MSC had warned that certification of tuna fisheries could be suspended if the regional fisheries body failed to act on measures to keep fisheries harvested at sustainable levels.

The Fishing Industry Association of Papua New Guinea (FIA-PNG) has urged the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) to implement harvest strategies for tuna or risk losing Marine Stewardship Council certification.

In a statement on Wednesday, 01 September, FIA-PNG President and Chairman Sylvester Pokajam said it’s important for his organization to maintain its MSC certification and urged the WCPFC to get serious about establishing harvest strategies and harvest control rules at its 2022 tuna commission meeting. 

“We at FIA-PNG recognizes that tuna is vital for the economy, livelihood, and food security of our coastal communities and country, therefore it is extremely important to maintain the market access and comply with current retailers’ requirements, one of which is the MSC certification of the wild-caught tuna,” Pokajam said.

In July, the MSC warned that the certification of 22 tuna fisheries in the Western Central Pacific Ocean could be suspended if the regional fisheries body fails to act on measures to keep the fisheries harvested at sustainable levels.

According to MSC, if the certification is suspended, over two million metric tons of tuna could no longer be sold as MSC-certified into the supply chain, and brand-owners could no longer use the MSC eco-label on products made from this catch.  

“Urgent action is needed by governments to complete the WCPFC work plans, and we urge all stakeholders to lobby their representatives to ensure robust sustainability measures are reached for all tuna, especially WCPO tuna stocks at this time,” MSC said in a release. 

The certification faces suspension if no agreement is put in place by June 2023.

FIA-PNG received its MSC certification in May 2020, but that certification was contingent upon the organisation complying with 14 conditions that are directly related to the harvest strategy for its skipjack, yellowfin, and bigeye tuna. 

Pokajam said the WCPFC is the only regional fishing management organization that has a healthy number of tuna stocks. He added that the FIA-PNG has also been soliciting support from key stakeholders in an effort to strongly urge WCPFC to set up harvest strategies.

This story was produced by Bernadette Carreon, published at the Seafood Source on 1 September 2021, reposted via PACNEWS.

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