Small-scale Philippines tuna fishers achieve MSC certification after 10-year process

The Philippine Tuna Handline Partnership (PTHP) has achieved certification to the Marine Stewardship Council’s (MSC) standard.

The Philippines Tuna Handline Partnership (PTHP) has achieved Marine Stewardship Council certification.

The PTHP is made up of 500 artisanal fishing boats harvesting yellowfin tuna using traditional handline fishing gear along the Occidental Mindoro Strait and Gulf of Lagonov. The partnership includes around 2,000 fishers in one of the Philippines’ most-productive fishing areas.

The fishery first began the process of achieving MSC certification in 2011, and despite four major typhoons in the fall of 2020 – which devastated many of the villages and fishing vessels under assessment – the fishery managed to complete certification in October.

“Our fisher group is extremely proud to have successfully completed MSC certification, and we know it’s a true testament to the unity and the teamwork of our fishers, partners, certification body, NGOs, government, and many other stakeholders,” PTHP Secretariat Adrian Cruz said in a release from SCS Global Services, which performed the assessment. “We hope that our efforts will encourage other nations to take a hard look at the sustainability of their fishing and see the value that certification could bring to their communities, ecosystems, and economy.”

MSC Asia Pacific Regional Director Patrick Caleo said the certification a well-deserved milestone for the fishery.

“This is a historic certification that marks a 10-year-long journey of making improvements towards sustainability in this small-scale fishery,” Caleo said. “The tremendous efforts made by the fishers to achieve MSC certification will help safeguard livelihoods, seafood supplies, and healthy oceans for future generations. It is especially important in coastal communities that depend on the fishing industry for food and income. We hope to see other small-scale and Filipino fisheries follow the handline tuna fishers’ lead by joining the global movement for seafood sustainability." 

MSC Client Group Representative Antenogenes Reaso said the hard work of the group paid off in the certification.

“We’ve seen what it can mean for us – a sense of economic stability, for those of us who depend on fishing,” he said.

The WWF-Philippines Yellowfin Tuna Fishery Improvement Project, which brought together multiple stakeholders to identify and deliver improvements on the fishery’s performance, played an important role in pushing the fishery toward certification. 

“PTHP’s dedication and work in becoming an MSC-certified sustainable fishery has been an inspiring process to be a part of,” WWF-Philippines Program Manager Joann P. Binondo said. “Alongside the help of many incredible partners, the fishery has overcome significant hurdles, and with certification, they will have a better guide to continue progress of ensuring longevity in its sustainability practices."

Photo courtesy of Primie Villa Parcon/Shutterstock


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