Landmark MSC Certified Sustainable Fishery in Philippines Opens Markets for Small-Scale Fishers Internationally
SCS Global Services Certifies Philippine Tuna Handline Partnership
SCS Global Services (SCS) announces the first-ever Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) Fishery Certification in the Philippines – the Philippine Small-Scale Yellowfin Tuna (Thunnus albacares) Handline Fishery. This landmark certification of small-scale fishers is quite rare, and was no easy feat. To reach this accomplishment, the fishery undertook a decade-long fishery improvement project (FIP) starting in 2011, and a year-and-a-half long independent assessment by SCS. Despite four major typhoons in the fall of 2020, which devastated many fishing villages and vessels under assessment, the client group persevered to complete the certification in October 2021.
This certification represents a major milestone and unique opportunity for small-scale fishers to better support the livelihoods and communities of small-scale handline fishermen in the Philippines. The client group, run by the Philippine Tuna Handline Partnership (PTHP), consists of more than 500 fishing vessels weighing three gross tonnes (GT) or less that harvest Yellowfin Tuna with handline fishing gear in Occidental-Mindoro Strait and Gulf of Lagonoy regions. Unlike large-scale industrial fishing operations, smaller operations often lack resources to tackle complex social and environmental challenges.
The MSC fishery certification supports the Filipino municipal fishers in gaining access to global markets, and provides an opportunity to participate in major management and governance improvements in the Philippines, a big win for nearly 2,000 individual fishers and the large archipelagic fishing nation more broadly. PTHP also serves as a potential model for other municipal fishing communities to pursue MSC certification as a means of improving livelihoods and supporting durable coastal communities.
PTHP initiated progress toward environmental sustainability outcomes for the fishery group in 2011 with a Fishery Improvement Project (FIP) supported by the World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF) Philippines. They began their official MSC full-assessment in March 2020.
MSC Certification requires careful, independent and impartial examination of the biological status of the target species, fishery impacts to the broader ecosystem, management systems, and governance, to name a few. In addition to extensive review of requested documentation and evidence, SCS’s assessment team conducted thorough semi-structured interviews and discussions with government scientists, managers, enforcement officers, industry stakeholders, NGOs, and other experts to verify fulfillment of MSC Fishery Certification requirements and processes.
To maintain certification, PTHP must achieve measurable progress on several conditions and milestones over a specified period of time, which are examined via annual Surveillance Audits from their certification body.
SCS’ assessment of PTHP builds upon its long history of conducting robust MSC fishery assessments, dating back to the launch of the MSC itself, benefiting the world’s most sustainably minded fisheries, including small-scale and artisanal fishers. For instance, SCS completed the world’s first small-scale fishery certification against the MSC Standard in April of 2004, Mexico Baja California Red Rock Lobster.
Gabriela Anhalzer, Program Manager of MSC Fisheries, SCS Global Services said:
“SCS Global Services is elated to issue this MSC Fishery Certificate to the PTHP. PTHP conducted an exhaustive effort to organize fishers, collect data, implement measures, and improve overall fishery governance in recent years in concert with supporting partner organizations. For all of these efforts, PTHP deserves considerable praise.”
“We congratulate the Gulf of Lagonoy Tuna Fishers Federation, Occidental-Mindoro Federation of Tuna Fishers Association (OMFTFA), and Philippine Association of Tuna Processors, Inc. (PATPI) for such an unprecedented accomplishment for the Philippines and for small-scale, municipal fisheries more broadly.”
Adrian Cruz, Secretariat, PTHP said:
“Our fisher group is extremely proud to have successfully completed MSC Certification, and we know it’s a true testament to the unity and the teamwork of our fishers, partners, certification body, NGOs, government, and many other stakeholders. We hope that our efforts will encourage other nations to take a hard look at the sustainability of their fishing and see the value that certification could bring to their communities, ecosystems, and economy.”
Bill Holden, Senior Tuna Fisheries Outreach Manager, Marine Stewardship Council said:
“PTHP demonstrates leadership amidst the many small-scale fishers internationally for their collaborative work in ensuring sustainable tuna fishing. We look forward to seeing the ripple of PHTP’s sustainably fished yellowfin tuna positively impact the supply chain, as it’s sold across the globe.”
Joann P. Binondo, Program Manager, WWF-Philippines said:
“PTHP’s dedication and work in becoming an MSC Certified Sustainable Fishery has been an inspiring process to be a part of. Alongside the help of many incredible partners, the fishery has overcome significant hurdles; and with certification, they will have a better guide to continue progress of ensuring longevity in its sustainability practices. This would benefit the communities, the ecosystem, the national economy, and international supply chains for years to come.”
About SCS Global Services
SCS Global Services is a global leader in third-party environmental and sustainability veriﬁcation, certiﬁcation, auditing, testing, and standards development. Its programs span a cross-section of industries, recognizing achievements in climate mitigation, green building, product manufacturing, food and agriculture, forestry, consumer products, and more. Headquartered in Emeryville, California, SCS has representatives and affiliate offices throughout the Americas, Asia/Pacific, Europe and Africa. Its broad network of auditors are experts in their fields, and the company is a trusted partner to companies, agencies and advocacy organizations due to its dedication to quality and professionalism. SCS is a chartered Beneﬁt Corporation, reﬂecting its commitment to socially and environmentally responsible business practices. For more information, visit www.scsglobalservices.com. To learn more about MSC Fishery Certification, visit: https://www.scsglobalservices.com/services/marine-stewardship-council-msc-certification.