Dongwon wins South Korea’s first MSC certification for western Pacific tuna fishery

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school of tuna in ocean, photo by Greg Lecoeur

Republished from Undercurrent News, 25 October 2019

South Korea’s Dongwon Industries has achieved Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) status for its tropical yellowfin and skipjack tuna fishery in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean (WCPO). 

It is the first fishery owned by a South Korean company to be certified to the sustainability standard. The free-school purse-seine fishery, which produced 162,000 metric tons of tuna in 2017, was certified by assessment body Control Union.

“I would like to offer my congratulations to Dongwon for this historic certification,” said Rupert Howes, the CEO of MSC.

“We hope this achievement will lead to other South Korean fisheries entering into the MSC assessment process to demonstrate their commitment to ocean sustainability and the stewardship of our precious ocean resources.”

The certification applies to free-school yellowfin and skipjack tuna caught by 12 purse-seine freezer vessels owned by Dongwon. Control Union determined it fulfilled the 28 principles for sustainable fishing set out in the MSC fisheries standard.

This includes strong management and governance, including 100% observer coverage and real-time monitoring via a remote Fisheries Monitoring Centre in Busan, South Korea. 

Impact on other species is minimal, with 99% the catch made up of skipjack and yellowfin. The fishery is also required to further demonstrate that it is not having a detrimental impact on manta and mobula rays.

“It’s a great honor to achieve the first MSC fishery certification in Korea. By achieving the most prestigious certification, we are now able to give even further confidence to our customers that our operations are duly carried out in accordance with international regulations and international best practices,” said Myoung Woo Lee, the president and CEO of Dongwon. 

Before tuna from the fishery can be sold with the blue MSC label, Dongwon will need to complete a traceability assessment to earn certification to the MSC’s chain-of-custody standard.

Also, like all other tuna fisheries operating in the WCPO, in order to ensure that the fishery can respond to future changes in the health of these tuna stocks, certification is conditional on the adoption of harvest strategies ,including harvest control rules, by all member states of the Western Central Pacific Fisheries Commission by 2021. 

Tuna caught by the fishery is landed in Busan, Masan, and Mokpo in South Korea, Bangkok (Thailand), General Santos City (Philippines), Ho Chi Minh City and Cam Rahn (Vietnam), Manta (Ecuador), and Mazatlan and Manzanillo (Mexico).