Longline fishing vessels for bigeye and yellowfin tuna under the management of the Marshall Islands Fishing Venture -- a subsidiary of China's Liangcheng Overseas Fishery Co. -- have been formally certified under the standard of the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC).
Based in the Republic of the Marshall Islands, this is now only the second certified bigeye tuna worldwide, after the certified tuna fishery in the Federated States of Micronesia -- also owned by Liangcheng.
Assessors from Control Union found the Marshall Island's tuna fishery successfully met all 28 performance indicators required for certification. The MSC added that certification was also conditional on all member states in the Western Central Pacific Fisheries Commission adopting certain harvest strategies and control rules by 2021.
Electronic monitoring systems are currently being trialed on six of the fishery's vessels, with 119 longline fishing trips observed in this fashion. As part of its certification, the fishery has committed to implement further monitoring, control and surveillance systems, including dockside additional checks, by 2023.
Tuna caught in the waters of the Marshall Islands is typically taken to the capital, Majuro, for processing, before being exported to the US, China, Japan and other Asian markets for sale.
“This certification is a significant moment in our company’s history and marks the culmination of five years hard work," said Joe Murphy, senior vice-president of marketing at Liangcheng Overseas Fishery. "All four MSC certified fisheries owned by Liancheng achieved certification as the result of fishery improvement projects. It has been a companywide initiative to ensure the sustainability of our primary fishing grounds and to offer our valued customers a consistent supply of MSC certified sustainable tuna."
Glen Joseph, director of the Marshall Islands marine resources authority, added: "MSC certification gives us the confidence that we’re fishing our oceans sustainably, leaving a thriving resource for generations to come. It also gives those fishing our waters extra market incentive to safeguard the environment. It’s a win-win.”