MSC rejects PNA certification deception claims

01 Sep 2017
MSC label

The 'On the Hook' campaign wants to stop the PNA tuna fishery from being recertified by MSC

The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) "strongly rejects" a claim it has duped customers over plans to recertify the world’s largest tuna fishery.

Responding to claims by the organisers of a campaign which seeks to prevent MSC from re-certifying Western Pacific tuna fishery PNA, the MSC said it is " disappointed to see these misleading and false claims and strongly rejects the accusation of duping consumers."


The 'On the Hook' campaign states that PNA shouldn't be recertified as crews using the fishery can catch species other than tuna using unsustainable methods.

Validity doubts


It believes MSC are “betraying the trust” of the consumers saying that it is not acceptable for consumers to be “duped” into buying a premium product that has been certified sustainable and traceable with the organisation's 'blue tick' when unsustainable practises are taking place with protected species such as turtles, sharks and juvenile tuna.


Dr David Agnew, MSC science and standards director, said: ““As a global not-for-profit, we remain committed to our vision for the world’s oceans to be teeming with life, and seafood supplies safeguarded for this and future generations.”


The PNA is currently undergoing full reassessment to the MSC Fisheries Standard, as required every five years for all fisheries in the MSC programme, but On the Hook leaders have asked MSC to immediately halt the re-certification of the PNA and urgently review the MSC standard which allows MSC-certified products to be fished alongside non-certified catch.


Clear MSC stance


The MSC stated: “Our strict chain of custody requirements ensures that certified and noncertified catch are clearly segregated.”


It added: “Assessments to the MSC standard are conducted by independent third parties, not the MSC itself. For the MSC to intervene in an ongoing assessment of a fishery would contravene international best practice set by the UN FAO and ISEAL, and our impartiality as a standard setter.


“An assessment to the MSC standard includes opportunities for stakeholder comments, peer review and an objections process, overseen by an independent adjudicator. We encourage any stakeholders concerned about an assessment to participate and engage with the transparent and open process.”


Regarding objections made by On the Hook, the MSC said: “Some stakeholders have raised concerns relating to the use of multiple fishing techniques to catch certified and non-certified products from the same boat. These concerns were discussed and listened to during a workshop organised by the MSC in June.”


The MSC said it has developed three potential options to address these concerns which will undergo consultation with stakeholders beginning this month.

Feedback and options will be considered by the MSC’s stakeholder and technical advisory groups and a recommendation put to the MSC Board in January 2018.


The MSC added: “We hope that all those involved on (sic) the On the Hook campaign will participate in this process.”