WWF: Tuna fishery certification is impossible

WWF has said it believes that the Echebastar Indian Ocean purse-seine tuna fishery cannot be certified to the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) standard for sustainable fisheries yet, due to increasing catch levels of yellowfin tuna and the lack of any effective control of fishing effort by management.

As the objection process for the Echebastar purse seine fishery enters the final stages WWF says it understands that the only outcome will be to remand the Certification Assessment Body (CAB) that has clearly made “a serious procedural error” and the certification will be withheld. 

Daniel Suddaby, Deputy Leader of WWF’s Smart Fishing Initiative said, “Although the CAB’s final report acknowledged that the critical fisheries management and controls are not in place as required by the MSC standards, the CAB still inexplicably recommended certification of the fishery, based on the hope that one day the situation would be improved. Hope is not part of a credible certificate and this simply is not following the requirements of the MSC standard. It is shame we have had to go to Objection to fix what is a misapplication of the MSC standard.”

The organisation says that catches of yellowfin tuna continue to increase, well in excess of recommended limits, despite repeated warnings from the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission’s Scientific Committee, and says that there are no adequate measures in place to control fishing effort and management in the IOTC region.

WWF also says that there are plenty of examples in well-managed fisheries - which are already MSC certified - where managers can respond to overfishing by reducing the amount of fishing effort to different lower levels in order to allow the fish populations to recover.  

Dr Wetjens Dimmlich, WWF’s Tuna Program Manager, said, “To those of us actually working on tuna in the Indian Ocean, any claim made to sustainable management in the Indian Ocean is an obvious and potentially dangerous misrepresentation of fact, and undermines the integrity of the MSC brand. We are looking forward to the results of the MSC Objection process.”

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