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ISSF Assesses How Far Tuna Stocks Are Away From MSC Standard

The International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (ISSF) has released a new report that assesses the global tuna stocks according to the principles developed by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), one of the world’s most widely recognized certification schemes for sustainable seafood. The report found that most of the 19 assessed stocks are stable, but it also found that management systems in place are outdated or less effective than they could be.

“Rather than doing what the MSC process fosters, which is starting at the bottom and working at the local level on a particular fishery, we thought that the discussion would benefit from also starting at a top level and applying the principles systematically and equivalently across all 19 stocks and across all tuna regional fishery management organizations, or RFMOs,” says Susan Jackson, ISSF President.

The report, “An Evaluation of the Sustainability of Global Tuna Stocks Relative to Marine Stewardship Council Criteria,” scored 19 commercially-exploited tuna stocks against the MSC standard with the intent to provide consistent results. The ISSF says there are often “significant inconsistencies between assessments” conducted by independent bodies that apply the MSC standards.

“This could be, at least in part, due to a level of subjectivity allowed by any system. In other cases it could be an incorrect interpretation of the standards and scoring guidance issued by the MSC,” Jackson writes in the report’s foreword.

The report will help ISSF “focus its resources on addressing the roadblocks to certification for tuna fisheries, which ultimately means the challenges that prevent us from declaring all tuna sustainable,” says Jackson.

The ISSF, which includes leading tuna processors and the WWF, has previously stated it is working towards achieving the MSC standard for all tuna fisheries.