The Swiss food giant Nestlé has made a commitment to rid itself of suppliers indulging in transshipping – a process where fish catches are moved from one vessel to another to ensure boats remain at sea longer and to conceal cases of overfishing.
A 12-month investigationexternal link by the environmental organisation Greenpeace’s Asia branch uncovered transshipping carried out by Thai fishing fleets operating overseas in the Saya de Malha Bank in the Indian Ocean. In Thailand, the illegal catch was used to make fish paste that was converted into pet food sold under the label of Nestlé brand Purina and Fancy Feast.
In December 2016, Nestlé agreed to ban suppliers involved in transshipping across all its pet products.
“It was incredible turning point as it put pressure on other companies in the pet food industry,” Perry Wheeler, Greenpeace Seafood Communications and Outreach Manager, told swissinfo.ch on Friday.
A month after Nestlé’s commitment, competitor Mars – whose pet food brands Iams, Whiskas and Dine were also implicated – also agreed to abandon Thai suppliers accused of transshipping.
The Greenpeace report also revealed that transshipping enabled vessels to stay at sea for extended periods causing malnourishment among the hired crew. Several contracted beriberi, a Vitamin B1 deficiency, due to a prolonged diet of only rice and fish as they couldn’t return to shore.