WWF objection prompts review of Mexican tuna fishery’s impact on dolphins in the Eastern Pacific
In October 2016, WWF filed an objection to an MSC assessment conducted by an independent certifier of the Northeastern Tropical Pacific purse seine yellowfin and skipjack tuna fishery based on two factors: that the information used to assess fishery impacts on depleted dolphin species was not transparent and that the assessment ultimately did not accurately account for impacts of the fishery on dolphin populations.
The independent adjudicator assigned to consider WWF’s objection during a hearing in May has now remanded the decision to certify the fishery. The certifier must now reconsider whether there is sufficient evidence that the fishery is not hindering the recovery of the dolphin species in question.
“The existing science does not support the conclusions made in the original assessment and is insufficient to show that this fishery meets the MSC standard when considering all fishery impacts on depleted dolphins in the region,” said Franck Hollander, Seafood Officer for WWF-Germany and the global team lead for WWF on this certification effort.
In the waters of the Eastern Pacific, one of the techniques used for decades to catch tuna involves targeting schools of tuna associated with dolphins, a practice with a history of contributing to high dolphin mortality. Despite reductions in the number of dolphins killed by this practice in recent years, it is unknown whether populations have recovered from dramatic declines that began in the late 1950s and continued though the early 1990s.
Hollander added, “Given the historical impact of the fishing technique used by this fishery, it was critical to WWF that the MSC assessment was done carefully and in strict accordance with the MSC requirements. We are committed as a stakeholder to use our collective expertise to hold the process to account and push for the best possible outcome for the marine environment, fisheries and local communities.”
WWF is calling for scientific evidence that the fishery does not likely hinder the recovery of the depleted species directly impacted in order for it to be certified. The certifier now has ten days to respond to the remand. A final decision on the certification is expected once the remand process is complete.
“As this fishery strives to meet the MSC standard, there is an opportunity for all stakeholders to work together to improve fishing practices and the availability of up-to-date scientific information on the impacted dolphin stocks,” said Enrique Sanjurjo, Lead, Food Practice, WWF-Mexico.
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