Fiji achieves first certified sustainable tuna fishery
This achievement, WWF says, promotes a future for tuna in the region, bringing major benefits to the fishing industry, and will result in positive impacts for consumers worldwide.
“This is an incredibly exciting step for the Fiji Albacore Longline Fishery to take and sets the standard for other longline tuna fisheries in the region to aspire to as the Fiji Tuna Boat Owners Association has now created the momentum to shift fisheries in a sustainable direction,” says Seremaia Tuqiri, WWF-South Pacific Fisheries Policy Officer.
This is not just a significant success for tuna conservation, it also represents major progress towards ensuring the social, cultural and economic health of Pacific island countries, such as Fiji, that depend on tuna as an important resource.
MSC certification encourages good stewardship of fisheries resources and, in turn, it secures a future for island economies.
As an active supporter of the Fiji Tuna Boat Owners Association`s ambitions for MSC certification, WWF-South Pacific was actively involved in the assessment process. Assessment against the MSC standard spanned 18 months and was conducted by an independent third party certifier.
The Association has committed to take action on eight conditions put in place by the MSC which will improve aspects of the fishery and enable it to meet international best practice levels. This includes ensuring that management of the fishery is improved by establishing benchmark values that help managers decide how the fishery is performing and a harvest strategy, which helps maintain sustainable fishing levels.
The fishery has also implemented a management strategy that ensures the fishery does not slow down the recovery and rebuilding of other species caught alongside the tuna.
The current certificate is valid for five years, during which progress against these will be tracked and available for public review in annual surveillance audits.
“The certification offers opportunities to develop new markets in regions where demand for certified sustainable seafood is already high,” said Russell Dunham from the Fiji Tuna Boat Owners Association.
“The MSC certification will help promote the Fijian domestic fishery and also promote Fiji’s role in asserting albacore tuna management measures as part of the conditions of certification.”
WWF is willing and committed to working with the Fiji Tuna Boat Owners Association, Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission, and the Fiji government to meet the conditions of the certification and help ensure that the Fiji Albacore Longline fishery can maintain its MSC certification.