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Maldives Pole-and Line Skipjack: Tuna you can Trust

15 March 2013

MALDIVES - The International Pole & Line Foundation (IPNLF) has praised a new initiative that will see all exports of Maldives pole-and-line skipjack tuna (Katsuwonus pelamis) caught in the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certified fishery carry a “Validation Certificate” issued by the MSC client, the Maldives Seafood Processors and Exporters Association (MSPEA).

The Validation Certificate confirms that the fish have been caught in the Maldives and by the traditional pole-and-line fishing method. The MSPEA has based the new certificate on official catch records, and without it the market should not accept the product as MSC-certified Maldives pole-and-line skipjack tuna.

Each shipment of fish will also travel with a validated IUU Fishing Regulation catch certificate, which is required for all wild-caught fish exported into the European Union, to show it has been caught legally. In the case of Maldives tuna, the catch certificate is issued by the Maldivian government.

Through the pairing of these certificates, the Maldives is ensuring full traceability of its skipjack resource throughout the supply chain and allowing end-markets to trace the product back to a sustainable, MSC-certified source.

The Maldives’ pole-and-line skipjack fishery achieved MSC status in November 2012. It was the first large pole-and-line fishery and the first Indian Ocean fishery to achieve MSC certification. Skipjack from members of the client group MSPEA is now eligible to be marketed with the MSC’s eco-label and these members are dedicated to preserving the credibility of this unique status.

“It is vital to the survival of fisheries such as the Maldives pole-and-line skipjack fishery that the catch achieves its full market potential. MSC certification was a big step towards realising this potential and now that MSC-certified Maldivian skipjack has started to arrive in European supermarkets, the new Validation Certificate gives further peace of mind to those companies that have supported Maldivian tuna,” says Dr Hussain Rasheed Hassan, chairman of the IPNLF.

“Illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing is a growing problem around the world; it reduces fish stocks and makes it harder to manage fisheries sustainably, which affects the livelihoods of local fishermen and can cause extreme damage to the marine environment. Through the IUU Fishing Regulation catch certificate and the MSPEA’s Validation Certificate, consumers everywhere can enjoy Maldives’ pole-and-line skipjack tuna and know that it definitely comes from a fishery that has been certified as sustainable,” says Dr Hussain Rasheed Hassan, chairman of the IPNLF.

The Maldives has a history of fishing for tuna with pole-and-line and handlines that dates back hundreds of years and its tuna resource is of huge importance to the country’s economy. It is also vital to the survival of many local fishing communities as it is the most viable industry in the outer islands. It is estimated that as many as 20,000 Maldivian fishermen take part in the traditional tuna fisheries.

Both the pole-and-line and handline fisheries are confined to the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of the Maldives.

TheFishSite News Desk

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