By Cliff White, Executive Editor
Published on Thursday, June 02, 2016
The Marine Stewardship Council announced Thursday, 2 June that it has certified Tri Marine’s purse-seine vessels fishing for free-schooling skipjack and yellowfin tuna in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean.
Bellevue, Washington-based Tri Marine is one of the world's largest tuna fishing companies. Last year, it listed more than USD 1.3 billion (EUR 1.17 billion) in sales in the United States alone, according to the 2015 Top 25 North American Seafood Suppliers rankings compiled by SeafoodSource.
The newly certified fishery will supply several U.S. brands, including Tri Marine’s Ocean Naturals brand, increasing the availability of MSC-certified tuna in the U.S. market. The tuna will in large part be processed at Tri Marine’s facilities in American Samoa, according to a press release from the company.
“Tri Marine joins a group of elite tuna fisheries that have achieved conformance with the world’s most robust, science-based standard for environmental sustainability,” said Jim Humphreys, global fisheries coordinator at the Marine Stewardship Council. “This is a significant accomplishment which requires investment in science, management and supply chains. It will contribute to the preservation of our oceans and precious tuna stocks.”
The independent firm SCS Global Services provided the assessment that found Tri Marine’s free- school purse-seine fishing in the Western and Central Pacific meets the MSC’s requirements for certification. Its 350-page report verified the fishery meets requirements for the current and future health of stocks, the minimization of environmental impacts, and the promotion of good management. It also noted that free-school purse-seining techniques produce low bycatch totals.
However, SCS Global Services mandated that Tri Marine continue to meet six conditions for ongoing MSC certification. The conditions include gathering more data on how fishing is impacting shark populations, the implementation of well-defined harvest control rules, more staff training and improved stock management. The requirements also include the Tri Marine fleet to carry an observer at all times to ensure that the fishery complies with legal and MSC regulations.
“We are proud to have pioneered the development of free-school tuna products to create market-based incentives for environmentally responsible fishing practices,” Tri Marine director of environmental policy Matthew Owens said. “Broadening our portfolio of MSC-certified fisheries and products is an important part of our sustainability strategy. It not only provides positive recognition of our ongoing sustainability efforts, but it also boosts our supply of tuna certified to carry the blue MSC ecolabel.”
The certification expands the area where sustainable skipjack and yellowfin tuna can be caught beyond the waters of the Partners to the Nauru Agreement to include tuna caught in U.S. territorial waters, the waters of several Forum Fisheries Agency member countries and international waters. Last year, around 842,000 metric tons of tuna caught globally was MSC-certified, representing about 16 percent of the global catch.
“International cooperation is required in order to safeguard tuna stocks for the future. We encourage fisheries, NGOs, retailers, and food service companies to work together to support effective management of tuna fisheries by regional fisheries management organizations, which will ensure long term sustainability,” Humphreys said.