Contentious North East Pacific tuna fishery moves closer to MSC stamp

A new assessment confirmed the skipjack and yellowfin tuna fishery meets standard.

A third-party, independent adjudicator (IA) assessing the Northeastern Tropical Pacific purse seine yellowfin and skipjack tuna fishery confirmed the fishery meets Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) standards.

The fishery includes 36 purse seine vessels operated by the Pacific Alliance of Sustainable Tuna (PAST), with both free-school and dolphin associated sets.

The certifier will now need to review the decision and update its final report to include the revised scoring, it will have to be approved by the IA before the certifier can move forward to issue the certification for the fishery.

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Since entering the assessment process in 2014, the fishery has undergone detailed review and assessment by an independent team of experts headed up by MSC-accredited certifier, SCS Global Services .

Deep concerns

Following the assessment team’s final determination that the fishery should be certified, the MSC received an objection to certification from the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). 

WWF expressed its "deep concern" at the likely certification.

WWF has previously objected to this certification proposal due to its belief that impacts of the fishery on depleted dolphin populations have not been sufficiently examined and addressed, therefore not meeting the MSC standard. 

An independent adjudicator assigned to consider the objection has now dismissed WWF’s challenge.

"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 this project.

In October 2016, WWF filed an objection to the MSC assessment conducted by an independent certifier based on two factors: that the information used to assess fishery impacts on depleted dolphin species was not transparent and that the assessment did not accurately account for impacts of the fishery on dolphin populations.

“While WWF continues to support the 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." 

However, the MSC said these concerns were reviewed and considered in detail.

The independent adjudicator, Melanie Carter is a legal expert with extensive fisheries, law, and mediation experience, as well as an understanding of the MSC Fisheries Standard and assessment methodology. 

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