SCS Global Services (SCS) congratulates the Northeastern Tropical Pacific Purse Seine Tuna Fishery operated by the Pacific Alliance for Sustainable Tuna (the Alliance) for achieving certification under the internationally recognized Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) wild-capture fishery standard. Operating in the northern and central Eastern Pacific Ocean (EPO), the Alliance represents four leading, vertically-integrated companies involved in the capture and processing of yellowfin and skipjack tuna. SCS, accredited to conduct independent fishery reviews since MSC’s inception in the late 1990s, conducted the certification assessment.
In order to achieve certification, the Alliance demonstrated that its fleet of 36 fishing vessels complies with MSC’s Principles and Criteria for Sustainable Fishing, and has committed to continuing improvements over time through a detailed Action Plan. The assessment, launched in November 2014, addressed 31 key performance indicators pertaining to the sustainability of target fish stock, ecosystem integrity, and effective fishery management. The certification covers both free school-set and dolphin-set purse seine operations.
“This certification represents a major milestone for the tuna industry,” said Brian Perkins, MSC Regional Director, Americas. “The Alliance has demonstrated that it is possible to manage a successful, commercial tuna fishery with great attention to the ecosystem in which it operates, well within national and international limits.” The Northeastern Tropical Pacific Purse Seine Tuna Fishery is overseen by the Mexican government and the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC).
Among its achievements, the Alliance has successfully reduced the by-catch of dolphin in the EPO by orders of magnitude from the early years of the fishery, before Alliance vessels began participating in the fishery, and it continues to aggressively push toward its goal of zero dolphin mortality. The Alliance has honed the practice of using nets that dip below the surface to allow dolphins, which swim above tuna schools, to pass through without capture, as well as boat maneuvers intended to minimize the potential for dolphins to be entangled. In addition, divers in the water to help dolphins escape entrapment, and independent observers are present on-board each fishing vessel to monitor and record any dolphin incidents.
Furthermore, in connection with its MSC certification, the Alliance has placed a seven-year moratorium on the fishing of bluefin tuna, giving stocks a chance to replenish. The Alliance has also committed to providing the equivalent of more than $6 million USD of in-kind resources to conduct dolphin population research in the Eastern Pacific Ocean.
“The Alliance has worked diligently for years to set a new high bar for tuna fishing,” said Mariana Ramos, Executive Director of the Alliance. “We have been quite impressed with the rigor and thoroughness of SCS and the MSC process, and are very gratified to have earned this prestigious recognition of our efforts.”
The project Assessment Team, headed by SCS ecologist Dr. Sian Morgan, included well-known fishery experts. The team conducted on-site inspections, personnel interviews, a review of operational records, a review of relevant government and academic reports, and observer surveys, and received and responded to nearly 300 pages of comments from two rounds of stakeholder and public review, in order to reach its determination. The auditors’ approach to scoring was examined by two independent peer reviewers, MSC’s technical oversight process, a third-party desk audit by SCS' accreditation body, Accreditation Services International, and an Independent Adjudicator.
An international not for profit, the MSC is the world’s leading science-based standard and ecolabelling program for wild capture fisheries. Through MSC’s rigorous traceability standard, institutional and organizational buyers, retailers, consumers, and stakeholders are assured that seafood carrying the blue eco label meets internationally recognized standards for environmental sustainability.
The Alliance represents a group of four leading fishing companies in Mexico – Grupomar, Herdez del Fuerte, Pesca Azteca, and Procesa – fishing for the two species of tuna – yellowfin and skipjack tuna – in the Northeastern and Central Pacific Ocean. The companies, which are vertically integrated, also involved in processing and marketing, create well over 30,000 direct and indirect jobs for Mexico’s coastal communities and provide a critical affordable protein to over 25 million families in Mexico and Central America.
SCS is a global leader in third-party quality, environmental and sustainability veriﬁcation, certiﬁcation, auditing, testing, and standards development. Its programs span a cross-section of industries, recognizing achievements in green building, product manufacturing, food and agriculture, forestry, power generation, retail, and more. SCS was the first independent certification body accredited to conduct assessments under the Marine Stewardship Council standard, and now certifies fisheries around the world. SCS is a chartered beneﬁt corporation, reﬂecting its commitment to socially and environmentally responsible business practices.