Dongwon Group is a South Korean conglomerate with around 15,000 employees worldwide across its 17 subsidiaries. Dongwon’s subsidiaries include Dongwon F&B as well as Dongwon Industries, the largest fishing company in South Korea. StarKist, a US-based canned tuna producer, is wholly owned by Dongwon.
Governance and management of stewardship practices
Implementation of human and labour rights policies
The company states that it complies with Labour Standards Act of the Republic of Korea alongside complying with ILO conventions for its commitment towards human and labour rights. It states that it has a grievance handling system through which it provides counseling and actively handles complaints regarding potential human rights violations. Furthermore, the company’s approaches for health and safety through its Safety Education Programs with various manuals such as ‘Safety and Health Manual’, ‘Safety Pledge’, ‘Safety Management Manual’ is notable.
Dongwon does not provide any quantifiable evidence of its sourcing and traceability efforts beyond 2015 or at the group level. While subsidiary StarKist reports that in 2015 it purchased 86 percent of tuna from the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (ISSF) listed vessels, Dongwon does not provide group-wide details about the geographic location, species and certified status of its marine ingredients portfolio. Dongwon could improve transparency around its activities to increase accountability on the traceability of its marine ingredients.
Dongwon’s sustainability report contains seven implementation areas, two of which specifically focus on the group’s seafood activities. The group has set an environmental management objective to become a leader in the sustainable fishing industry. While the group briefly mentions important environmental responsibilities in its sustainability report, such as reducing greenhouse gas emissions and water use, its accountability is limited. Dongwon could increase this by setting time-bound and forward-looking targets across these and other key environmental and social metrics.
Dongwon has been actively involved in mitigating potential adverse impacts on the ecosystem. For instance, the group commits to avoiding harm to vulnerable species and has also developed and issued a set of bycatch management guidelines for all staff and crew. Beyond bycatch, Dongwon should share more information about its efforts to address the risk of having illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fish enter its supply chain and to contribute to science-based management plans, as well as ensure that these measures apply across its supply chain.
Dongwon demonstrates some capacity building efforts through the social contribution activities carried out by its subsidiary Dongwon Education Foundation. To better support local communities, the group could develop and disclose formal commitments and policies around strengthening the livelihoods of people living in areas where it operates.