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Independent adjudicator’s decision on objections to the Usufuku Honten East Atlantic bluefin tuna fishery’s potential MSC certification

June 26, 2020

Assessors must reconsider important evidence

The independent adjudicator for the formal objections process to the potential Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification of the first East Atlantic bluefin tuna fishery has today published his findings

Mr Eldon Greenberg, a lawyer with extensive experience of environmental law and mediation, reached his decision after a formal hearing with the fishery, the independent assessment body, and the two objectors – WWF and The Pew Charitable Trusts – held on 1-2 June 2020.  

He upheld one of four objections being considered. This related to the evidence used to conclude how long bluefin tuna take to grow and reproduce. This evidence has bearing on how quickly fish stocks are expected to rebuild, to meet the MSC Fisheries Standard.

The assessment body, Control Union Pesca Ltd, has to present its response on this to the adjudicator by 17 July. WWF and the fishery then have five days to comment on any proposed action, before the independent adjudicator considers whether the matter has been adequately dealt with.   

If certified, the Usufuku Honten fishery would be the first bluefin fishery in the world to achieve MSC certification. The independent adjudicator’s findings are the latest stage in an ongoing process that started in August 2018, when the Usufuku Honten fishery entered assessment for MSC certification.  

Dr Rohan Currey, Chief Science and Standards Officer at the MSC said:  

“This bluefin tuna fishery – Usufuku Honten – is not yet certified, and we await the independent assessment body’s response to these findings and further input from the fishery and WWF. 

“The certification process is independent of the MSC. The assessment of fisheries to the MSC Standard includes multiple layers of stakeholder scrutiny and review by third parties. This is to ensure the outcome is entirely impartial.  

“Robust contributions from stakeholders such as WWF and The Pew Charitable Trusts are an essential and welcome part of the independent assessment process. It’s clear from the independent adjudicator’s comments that both organisations have influenced his decision published today. 

“Whatever the outcome of this specific assessment, there is an urgent need for bluefin tuna stocks to be managed sustainably. We appreciate the contribution of all parties involved in this process in working toward achieving that outcome.” 

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