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Tuna Australia earns the MSC blue fish tick for the Australian Eastern Tuna & Billfish Fishery

The Australian Eastern Tuna and Billfish Fishery has today achieved certification to the Marine Stewardship Council’s (MSC) standard for sustainable fishing for the target species of albacore tuna, yellowfin tuna, bigeye tuna, and swordfish.

The assessment, carried out by independent assessors from bio.inspecta, found that the fishery meets all 28 performance indicators required for MSC certification. These include measures of sustainable fish stocks, bycatch, habitat impacts, and effective management.

Anne Gabriel, MSC Program Director for Oceania and Singapore, said: “Congratulations to everyone involved in achieving this certification. Through a rigorous independent assessment process, Tuna Australia has demonstrated that this fishery is meeting world’s best practice for sustainable fishing. We welcome Tuna Australia members into the Marine Stewardship Council’s global movement of forward-thinking companies which are putting the long-term health of our oceans, and the future supply of seafood, at the heart of their businesses.

The certification covers 34 Tuna Australia member longline vessels active in the fishery, landing around 4,000 tons of tuna and swordfish annually. The fishery spans the entire eastern seaboard of Australia, from the top of Cape York to the South Australian-Victorian border, and extends 200 nautical miles offshore. Tuna Australia members operate out of the ports of Bermagui, Coffs Harbour, Narooma, Nelson Bay, Ulladulla and Yamba in New South Wales, and Cairns, Gold Coast, and Mooloolaba in Queensland.

Product is sold direct to consumers in port towns, through wholesalers to restaurants, food service outlets, supermarkets and fish shops across Australia, and exported to premium markets overseas, primarily the USA, Japan, and Europe.

David Ellis, CEO of Tuna Australia, said: “Gaining MSC certification demonstrates the sustainability of the Eastern Tuna and Billfish Fishery and proves that our food producers are stewards of the ocean. The certification recognises fishing in marine parks can be done sustainably while enabling Tuna Australia members to access new markets and premium prices. Consumers can be assured that the fish they're eating is from a sustainable source.”

Tuna Australia received a $506K grant from the Australian Government’s Our Marine Parks Grants program. The grant enabled this important fishery to be independently assessed against the MSC Fisheries Standard for sustainability.

The fishery extends the length of Australia’s east coast, and includes waters protected in several Australian Marine Parks, such as the one million square kilometre Coral Sea Marine Park and Lord Howe Marine Park which protect our offshore marine environment.

The Hon Sussan Ley MP, Minister for the Environment, said: “The certification achieved by Tuna Australia for the ETBF highlights Australia’s world-class fisheries management and the interdependency of fisheries on a healthy and resilient marine ecosystem.

“Together with the coastal marine parks of the states and territories and the Great Barrier Reef, Australian Marine Parks form one of the largest marine protected area networks in the world. Together with rigorous fisheries management, Australian Marine Parks help protect our unique marine environment while supporting Australian livelihoods and the economy.”

Assistant Minister for Forestry and Fisheries Jonno Duniam said: “Australia has a reputation for producing safe, high quality and environmentally sustainable seafood, and Tuna Australia’s certification is a testament to that. 

“Australia is a global leader when it comes to fisheries management, and this certification means consumers can have extra confidence that the fish they eat is sustainable.”

This fishery was originally certified in August 2015 for longline albacore tuna, yellowfin tuna, and swordfish, with a single operator – Walker Seafoods – as the certificate holder. With this recertification, Tuna Australia becomes the certificate holder, and the wider Australian tuna fleet is now part of the certification. This increases the volume of catch eligible to carry the MSC blue fish tick by a factor of five.

The latest stock assessments for these target species in the Western Central Pacific Ocean (WCPO) shows stocks are healthy and being fished at a sustainable rate. In order to ensure that the fishery can respond to any future changes in the health of these tuna stocks, certification is conditional upon the adoption of harvest strategies including harvest control rules by all member states of the Western Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) by 2021.

Anne Gabriel added: “46% of Australia’s marine wild catch by volume is now certified to the MSC’s Fisheries Standard, reflecting strong leadership by Australian fisheries in reducing impacts on the environment.”


VIDEO - Teeming with life: Eastern Tuna and Billfish Fishery certified as sustainable