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Meeting of the WCPO Tuna MSC Alignment Group

In April 2019, PNG FIA was invited to join the Western and Central Pacific Ocean Tuna Marine Stewardship Council Alignment Group.

The WCPO Tuna MSC Alignment Group provides a mechanism for client groups of fisheries certified and under assessment against the MSC fisheries standard and of participants of Fishery Improvement Projects to coordinate their activities to pursue the adoption and implementation of robust harvest strategies for principal market tuna species. Through a unified voice, stakeholders improve their likelihood of achieving this shared objective.

The Alignment group’s scope covers albacore, bigeye, yellowfin and skipjack tuna stocks that occur in the Convention Area of the WCPFC, the regional fisheries management organization for tuna fisheries for this region of the Pacific Ocean. The scope includes all gear types used by fisheries that operate in the WCPFC convention area, and that are in the MSC program and in FIPs with a unit of assessment that includes one or more of these tuna stocks.

The WCPO MSC Tuna Alignment Group was established in 2014, but suspended operations in mid-2017 due to budget constraints. The Marine Stewardship Council re-established the Group, in part, due to MSC’s recent approval of a joint Conformity Assessment Body Variation Request that aligned the milestones and schedule for the adoption of harvest strategy elements for principal market tuna stocks in the WCPFC convention area. With this change, all MSC certified tuna fisheries in this region will be required to align harvest strategy milestones as set out in CMM 2014-06 as revised by WCPFC14 in 2017 with the milestones in their client action plans to achieve the conditions of certification.

  • The MSC Conformity Assessment Body set a deadline of December 2021 for closure of harvest strategy milestones as set out in CMM 2014-06.

Stanley Hotel Meeting, Port Moresby -6th December 2019

Coinciding the WCPFC16 meeting in Port Moresby, the Alignment Group and other stakeholders had a side meeting to share updates on achieving MSC milestones and deadlines for harvest strategy elements under the WCPFC Harvest Strategy Workplan.

The following items were discussed:

  • Update on harmonized milestones and schedule for harvest strategy elements of WCPO tuna stocks

  • Actions if MSC’s HS Performance Indicators as per WCPFC HS Workplan CMM are not met

  • WCPFC16 HS agenda item 6

  • Opportunities for coordinated activities and approaches by the Group and by individual members efforts during 2020

Outcome of Discussions:

  • WCPFC HS Workplan CMM are too ambitious most likely will not be closed against the 2021 deadline in this WCPFC16 HS agenda item # 6 discussion

  • Suggested actions and approaches noting MSC’s HS Performance Indicators as per WCPFC HS Workplan CMM are not met

  • A joint WCPO Tuna MSC Alignment Group letter to MSC Conformity Assessment Body requesting a variation Request to MSC response

  • A joint WCPO Tuna MSC Alignment Group letter to MSC requesting a variation to the MSC Conformity Assessment Body set deadline of December 2021

  • Alignment Group secretariat for draft a template for letter for use by client groups of fisheries certified and under assessment to formally write to their respective Conformity Assessment Bodies (CABs)

  • Request WCPFC process to expand and undertaken HS awareness workshop for all members to have the opportunity for educate and inform their policy makers

  • Other Opportunities for coordinated activities during WCPFC16 and subsequent WCFPC dialogue process;

  1. MSC Fast Facts for tuna suppliers

  2. NGO Tuna Forum joint letter

  3. SFP Fresh and Frozen Tuna Supply Chain Roundtable

  4. ISSF position statement to WCPFC, joint letter to WCPFC

Writers Views:

  1. PNA has a collective position already and is pushing for harvest control strategies for the WCPO. PNA demonstrated its efforts already i.e. FAD fishing seasonal closure measure and the other related 4IE measures,

  2. HCS to be gradually introduced into the WCPO fishery by beginning with one tuna species-skipjack (currently in stock in green, no prevalent issues by most WCPFC members compared to other tuna species). Agree on skipjack first and maybe it's a step to get the other species done.

  3. Focus on harvest strategy controls of high sea longline fishery within the WCPO

  4. Lobby PNA membership to getting an Eminent Persons Group of prominent and respectful individual of PNA countries to investigate and negotiate with those WCPFC members who are demonstrating resistance to progress the Harvest Strategy workplan.


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