Dongwon-owned tuna fishery becomes first in South Korea to achieve MSC certification

Published on
October 29, 2019

A Pacific free-school yellowfin and skipjack tuna fishery in South Korea has become the first in the country to achieve Marine Stewardship Council certification, according to a 24 October announcement.

The certification applies to free-school yellowfin and skipjack tuna caught by 12 purse-seine freezer vessels operating in the Western Central Pacific Ocean (WCPO) and owned by Korean fishing company Dongwon, which is one of the ten largest seafood companies in the world taking part in the Seafood Business for Ocean Stewardship (SeaBOS) initiative.

“It’s a great honour to achieve the first MSC fishery certification in Korea,” Dongwon President Myoung Woo Lee said. “By achieving the most prestigious certification, we are now able to give even further confidence to our customers that our operations are duly carried out in accordance with international regulations and international best practices.”

“It also ensures sustainability, transparency, and traceability within our operation, through which we hope to lead sustainable fishing in Korea, as the first and only MSC fishery certification holder in Korea,” Woo Lee added. “We are sincerely excited about the certification and the role that we are about to take on in Korea and in international stages, as a leader in sustainable fishing. We hope that MSC certification will continue to champion its status as de facto world's most renowned standard in sustainability.”

With 99 percent of the catch made up of skipjack and yellowfin, the South Korean fishery must ensure it continues to have minimal impact on other species to retain its certification. The certification is conditional upon the adoption of harvest strategies, including harvest control rules, by all member states of the Western Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) by 2021. The fishery is also required to further demonstrate that it is not having a detrimental impact on manta and mobula rays to maintain its MSC status. 

Even with the conditions, the MSC said it recognized strong management and governance in the fishery, including 100 percent observer coverage and real-time monitoring via a remote fisheries monitoring center in Busan, South Korea. 

“I would like to offer my congratulations to Dongwon for this historic certification,” MSC CEO Rupert Howes said. “We hope this achievement will lead to other South Korean fisheries entering into the MSC assessment process to demonstrate their commitment to ocean sustainability and the stewardship of our precious ocean resources. I would also like to extend my congratulations and thanks to the all the fishers involved in this certification and the management agency.”

Tuna from the fishery can be sold with the blue MSC label once Dongwon completes a traceability assessment to earn certification to the MSC’s Chain of Custody Standard. Conformity assessment body Control Union conducted the fishery’s recent assessment applying to MSC’s international standard for sustainable fishing.

Tuna caught by the fishery is landed in Busan, Masan, and Mokpo in South Korea; Bangkok, Thailand; General Santos, Philippines; Ho Chi Minh and Cam Rahn, Vietnam; Manta, Ecuador; and Mazatlán and Manzanillo, Mexico.

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