WWF finds recent tuna certification "deeply troubling"

Published on
August 8, 2017
yellowfin tuna

WWF expressed its “deep concern” at the Marine Stewardship Council’s decision to certify the Northeastern Tropical Pacific tuna purse seine fishery. 

“Seafood buyers should not consider this fishery as sustainable,” WWF said in a statement.

MSC confirmed that the Northeastern Tropical Pacific purse seine yellowfin and skipjack tuna fishery meets its Fisheries Standards, after a third party assessment of the fishery.

Operated by the Pacific Alliance of Sustainable Tuna (PAST), the fishery includes 36 purse seine vessels fishing for yellowfin and skipjack with both free-school and dolphin-associated sets.

WWF objected to the certification proposal because impacts of the fishery on depleted dolphin populations have not been sufficiently examined and addressed, according to the organization.

“This is a deeply troubling outcome that we believe shows that the MSC standard is not consistently being adhered to by certifiers and that the objections procedure provides insufficient opportunity for consideration of the scientific basis for certifiers’ conclusions,” said Franck Hollander, seafood officer for WWF-Germany and the global team lead for WWF on the project.

However, WWF’s concerns were reviewed by an independent adjudicator, Melanie Carter, who decided to uphold the determination of SCS Global Services.

“Decisions are made based on science and evidence, and in a highly consultative manner. In reaching its conclusion that this fishery should be certified, the assessment team took full consideration of the impacts this fishery has on the entire ecosystem, including dolphin populations,” said Brian Perkins, MSC regional director for the Americas.

While WWF supports MSC as the world’s leading wild-caught sustainable seafood certification program, “it remains our opinion that the Northeastern Tropical Pacific purse seine tuna fishery does not meet the MSC standard,” Hollander said. “Depleted dolphin populations that frequently associate with commercially-targeted schools of tuna in the Eastern Pacific could be negatively impacted by this fishery. WWF believes the existing science does not support the conclusions made in the assessment.”

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