By Madelyn Kearns, Associate Editor
Published on Monday, September 12, 2016
If all goes well, more tuna fisheries in Southeast Asia could potentially be earning sustainability certification in as little as one to two years from now, with blue swimming crab and snapper fisheries in the region following soon after.
In a lively discussion that touched on several of the many facets of sustainable fishing last week during the Seafood Expo Asia event in Hong Kong, leaders from the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) spoke on the current state of certification in the Southeast Asia region, which is looking positive as the area’s government and industry gets progressively more serious about combating unsustainable practices such as illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing.
“We definitely feel that people recognize the problem. They understand that it is time to come together,” said Sheryl Torres-Wu, MSC's program director for Southeast Asia and Hong Kong, during the “How Sustainability is Changing the Asian Seafood Market” panel discussion at the exposition, moderated by SeafoodSource on 7 September.
“We [MSC] work with fisheries out in [Southeast Asia] to make sure they have effective fishing practices in place,” added Torres-Wu.
With relevant governments, organizations and fisheries more focused on forming sustainable bonds, certification potential is naturally increasing. According to Matt Watson – MSC’s fisheries director for Oceania and Southeast Asia, based out of the organization’s Australia office – tuna fisheries in the region are perhaps the nearest to certified status.
“We’re working primarily in Indonesia, the Philippines and Thailand, and we see a lot of fisheries put up their hand and say MSC is the end goal, but it’s going to take a number of years for them to reach that stage. But I think, especially with the tuna fisheries, we’ll see some those come forward into MSC in the next year or two,” Watson said. “Following that, we’ll see blue swimming crab and snappers [fisheries], by 2020, engaging in the MSC program. And that’s industry’s commitment to MSC; note that MSC is becoming more relevant and more open to small-scale, developing world fisheries in this region.”
Watson was confident MSC will continue the number of certified fisheries in Southeast Asia the short-term future.
“In the next three or four years we should see more species come into the program [in Southeast Asia],” he said.