As of yesterday, pole-and-line caught tuna from the Maldives can no longer be sold as MSC certified as certifier DNV-GL suspended the certification, while the MSC certification for pole-and-line caught skipjack was renewed.
Skipjack stocks are judged to be healthy, while yellowfin are seen to be in decline. The Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC) Scientific Committee recently released its assessment for the yellowfin tuna stock which showed significant declines and relatively low reproduction levels. The IOTC reported that the substantial increase in longline, gillnet, handline and purse seine fishing effort, and associated catches in recent years, has substantially increased the pressure on the Indian Ocean yellowfin stock as a whole, with recent fishing exceeding the Maximum Sustainable Yield (MSY) related levels.
‘Healthy tuna populations are essential for both the wider marine environment and fishing economies. The MSC Fisheries Standard therefore requires that MSC certified fisheries are targeting healthy or recovering stocks that are well-managed,’ said Dr Adrian Gutteridge, MSC Fisheries Assessment Manager.
‘We consider this suspension to be appropriate action in order to safeguard yellowfin tuna populations within the Indian Ocean and to support positive change in the way our oceans are managed. We encourage the IOTC to adopt measures needed to ensure effective management of all fisheries under its responsibility,’ he added.
Due to the suspension, the fishery client now has 90 days in which to produce a corrective action plan which addresses the cause of the suspension. If this action plan is produced and is confirmed by the certifier, the yellowfin component of the fishery will then remain suspended until there is evidence for recovery in yellowfin stocks. If the fishery fails to produce an action plan in the time allowed, its MSC certificate will be withdrawn.
In recognition of the implications that suspensions have on supply chain organisation, the fishery and the MSC are in contact with commercial partners and will keep them informed of any development with this suspension.
‘The MSC Standard requires fish stocks to be at healthy levels, and we look forward to seeing an effective plan developed and implemented for the recovery of yellowfin tuna in the Indian Ocean,’ said MSC Global Fisheries Coordinator said Jim Humphreys.