Press release

Maldives pole and line skipjack tuna maintains MSC certificate

April 15, 2016

A recent independent audit of the skipjack tuna component of the Maldives pole & line tuna fishery has determined the fishery continues to meet the high bar set by the MSC Fisheries Standard and will maintain its MSC certificate. The fishery first achieved certification in November 2012.

All MSC certified fisheries are required to undertake annual audits to ensure their continued compliance with the MSC Standard. During the recent Maldives pole & line fishery audit, the assessment team of the independent certification body, DNV-GL, considered all new information, including Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC) stock assessments, the MSC’s interpretation of Harvest Control Rules (HCRs) and all recent Independent Adjudicator (IA) objection decisions.

Healthy skipjack population

DNV-GL found that populations of skipjack tuna in the Indian Ocean are currently healthy. DNV-GL’s findings reflect the IOTC Scientific Committee’s latest assessment for skipjack tuna (PDF) which determined the stock to be neither overfished, nor subject to overfishing.

DNV-GL also considered whether the fishery continues to meet the MSC’s requirements for Harvest Control Rules (HCRs). DNV-GL found that HCRs are ‘available’ within the IOTC management framework for skipjack, as required by the MSC Standard to achieve a passing score (SG60) level for HCRs. ‘Available’ HCRs can be used to score at the MSC’s pass level in cases where the target stock is historically abundant and predicted to remain so, and where the management body has HCRs in place on another stock under its jurisdiction or has an agreement or timeline in place for the development and implementation of HCRs.

IOTC to consider skipjack HCR plan

The IOTC, an intergovernmental organisation responsible for the management of tuna and tuna-like species in the Indian Ocean, has requested through their Scientific Committee the development and evaluation of HCRs for IOTC species and for a candidate HCR for skipjack to be presented at this year’s Commission meeting, to be held in La Reunion, France in May 2016. The Maldives and other co-signatories will be presenting the skipjack HCR proposal at this upcoming meeting.

“We urge the IOTC to adopt a well-defined HCR for skipjack while stocks are healthy. The measure will enable managers to act swiftly to ensure the health of the resource and long-term profitability of the fishery. Compared to the other tuna species in the Indian Ocean, the work on a skipjack HCR is significantly advanced, so this is the logical species for the IOTC’s first HCR”, said John Burton, Chairman of the International Pole & Line Foundation.

During the recent surveillance audit, DNV-GL also determined that the skipjack fishery is making very good progress against the conditions of certification with six out of the eight requested improvements to be addressed now closed. These include the Maldivian fishery developing a live bait management plan that reduces the risk of Maldives wide and local depletion, collecting sufficient data to manage impacts on Endangered, Threatened and Protected species and the development of effective Monitoring, Control and Surveillance mechanisms.

Of the remaining two, the condition related to HCRs is on target while the condition on limit and target reference points is partly behind schedule but expected to be progressed at the meeting in May.

The MSC commends the fishery’s continued improvements and management effectiveness, and acknowledges their wider efforts to support sustainability in the Indian Ocean,” said Jim Humphreys, MSC Global Fisheries Coordinator.We encourage the IOTC to adopt the necessary measures needed to safeguard tuna stocks now and for the future.”

View the surveillance audit report >>

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