The award of MSC certification to the Papua New Guinea Fishing industry Association (FIA PNG) for the Torres Strait rocky lobster fishery represents the culmination of a process that has been underway since 2018.
‘The pursuit of MSC certification is part of the FIA PNG Responsible Sourcing Policy (RSP) commitment launched in 2018. Our Western and Central Pacific Ocean nations are well known for the responsible management of tuna stocks and for more than 12 years since the PNA obtained the first Marine Stewardship Council MSC tuna fishery certification in the region,’ an FIA representative commented.
‘Now, Papua New Guinea has taken the leadership in the WCPFO creating a positive impact in coastal communities, obtaining the first-ever small-scale MSC fishery certification for the Torres Straight Rocky Lobster.’
The organisation states that the focus up to now has been firmly on tuna fisheries, but FIA PNG has wanted to look beyond this and assist the small-scale fisheries that represent more than 60% of the seafood catches globally.
‘We recognised that the tuna industrial sector is doing great, and now together with the National Fisheries Authority (NFA) of PNG decided to join forces and get recognition of the Torres Straight Rocky Lobster’s good practices at the fisheries. We embarked on this journey in 2021, by 2022 we applied for the Marine Stewardship Council Fishery Certification that includes investment from the NFA and FIA PNG in management and also at the fishery level,’ FIA PNG states.
Certification for the PNG lobster fishery was confirmed earlier this month.
‘Currently, the PNG seafood products coming from small-scale fisheries are uncompetitive to the rest of the world at the market level. We agreed in FIA PNG to take a step ahead and put our PNG seafood products in premium markets focusing on small-scale fisheries. This is a long-term investment commitment in PNG,’ the organisation’s representative stated, commenting that MSC-certified seafood products attract a premium price and that this should be regarded as a policy initiative that will create an incentive for the PNG-based seafood sector.
‘It’s a win-win initiative for PNG. The FIA PNG RSP is a proven model, it is scalable and applicable to any fishery industrial or artisanal. We invite our brothers and sisters in the Pacific to look beyond tuna fisheries, if we want to create an impact on our economies, contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals, and enhance the private sector and government collaboration to demonstrate improvement in fisheries practices.’
This is the first one of several small-scale fisheries that FIA PNG and NFA will put into the MSC program to boost the PNG economy and the country’s image as a source of responsible and well-managed seafood.
‘We are thrilled, again, to be frontrunners in the Pacific with this good example of caring about artisanal fisheries and the coastal community’s impact,’ FIA PNG states.