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First Tuna Fishery in the World to be MSC Certified Achieves Re-Certification

Jan 16, 2013

Sustainability is a Founding Principle of the American Albacore Fishing Association 

Consumers in the United States and in markets around the world can continue to recognize and reward sustainable fresh, frozen and canned albacore tuna from the American Albacore Fishing Association (AAFA), based in San Diego, California, as AAFA has achieved Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification for a second time for the North and South Pacific albacore (Thunnus alalunga) fisheries.  The AAFA fishery prides itself on being in 2007 the first tuna fishery in the world to become MSC certified as a sustainable and well-managed fishery, and believes its leadership motivated other fisheries to follow suit and become MSC certified.  

Members of AAFA use pole & line and troll gears with barbless hooks to catch and land albacore tuna one at a time; there is no bottom contact and negligible by-catch as a result of employing these fishing methods.  Because no nets are used, the fishery is dolphin free.  In 2011, the total volume of albacore harvested in the Pacific Ocean was approximately 11,700 MT. The AAFA fleet accounts for more than half of the total U.S. albacore tuna harvest on an annual basis.

The American Albacore Fishing Association includes families that have fished commercially for generations and AAFA’s commitment to sustainability and the MSC program has both helped stabilize the albacore tuna fishery in the Pacific, and also helped the next generation see an economically viable future in commercial fishing.

What the fishery says

Natalie Webster, executive director of the American Albacore Fishing Association, said, “When AAFA decided in 2004 to proceed with MSC certification, most U.S. harvesters and processors did not know what MSC was.  AAFA knew it needed to tell the story of the U.S. pole and troll fisherman, its families, products and fishery.  U.S.-harvested pole and troll albacore tuna had always been included in news reports of tuna in general. The difference in stock, harvest method, environmental impact, etc. was not made clear and this artisanal fishery was not defined. AAFA felt the MSC certification would allow the story to be told on the world stage and subsequently consumers would gain awareness of what makes this U.S. pole and troll fishery so remarkable. MSC certification allowed us a platform to tell our story and as a result we have developed new markets and brought much-needed stability to this historic fishery.  AAFA is now, as it has been since its inception, a non-profit fishermen’s marketing association with the goal to preserve the U.S. pole and troll albacore fishery for this and future generations to come.”

What the MSC says

Kerry Coughlin, Americas regional director, said: “The recertification of the first albacore tuna fishery to become certified initially marks a milestone for both the MSC and the families who make up the American Albacore Fishing Association.  Tuna is a staple for millions of consumers around the world and MSC certification assures them the product they are buying can be traced directly to an MSC-certified fishery.  In the case of AAFA, buyers are making a purchase that supports member families with a deep commitment to fishing sustainably.  We congratulate the greater AAFA family on the ongoing sustainability of their fishery and hope it will continue to serve as an incentive for other fisheries worldwide.”

Albacore tuna is a highly migratory species found in oceans around the world.  Canned tuna – and the American Albacore Fishing Association – were recently featured in a national broadcast television documentary on the History Channel entitled “101 fast foods that changed the world.” 

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