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IATTC Wants To Implement The First Tuna Certification System In The World

Responding to requests by member countries, the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC) is considering to implement the first tuna certification system in the world, under its management area - the Eastern Pacific Ocean (EPO).
Several parties have expressed interest in developing a system to allow vessels that have caught tuna in accordance with the Commission s rules to certify and label this tuna in an appropriately positive manner.
The name of the certification hasn’t yet been decided. It would especially benefit vessels targeting skipjack and bigeye tuna, since the albacore fishery is already certified by MSC and the yellowfin fishery benefits firmly on the pre-existing AIDCP dolphin safe certification.
The draft of the future certification system can be found in the document entitled “Elements for Consideration in a Tuna Certification System”, which will be presented tomorrow at the 21st Meeting of the Parties to the AIDCP in La Jolla, California.
According to the document, the certification and tracking system would be developed jointly by the AIDCP and IATTC, since it relates to measures established in both instruments. In addition, the certification would be awarded by vessel trip - at the conclusion of the trip.
The data recorded by on-board observers would form the basis for the certification system. Tracking the certified tuna, once it’s been landed, would be the following action to ensure the integrity of the certified catches.
The AIDCP is still considering which species, fisheries and vessels type are to be certified: “The system could be limited to certifying catches of yellowfin, bigeye, and skipjack tunas only, or extended to other species which are the subject of IATTC management measures, such as albacore. It could apply to catches by all gears, or to the purse-seine fishery only, or to all vessels or only to those over a certain capacity or size”.
Nevertheless, the requirements outlined so far are based only on the certification of yellowfin, bigeye and skipjack caught by purse-seine vessels.
One of the requirements to implement a tuna certification system would be that no tuna is to be certified unless IATTC has a resolution in force, based on scientific recommendation, for the conservation and management of yellowfin and bigeye tuna.
In addition, the tuna would only receive certification if it’s already tracked by the current AIDCP system, with an observer on board and the vessel registered at IATTC.
“The certification and tracking systems would be implemented and administered in a manner similar to the current AIDCP dolphin-safe certification system and the system for tracking and verifying tuna, but would be operated independently from those systems”, stated the document.
The use of the certification will be voluntary and should be implemented by each competent national authority of the parties. Tuna processors should maintain records complete enough to allow the processed tuna to be traced back to its point of origin.
According to AIDCP, several parties have expressed interest in developing the system, which is the item number 8 at the meeting tomorrow. The Program expects the parties to utilize the certification to promote the capture and commercialization of tuna caught in accordance with its rules.