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ISSF Chairman: Mixed Skipjack Trips Not Feasible For MSC United States, January 24, 13

ISSF chairman Chris Lischewski opposes the PNA’s MSC certification because it is “not practically feasible,” and in reaction, the PNA says these views are “ignorant” of the rigorous checks and balances involved.

“One wonders how Chris Lischewski can competently comment on an internal PNA scheme he does not know, has not seen applied, and is ignorant of the checks and balances that have been built in it to give surety,” says Maurice Brownjohn, commercial manager for the Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA).

Lischewski, also CEO of Bumble Bee, said in a recent interview that it is near impossible to keep tuna caught on free schools – the sustainably certified catch – separate from tuna caught using fish-aggregating devices on a single fishing trip.
“We – Bumble Bee – have objected to the certification of PNA, school caught skipjack because we do not believe that tuna fishing vessels can accurately segregate tuna caught on FADs versus school caught fish – where the school caught fish can be sold as MSC-certified – during the same fishing operation,” Lischewski told Undercurrent News yesterday.

“I don’t know if you have ever been on a tuna boat, but I have. It is not practically feasible to have a large vessel, with 16-20 fish wells, separate FAD-caught from school caught fish during a fishing trip that includes catching, loading the fish into the freezing wells, unloading and, in many cases, transshipping in port,” said Lischewski.

Brownjohn explains how it is feasible to keep the MSC certified skipjack separate from the FAD-caught tuna.

“The reality of the purse seine tuna fishery is that each boat can only carry one net, can only set on one school at a time, and catch goes directly to a designated fish well as it is brailed aboard,” he says, and adds that on-board PNA observers monitor and document the process to ensure accuracy.

“MSC free school, eligible catch is only eligible if it is documented and verified that it was genuinely a free school set, and witnessed that no FAD fish was existing or added to the wells loaded. This is maintained through to the cold store onshore, including absolute segregation on any transfer including carriers. In case of any doubt, it will be declared non-eligible. The system is tight,” says Brownjohn.

Lischewski says he supports MSC certification, but believes the only way to guarantee that the PNA tuna meets MSC criteria is if the fishing vessels conduct their entire trip on free schools.

Brownjohn, in response, says FAD fishing could be banned completely but this would not sit well with the foreign fleets because they depend on the method the most. “The U.S. fleet and the EU fleet, who are associated with ISSF, are the two fleets with the highest dependency on FADs,” says Brownjohn.

“For sure, FADs could be banned totally for ISSF members’ vessels, so they may participate in MSC fishing – as Chris proposes – and show real benefit to conservation,” says Brownjohn.

The PNA is confident that their fishery is well-managed and that the MSC scheme and chain of custody are credible.

“We have many internal checks and balances in place to give absolute confidence that when our skipjack product holds a MSC label, cobranded Pacifical, it is 100% from a free school and has been subject to the tightest chain of custody. We believe no other certification scheme for any fishery without 100% observer coverage and sophisticated chain of custody in place can have this level of credibility,” says Brownjohn.