Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) Group Chain of Custody in the Tuna Fishing Industry

Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) Group Chain of Custody in the Tuna Fishing Industry

Everything started 6 years ago; in October 2011, when the PNA office asked me to become the coordinator and to be full responsible for the MSC Group CoC implementation in order to get the certification. It was clarified at that time that this MSC Group CoC shall be built in the current tuna fleet practices and controls.

For the first time in my life I visited the Marshall Islands, where centuries ago Charles Darwin stopped, and where is now situated the biggest tuna transshipment port in the world – the city of Majuro. The PNA MSC Group CoC implementation took me to work very closely with the Marshall Islands Marine Resources Authority (MNRA), with National Fisheries Authority (NFA) and the National Fisheries College (NFC) in Papua New Guinea, with Western Central Pacific Ocean Commission (WCPOC) in Micronesia, with The Secretary of Pacific Countries (SPC) as well as the Pacific Island Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA). It was huge teamwork that involved several countries and local governances with the main goal, to implement and be certified by both the fishery and the Group Chain of Custody of the Parties to The Nauru Agreement Countries (PNA). It was an honor and pleasure to train observer managers, observer trainers and participate in the development of the CoC modulo for the PIRFO observer program that now is mandatory for any new observer in the Western central Pacific Ocean.

On the other, the implementation also took me to Kaohsiung in Taiwan, Singapore and Manila, where I trained the fishing company managers of three big tuna companies, which were the first three fleets that joined the PNA MSC initiative, following these control rules for harvesting unassociated tuna set or FAD free. These companies were FCF, Trimarine and Frabelle fishing.

This article summarizes the technical steps that we followed to obtain the certification. Currently these rules have been followed and applied in other tuna fisheries MSC certified. Since NGOs and big sustainable organizations consider the PNA MSC Group CoC as the most robust and transparent chain of custody in the tuna industry; it shall be an example for many other tuna groups now on Fisheries Improvement Projects.

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