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Pacifical tuna. (Photo Credit: Pacifical)

'Sustainable tuna' catch from PNA’s waters could double in 2017

  (MARSHALL ISLANDS, 1/4/2017)

Catches of tuna in the waters of the Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA) are expected to double in 2017, owing to the growing demand from the world market for wild tuna certified as sustainable and fishing industry interest.

According to Ludwig Kumoru, PNA CEO,tuna fishing fleets complying with strict chain of custody rules that met Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification requirements, delivered over 55,000 metric tonnes of sustainably caught free school tuna to market in 2016.

“We expect the volume to double to about 100,000 metric tonnes in 2017, based upon existing orders,” he said.

A “free school” catch means a catch by purse seiners without the aid of FADs. This is verified by onboard fisheries observers at sea, who control that free school tuna is stored in special holds. These catches are then subject to a stringent chain of custody system from their trans-shipping until they reach to a processing plant and finally, to the retailer, so that consumers know the story behind the tuna they buy in the store.

On his part, Bill Holden, MSC manager, pointed out that MSC certification makes PNA tuna fishery more transparent.

In order to meet MSC requirements, the fishery is audited annually, and every five years an extensive review is conducted.

In addition, PNA has been proactive in addressing conditions of the certification. The executive stressed that a condition of MSC certification for the skipjack tuna fishery was the development of “target reference points” for the tuna stock.

This was done by PNA and adopted as policy for this fishery by the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) at its 2015 annual meeting, he highlighted.

He also pointed out that the next step is a harvest control strategy, which PNA is developing for endorsement by the WCPFC.

PNA Commercial Manager, Maurice Brownjohn, stressed that MSC-certified skipjack and yellowfin from PNA waters now accounts for over 90 per cent of all MSC-certified tuna being traded globally and “PNA’s MSC chain of custody system has become a global standard for free school caught tuna.

From the initial MSC certification in December 2012, it took another year for PNA to develop and implement the rigorous chain of custody and traceability system before tuna was marketed as MSC-certified sustainably caught fish.

Fishing vessels that deliver free school caught tuna that meets the strict sustainability guidelines get as much as USD 100 extra per tonne and retailers can sell this tuna at higher prices.

Retailers are paying up to a 20 per cent moreum for MSC-certified Pacifical tuna compared to tuna caught using FADs.

“Today, over 200 purse seiners are participating in the PNA scheme, which is why we anticipate the volume of MSC-certified tuna delivered to market to rise to 100,000 metric tonnes in 2017,” Kumoru foresees.
 

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