News · BANGKOK (Thailand) · 1 November 2022
For the 17th time, the INFOFISH World Tuna Trade Conference and Exhibition took place in Bangkok, Thailand from 11–13 October 2022. This event continued its legacy of bringing together the most important players in the global tuna sector from industry, governments, NGOs, and service providers.
The theme of this year’s conference was “Strengthening Resilience, Adaptability and Sustainable Growth in the Global Tuna Industry”. In her opening address, Shirlene Maria Anthonysamy (Director, INFOFISH) related this theme to the rapid and successful adoption of new technologies, effective collaborations, and novel initiatives to support the sustainable growth of the industry in response to the Covid-19 pandemic which hit tuna sector particularly severely.
New Zealand had a good representation at the conference where Bubba Cook (WWF), Moritz Lehmann (Starboard) and Francisco Blaha (independent fisheries advisor) served as speakers and panellists during the sessions. The Starboard and Snap Group booth attracted visitors from governments, NGOs, and industry.
Over the three days 523 delegates, 43 speakers, and representatives from major fisheries authorities participated in the presentation programme and interacted during the breaks with the 41 international companies in the stands offering equipment and services to the sector.
The common thread of the industry and market updates was the response to the unique challenges that the last years brought. An area of particular interest was the increasing role of new technologies to increase sustainability, transparency, and efficiency. The presentations by Starboard Senior Scientist Dr. Moritz Lehmann reported on the opportunities of data science and satellite remote sensing to uncover hidden maritime activity related to illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing. Gabriel Gomez Celaya of Marine Instruments demonstrated the latest developments in fish biomass detection using sonar buoys on fish aggregation devices and applications of fixed-wing surveillance drones that are able to replace helicopters on purse seiners.
The presentations were very well attended with the final session of the conference deserving particular mention. In What’s next in social accountability and sustainability? The panellists discussed areas where the sector knows it needs to improve: Francisco Blaha presented a first-person account of the regulatory complexities of employment on fishing vessels and stressed the undeniable responsibility of flag states on labour matters on board. He demanded better recognition of the labour rights of fishers. Bubba Cook (WWF) reported on the growing concerns among banking and financial institutions’ drive for greater due diligence and scrutiny of fishing investments.
Overall, the opportunity to reconnect in person made for a vibrant and productive atmosphere. Market opportunities and increasing effort towards tuna stock sustainability, curbing of IUU activity and technological innovation left us with an optimistic outlook for the next two years until the conference will reconvene.
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