Can skipjack tuna achieve MSC certification?

Last week, the Parties of the Nauru Agreement (PNA) pledged to pursue Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification for skipjack tuna. But a timeline for obtaining the designation has yet to be hammered out, though the PNA is aiming to apply by 2011, a PNA official told SeafoodSource on Monday.

In his opening address at the inaugural Presidential Summit in Koror, Palau. PNA Director Dr. Transfor Aqorau said, “We are one of the players in this global industry; 25 percent of the global tuna catch is caught in our waters. When taken together with the rest of the Pacific, including Indonesia and the Philippines and the high seas adjacent to our waters, the Pacific [represents] over 50 percent of the global tuna catch.

“While the proportion of the volume of fish taken in our waters is significant, the share of the benefits that we receive is small,” he added. “When [compared to] the value of canned tuna, the share is almost insignificant.”

“We can get real returns from healthy stocks by working with organizations like the Marine Stewardship Council to let consumers know that tuna fishing in our waters is conducted sustainably,” said Aqorau.

The Presidential Summit included companies such as Tri Marine and Thai Union, both of which operate in PNA waters, as the PNA looks to work with processors rather than flag states and vessel operators.

Funding for MSC certification will come from the member countries themselves, with Papua New Guinea putting up USD 600,000 and the Solomon Islands kicking in USD 200,000. Technical assistance will fall under the Oceanic Fisheries Management Project.

PNA waters yields 1.4 million metric tons of tuna annually, valued at USD 4 billion. PNA countries comprise Micronesia, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Tuvalu.

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