17 Dec 2011

London arbitrator greenlights World's first certified purse seine fishery

5:47 am on 17 December 2011

The approval this week by an independent arbiter in London of a Pacific fisheries management program is being hailed as a world first.

The move will provide financial incentives for fishing nations to sustainably harvest tuna in the Pacific region.

The director of the Marshall Islands Marine Resources Authority, Glen Joseph, says the certification of free-school catches of skipjack tuna by purse seiners is the first of its kind.

His comments follows London-based independent adjudicator Melanie Carter's decision to reject objections by some tuna industry players to a plan that will allow a cartel of small island nations to enforce new standards controlling the lucrative purse seiner fishing industry in the Pacific.

Her decision sets in motion a plan developed by UK-based Intertek Marine Moody Limited for the skipjack tuna industry to meet global sustainability standards set by the Marine Stewardship Council.

The Council is an international organization that works with fisheries, seafood companies, scientists, conservation groups and the public to promote best practices in seafood.

Its certification program recognizes and rewards sustainable fishing.

The director of the Parties to the Nauru Agreement, Dr Transform Aqorau, says people want to know they are buying sustainably caught tuna and will pay a premium for it.

He says the PNA plans to market "free-school" catches of skipjack tuna at a premium price to European and American wholesalers and retailers.

The eight PNA members - Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Palau, Nauru, Federated States of Micronesia, Marshall Islands, Kiribati and Tuvalu - control waters where 68 percent of all Pacific skipjack tuna was caught last year.