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All Maldivian Yellowfin, Bigeye And Skipjack Tuna Fisheries Enter MSC Assessment

All Maldivian tuna fisheries for yellowfin, bigeye and skipjack have entered assessment for certification under the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) [1] standard for sustainable and well-managed fisheries. With an estimated total annual catch of 118,000MT of tuna, this represents the largest tuna fishery to enter the MSC programme.

The client group contains all domestically registered pole and line and handline vessels, the only fishing methods legally allowed in Maldivian waters, targeting tuna species within the coastal waters and the exclusive economic zone of the Republic of Maldives. Based on historical data, the three fisheries are estimated to land around 900MT of bigeye tuna, 97,000MT of skipjack tuna and 20,000MT of yellowfin tuna using both pole and line and handline. The fisheries operate year-round, the main fishing season runs from August to April.

Maldivian skipjack tuna has traditionally been the mainstay of the domestic market but is now exporting substantial volumes of its canned and pouch production to Europe and elsewhere. Bigeye and yellowfin tuna is sold as whole frozen fish to international markets, mainly to Asia. Larger fish is loined and a small amount is exported as chilled, fresh fish. The higher-value handline tuna is sold fresh or frozen to Europe, the USA and Japan.

Mohamed Rasheed, Deputy Managing Director, Horizon Fisheries says: “Consumers in Europe and the UK and Germany in particular, are increasingly demanding sustainably sourced tuna. Demand from Asia for sustainable tuna is also growing. This is why we have decided to apply for MSC certification. The Republic of Maldives is the only country in the world that does not allow any fishing methods other than pole and line and handline. I hope that our fisheries will successfully complete the assessment and that we will soon be able to sell tuna with the blue MSC ecolabel. ”

Rupert Howes, Chief Executive of the MSC says: “I welcome the Maldivian tuna fisheries entry into the MSC programme and congratulate Horizon Fisheries on their strategic commitment to sustainability. There is a growing market for certified sustainable seafood and I have no doubt that, if successful in achieving MSC certification, the Maldivian tuna fishery will find a huge demand for certified sustainable tuna in seafood markets around the world.”