Breakthrough for Philippine tuna exports

The European Union has accepted a trial shipment of tuna loins from the Philippines. The delivery met all the criteria for responsible fishing practices, and, according to Dr. Jose Ingles, the World Wildlife Fund’s Coral Triangle program tuna strategy leader, the EU’s decision opens the way for further seafood exports from small-scale fishing operations in the Philippines.

“This positive development comes just after the EU banned untraceable tunas from entering its ports at the start of this year,” said Ingles. “It clearly proves that small-scale fisheries using responsible catching methods like handline tuna fishing can fare well in global markets through proper certification and compliance.”

The initial batch of tuna arrived with catch certificates displaying the traceability and verification criteria. This includes data that shows the tuna was caught by registered boats in legal fishing areas, using selective handline fishing gear.

The traceability system has been developed by the Philippine Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources. The WWF has worked on the project in partnership with fishermen from Mindoro, Philippines, along with local government and the private sector.

“European countries make up the biggest fish market in the world, and with this catch-certification system in place in the Philippines, we can look forward to an effective convergence of economic opportunities and environmental sustainability,” said Ingles. “This scheme is an effective step toward eliminating illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, which has been increasing worldwide, resulting in the declining catches of a growing number of fish stocks.”

The Coral Triangle contains spawning and nursery grounds and migratory routes for commercially valuable tuna species such as bigeye, yellowfin, skipjack and albacore, producing more than 40 percent of the total catch for the western central Pacific region and representing more than 20 percent of the total global catch.

The EU’s catch-certificate law, enacted to combat IUU fishing, went into effect on 1 January. Some countries, including Russia, have had difficulty complying with the new requirement.

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