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Tuna Fishery Conditions Increase Sustainability


NEW ZEALAND - The International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (ISSF) announced on Friday 6th May that conditions placed on the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) assessment of the New Zealand albacore tuna troll fishery should help to strengthen the certification process.

The new requirements, including a timeline for execution, were agreed to by the client fishery, the certifying body and ISSF after an objection was filed against the original assessment.

ISSF President Susan Jackson, who participated in the development of the conditions, called it a significant improvement in how MSC standards are applied to tuna fisheries by independent certification agencies.

“The application of these conditions underscores the role that regional fisheries management organisations (RFMOs) have in the conservation and management of highly migratory stocks of tuna. In our opinion, an MSC assessment must take the effectiveness of these multi-national governing bodies into account. It is not enough to just look at how well national management schemes function – RFMOs must also be graded on performance. Right now, those grades are in need of improvement. National fishery representatives can and must help push for that change.”

Ms Jackson added: “There is a fundamental need for every tuna fishery seeking certification, to engage in a meaningful and realistic action plan for helping to develop improvements at the RFMO level. We think this resolution in New Zealand makes it clear that this is exactly what the MSC process calls for.”

Back in 2009 the Tuna Management Association of New Zealand (TMANZ) contracted Moody Marine Ltd. to conduct an assessment of its fishery. In February of this year a final report was delivered. A month later ISSF, acting as a Stakeholder, filed an official objection. Since then ISSF has been working with an independent adjudicator, Moody Marine and TMANZ to resolve the objection.

Under the deal reached, the fishery will still score well enough to be granted certification, however it will now come with clearly identified and measureable conditions that must be met in the next five years. The conditions apply to the development of target and limit reference points at the RFMO level, as well as the adoption of harvest control rules. Both areas are primary management needs of a sustainable fishery but have yet to be implemented by the RFMO responsible for the southern Pacific albacore tuna stock.

“This is a positive step not only for the fishery but for the process. The strategy behind our engagement as a Stakeholder is to accomplish exactly what the MSC fisheries assessment methodology was established to – utilize the knowledge of all experts to identify sustainable fisheries where they exist and determine the conditions necessary for all other fisheries to one day meet that standard of sustainability.”

For more information on the revised final assessment of the New Zealand albacore tuna troll fishery, please visit

To read documents submitted by ISSF as a stakeholder in the assessment process, please visit