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Tuna Longline Fishery Enters MSC Assessment

07 June 2011

FIJI - The Fiji Tuna Boat Owners Association’s (FTBOA) albacore tuna longline fishery has become the first Fijian fishery to enter full assessment for Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification.

The fishery operates across the waters of the Fijian EEZ. The 24 vessels use pelagic longline methods to catch 3,000 to 4,000 metric tonnes of albacore each year. These tuna are sold predominantly in fresh form to markets in Japan, US, Thailand and American Samoa.

The FTBOA’s albacore tuna fishery is currently managed under the Western and Central Pacific Fishery Commission (WCPFC). Under this international convention, Fiji is responsible for managing the fishery within its waters but must ensure that the management is compatible with agreements under the Commission.

Independent certification body, Moody Marine Ltd, will evaluate the fishery against the MSC environmental standard for well-managed and sustainable fisheries, which examines the sustainability of the target fish stock, the environmental impact of fishing operations and the management and governance systems that are in place.

Secretary of the FTBOA, Russell Dunham, announced the FTBOA's excitement at entering the assessment saying, “One of the major objectives of the Association is to facilitate and promote the sustainable use of tuna, and tuna related resources, in Fiji and the wider Western Pacific region. We see working towards MSC certification as an important step in achieving this goal.”

“Achieving MSC certification would also be an important step in maintaining and expanding our buyer base, as markets are increasingly demanding tuna from certified sustainable fisheries,” Mr Dunham added.

Pacific Islands Forum Fishing Agency (FFA) Deputy Director, James Movick noted FTBOA's commitment to undertaking MSC assessment was an encouraging step forward in the region's search to enhance the sustainability of its fisheries' resources, while at the same time securing improved and distinctive market competitiveness.

"I commend the FTBOA for taking this step and urge government resource managers, international markets and consumers to recognise and support this endeavour, and to appreciate the earnest commitment of FTBOA and its members to the principles of resource sustainability and market sensibility,” Mr Movick said.

Also supporting the fishery's move was Bill Holden, MSC Pacific Fisheries Manager. He welcomed the fishery into the programme saying, “It is great to see another tuna fishery in the Western Pacific undergoing assessment.”

“Tuna is a major export for many countries in the region, and is therefore of vital importance to the regional economy. As such, we feel it is in the fishery’s best interests to assess the sustainability of its operations.”

“The FTBOA should be commended for undertaking this rigorous and transparent assessment of their fishing practices, and I wish them well with these endeavours,”

“I hope this announcement will encourage more tuna fisheries in the region to engage with the MSC programme,” Mr Holden concluded.

TheFishSite News Desk



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