USAID Oceans Assesses Strengths, Opportunities of Thai Union’s Recent Traceability Pilot in Southern Thailand

Thai Union’s pilot to test catch documentation and traceability and crew communications technologies was conducted in Pattani and Ranong, Thailand; two ports with great significance in Thailand’s fishing industry. Photo: Marine Change/Sari Tolvanen

In March 2017, the USAID Oceans and Fisheries Partnership (USAID Oceans) and Thai Union formed a partnership in support of USAID Oceans’ mission to enhance regional catch documentation and traceability (CDT) to combat illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, promote sustainable fisheries, counter labor exploitation and conserve marine biodiversity in the Asia Pacific Region.

Thai Union launched a pilot program to test the usability and scalability of CDT technology for at-sea data collection and improved crew communications. Thai Union led the pilot, in cooperation with Thailand’s Department of Fisheries (DoF), Inmarsat, Xsense, Mars Pet Care, and with technical advice from USAID Oceans.

The CDT pilot was located in the Indo-Pacific mackerel (Rastrelliger brachysoma, or pla thu in Thai) fishery, which is the third largest fishery in Thailand by value and the fourth largest by volume. Other species such as tongol and sardines were also caught by the vessels that participated in the pilot, but in lesser quantities. The pilot was conducted on four vessels over a 36-week period between May and December 2017 and tested Inmarsat Fleet One Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) technology with two-way communications, an e-logbook and a mobile phone application, Hi-Chat, which was used for crew communications. In addition to understanding the potential for electronic CDT within the Thai fleets, the pilot was particularly interested in human welfare aspects and the ability of the crew to communicate securely to a trusted person on land.

To assess the success of the pilot, USAID Oceans conducted an assessment and an evaluation on the key data elements (KDEs) collected, using USAID Oceans’ KDE recommendations and key import market requirements as a baseline for analysis.

The pilot resulted in several benefits, including business benefits for the vessel operators, improved crew morale and greater crew retention. From the assessment, several recommendations were made, including technology optimization, expansion of KDE data points, development of a feasible purchase plan and cost structure for industry members, and greater integration with existing (DoF) traceability systems.

For more information and full results, download USAID Oceans’ Thai Union eCDT and Crew Communications: Pilot Assessment Report.