Tri Marine affiliate authorized to use Fair Trade logo on tuna products

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Republished from Seafood Source, 26 March 2019

by Madelyn Kearns

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.

Pacific fisheries officials plan for sustainable and profitable longline fisheries

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Fisheries Managers from across the Pacific met in Honiara last week to discuss strategies for ensuring sustainable and profitable longline fisheries in the Pacific.

Although scientists currently rate the southern longline fishery, primarily targeting southern albacore tuna, as biologically sustainable with no overfishing, there is concern about the economic viability of this fishery.

This fishery is currently affected by poor economic conditions, due to the relatively low value of the fish, the relatively high costs of Pacific island based fishing operations, and declining catch rates. This is of concern given that many Pacific Island Countries and Territories (PICTs) have domestic longline fisheries.

Low profitability is also an issue in the tropical longline fishery, which limits the economic benefits that Pacific island coastal States can get from their longline resources.

Last week’s workshop, facilitated by Alice McDonald, consultant at NRE People, sought to explore the issues facing longline fisheries, and develop some strategies for overcoming these issues.

Fisheries Managers worked together to explore and develop strategies for overcoming the issues facing longline fisheries. Image: Jenni Metcalfe

The Oceanic Fisheries Management project (OFMP2) supported the workshop, which aims to have a regional longline strategy ready to present to the Forum Fisheries Committee in July next year.

Participants in the workshop identified the following key objectives:

  • Avoiding a collapse in the target tuna fish stocks
  • Ensuring economic sustainability – employment and livelihoods
  • Minimising environmental impacts
  • Respecting human rights, including safety of observers on boats
  • Improving monitoring, surveillance and compliance, especially given the uncertainty of data about Illegal, Unreported or Unregulated (IUU) fishing

A MRAG study into longline fishing of tropical tuna species indicates that the two biggest IUU risks are from misreporting or non-reporting of catches (49%), followed by post harvest activities (39%), including illegal transhipment of fish at sea. Only about 3% of IUU is likely due to unauthorised or illegal fishing.

Derek Ta’uika Tagosia, e-Reporting and Monitoring Coordinator for the Solomon Islands Ministry of Fisheries & Marine Resources, reported on the success of their e-reporting, now installed and operational on over 100 locally based fishing vessels.

“Electronic reporting is entering and sending of catch and other data from the vessel to the office via satellite devices,” he said. “Before that we were using manual reporting where a log sheet is handed out to the captains and they fill it in manually using pens or pencils and we found a lot of challenges – handwriting is not clear, some missing fields, some missing pages, some using dialects.

“One of the biggest problems we had with manual logsheets was the delay in receiving those logsheets; we received them weeks late, or even months. But moving into e-reporting we managed to receive those logsheets – in just a click of a button.

“You can have the catch record for that day and the data for that catch, for that day.”

Experiences with longline fisheries in Samoa and Papua New Guinea were also presented, providing an opportunity for participants to share lessons learnt from successful initiatives and discuss strategies to overcome persisting challenges.

Fisheries Managers shared lessons learnt from successful initiatives and discussed strategies to overcome persisting challenges.
Photo: Jenni Metcalfe

The workshop group listed the most urgent actions they thought needed to be taken in the regions longline fisheries including:

  • Strengthening MCS for longline fisheries, including increased implementation of electronic reporting and electronic monitoring
  • Promoting zone-based management
  • Locking in high seas allocations
  • Tightening transhipment measures, especially in the high seas
  • Specifying sovereign fishing rights
  • Gaining agreement on target reference points
  • Working towards a harvest strategy that recognises existing zone-based management measures
  • Developing management approaches that increase economic revenue and benefits
  • Understanding the stocks and linking scientific research to Monitoring, Compliance and Surveillance (MCS) needs
  • Defining and protecting maritime boundaries and baselines
  • Getting stronger agreement about crew welfare, perhaps through a Resolution at the next Tuna Commission (WCPFC) meeting in December.

Chair of the meeting, FFA’s Deputy Director General, Matt Hooper said that resource owners, the PICTs, were currently paying for most of the costs of managing the longline fishery but were not enjoying a share of the economic returns.

“We need to look at ways to improve the economic rents from tuna fisheries, and if we are successful in that endeavour we may be in a position to recoup some of the management costs from industry.”