Indonesian handline tuna fishery recognized as sustainable by MSC, Fair Trade

Published on
May 19, 2020

A small-scale Indonesian fishery has become the first in the world to achieve certification from both the Marine Stewardship Council and Fair Trade.

The North Buru and Maluku Fair Trade Fishing Association tuna fishery, which operates using one- or two-man boats to catch yellowfin tuna using hooks and lines, is now certified to MSC’s Fisheries Standard. It is the first handline yellowfin tuna fishery in the world to be recognized under the MSC program, and the second fishery in Indonesia to earn such a certification distinction.

The Buru, Maluku Province-based fishery has been involved in a fishery improvement project (FIP) since April 2013. In October 2014, the fishery was certified under the Fair Trade USA Capture Fisheries Standard, and its crew of 123 fishers were organized in nine Fair Trade associations.  

The Fair Trade associations created a custom fisheries management system that helped the fishery meet MSC Standard requirements, showing “how Fair Trade can be an effective way for small-scale fisheries to achieve MSC certification,” MSC said.

“We’re extremely proud of seeing the first Indonesian handline yellowfin tuna fishery meet the highest standard for sustainability,” Minister of Marine Affairs and Fisheries Republic of Indonesia Edhy Prabowo said in a press release. “Indonesia commits to support its small-scale fishers and sustainable tuna fisheries, and this MSC certification sets an example for other small-scale fisheries in Indonesia and around the world.”

“We congratulate Indonesia Handline Yellowfin tuna fishery and their partners for becoming MSC-certified. They are demonstrating true leadership in sustainable fishing. To maintain their certification, the fishery will need to work with other fishing organizations and the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission to agree to important management measures to safeguard yellowfin tuna stocks,” MSC Asia Pacific Director Patrick Caleo added.

Independent conformity assessment body SCS Global Services conducted the fishery’s assessment for the MSC standard. The North Buru and Maluku Fair Trade Fishing Associations, Anova Food LLC, Coral Triangle Processors LCC, PT Harta Samudra, and MDPI all supported the fishery’s certification bid. Yayasan Masyarakat dan Perikanan Indonesia (MDPI), an independent foundation focused on achieving responsible and sustainable fisheries activities, has backed the fishery and provided support to local community development, environment projects, safety-at-sea training, and fisheries management capacity-building.

The certification process that the North Buru and Maluku Fair Trade Fishing Association fishery has undergone over the years has been a collective effort, provincially and nationally, according to Blane Olson from Anova Food LLC.

“The journey towards MSC certification has been a true collaboration between all parties of the client group as well as Yayasan Masyarakat dan Perikanan Indonesia and MMAF both provincially and nationally. Together we were able to implement fisheries improvement project activities such as data collection, vessel registration and co-management committees, in order to meet both the Fair Trade and MSC standard,” Olson said.

Yellowfin tuna, distinct with their dark, metallic blue backs, yellow fins/finlets, and yellow to silver bellies, can live up to seven years.

Dedicated to rewarding sustainable fishing practices globally and helping to create a more sustainable seafood market, MSC has currently certified 15 percent of global marine catch.

Fair Trade certifies some 30 different categories, including coffee, tea, and other agricultural products. Five years ago, the organization started certifying wild-capture fisheries, and has certified about 10 fisheries as of 2019, including producers of Alaska salmon, New England scallops, yellowfin tuna, and Mexican shrimp.

Photo courtesy of Yayasan MDPI

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