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

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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).

PCCOS shows how integrating science from different fields makes for better decisions

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PCOSS can help decision-makers in the Pacific Islands ensure that locals like these two Papua New Guineans continue to be owners of their fishery resources. Photo: Francisco Blaha.

Staff of the new Pacific Community Centre for Ocean Science (PCCOS) played a game to demonstrate to Pacific Community (SPC) leaders at their June meeting how better decisions arise when decision-makers can integrate knowledge from many different scientific and technical fields. 

SPC’s Committee of Representatives of Governments and Administrations (CRGA) agreed at the meeting to expand the new centre of excellence in ocean science.

The Director of SPC’s Geoscience, Energy and Maritime Division, Dr Andrew Johns, explained in a video about PCOSS why the work of the centre is needed.

“The ocean is a great, interconnected system, and while we tend to work in sectors, the ocean doesn’t behave in sectors. So, what happens in one area what happens in another area, and we have to manage it accordingly,” Dr Johns says.

He says that, by bringing together all the science that’s happening across SPC, PCOSS makes it easier for information about one area or sector to be informed by science from all the other areas. This allows governments and communities to make better decisions that support communities in integrated ways.

Fresh tuna sliced and displayed for sale in Noumea shop. Photo credit: FFA.
Fresh tuna for sale in Noumea … to manage fisheries to ensure continued supplies of tuna for generations, decision-makers need access now to integrated scientific knowledge from services such as PCOSS. Photo credit: FFA.

The data and information also needs to be accessible and well-communicated.

“A key part of what we’re doing is making sure we’re translating science in a way that’s understandable to people,” Dr Johns says.

“Better science leads to better decision-making.”

Much of the information and data that PCOSS pulls together is available from the Pacific Data Hub, a web platform that pools all SPC’s data. One of its 12 themes is fisheries.

Dr Johns says PCOSS is useful nationally, to help individual countries manage their maritime zones, and internationally, because it can “provide a voice for the Pacific”. 

The establishment of PCCOS (pronounced pea-coss) was announced at the Pacific Community’s 70th anniversary celebrations in 2017. SPC’s Fisheries, Aquaculture and Marine Ecosystems division was given the job of setting it up. It worked with two other parts of SPC, the Geoscience, Energy and Maritime Division and the Climate Change and Environmental Sustainability Programme, to get the centre up and running. 

The 49th CRGA meeting was held at the SPC headquarters in Noumea, New Caledonia.