabird conservation and ecological protection. Not only do they make use of scientific data to analyze environmental issues, but they also have extensive experience with fishing vessel operations and crew member training. Through their visit, they hoped to understand the current status of bycatch mitigation measures used on longline fishing vessels, and in collaboration with FCF, explore other opportunities for greater seabird protection. During their visit, FCF arranged a trip for the experts to a longline fishing vessel to better understand the operation and assess the effectiveness of current mitigation measures.
FCF Co-hosts International Seminar about Labor Rights in Distant Water Fisheries
On December 13, 2022, FCF, American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), and Taiwan’s Fisheries Agency (TFA) co-hosted a seminar titled “Deploying Technology-Enabled Solutions to Protect Labor Rights in Taiwan’s Distant-Waters Fishing Industry” in Kaohsiung, Taiwan. The seminar focused on the use of innovative technologies to protect labor rights in distant-waters fisheries, and to develop maritime emergency response and reporting procedures. The attendees were a range of stakeholders including fishery experts, policy makers, academics, NGOs, migrant fisher organizations, fishing vessel operators, and seafood industry representatives. The aim of this seminar was for each participant to gain a deeper understanding of the newly developed technological solutions while promoting industry collaboration in addressing labor rights issues.
Progress Of Worker’s Voice Project
The mobile app for FCF’s Worker’s Voice Project, which provides a grievance mechanism for crew on distant water fishing vessels, was officially launched in August, 2022. The app integrates a QR-Code-based questionnaire and is equipped with an instant messaging feature so that the Seaman and Fishermen Service Center (SFSC) and the crew member can discuss and update individual cases.
Since the deployment of the online grievance mechanism, over 200 crew members have submitted complaints to the SFSC. Currently, 86% of the lodged grievances have been settled and closed by SFSC.
After only one year, FCF’s Worker’s Voice project has gained industry recognition. The Southwestern Atlantic Squid Fishery Improvement Project, led by the Taiwan Squid & Saury Fisheries Association (TSSFA) and the Overseas Fisheries Development Council of the Republic of China (OFDC), have signed a memorandum of understanding with FCF and SFSC, which commits to implementing FCF’s Worker’s Voice online platform as one of the onboard grievance mechanisms for the FIP.
Responsible Recruitment Project
The Responsible Recruitment Project between FCF and the Indonesia Fisherman Association (INFISA) continues to progress. After the latest training seminar, INFISA has completed the first round of recruitment agency verifications. This process is to verify whether the recruitment agencies comply with international social responsibility standards, as well as applicable laws and regulations, throughout the recruitment process. This step relies on external consultants to conduct evaluations based on INFISA’s verification process and provide suggestions for improvement. FCF representatives flew to Indonesia to participate in one of the recruitment agency verifications and used the opportunity to meet with the Indonesian Ministry of Manpower, the Indonesian Ministry of Transportation, Serikat Pekerja Perikanan Indonesia, and local fisherman and crew training centers. Additionally, FCF met with INFISA and several of the participant recruitment agencies to strengthen cooperation among stakeholders
Progress of Social Evaluation Program
Through continuous efforts and promotion, FCF’s Social Evaluation Program (SEP) has gained recognition and has been accepted by a growing number of fishing companies. Including the auditing and improving engagement at Mauritius and Fiji the two major fishery bases in the first half of the year, FCF Social Evaluation Program has achieved remarkable results and progress in 2022.
In response to issues identified by the SEP, FCF invested heavily in its Vessel Service & Governance (VSG) department to proactively assist fishing companies improve their operations. Additionally, FCF recently updated its Supplier Social Requirement for Vessel Owners in November. This Requirement update was based on the International Labor Organization (ILO) conventions with additional references to other industry-specific social responsibility standards such as “Best Seafood Practices: Responsible Fishing Vessel Standard (RFVS),” and “Fairness, Integrity, Safety and Health (FISH) Standard for Crew”. The changes were made to not only cover various social responsibility issues more comprehensively, but to also help fishing companies establish a reliable management system and reduce risks through a more detailed and practical approach.
In order to handle the increased demand for social responsibility assessments next year, FCF has contracted several third-party auditing companies to ensure that the expanded Social Evaluation Program schedules are met. This practice will also benefit the third-party auditors in Taiwan because they will be able to accumulate social audit experience onboard fishing vessels.
The Seafood Task Force Summit
In 2022, the Seafood Task Force (STF) membership summit convened for the first time since the coronavirus outbreak. As a member of the STF, FCF participated in discussions about the tuna supply chain, responsible recruitment, and grievance mechanisms. FCF also shared updates about its project with the Indonesian Fisherman Association (INFISA) which aims to make the recruiting process for fishers more equitable.
Attaining UN’s Sustainability Development Goals By Transparent Corporate Governance
FCF deploys one of the UN’s Sustainability Development Goals – to promote just, peace and strong institutions with the concept of transparent and human corporate governance by establishing employee’s grievance mechanism to protect whistler’s rights.
In October 2022, FCF updated two policies of corporate governance. One is “Anti-bribery and Anti-Corruption Management Policy” which is to ensure the legitimate and transparent corporate governance; the other one is “Regulations for Governing Employees’ Petitions” which is to protect employees as well as to provide timely and effective communication channels. Two policies demonstrate the importance to stick to the principle of integrity management. More specific policies include human resource operational procedure, code of conduct for management and employees, training & development, employment contract, work rules and working behavior of good faith.
“Anti-bribery and Anti-Corruption Management Policy” defines the required procedure for employees to follow in order to ensure “zero bribery” situation. The Company shall provide relevant training on this policy to employees from time to time to ensure that all personnel fully understand and are in compliance with the Policy. This policy strongly demands that company personnel shall not directly or indirectly give, offer, accept or request improper benefit to any counterparty in any form to facilitate business advantage. The counterparty refers to suppliers, customers, and government and public servants including their family members, representatives or associates. Any company personnel who is aware of any information for a violation of the Policy, or matters revolving around bribery or corruption, is welcome/has the right to report it in writing or through email to the mailbox or management team. The report can be with the name or anonymous.
“Regulations for Governing Employees’ Petitions” are set for company personnel who wishes to express / reflect his/her opinions about corporate governance, as the grievance mechanism for effective communication between the company and employees, as well as the means of protecting employee’s rights. Any grievance or petition made by employees can be with the name or anonymous attaching evidence document and will be dealt directly by designated grievance committee protecting whistler’s rights. In the past, employees might feel hesitate to file complaints decisively due to subordinate relationship in the company. FCF wants to ensure a smooth two-way communication and therefore enhances employees’ petition mechanism to protect two-way communication relationship.
These two policies meet the SDGs No. 16.5 – “Substantially reduce corruption and bribery in all its forms”, No. 16.6 – “Develop effective, accountable and transparent institutions at all level”, and No. 16.7 – “Ensure responsive, inclusive, participatory and representative decision-making at all levels”. FCF expects to implement these two updated policies, to maintain good interactive relations with its employees, to enhance information transparency and to develop business continuity in a sustainable manner.
Due Diligence Procedure
FCF requires our suppliers to commit to improving various sustainability issues in the fishing industry, and the Due Diligence (DD) Project is designed as a tool to verify whether our suppliers have appropriate corresponding management systems. This project is not just for due diligence FCF conducts on its supply chain, but also to aid fishing companies in inspecting the conditions of vessel operation. Through the Due Diligence Project, we benchmark the condition of fishing vessels with international and industry standards in three major aspects: environmental sustainability, social responsibility, and health and safety equipment. At the same time, we also provide training and consulting services for vessel improvement. And the results will be shared with the fishing company.
We anticipate that by going through such interactive engagement and communication, we can help a broader coverage of vessels being aware of the importance of sustainability related issues and being more proactive on improvement. The project also helps us collect a large amount of representative data in a faster and more efficient way, to facilitate our initiative assessing the status of various sustainability issues in the fishing industry, adjust and adopt further reliable strategies and discover solutions for best practices.
The Due Diligence Project has been developed with preliminary implementation structure and procedures, and the FCF newly formed department the VSG Team is providing experimental services for national and foreign fishing vessels calling in Taiwan since the 2nd half of 2022.
FCF Traceability at A Glance
Fishtopia, is a vision organized into three aspects to support the sustainability of fisheries, which entails the efforts FCF committed to environmental resources, social responsibility and traceability measures.
For decades, FCF has been extensively engaged with distant water fisheries, business partners around the globe as the seafood products are sourced from various oceans, species, fishing gear type and managed by different authority levels, which means the supply chains are getting more complex–this is apparent in the seafood industry in particular. In the light of such consideration, traceability in seafood products becomes an important element through the transparent supply chain from sea to table. It plays a significant role in providing the key data around fishing vessels or catch, to prove the legality of a seafood product is verified and in compliance with the international regulation and, at the same time, it increases market confidence in seafood products.
To strengthen the concept of the importance of traceability throughout the supply chain, FCF has invested considerable resources and human capacity into its individual verification mechanism by contributing to a broader change in traceability, facilitating the involvement in multiple sustainability projects and helping the industry access supply-chain-specific requirements. The traceability model explains the verification flow of comprehensive catch traceability. The four principles represent the key factors of verification – the legality, verifiability, transparency and traceability, as well as the risk control management to help ensure that all of fishery products are full traceable and verifiable along with zero-tolerance on prevention of sourcing with illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) catch.
Internal Capacity Building
Cultivating talents is one of the top priorities of FCF. To encourage employees to participate in continuous learning, FCF regularly organizes internal training to help employees enhance their skills and grow in their careers.
In July 2022, FCF invited an expert from JS Consulting to train FCF on the international guidelines of ESG corporate sustainability development and human rights due diligence. The purpose of this training was to increase FCF’s understanding of human rights issues and cultivate FCF’s capacity of due diligence procedures to help its supply chain achieve the sustainability development goals of FCF.
Negotiation Skills Training
In September, FCF also invited Dr. Liu, Birong (Steve Liu) to deliver a lecture on “Improving Business Negotiation Skills”. During the lecture, Dr. Liu used actual cases to explain the concept, improving participants’ negotiation expertise and management skill, and providing powerful insights into how to achieve business excellence.
People & Community
Fostering Talents for A Sustainable Ocean
In mid-September 2022, FCF welcomed students from the Ministry of Labor, Youth Salon for corporate visiting at their Kaohsiung headquarter. Most of the students in the Youth Salon are fresh graduates or young job-seekers. In order to increase the connection between young people and distant fisheries, and establish sustainability concepts for the younger generation, FCF invited its senior colleagues to share their career experience with the students and introduce them to the industry’s history and future trends.
In October, Marian Chiang, the Executive Assistant to the President and Senior Vice President of FCF, was invited by the National Taiwan Ocean University (NTOU) to deliver a speech about FCF’s efforts in supporting social responsibility and labor rights in distant-water fisheries. In her speech, Marian led participants on a deep exploration of Taiwan’s distant-water fisheries while also sharing concepts of fishery sustainability. FCF hopes that by sharing its experience and vision of “Fishtopia”, younger generations will gain a clearer understanding of Taiwan’s distant-water fisheries, and will be encouraged to contribute to marine conservation and social responsibility after graduation.
FCF Continues Its Support to charity
In October 2022, FCF attended the charity dinner and fundraising event hosted by “Taiwan, His Hands Christian Home” to help childcare. Through the support, FCF hopes to encourage more people to care about the disadvantaged in our society and the care of orphaned infants.
On December 23rd 2022 , FCF donated the Taiwan Seamen and Fishermen’s Service Center (SFSC)’s Christmas event at Kaohsiung port, singing Christmas carol and giving out winter jackets to crew members as Christmas presents this year.