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MSC: Intervening in PNA tuna re-assessment would go against ‘impartiality’ as standard setter

MSC: Intervening in PNA tuna re-assessment would go against ‘impartiality’ as standard setter

Getting involved in the ongoing re-assessment of the Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA) tuna fishery would contravene the position of the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) as a standard setter, the London-based group said in a statement Thursday.
The MSC labelled a statement from “Off The Hook” — a group of NGOs, pole and line tuna interests, UK politicians, academics and celebrity chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall — “misleading and false”. Off The Hook are calling for the MSC to intervene in the ongoing re-assessment of the PNA fishery, which the MSC said is not viable.

For the MSC to “intervene in an ongoing assessment of a fishery would contravene international best practice set by the UN FAO [United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization] and ISEAL [Alliance], and our impartiality as a standard setter”, it said, in a statement sent to Undercurrent News.
The crux of the On The Hook group’s opposition to the PNA having MSC certification for its skipjack and yellowfin free school tuna fisheries, but not for catches on fish aggregation devices, known as FADs. The MSC said this is being worked on already, seperate from the re-assessment of the PNA fishery.
“Some stakeholders have raised concerns relating to the use of multiple fishing techniques to catch certified and non-certified products from the same boat,” said the MSC, in the statement. These concerns were discussed and listened to during a workshop organized by the MSC in June, the MSC said. “The MSC has since developed three potential options to address these concerns.”
These will go to “formal consultation with stakeholders” from Sept. 1. “Following this consultation, feedback and options will be considered by our stakeholder and technical advisory groups, and a recommendation put to the MSC Board in January 2018. We hope that all those involved on the On the Hook campaign will participate in this process,” MSC said.
Jo Miller, an MSC spokeswoman, told Undercurrent News the assessment team on the PNA fishery — Acoura Marine – is yet to publish their final report and determination. “This is followed by a 15-day opportunity for objections. If no objection is received, the fishery could then be re-certified,” she said.
She clarified that both FAD-free PNA yellowfin and skipjack are part of the same MSC fishery certificate. Skipjack was certified in December 2011, with yellowfin added to the certificate in February 2016, Miller told Undercurrent.
“The PNA tuna fishery achieved MSC certification following an in-depth assessment by an independent certification body,” said the MSC. The group’s standard is “founded on three principles: healthy fish stocks, sustainable impact on the wider marine environment, and effective fishery management”.
An assessment to the MSC standard “includes opportunities for stakeholder comments, peer review and an objections process, overseen by an independent adjudicator. We encourage any stakeholders concerned about an assessment to participate and engage with the transparent and open process”, said the MSC.
“In conformance with international best practice for a credible standard setter”, any modifications to its standard or processes are made only after due consideration of requirements for consultation, decision-making and implementation, the group said. “Third-party scrutiny, independence, impartiality and stakeholder consultation are central to the MSC’s values and commitment to continually improve and maintain world-leading standards,” said David Agnew, MSC science and standards director, in a statement.
“As a global not-for-profit, we remain committed to our vision for the world’s oceans to be teeming with life, and seafood supplies safeguarded for this and future generations. Shoppers and diners can continue to feel confident when buying seafood bearing our label that it has been caught responsibly and is fully traceable to a sustainable source,” he said.


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