Fiji aims for MSC certification for 75 percent of its longline vessels
Fiji has pledged to pursue the goal of having at least 75 percent of all longline vessels that are members of the Fiji Fishing Industry Association working in fisheries certified by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC).
Specifically, the South Pacific island nation will seek MSC certification for its longline yellowfin tuna fishery and will expand the definition of its fishing area to include three high seas next to the country’s Exclusive Economic Zone. Fiji already has achieved MSC certification for its albacore tuna longline fleet, which consists of 34 fishing vessels.
“60 percent of the Fijian population are coastal dwellers and hence, sustaining the wealth of our oceans is imperative for the socio-economic prosperity of our nation and people. Fiji’s significant commitment amongst the international community reaffirms our steadfastness in being responsible custodians of the oceans, fish stocks, marine life, and its ecosystem for generations to come,” Fiji Fishing Industry Association Executive Officer Anare Raiwalui said. “By certifying our fishing practices to the requirements of the MSC, the world’s highest and most credible science, evidence-based standard for sustainable fishing, Fiji is establishing a promising momentum as a forward-thinking nation, determined to deliver traceable, sustainable seafood.”
Raiwalui also said the Fijian commercial fishing industry believed that the MSC ecolabel will allow it to charge a premium price for the country’s seafood. Raiwalui’s announcement was made jointly with the Fijian Ministry of Fisheries, which said it joined in the commitment to seeking expanded MSC certification because it wished to ensure the health of the local marine environment and that it sees certification as a “critical incentive to ensure the traceability of vessels and fish species.”
MSC Oceania Program Director Anne Gabriel said her organization looked forward to working with Fiji’s government and industry on the assessments.
“The fishing industry in Fiji is central to the life of Fijians and is of huge economic value to the island nation, being one of the key economic drivers, so ensuring the sustainability of local fish stocks and the greater marine environment is incredibly important,” Gabriel said. “The MSC has been engaged with the Fijian fishing industry since the albacore longline fishery entered preassesment in 2007 and we welcome this latest commitment from the Fiji Fishing Industry Association, which will hopefully see a much larger proportion of the marine ecosystem safeguarded for the future.”