Somchai’s great grandfather started his family business Pla Yai (“Big Fish”) from a small fishing boat. It grew slowly over multiple generations, but for the past two decades, things like automation and globalization have made change a constant. The last CEO, the family patriarch, saw that the fishing business was going to be disrupted and he moved to stay ahead of the changes. He bought up local competitors and shifted the company to larger boats which used large nets, while also opening processing and canning facilities. Over that time, the business went from being one of many players to one in which they essentially accounted for the entire industry. As it grew, it became one of the largest employers in the coastal town it is operated out of, and several other businesses facilitate their supply chain, so any significant changes to their business would ripple through the community.
In recent years, catches have steadily gone down, while complaints about bycatch (the unwanted fish and other marine creatures caught during commercial fishing for a specific species) and environmental damage have gone up. These challenges brought attention from a multinational NGO that launched a campaign with a prominent actress that has recently brought significant negative attention to the firm. To date, the firm has not addressed the NGO’s campaign.
The local government is now discussing regulations which would ban the nets Pla Yai currently uses, and they may also put stricter limits on the amounts of different kinds of fish which can be taken, as well as the days in which fishing is allowed.
Point for Discussion:
- Discuss the issues of overfishing/bycatch. How might the firm continue providing a similar (or even greater) amount of fish to the market, while dealing with their environmental challenges?
- If your ideas are likely to require expertise the firm wouldn’t have, where might you find it?
- How might the proposed changes you make impact employment for your fishermen and suppliers?
- Can you devise a strategy that mitigates your challenges, while not disrupting the local economy?
- Given the circumstances, what factors would you consider before deciding whether to engage with the NGO? If you decided to do so, how might you approach them and what might you try to achieve in doing so?