The long-term sustainability of the world’s most important tuna stocks – those in the Western Central Pacific Ocean (WCPO) – will be at risk if governments fail to implement protective management measures, warns the Marine Stewardship Council, commenting ahead of the upcoming meeting of the 26 member states of the Western Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC).
The MSC’s concern is that a failure to agree to harvest strategies would not only threaten the long-term sustainability of these tuna stocks but would also risk the MSC certification of 33 WCPO fisheries, which account for 85% of all MSC certified tuna.
These fisheries, which include skipjack, yellowfin and bigeye tuna in the WCPO and albacore tuna in the South Pacific, are managed by the 26 member states of the WCPFC, which share these stocks.
The meeting, which will be held between 27th November and 3rd December 2022, is seen as a vital opportunity to ensure the continued certification of all WCPO tuna.
‘WCPFC delegates must reach agreement on two key conservation management measures, which would result in the implementation of a harvest strategy for skipjack tuna and demonstrate progress towards delivering harvest strategies for other tuna stocks within the region,’ the MSC warns.
‘If progress is not made, certified WCPO tuna fisheries risk suspension from the MSC programme. Not only will the fisheries be unable to resolve a condition of certification requiring well defined harvest control rules to be in place by June 2023, but a lack of progress towards the delivery of harvest strategies undermines the current rationale used to certify all WCPO tuna fisheries.’