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Indian Ocean Tuna Fishery May Lose Out on MSC Certification

27 August 2015

GLOBAL - A tuna fishery in the Indian Ocean risks having its Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification recommendation overturned, after objections from some marine protection organisations.

Echebastar’s Indian Ocean purse seine tuna fishery was assessed for sustainability under the MSC scheme by the conformity assessment body Acoura, and the body recommended it should be certified.

However, independent adjudicator presiding over the objection process for the assessment has determined that he requires to review its determination to certify the fishery in respect to issues raised in the objection.

The Acoura team responsible for assessing the fishery to the MSC Fisheries Standard will now have until 8 September 2015 to consider and respond to the points raised by the independent adjudicator, Eldon Greenberg.

Mr Greenberg, a legal expert with extensive fisheries, legal, and mediation experience, requires the assessment team to review its scoring of Performance Indicator 1.2.2 of the MSC Fisheries Standard for each of the units of certification covered by the Echebastar assessment. This performance indicator relates to harvest control rules.

Next steps

Following Acoura’s response, the objectors, WWF and The International Pole and Line Foundation (IPNLF), will have an opportunity to input into this response by 15 September 2015.

The independent adjudicator will then make a final decision on whether the issues raised have been adequately addressed.

Assessment of the Echebastar Indian Ocean fishery

The Echebastar fishery entered into full assessment on the 22 January 2013. The assessment process has had two periods for stakeholders’ input in order to ensure the participation of all interested parties and consideration of all relevant and up-to-date information related to the fishery.

Independent adjudication was triggered by objections received from IPNLF and WWF. The independent adjudicator, Mr Greenberg, has considered these objections alongside Acoura’s response to the objections. These were presented to him in a hearing on the 31 July 2015.

The MSC objections procedure

The MSC objections process allows for detailed scrutiny and transparency in the application of the MSC Fisheries Standard by stakeholders.

In accordance with UN FAO guidelines, and ISEAL requirements, fisheries are assessed to the MSC Fisheries Standard by a team of experts from an independent conformity assessment body (CAB).

As part of this process, the MSC requires the CAB to seek and address input from all stakeholders. This is an essential part of a thorough and credible assessment of a fishery’s practices to ensure an unbiased, fair decision is reached.

Assessment includes a formal objections procedure to provide an orderly, structured process by which concerns about certification decisions can be lodged, reviewed and resolved, fairly and transparently by an independent adjudicator.

The independent adjudicator is a legal expert, who has extensive legal and mediation experience as well as an understanding of the MSC Fisheries Standard and assessment methodology.

Further Reading

Go to our previous news item on this story by clicking here.

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