WWF welcomes first MSC-certified skipjack tuna products from the Pacific in Europe



Posted on 15 November 2013  | 
Tuna for Processing
© Patricia Mallam WWF South PacificEnlarge
Today marks the first ever delivery of certified, sustainably-managed tuna from the Pacific islands to the European marketplace. SPAR Austria is the first retailer to offer canned skipjack tuna from the Western and Central Pacific Ocean, the largest skipjack tuna fishery in the world that is also certified according to the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) standard in Austrian supermarkets. The MSC label guarantees consumers that the fish caught is from a sustainably managed fishery, handled under a rigid chain of custody from the net to the retailer, and harvested with minimal impacts on other marine species including sharks, turtles, and marine mammals. It also shows that the tuna stock is maintained in healthy condition, and that the fishery has little adverse impacts on marine habitats.

SPAR Austria has received the tuna from a fishery that is managed by the sub-regional organization known as the Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA), which is comprised of 8 developing nations in the South Pacific Region that control around 50% of the world’s skipjack tuna supply including the Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Tuvalu.

The PNA has consistently demonstrated leadership in the region by taking management measures for their free-school purse seine fishery that include restrictions on the use of Fish Aggregation Devices (FADs)*, tuna catch retention, mesh regulations, portside transhipment and prohibitions on setting nets on whale sharks. Additionally, every fishing trip is fully monitored and documented by independent, 3rd party observers, who verify catch and bycatch. WWF has been a strong supporter of the PNA’s commitment to applying the ecosystem approach, a strategy for integrated management that promotes conservation and sustainable use of the marine environment.

“WWF applauds the PNA, its co-brand partner Pacifical, and SPAR in their partnership in making delivery of sustainably sourced, FAD-free MSC skipjack tuna to the Austrian market.” said Alfred Schumm, WWF’s Smart Fishing Initiative Leader. “It is a remarkable success for these developing nations to have banded together in an effort to secure their own economies through sustainable management of their natural resources. We hope that more markets in Europe and the rest of the world will recognize this effort and will offer these certified tuna products.” Schumm added.

The PNA also underwent a vigorous and lengthy review of its chain of custody procedures to ensure that the skipjack tuna they deliver meets the standard of the MSC, considered the most comprehensive and robust seafood ecolabel in existence with bycatch and chain of custody standards that exceed any other ecolabel. This provides not just the world’s best traceability, but also the ability for the consumer to track the can back to the Pacific and its people.

“We are thrilled to be delivering PNA MSC-certified skipjack tuna to SPAR and into the European market,” said Maurice Brownjohn, the commercial advisor to the PNA. “It means a lot to our developing nations to finally achieve delivery of canned skipjack tuna into the market and see benefits of sustainability.”

Note:

*A Fish Aggregation Device (FAD) is a floating object that attracts fish. Fishing beside/under FADs takes advantage of the fact that tuna and other pelagic fish naturally congregate around floating objects in the open ocean and can be substantially more efficient than placing purse seine nets around free-swimming schools. Using FADs also increases the bycatch of some ‘non target’ species like sharks and other bony fishes.

Dolphins do not aggregate with skipjack tuna in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean the same way they do with yellowfin tuna, a separate species, in the Eastern Pacific Ocean (EPO). Specifically, dolphins only associate in large aggregations with yellowfin tuna schools in the EPO.


Tuna for Processing
© Patricia Mallam WWF South Pacific Enlarge

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