PNG Fishing Association Sustainability Director Marcelo Hidalgo told SeafoodSource the data was collected from the National Fishery Authority (NFA) of Papua New Guinea observers placed onboard, and the Integrated Fishery Management System (iFIMS).
All told, the catch yielded 254 million tuna cans of tuna.
PNGFIA Chair Sylvester Pokajam said PNG has continued to deploy on-board fisheries observers, even though the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission allowed the suspension of fisheries observers coverage on purse-seiners at the beginning of the pandemic. He said the NFA would not have allowed fishing operations to continue without observers on board.
“After we attained MSC status in May 2020, the National Fishing Authority insists that observers are placed on vessels and allow them to also disembark in several ports,” Mr Pokajam told SeafoodSource.
Mr Pokajam said because of this, the country’s fishing efforts accelerated, and its processing capacity had not been affected by the pandemic.
“Fishing was not interrupted. [In fact,] it really gained momentum,” he said.
The association has been strict in making sure all the observers are following safety protocols, including taking COVID-19 tests before being placed on board. There are 200 MSC-certified observers on board the country’s tuna vessels, but they are only on board for a month at a time to ensure their safety, Mr Pokajam said.
Mr Pokajam said that observers are crucial in ensuring vessels comply with fishery regulations, and pointed to the report noting that PNG has been fulfilling its mandate of traceability and transparency.
“A traceability system is the best method to prevent fraud and illegal products from entering the supply chain as certified products. It protects consumers and the efforts of everyone working to keep our oceans healthy,” the report said.
“A traceable supply chain is a key to delivering the MSC’s vision of healthy oceans and providing its consumers with sustainable seafood they can trust.”
PNGFIA fishers and processors are selling whole round frozen tuna, pre-cooked frozen tuna loins, raw packed canned tuna, and canned tuna. Mr Pokajam said PNG is also opening sales to new markets in 2021, including from Spain and the United Kingdom.
The association covers 32 purse-seine vessels flagged to PNG and another 32 flagged to the Philippines that are based in PNG. The tuna must be processed in one of six PNG-based facilities, all of which are members of the association.
As part of becoming certified, the association must meet 10 conditions. Seven relate to lessening environmental impact, including on whales and dolphins, and interactions between whales and sharks. Three relate to how the fisheries are managed.
Trade and Industry News, which is published by the Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA), said that certified organisations had to adopt harvest strategies to limit fishing to sustainable numbers. However, these were still being developed in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean.
Certification may help sell local tuna in the US
MSC-certified tuna might give the PNG association an advantage in the US market. Trade and Industry News reported that the US retailer Walmart was moving towards using only certified tuna in its brand Great Value. The brand Bumble Bee was doing the same.
The newsletter also discussed new tariffs on fish products being introduced by the United Kingdom now that it has left the European Union. Even though tariffs for canned tuna and tuna loins would drop from 24% to 20%, the price of Pacific Islands tuna means it should remain competitive.
Industry participants at the PITIA workshop and AGM. Photo: FFA
PITIA Press Release, July 2019 – The Pacific Island Tuna Industry Association (PITIA) held its AGM over two days recently in Nadi, Fiji.
PITIA has been constituted since 2005 and is supported by an Executive Officer based in Suva, Fiji. PITIA provides a voice for the domestic longline, purse seine, pole and line, and processing facilities into the wider policy and fishery management systems development across the Western and Central Pacific Ocean.
PITIA makes inputs into Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) processes on annual basis, and participates in all the key meetings of the Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA).
PITIA is supported by its members and gets assistance from the European Union via the Pacific Island European Union Marine Partnership (PEUMP) via FFA and, for the last four years, by the FFA’s Oceanic Fisheries Management Project (OFMP2) which is funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) via the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).
Attendees at the AGM spent considerable time discussing priority concerns for industry in 2019, and matters that industry would like addressed at the WCPFC meeting in 2019. Time was also spent discussing the sustainability of the organisation and funding for the core function of paying the Executive Officer.
Those attending the meeting agreed that, given the importance of the challenges faced in the management and sustainability of the WCPO tuna fishery, there was a need for PITIA to promote higher levels of visibility regarding the importance of the role of the organisation and the networks already in place for PITIA to represent the interests of domestic industry into regional processes. It was also noted that national fishing associations represent both domestic and foreign domestic based vessels.
The meeting was addressed by Bill Holden of the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), noting the MCS decision to align the Harvest Control Rules condition requirement across all MSC-certified tuna fisheries in the WCPFC.
They advised that there was an urgent need to ensure that the WCPFC stayed on track with the timelines in place for Harvest Control Rules under WCPFC CMM 2014-06.
The meeting was advised that there would be a firm deadline for the adoption of Harvest Control Rules for the four key tuna species at the WCPFC by end of 2021, and noted that if this condition was not met, it would result in the suspension of the region’s MSC-certified fisheries in 2022.
Noting the dependence of some key fisheries on the MSC premiums, the meeting strongly voiced the view that this matter be properly addressed at WCPFC.
PITIA Chair Brett Haywood, from Fiji, said: “We consider this matter to be a key priority for WCPFC, not just for our members but for all of the region’s certified fisheries.”
He further noted: “The MSC premium is fundamental to the economics of our longline fisheries and we simply cannot risk losing the certification.”
The meeting considered and “endorsed” the 2019 WCPFC priorities recently identified by Pacific fisheries ministers when they met in Pohnpei, FSM. These were listed as: sustaining zone-based management, adopting high seas catch limits and allocations, reviewing the transhipment measure, more active participation on the challenge of eliminating inequitable fisheries subsidies, and advancing a plan for the adoption of an electronic monitoring (EM) strategy.
In regard to the last, Mr Haywood added that there were a number of challenges for industry in regard to application and cost recovery, and ensuring EM viewing was risk-based.
“The current EM rollout programs are focused on the domestic fleets who are, in the main, compliant operators. The focus of EM needs to be on the high seas fleets as these are the more at-risk fleets” he said.
“We also need to ensure that the costs of EM are not overburdening for vessels, as this could encourage some licensed ‘in zone’ operators to relocate their effort to the high seas.”
The meeting attendees also noted the increasing need to focus on marine pollution and the disposal of plastic waste at sea. For some members, vessels are required to return all potentially polluting waste to ports for disposal. However, other than the difficultly of enforcing the MARPOL convention, it is a real challenge to apply pollution-prohibition compliance on the high seas.
“What happens to the plastic strapping and lining of the tuna longline bait boxes for vessels on the high seas?” Mr Haywood asked. “This matter needs to be properly addressed at WCPFC.”
The meeting also viewed a presentation on the recent work that has been done on the climate change impacts on Pacific tuna fisheries.
It strongly endorsed the recent suggestion that, in view of the last Forum Leaders’ instruction to more strongly address climate change impacts on tuna fisheries, and to help set the stage for bringing “climate justice” into the range of arguments for better consideration of SIDS fisheries interests and disproportionate burdens at WCPFC, that it might be useful to consider proposing a resolution to WCPFC for climate-change linkages to be considered or addressed in WCPFC measures.
Papua New Guinea (PNG) has commenced the process of getting its tuna fishery Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certified, and it is already looking ahead to the benefits it hopes certification can bring.
Key among those is boosting the on-shore processing sector, which has had some difficulties in achieving its full potential in recent years. There are six plants on PNG, including Filipino firm Frabelle’s own operation and its joint venture with Thai Union Group, named Majestic Seafood.
There is also RD Processing, IFC, Nambawan Seafood, and South Seas Tuna Co.
Frabelle president Francisco Tiu Laurel has previously told Undercurrent News of the difficulties in realizing the company’s potential on the island. This time last year the two plants it is involved with had been forced to lay off employees, and were considering closing entirely, apparently because the government had ended subsidies for foreign companies.
Already, though, the situation is looking brighter, Tiu Laurel said.
“For our plants Majestic and Frabelle PNG we are again up and running at about 70% of our capacity, and we have rehired about 800 workers per plant as the government of PNG has approved to give us some refund for the fish that PNG-flagged vessels unload and process on shore-based facilities,” he said.
The government’s final decision on these regulations is yet to be determined, and once it is, Frabelle will be hoping PNG’s national fisheries authority signs it as soon as possible.
“Once we get this we will be running the factories at full capacity, and hire more workers hopefully in the near future,” said the Frabelle boss.
Presenting at the recent Seafood Expo Global in Brussels, Belgium, PNG Fishing Industry Association (FIA) chairman Sylvester Pokajam noted the island’s six plants are currently operating at around half capacity; Frabelle at 90 metric tons (of a possible 120t) per day, and Majestic at 80t of a possible 250t.
In total, the processing sector is operating at 7,125t/ day, compared to its full capacity of 15,000t. Pokajam and Tiu Laurel both told Undercurrent that gaining MSC would help bring that utilization up.
“If PNG gets its own MSC it will definitely help the plants, as demand for MSC fish is increasing in several markets around the world,” said Tiu Laurel.
How will MSC help?
PNG’s government originally set up its “domestication policy” to attract downstream investment to the island, FIA told Undercurrent.
This policy incentivized shore-based investments from fishing operators already working on PNG, like RD and Frabelle, by discounting fishing license fees to compensate for the higher production costs of processing in PNG. This meant tuna canned there could compete on the global export market (mostly Europe). “Canned products from PNG had to compete with high volume, low-cost products from South America (Ecuador) and Thailand, which were also going into the EU market, and still is.”
The policy attracted overseas investors too, leading to the construction of five of the plants now operating (IFC initially set up shop in PNG to can imported mackerel for the domestic PNG market, FIA added”.
However, before all processing plants were able to fully reach their processing capacity there was a shift in the application of the domestication policy, whereby the fishing license fees were calculated on the basis of the “vessels day scheme” (VDS) rate, on a par with a region-wide benchmark price. “This benchmark price was two-to-three times the discounted rate,” FIA noted.
“The PNG government then further changed the policy application and introduced the regional VDS rate across the board on all fishing vessels (both domestic-based and distant-water fishing nations). This again further compounded the production cost of a unit of canned tuna produced in PNG.”
So, now PNG’s domestic vessel operators feel there’s no incentive to produce a cost-competitive product in PNG if they are paying the same licensing fee rate as the distant-water fishing fleets, “who have not sacrificed and taken on risk on any shore-based investment, as PNG domestic investors have done”.
The industry lobbied, and the PNG government tried a new line; a rebate scheme on both the processing sector — calculated per metric ton of value-added — and on the fishing sector (per ton of fish landed into a PNG shore-based plant). “This rebate scheme is having its share of challenges in implementation to date, and rebates haven’t been paid as and when due,” said FIA.
Hence, FIA said, processors are not currently inclined to utilize their full capacity. But:
“With the MSC fish, it attracts a premium price compared to the current non-MSC fish products. Hence, with certification, the same volume of fish produced by PNG processors will attract the premium price, and this would enable a viable return for the processors to produce more in PNG. Eventually, the MSC value becomes the incentive to attract the volume to be landed and produced in PNG, and the plants processing volume will progressively improve towards their full capacity.”
Extra volumes too
Tiu Laurel also noted PNG’s ongoing MSC process encompasses an area of fishery not currently covered by the PNA certification.
“Plus it [would] also make catches from the archipelagic waters of PNG MSC certifiable, [volumes] which currently are not included in other MSC approved areas,” he added. At present PNG is part of the Parties to the Nauru Agreement MSC certified tuna fishery, but it is looking to break away from this organization as the sales are controlled by Dutch organization Pacifical, which parts of PNG’s sector have fallen out with.
“The archipelagic waters produce a lot of fish annually, and [are] very near the ports of Lae and Madang, where most of the factories are located, thus making it very important for the factories to get a constant supply of fish to process,” Tiu Laurel said.
Historical catch records suggest archipelagic catches would add around 90,000t more MSC certified tuna per year, the FIA told Undercurrent.
From a high of 506,413t of tuna caught in 2013 in PNG waters, volumes dived to 135,687t in 2015. That has since been on the rise again, to 316,278t in 2018, according to FIA data. Importantly, said Pokajam, this has always been made up just 1% bigeye tuna, a species there are concerns for in terms of biomass. Skipjack made up 65% of the total, and yellowfin 34%, in 2017.
“Landings in PNG are actually up, in my opinion, except for the first three months [of 2019] when catches were down, mainly due to bad weather. But from April onwards I think it will be okay,” Tiu Laurel told Undercurrent.
Based on Tiu Laurel and Pokajam’s comments, PNG’s tuna sector is now waiting on what it hopes will be a successful MSC certification and a more favorable government approach.
“We need this additional refund to make us really competitive, as we are now paying full VDS [vessel day scheme] fees — the same as other overseas fishing companies fishing in PNG, which is not fair,” said Tiu Laurel of the possible changes in regulation.
Other Pacific Island nations grant the locally-flagged fleets a 40-50% discount on VDS rates, and allow them to fish for free in the “eastern high seas”, managed under the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission, he claimed.
“This is a terrible disadvantage to the PNG-based fleet. The difference in cost of operation per vessel is about $1 million per annum versus other vessels,” said Tiu Laurel. “Due to this many have actually left the PNG registry, and if not addressed soon many more will leave.”
In 2018 there were 226 vessels licenses to fish in PNG’s exclusive economic zone — 61 reefers carriers and 165 purse seiners. In 2019 there are 61 vessels either PNG-flagged or locally-based foreign vessels licensed, affiliated to five companies; see the slide to the right.
Any new regulations for PNG will have to wait for the time being, though. As the Diplomatreports, a vote of no confidence was slated to take place on May 16 to remove prime minister Peter O’Neill from office. O’Neill had rejected calls to resign earlier in May.
O’Neill disrupted the opposition’s plans by obtaining a parliamentary adjournment on May 7. Following the adjournment, opposition members of parliament can now only table a no-confidence motion again once parliament resumes operations on May 28.
Tiu Laurel has, in the past, told Undercurrent of Frabelle’s ambitions to expand its processing to other Pacific Islands, namely Kiribati and the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM).
The latter remains on the cards, though plans have been delayed, he said.
“We intend to build one more loin and pouch plant in FSM, Pohnpei state, and we are now working on a state agreement with the fisheries department. But recently there has been a change in leadership as there is a new president, and we are waiting for the new cabinet to be chosen and continue the negotiation.”
Frabelle hopes to finalize talks this year, and to begin construction next year, he said.
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Tri Marine affiliate National Fisheries Developments (NFD), Ltd., has been authorized to use the Fair Trade logo on its yellowfin and skipjack tuna sourced from the Solomon Islands, the company announced earlier this month.
Fair Trade certification was bestowed upon the Solomon Islands yellowfin and skipjack tuna fishery as of 14 March. NFD’s five medium-scale purse seiners and four pole-and-line vessels that source tuna from the fishery are now permitted to use the Fair Trade logo on their catch.
The certification matches current customer interests, according to Tri Marine, which anticipates that consumers using its U.S. sales arm, the Tuna Store, “will now want to see Fair Trade Certified tuna on retail shelves.”
Fair Trade’s assessment of the fishery took more than a year, with NFD working “diligently to meet the rigorous Fair Trade standards for worker welfare and safety, as well as environmental sustainability,” Tri Marine said. The NFD Fishers Association was established during the process to ensure that the value of Fair Trade catch benefits the local communities around the Solomon Islands.
“We are proud to achieve Fair Trade certification and hope we can share the story of our fishery here in the South Pacific with customers around the world,” said Cynthia Wickham, the NFD’s pole-and-line fleet manager and local Solomon Islander, in a press release. “Fair Trade has helped our fishermen be better organized, ensure crew and stevedore safety, and improve overall community well-being.”
Neighboring cannery SolTuna was also included in the Fair Trade certification, and plans to process and pack Fair Trade-certified products from the fishery for the global marketplace. The products disseminated by SolTuna are “an important part of domestic food security in the Solomon Islands,” Tri Marine said. Key export markets reached by SolTuna include the European Union and the United States.
The new Fair Trade certification further bolsters the sustainability credentials held by both SolTuna and NFD, which are already Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certified. Additional social accountability and organized worker protections are promoted by the entities’ Fair Trade status.
“We have been promoting responsible labor practices in our global tuna supply chains for years, including the application of World Bank/International Finance Corporation performance standards, and now Fair Trade standards in the Solomon Islands,” said Matt Owens, director of sustainability at Tri Marine. “Fishermen and fish processors are the backbone of our business and the economic drivers in their communities. Fair Trade certification provides an additional layer of worker benefits.”
“Tri Marine and NFD’s commitment to Fair Trade is a powerful example of responsible practices in the fishing industry,” added Julie Kuchepatov, seafood program director at Fair Trade USA. “We are proud to share the common goal of empowering Fair Trade fishermen and look forward to seeing more Fair Trade seafood available to consumers.”
Approximately 2,400 Solomon Islanders are employed by NFD and SolTuna, in effect making them the largest private sector employer in the country and an important contributor to economic growth, the companies said. Regional tuna resources are sustainably managed by the Solomon Islands Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources, Parties to the Nauru Agreement, and the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission.
A Chinese owned longline yellowfin and bigeye tuna fishery in the Federated States of Micronesia has achieved Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification for its bigeye tuna catch. This is the first time that bigeye has been certified to the MSC’s globally recognised standard for sustainable fishing.
The fishery, owned by three Chinese fishing companies, Liancheng Overseas Fishery (Shenzhen) Co. Ltd (SZLC), China Southern Fishery Shenzhen Co. Ltd (CSFC) and Liancheng Overseas Fishery (FSM) Co. Ltd. (FZLC), achieved MSC certification for yellowfin in October 2018. Following an independent assessment by conformity assessment body, Control Union, bigeye can now be added to the list of certified species caught by the fishery.
The latest stock assessment for bigeye in the Western Central Pacific Ocean (WCPO) shows that stocks are healthy and being fished at a sustainable rate. In order to ensure that the fishery can respond to any changes in the health of the bigeye stock, certification is conditional upon the adoption of harvest strategies including harvest control rules, by all member states of the Western Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) by 2021.
Bill Holden, Senior Fisheries Outreach Manager for the MSC in Oceania & South East Asia said: “We congratulate Liancheng and their partners for becoming the first fishery to be eligible to sell MSC certified bigeye tuna. They are demonstrating true leadership in sustainable fishing. To maintain their certification, Liancheng will need to work with other fishing organisations and the WCPFC to agree to important management measures to safeguard bigeye tuna stocks. As a result, this certification could influence the sustainability of bigeye fishing across the entire WCPO.”
Sam Chou, President of Liancheng Overseas Fishery (Shenzhen) Co. Ltd., the parent company of the three fleets certified said: “We are extremely proud to have the first bigeye tuna fishery to be certified to the MSC Standard. It is a distinct honor. Liancheng is the largest Chinese fleet to achieve MSC certification. We are dedicated to achieving certification for all our fisheries.”
Joe Murphy, Senior Vice President of Marketing for Liancheng said:“Our customers and consumers recognize the value of MSC certification, and our ability to provide fish for sale with the blue MSC label. We hope to market MSC certified bigeye catch in China, Japan, Asia, the United States and Europe.”
Ronald Toito’ona reporting from the Thriving Pacific Workshop
Pacific leaders from fishing agencies, industries and businesses, conservationists and academics participated in a workshop this month to determine the next steps needed to realise a vision for a thriving Pacific economy, built around a healthy tuna fishery and marine ecosystem.
Peter Seligmann, chairman of Conservation International, moderated the Thriving Pacific Workshop. He is also the Founder and CEO of Nia Tero, a global collaboration to advance indigenous peoples and local community stewardship of vital ecosystems.
The goals of the Workshop were to deepen a shared understanding, adoption and commitment to sustainable fisheries by transforming the value chain and establishing a Natural Currency Standard for Pacific Tuna. Tuna is a key ecological resource deeply intertwined with the lives, livelihoods and ocean health of one of the largest fisheries on Earth.
The former Parties to the Nauru Agreement (CEO) Executive Officer and Workshop participant, Dr Aqorau said in an exclusive interview that the idea of a “National Currency Standard” is an initiative that is being developed by Nia Tero with the support of Walmart Supermarket in the US. He hopes this will lead to a strategic partnership either with the PNA as a collective group or individual PNA members.
The idea of a National Currency Standard finds its inspiration in having a Standard that reflects the values and aspirations of the indigenous communities of the Pacific region for whom tuna is a vital source. For Walmart, the largest purchaser of tuna on the planet, it is about securing a sustainable supply of tuna and supporting Pacific Islands communities.
“This will build on the progress of ratings and programs but go further in supporting cooperative governance for these shared resources,” said Dr Aqorau. “It is about securing supply and ensuring equitable benefits accrue to the communities who own the resource.”
“The idea is to link the standard to the Sustainable Development Goals [SDG]. The Standard should recognise and support regional aspirations as reflected in the Regional Roadmap, Blue Economy, Blue Pacific and the region’s shared goals. The region’s goals are to support the cultures and socioeconomic development aspirations of the Pacific Islands, which are encompassed in existing regional strategies.”
“The Standard should be backed up by full transparency and traceability, using existing Chain-of-Custody protocols and taking advantage of available technologies. The Standard should be built on the foundational principles, of environmental sustainability and social accountability, and drawing on the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) principles. But the Standard will apply it in a more robust manner, taking a broader, more comprehensive view in terms of the application of the principles, with full transparency to address weaknesses,” Dr. Aqorau said.
The former PNA boss said, in establishing and assessing against these principles, the Standard should draw on best practices from globally established ratings and certification systems for fisheries. The Standard should also incorporate criteria developed specifically for tuna by other organisations, such as the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation.
Dr Aqorau further stated that these are exciting times in the global tuna industry as well as challenging, given the social and cultural issues coming to the fore in the global discourses on tuna.
“I am a fervent believer in the reshaping of our fishing rights to empower our peoples who are the custodians of the largest and healthiest tuna stocks in the world,” said Dr Aqorau.
Meanwhile, according to Dr Aqorau the next steps will be to sensitise the idea with our peoples so that is actually driven from within the region.
Background: the desire for long-term sustainability in the Pacific Islands
As the population of earth grows toward 8 billion, sustaining renewable sources of protein becomes more critical. The importance of the Pacific tuna fishery to the security and prosperity of Pacific Island countries requires an intense focus on sustainability to ensure ocean ecosystems are kept healthy and continue to provide benefits to Pacific Islanders.
Building upon the work done in Regional Roadmap for Sustainable Pacific Fisheries, a small group recently developed a draft blueprint for a Thriving Pacific, focused on bringing together proven innovations to reward sustainability in the marketplace and support effective governance that benefits Pacific Island communities. This blueprint relies on collaborative efforts among business, non-profits, and governments. We know from other conservation initiatives that only by working together with local stakeholders can a truly sustainable solution be found.
Thriving Pacific Workshop
Convened by Conservation International, Nia Tero and Emerson Collective, this workshop on Thriving Pacific brings together leaders from across the Pacific Island tuna supply system—fisheries management entities, supply chain companies, fisheries conservation experts and retailers. It aimed to provide insights and perspective to form a practical, market-based approach to account for the full value that Pacific tuna represents for the people who depend on it as a food, whose well being and livelihoods are affected by it, and the ocean ecosystem with which it is intrinsically linked. The discussion at this Workshop will inform the work ahead including a set of regional meetings in the Pacific Islands in 2019.
Theory of Change
To realise the vision of the Roadmap, a small number of aligned resource owners, value chain companies, and retailers must envision and act in a coordinated way on three things:
A definition of sustainable tuna that includes the highest standards of cultural, social, environmental and economic best practices (“Natural Currency Standard”)
A concurrent strategy to hit the ‘reset’ button on consumer awareness of ‘sustainable tuna’ in the USA and other major markets to drive consumer demand and market penetration of the Natural Currency Standard (e.g., ‘Got Milk?’, ‘Pork, the other white meat’ campaigns)
A practical, economically viable approach to rethink the supply chain by improving supply chain efficiencies, reducing waste, and ensuring transparency and traceability to scale and support a product portfolio that adheres to a Natural Currency Standard
A Natural Currency Standard
Although the present economic value of Pacific Island tuna fisheries is well understood, the broader natural capital value of these species is not embedded in the market and governance systems for these resources. Furthermore, existing ratings and certification programs have been developed without incorporating the aspirations of indigenous cultures, experience of private sector partners, and support for cooperative governance of a shared resource. Harnessing these experiences can help incorporate the true value of tuna species and help ensure sustainable management of this critically important resource. We propose to develop a Natural Currency Standard (NCS), establishing a globally recognised set of criteria to support environmental sustainability, social responsibility, and cultural perpetuation.
We will draw on best practices from globally established ratings and certification systems for fisheries, such as the Marine Stewardship Council, and incorporate criteria developed specifically for tuna by other organisations and platforms. These environmental best practices will consider the broader ecosystem role of tuna and incorporate predicted climate driven shifts that will affect management, ensuring that a healthy fishery and ocean ecosystem will continue to produce tuna indefinitely.
A new, comprehensive social responsibility standard is encompassed in the Monterey Framework, which has three core components:
(a) Protect human rights, dignity, and access to resources;
(b) Ensure equity and equality, and
(c) Improve food and livelihood security.
The NCS will incorporate these social responsibility dimensions, addressing egregious practices such as slavery and other labor/human rights abuses and supporting social improvements in tuna fisheries.
The Pacific Islands’ shared goals to support the cultures and socioeconomic development aspirations of the Pacific Islands are encompassed in existing regional strategies that have been developed and approved by all Pacific Island leaders.3 The NCS will incorporate the regional aspirations encompassed in these guiding frameworks and strategies, as well as a full range of sociocultural values.
Creating consumer demand for sustainability
Commodification of tuna presents major challenges to the sustainable seafood movement, particularly where canned tuna is concerned. Consumers have higher expectations and demands for sustainability and companies that incorporate sustainability into their business have outperformed their peers in the marketplace. To better support sustainability in Pacific tuna fisheries, we need to learn and understand more about the desires, attitudes and trends of consumers. Given that many consumers are confused about their choices when purchasing seafood, there is an opportunity to shape the space favourably to support sustainable practices.
There are many opportunities to explore marketing high quality skipjack tuna from the Pacific Islands to support a transformation in practices and benefits for local economies. In the USA, entire protein, dairy, nut and fruit categories have been successfully rebranded, awakening the category from a flat to declining market-share to margin and sales growth. Much like pork, milk and almonds prior to concerted marketing campaigns, we believe that sustainable skipjack is not getting its deserved status in the marketplace despite investments in fishery management and is being overlooked as one the world’s most healthy, tasty, nutritious and sustainable forms of protein.
Rethinking the supply chain
Market pull-through is essential for the success and durability of systemic change in a supply chain. In the Pacific Island tuna value chain, aligning the sustainability principles of major retailers with the development aspirations of the Pacific Island region generates significant opportunities to rethink the supply chain.
Technology will be key to improving efficiencies and solving key sustainability issues in the supply chain. Building on proven approaches, technology can improve monitoring and traceability along with lowering the cost of energy and water that benefit producers, processors, brands and consumers. Process innovations and local investments that shorten time to market, improve access to labour pools, and/or improve the ability to store product can also play an important role in supply chain improvements. These improvements lower cost of handling and bring more financial benefit to local islands.
Ultimately, properly aligned incentives can help to encourage responsible management for long term benefits. There are a range of bright spots and long-term investments that can be scaled, as well as a set of frontiers in innovation and business models that can be explored to re-think and re-imagine the tuna supply chain of the 21st century.
A Taiwanese purse seiner hauls its catch in the western Pacific. Photo: GreenpeaceA purse seine tuna fishery in the western and central Pacific shared by the US, China and Taiwan — and supplying tuna company FCF Fishery of Taiwan — has achieved Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification.
The South Pacific Tuna Corporation (SPTC), in conjunction with FCF and the Western Pacific Sustainable Tuna Alliance, announced the central Pacific skipjack and yellowfin free-school purse seine fishery had achieved and received the MSC standard on June 22.
The fishery is operated by US, China, and Taiwan-flagged vessels. Authorized vessels principally fish for skipjack and yellowfin tuna within the exclusive economic zones of countries that are Parties to the Nauru Agreement, as well as the high seas.
“This certification is an important step we have worked diligently towards to meet the standards of MSC. We are proud to be the leader in driving sustainable practices, as well as establishing a standard that exceeds that of the NGO community,” said Ray Clarke, vice president of environmental development and government affairs at SPTC.
According to Clarke, the companies will now provide in excess of 100,000 metric tons of MSC-certified tuna to the global market.
The certification comes amid Greenpeace allegations of labor abuses on tuna vessels supplying FCF Taiwan. However, Taiwanese fishing authorities have said the allegations refer to old cases, while industry sources have also queried the connection with FCF.
The Western Pacific Sustainable Tuna Alliance, Western and Central Pacific skipjack and yellowfin free school purse seine fishery has been ruled to have met the standards for Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification.
Following a 30-day comment period on the public comment draft report, SCS Global Services has considered the assessment team’s report, the peer reviewers’ comments and all stakeholder comments.
Its determination is that the fishery should be certified in accordance with the MSC fisheries standard. There is now a 15 working day period during which a previously involved stakeholder may lodge a notice of objection to this determination.
The fishery client for the certification is Taiwan’s FCF Fishery Co.
An independent adjudicator in New York has dismissed an objection to the re-certification of sustainable tuna fisheries controlled by the Parties to the Nauru Agreement, or PNA.
Its eight member nations control about half the global supply of skipjack tuna, the most commonly canned variety.
The objection was lodged by the International Pole and Line Foundation whose members are thought to dominate tuna supply to the United Kingdom.
The PNA’s commercial manager, Maurice Brownjohn, said the objection appeared to have been supported by donors in the UK.
“And this is a market where we are increasingly getting market share because of the ability of this region to provide independently certified and high quality chain of custody for validating certification claims of the products that come from this region”
Maurice Brownjohn said the objection was led by a Queen’s Counsel and a team of barristers exposing it as the action of commercial interests and not fishermen.
The re-certification was granted by the Marine Stewardship Council for the PNA’s skipjack and yellowfin fisheries and now covers waters belonging to the territory of Tokelau, which is not a PNA member.