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2 Million Cases Of MSC Pole-And-Line Skipjack Expected Yearly Maldives, August 17, 12

The Maldivian pole-and-line skipjack fishery, which is likely to get the MSC stamp of approval in October, is expected to yield about 40,000 MT of certified sustainably caught tuna each year, says Adnan Ali, executive committee member of the Maldives Seafood Processors & Exporters Association (MSPEA) and coordinator for MSC matters.
Given the latest report from the certification body Intertek Moody Marine, the fishery is well on its way to achieving the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) eco-label standard. In its July report, which has already been peer-reviewed, the Maldivian fishery attained a score of 80 or more against each of the MSC principles and there were no recommendations.
Stakeholders have until Sept. 3 to make comments on the assessment. If everything goes according to plan, the first shipment of MSC pole-and-line skipjack tuna is expected to hit store shelves in November, says Ali.
The target market is Europe – which grants duty-free access to all imported products from the developing nation – but he says they are “open to other areas who believe in management and sustainability of wild stock of fish.”
Maldivian fishermen catch about 60,000 to 80,000 MT of tuna using the pole-and-line method each year, says Ali, despite the reported annual catch of 100,000 MT by the Pacific Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) in 2011. Of this total catch estimate, about 20,000 MT goes to the local market for domestic consumption and the rest is exported as various products.
Only MSPEA members who have MSC Chain of Custody certification, in addition to the government’s license for processing and export, can deliver the MSC certified skipjack tuna, which will be about 35,000 to 40,000 MT, says Ali.
The majority of the processing & canning will be therefore done in Maldives – about 38,000 MT in this first year initially and this could increase later. If there is surplus, it may be exported to other countries, he says, but for now, they are focused on driving the local economy.
38,000 MT of whole round skipjack can be converted to 2.1 million cases of 48 x 185g nw of canned tuna, without using any additives. If the Maldivians would indeed realize their ambitions they would export within 2013 about 1135 20ft containers to the European Union.
“We do not have partners abroad. This fish is controlled by MSPEA members who are Maldivians,” says Ali. Meaning that no MSC certified skipjack would be exported to Thailand, which country currently is a major canner and exporter of Maldivian caught pole-and-line whole round skipjack.
All Maldives vessels will be eligible to fish in the MSC certified fishery, provided the Ministry of Fisheries (MOFA) has authorized their license for pole-and-line skipjack fishing.

“This will be a well-managed fishery. MSC certification will further strengthen our commitment to manage this beautiful pole-and-line fishery which has been the livelihood of Maldivians for thousands of years.”