Tuna fisheries lead sustainable change in their regions
Two key tuna fisheries in the Indian Ocean and Western Pacific have taken important steps to promote sustainable management, and give tuna lovers an environmentally-responsible choice.
The fisheries gained certification in late 2012 to the standards of the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), showing they are managed sustainably. This is a significant move as these regions are vital fishing grounds and fisheries worldwide are threatened by overexploitation.
The Maldives Pole and Line Skipjack Fishery became the first Indian Ocean tuna fishery to receive MSC certification. The fishery now has a chain of custody certification – meaning the skipjack tuna can be traced back to a certified sustainable source. Skipjack is an important commercial tuna species and one of the world’s most heavily fished species.
The Maldives tuna pole and line fishery is a centuries-old practice and important component of the commercially valuable Indian Ocean skipjack tuna fishery. The fishery is often heralded as a good example of highly selective, low-impact fishing which avoids by-catch of sharks, turtles and seabirds. An important source of employment in Maldives, the fishery supports 20,000 fishermen and their families.
In a parallel development, the Albacore Tuna Longline Fishery became the first Fijian fishery to receive MSC certification. This certification offers opportunities to develop new markets in countries such as Japan, USA, and China where demand for certified sustainable seafood is high. Albacore tuna makes up around 70 – 80% of the tuna catch in Fiji and represents a large portion of the country’s tuna export earnings.
Certification of these fisheries will help to lever change towards sustainability and make commercial fisheries in the Indian Ocean and Western Central Pacific more economically and environmentally sustainable – benefiting the fishing industry, consumers, and the marine environment alike.
MSC certification is recognised as the best available market incentive to drive fisheries towards sustainability. Worldwide, 300 fisheries are engaged in the MSC programme, with annual catches of around 10 million tonnes of seafood, or more than 11% of the annual global harvest of wild-caught fish.
Posted: December 12 2012 Updated: May 27 2013