KOROR, PALAU, 25 FEBRUARY 2010: The Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA) which includes Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Tuvalu, stated today they would seek ‘eco-label’ certification from the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) for skipjack tuna.

A pre-assessment by Moody Marine Ltd recommended skipjack tuna caught by purse seine vessels in PNA waters setting on free schools of tuna (without Fish Aggregating Devices [FADs] or other devices) be subject to full assessment by MSC. This assessment process could lead to MSC certification of 40% of skipjack tuna caught in PNA waters.

The MSC (Marine Stewardship Council) is an international non-profit organization that was set up by WWF and Unilever to promote solutions to the problem of overfishing. The MSC, independent of its founding organizations when the MSC was incorporated as a legal entity in 1997, runs the only certification and ecolabelling program for wild-capture fisheries consistent with the ISEAL Code of Good Practice for Setting Social and Environmental Standards and UN Food and Agricultural Organisation’s guidelines for fisheries certification. 

Together the fisheries already engaged in the MSC programme record annual catches of close to 7 million metric tonnes of seafood, representing over 12 per cent of global capture production for direct human consumption. The fisheries already certified catch close to four million metric tonnes of seafood – over 7 percent of the total global capture production for direct human consumption. Worldwide, more than 3,500 seafood products resulting from the certified fisheries bear the blue MSC ecolabel.

The PNA has been dubbed ‘OPEC for tuna’ because it aims to control access to tuna in its waters and so increase economic benefits for Pacific Islanders. PNA waters supply around 25% of the world’s supply of tuna.

Innovative PNA measures – such as competitive fees for fishing (days for fishing are traded and sold to the highest bidder) and establishing agreements for more jobs and income in Pacific Islands such as through joint ventures, crewing and on-shore processing – have enabled PNA leaders to secure greater economic benefits for its peoples. 

These economic gains are based on control of access to fishing through conservation measures – many of which are world firsts – such as the high seas pockets closure, controls on Fish Aggregating Devices (FADs) and the 100% coverage of purse seine fishing vessels with observers. The PNA has no dolphin bycatch and measures to limit the impact of tuna fishing on sharks and turtles.

Director of the PNA, Dr Transform Aqorau said today:

“The PNA exists to maximize the economic benefits to Pacific Islanders from sustainable management of our tuna. Seeking MSC Certification is an important step towards this goal so that consumers of our tuna can recognize the value of our work here to control access to tuna resources for the benefits of our PNA members. We hope that this process can result in MSC Certification in 2011 for skipjack tuna caught on free schools and look forward to taking this forward.”

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