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Northeastern Tropical Pacific Purse Seine Tuna Fishery Enters MSC Assessment

10 November 2014

GLOBAL - The Northeastern Tropical Pacific purse seine yellowfin (Thunnus albacares) and skipjack (Katsuwonus pelamis) tuna fishery is voluntarily putting itself under the spotlight and scrutiny of the Marine Stewardship Council’s (MSC) independent assessment process.

The MSC fisheries standard is the world’s most robust and credible standard for the certification of environmentally sustainable wild-capture fisheries. The transparent assessment will examine the fishery’s impact on fish stocks and the marine ecosystem. It will also evaluate the fishery’s management process to ensure that it is taking all necessary steps to protect the ocean environment for future generations.

Dan Averill, MSC Fisheries Outreach Manager for the Americas said: “We welcome this fishery’s decision to enter MSC assessment. The assessment will result in detailed, scientific and transparent scrutiny and information about this fishery’s operations and the impacts it has on fish stocks and the wider ecosystem.”

Pacific Alliance for Sustainable Tuna selects SCS Global Services to carry out assessment

The client for this assessment is the Pacific Alliance for Sustainable Tuna, a group of five leading companies fishing yellowfin and skipjack tuna in the Northeastern Tropical Pacific Ocean. The majority of this catch is sold in Mexico, Europe and Latin America in the form of canned tuna and frozen loin.

The Pacific Alliance for Sustainable Tuna has selected SCS Global Services to assess the fishery against the rigorous scientific standard set by the MSC.

Luis Lazaro Valles, representing the Pacific Alliance for Sustainable Tuna said: “Our members share a vision for healthy oceans and a sustainable fishery, and we are 100% committed to continually improving our fishing practices to ensure the sustainability of our fishery, as part of a healthy marine ecosystem.

"Through MSC’s transparent process, we look forward to engaging with stakeholders on our fishery’s practices, continuing our tradition of innovating practices to meet evolving scientific standards for sustainable fishing, and reaffirming our commitment to sustainability. We selected SCS Global Services to conduct the independent evaluation because of its reputation for exceptionally robust, comprehensive assessment.”

MSC's standard for sustainable fishing

The assessment will measure the fishery against MSC’s standard for sustainable fishing which was developed over the past 15 years in consultation with NGO’s, marine scientists, and industry experts. The standard is based on three core principles:

  • Maintaining healthy populations of target species;
  • Maintaining the integrity, productivity and resilience of the wider marine ecosystem (including habitats and other species encountered by the fishery); and,
  • Effective management

If certified, the fishery will have to comply with MSC’s strict standards for sustainability, make improvements to fulfill any conditions set by the certifier to reach international best practice, and undergo annual reviews throughout the five-year certification period.

This could lead to long-term benefits for people and the environment. Products from this fishery would then be eligible to carry the MSC blue ecolabel as long as the supply chain demonstrates traceability by meeting the MSC’s robust chain of custody standard.

The MSC’s Global Impacts Report 2014 and Annual Report 2013-14 show that fisheries engaged in the MSC certification programme are delivering improvements to the marine environment.

Since 1999, those achieving MSC certification have made 575 improvements to their fishing practices, including measures to reduce unwanted bycatch of endangered species, restore habitat and improve scientific understanding of marine ecosystems. These changes are often incentivized by increased market demand and, in some cases, a price premium for sustainable seafood.

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