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More sustainable tuna available for UK market

MSC certification of a third Indonesian fishery adds 11,000 tonnes of sustainable yellowfin and skipjack tuna to European and US markets.

The Indonesia pole-and-line and handline, skipjack and yellowfin tuna of Western and Central Pacific archipelagic waters is the third tuna fishery in Indonesia to meet the globally recognised standard for sustainable fishing, set by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC).

Around 60% of the 11,000 tonnes caught by the certificate holders is yellowfin tuna, distributed as loin, poke (pronounced poh-keh) and saku (sushi block), while the certified skipjack will be sold as frozen product to export markets in the UK and US.

The certification signals an encouraging result for the Indonesian Pole and Line and Handline Tuna Fisheries Association (AP2HI) and the International Pole and Line Foundation (IPNLF) that manage the fishery and have committed to ensuring all Indonesian tuna fisheries become sustainable.

Acting Director General of Capture Fisheries, the Indonesian Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries, Ir. Muhammad Zaini, M.M. said: “Again, we have successfully shown the world our commitment towards sustainable tuna fishing in Indonesia. As the one of the largest tuna producers in the world, it is vital we enable the certification journey through a fisheries improvement project in order to sustainably grow while remaining viable for future livelihoods. Support from stakeholders to our small-scale tuna fisheries which help accelerate progress towards sustainability, is pivotal to this goal. Indonesia is proud to have our third tuna fishery meet the highest global fisheries sustainability standard.” 

Eight fisheries make up the MSC certificate, consisting of 380 fishing vessels, scattered throughout the Indonesian archipelago from North Sulawesi and North Maluku to the Banda Sea, and East and West Flores.  

George Clark, MSC Programme Director UK & Ireland, stated: “This is fantastic news and further increases availability of certified sustainable tuna options for the UK market. Due to the variety of exported formats, these fisheries will provide MSC options for sushi concessions, fish counters and the frozen aisle alike.  

“We extend our congratulations to AP2HI for their hard work and success in progressing another tuna fishery through MSC certification. Managing various fisheries with different species and capture methods across a large fleet of vessels requires a rigorous strategy and ambitious implementation, which these fisheries are a fantastic example of.”  

To become MSC certified, a fishery must demonstrate that the fish stocks it targets are healthy, environmental impacts are minimised and effective management systems are in place.  

Independent assessors, NSF International, determined the fishery should be certified following detailed assessments and stakeholder consultations with the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) – the regional body responsible for 60% of the world’s tuna catch – as well as national and provincial government.  

As MSC fisheries are expected to meet a high bar for sustainable fishing, to retain its certificate the association has eight goals it must meet within five years to retain its certificate, relating to harvest strategies and stock management.  

The MSC is working with the fishing industry in Indonesia, to help more fisheries to achieve sustainable fishing.  

Members of Indonesian Pole and Line and Handline Tuna Fisheries Association (AP2HI) have been in a fishery improvement project since 2014 and have been in part supported through MSC’s Fish for Good project.  

Adam Townley, Sustainability Officer at New England Seafood International (NESI) said: “Fishery Improvement Projects (FIPs) are a proven and important mechanism for advancing tuna fisheries’ sustainability. New England Seafood International (NESI), along with other responsible businesses, supports FIPs as part of our commitment to work with fisheries to help them achieve increased sustainability, which is ultimately verified through Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification. 

“NESI was an advocate of the handline and pole & line yellowfin and skipjack tuna FIP in Indonesia. We are therefore pleased to see the improvements made through this industry-led FIP, which has now been deservedly recognised and rewarded through the achievement of MSC certification.” 

In 2019, the Indonesian Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries (MMAF) and the MSC signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), affirming a joint commitment to strengthening collaboration on sustainable fishing. In May 2020, the North Buru and Maluku Fair Trade Fishing Associations, Indonesian Handline Yellowfin Tuna was certified to the MSC Standards, the second fishery in Indonesia, demonstrating the success of the MoU.  

Chairwoman of the Pole & Line and Handline Fishery Association, Janti Djuari said: “Working together towards sustainable fisheries has been our commitment since 2012. Certification owned by the association is a synergy of collective industry with support from the Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries, local government, business, IPNLF and other stakeholders – and provides value added to the sustainable skipjack and yellowfin tuna stock. Even though 2020 was coloured by the pandemic impacting the tuna business in Indonesia, this certification is a new start. We are confident that this certification will encourage our members in the association to develop a more sustainable and traceable fishing practice.”

Director of IPNLF Southeast Asia, Jeremy Crawford, said: “We are pleased to be part of this important process of building value in the local one-by-one tuna supply chains. Together with our local partners, and with the support of the Indonesian Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries (MMAF), IPNLF has been able to realise significant improvements in fishery operations, governance, and in securing livelihoods. Members of IPNLF and supply chain partners, such as AP2HI, play an important role in securing the sustainability pillars – environmental, social and economic benefits – which is our first priority. This is the only way to ensure that vulnerable communities are securing access to food security and economic well-being for the long term.”

Notes to editors

The first Indonesia tuna fishery was certified in November 2018: PT Citraraja Ampat, Sorong pole and line Skipjack and Yellowfin Tuna  

The second Indonesia tuna fishery was certified in May 2020: North Buru and Maluku Fair Trade Fishing Associations, Indonesian Handline Yellowfin Tuna