Tuna Fishery Starts Sustainability Assessment

The Fish Site
by The Fish Site
9 April 2010, at 1:00am

US - A southeast US North Atlantic bigeye and yellowfin tuna fishery has started its assessment for Marine Stewardship Council (MSC).

The Southeast US North Atlantic bigeye tuna (Thunnus obesus) and yellowfin tuna (Thunnus albacares) pelagic longline fishery is entering full assessment in the Marine Stewardship Council's (MSC) certification programme for sustainable and well-managed fisheries. The fishery, which operates in the exclusive economic zone of the United States off the US east coast south of 31°N ltitude, will be assessed against the MSC standard. If successful, products from this fishery will be eligible to bear the blue MSC eco-label.

Historically, the Southeast US North Atlantic tuna fishery operates year-round although there have been time-bound closures in select areas in the past. The client for the assessment is Florida-based Day Boat Seafood LLC and the main market for fresh bigeye and yellowfin tuna from this fishery is the United States.

Debbie Lewis, director of compliance and sustainability for Day Boat Seafood LLC, said: "Day Boat Seafood LLC is pleased to bring a second fishery to full assessment for MSC certification. We are confident the Southeast US North Atlantic bigeye and yellowfin tuna fishery will meet the MSC's high standards for well-managed and sustainable fisheries. Our company is totally committed to sustainability, and the MSC certification will allow our customers to choose products that benefit the environment while assuring the preservation of this fishery for future generations."

Kerry Coughlin, the Americas regional director for the MSC, commented: "It is great news that Day Boat Seafood has decided to seek MSC certification for its bigeye and yellowfin tuna fishery. With the recent entry of Day Boat's swordfish fishery into the assessment process, this company is demonstrating a strong commitment to sustainability and belief in the benefits of MSC's certification programme."

This bigeye and yellowfin tuna fishery along the US southeast coast is managed in federal waters by the U.S. government through NOAA Fisheries (Highly Migratory Division) under the auspices of the Magnuson-Stevens Conservation and Management Act and the Atlantic Tuna Conventions Act. Catches from this fishery are predominantly from federal waters. The International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) has international authority to manage bigeye and yellowfin tuna in the Atlantic Ocean, set annual harvest levels and assign national quotas to the United States and other ICCAT member countries.

Day Boat Seafood has contracted with MRAG Americas, Inc. to conduct the independent, third-party assessment, which is expected to take 12 to 14 months. A team of scientific experts will be convened to evaluate the fishery based on the three core principles of the MSC standard: the sustainability of the fish stock, its impact on the environment and the management system in place.