New Zealand albacore tuna fishery gains MSC certification
The New Zealand albacore tuna fishery, managed by the Tuna Management Association (TMA), has been awarded Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification and products from this fishery may now bear the MSC ecolabel identifying them as coming from a sustainable source, reports www.megafishnet.com with reference to MSC.
MSC certification follows an independent assessment of the fishery against the MSC standard for sustainable and well-managed fisheries, which rigorously examines the sustainability of the fish stock, the environmental impact of the fishing activities and the management and governance systems that are in place.
About the New Zealand albacore tuna fishery
The New Zealand albacore tuna fishery is currently managed under the Western and Central Pacific Fishery Commission (WCPFC). Under this international convention, New Zealand is responsible for managing the fishery within New Zealand waters but must ensure that the management is compatible with agreements under the Commission.
While no total allowable catch (TAC) limit applies for this albacore fishery, conservation and management measures set by WCPFC place binding controls on it by limiting the number of vessels that can gain access.
The New Zealand Ministry of Fisheries also carries out monitoring and surveillance across the fishing sectors to ensure fishers operate in accordance with the legislative requirements. Measures include imposing fishing permit requirements, catch requirements, Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) requirements, vessel and gear marking requirements, as well as, fishing gear method restrictions.
This certificate covers the 175 vessels represented by the TMA, which principally operate off the western coasts of the North and South Islands. These usually smaller vessels utilise trolling methods to catch on average 3,000mt of albacore each year.
Certification recognition of New Zealand fisheries overall effective management
MSC Pacific Fisheries Manager, Bill Holden, congratulates the fishery on its certification saying: "The MSC certification of this fishery is recognition for the responsible fishing practices employed by the fleet, and the sound management provided through the New Zealand Ministry of Fisheries."
"Tuna is one of the world's most highly sought after and widely consumed seafood products, particularly in parts of Asia, and there is a real need for tuna fisheries around the world to assess and ensure their sustainability."
"The Tuna Management Association should be commended for undertaking, and meeting, such a scientifically rigorous and transparent assessment of their fishing practices. They have set an excellent example to encourage other tuna fisheries to enter the MSC program, and I have no doubt they will see high commercial demand for their MSC certified albacore tuna," Holden concludes.
Tuna Management Association Vice President, Doug Saunders-Loder, welcomes the certification saying: "Certification of the NZ Albacore Troll Fishery is great news for those involved. It reiterates NZ's resolve and continued commitment to managing all fish-stocks within the EEZ in a sustainable manner, whilst acknowledging any environmental considerations."
Conditions of certification modified after stakeholder objection raised
As part of certification, a number of conditions have been imposed on the fishery concerning target and limit references, harvest control rules and the short and long term objectives of the fishery.
In March 2011, stakeholders participating in the fishery's assessment process submitted an objection to the final determination to certify the fishery. During the consultation phase of the Objections Process, parties to the objection agreed modifications to these conditions to make milestones clearer, and the objection was subsequently closed.
"This assessment process has benefited from a high degree of stakeholder involvement, and the MSC thanks all the participating organisations for their significant contributions to the rigour of the final determination, and the subsequent certification of the fishery," Holden states.