The Tuna Industry: Embracing technologies and sustainable strategies

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Photo: SOCSKSARGEN Federation of Fishing and Allied Industries Inc.

Republished from Panay News, 23 August 2019

by Belinda Sales-Canlas

THE 21st National Tuna Congress is happening on September 4-6, 2019 in General Santos City. The Theme for this year’s Congress: “The Tuna Industry: Embracing Technologies and Sustainable Strategies”. Why this Theme?

The choice of the Theme is anchored on sustainability supported by technologies. We all know that Sustainability of Tuna Resources is paramount to the fishing industry. It cannot be overemphasized that the sustainability of the ocean’s resources does not only rest on the shoulders of government. The same responsibility is likewise demanded of the private sector, especially the global players of the Tuna Industry, and the global fisheries advocates.

The Theme calls that sustainability can only be achieved if Conservation and Management Measures are dutifully observed, and international and regional agreements calling for preservation of species and recovery plans, are honoured.

Sustainability also means no overfishing.  It means that we enable an environment for Tuna and Tuna-like species to spawn and propagate for another season of catch. The intention is not to deplete our resources.

On technology, the world is currently driven by technology. The fishing industry needs to keep up by continuously upgrading systems and processes to achieve full efficiency while being ocean-friendly.

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For 2019, the SOCSKSARGEN Federation of Fishing and Allied Industries, Inc. (SFFAII) welcomes its new President, Andrew Philip Yu. Outgoing President Joaquin T. Lu has served SFFAII for 8 years, starting in 2011. He also held the chairmanship of the National Tuna Congress for eight years. 

President Lu’s accomplishments include: Active and dynamic Advocacy, Lobby Work, and Involvement in International and Regional Collaborations; Focused Partnership with National Government and Steadfast Observance and Compliance with Philippine Laws; and Implementation of the electronic Catch Documentation and Traceability System (eCDTS).

On the first, the country is a driven Member of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission. Under his watch, the Philippines has been granted access to fish in the High Seas Pocket 1 (HSP1). This means that the country’s 36 fishing fleets can fish in the HSP1 of the Western and Central Pacific Ocean. This is a major breakthrough for the country. It may be recalled that for a time, the Philippines was no longer allowed to fish in Indonesia. The prohibition affected the Tuna Industry. The severity of the situation was felt in General Santos City, the home base of the Tuna Industry.

Under his leadership, the fishing industry was able to surmount the acute challenge. Of course, even as the Philippines is granted access to fish in the high seas, the country is duty bound to comply with international regulations, like the observance of conservation and management measures.

SFFAII also pushed for the Philippines’ inclusion in the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission. The high seas of the Indian Ocean and the Exclusive Economic Zones of member-coastal states are potential fishing grounds for Philippine purse-seine fishing vessels. Fishing in other fishing grounds will enable our own fishing grounds to recover.

SFFAII also pushes the promotion of ASEAN Tuna globally and branding it as a suitable and traceable-produced product. SFFAII supports the move to properly label the fishing industry and its allied industries’ products. However, it likewise urges that international certification be made affordable, yielding benefits not only to stakeholders, but also on marine ecosystems.

On Focused Partnership with National Government and Steadfast Observance and Compliance with Philippine Laws. For 20 years, SFFAII has hosted 20 Tuna Congresses. The Tuna Congress is now on its 21st year. The yearly Congress has become a venue for intense lobby efforts from among the active players and loyal stakeholders of the industry. The issues and concerns afflicting the industry are highlighted in the yearly Tuna Congress.

The yields of the past Tuna Congresses include the Formulation of a Policy governing Illegal, Unlawful, and Unregulated fishing practices; Finalization, Production, and Issuance of the Philippine Fishing Vessels Safety Rules and Regulations; 2018 National Tuna Management Plan which is aimed at establishing a sustainably-managed and equitably-allocated Tuna fisheries by 2026 and promoting responsible fishing practices and trade of Tuna products; Creation of National Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Management Council that serves as an advisory/recommendatory body to the Department of Agriculture in policy formulation; Reconstitution of the National Tuna Industry Council; Approval of the Handline Fishing Law and the amendment of the Implementing Rules and Regulations of the said law; among others.

On Implementation of the eCDTS. In 2017, a major milestone for the Tuna Industry unfolded when SFFAII partnered with USAID Oceans and Fisheries Partnership and BFAR to develop and implement the eCDTS. The system, when operational, will trace the movement of seafood from “bait to plate”, all the way through to export markets like US, EU, and neighbouring ASEAN markets. General Santos City has been chosen as the pilot city. Now on its final year, we will see how this system will actually impact the fishing industry.

Gender, human rights and sustainable resource management important aspects of significant Pacific-EU Marine Partnership Programme

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Republished from Pacific Community, 26 March 2019

The recent Pacific Community (SPC) 11th Heads of Fisheries meeting held in Noumea, New Caledonia from 11-13 March 2019 has been briefed on a large marine partnership initiative to improve economic, social and environmental benefits for Pacific states.

The €45Million Pacific-European Union Marine Partnership (PEUMP) Programme jointly funded by the European Union (EU) (€35Million) and Sweden (€10 Million), is a multi-partner project which promotes stronger regional economic integration and the sustainable management of natural resources and the environment in the Pacific region.

The PEUMP programme addresses some of the most serious challenges faced by the region such as the increasing depletion of coastal fisheries resources; threats to marine biodiversity, including negative impacts of climate change and disasters; the uneven contribution of oceanic fisheries to national economic development; the need for improved education and training in the sector; and the need to mainstream a rights-based approach and promote greater recognition of gender issues within the sector.   

It focuses on six key areas targeting gaps in fisheries science; fisheries development; coastal resources and livelihoods; Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated (IUU) fishing; ecosystem-based management; biodiversity conservation; and capacity building at national and community levels.

Head of Cooperation at the EU Delegation for the Pacific, Christoph Wagner reaffirmed the role of the EU as a reliable and close partner of the Pacific and said: ”The Pacific–European Union Marine Partnership Programme supports the sustainable management of fisheries, food security and blue growth in the Pacific region, in line with the Regional Roadmap for Sustainable Pacific Fisheries. The oceans are a life force that sustains our planet and every person on it. Therefore it is so important to join up in the Pacific and set an example on how to manage marine resources more sustainably.”

Speaking on behalf of Sweden, Åsa Hedén, Head of Development Cooperation, Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific said: “Following the New York Ocean conference co-hosted by Fiji and Sweden in 2017, Sweden presented its largest national budget for supporting environment, ocean and climate initiatives. In this commitment, we recognise the PEUMP programme as a unique intervention with its multi-sectoral approach with different stakeholders at regional, national and local levels working towards sustainable management of the Ocean. As a co-financier, we are pleased to be part of this initiative. It is evident that the PEUMP programme has taken on a serious people-centred approach to promote direct opportunities and positive changes for the people of the Pacific Islands, targeting women, men, youth and vulnerable groups.”

The SPC is leading implementation of the multi-partner programme which is working in the Cook Islands, Fiji, Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), Kiribati, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea (PNG), Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI), Tuvalu, Tonga, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Timor Leste and Vanuatu.

SPC’s Director General, Dr Colin Tukuitonga said: “As the largest region on Earth and with climate change being more widely recognised as an immediate and pressing priority, the Pacific region will quickly become a hub for international climate change research and a focus for debates around conservation and resource management. The Blue Pacific narrative will ensure that our region has a leading, independent and united voice on these issues. The PEUMP partnership will provide further support to help ensure that, as stewards of the Pacific, we are working collaboratively to manage and preserve our ocean resources to ensure a sustainable future.”

The SPC is working in partnership with the Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA)Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) and the University of the South Pacific (USP) to implement the PEUMP over the next five years. Each agency with be working with a number of implementing partners such as the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), Locally Managed Marine Areas (LMMA) network, Pacific Island Tuna Industry Association (PITIA) and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).

Division Fisheries, Aquaculture & Marine Ecosystems

CountriesVanuatuSolomon IslandsSamoaTongaTuvaluMarshall IslandsPapua New GuineaPalauNiueNauruKiribatiFederated States of MicronesiaFijiCook Islands

First fishery achieves MSC certification for bigeye tuna

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PRESS RELEASE – Marine Stewardship Council, 7 March 2019

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.”

Liancheng is also responsible for the Cook Islands South Pacific albacore and yellowfin longline fishery which achieved MSC certification in 2015. Its yellowfin and bigeye tuna fisheries in the Republic of Marshall Islands are also undergoing MSC assessment, with a conclusion expected by the end of 2019.

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.”