Tuesday, November 30, 2010

MSC Certification Fail! St Helena pole & line and rod & line tuna fisheries

The MSC accredited certifying body (CB) Food Certification International Ltd based in Inverness, Scotland, has given the St Helena Island pole & line and rod & line tuna fisheries for albacore, bigeye, yellowfin and skipjack tuna a failing grade for MSC certification as a sustainable fishery.  The assessment was carried out using the qualitative Risk Based Assessment approach developed by MSC for data-poor stocks.  The CB failed the fisheries on all four tuna stocks under Principle 1: Sustainability of Exploited Stock.

Should the St Helena fishery wish to still pursue certification, it is required by the CB to ensure that a number of improvement are carried out in order to achieve a passing score under Principle 1.  These include the development and implementation of target and limit reference points as well as harvest strategies incorporating harvest control rules that respond to the state of the stock relative to the reference points.

Other fisheries have in the past been certified by MSC as sustainable while having conditions applied requiring improvements in these areas.  This is only the second fishery that has entered full MSC certification to not reach a successful conclusion (the other was apparently a UK lobster fishery some time ago).  Does this "fail" indicate a new approach by MSC in response to mounting public criticism that "conditionally sustainable" does not make sense (a fishery should meet all sustainability conditions before it is certified sustainable)?  Or is it just the result of a consulting company that lacks the business savvy of successful certifying bodies such as Moody Marine Ltd?

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