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ISSF Shares Concerns With Greenpeace Over IUU Tuna United States, March 26, 13

In an open letter addressed to Greenpeace, ISSF, the tuna industries International Seafood Sustainability Foundation says it shares Greenpeace’s concern about all allegations of illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) practices in global tuna fisheries. ISSF continues: “IUU undermines vital conservation and management measures currently in place to protect the world’s shared tuna resources, as well as the greater marine ecosystem”.

The letter is a reaction to pressure from Greenpeace on the ISSF to take action against fleets which are related to ISSF members, and deliver to ISSF members’ canneries. On its internet blog Greenpeace International says that Dongwon –one of the companies implicated in these IUU tuna activities in Liberia- is affiliated with a company with membership of the ISSF. Greenpeace writes about ISSF: “the industry body supposedly working to ensure the highest standards of sustainable and ethical practice. Not only do the companies involved in this activity have questions to answer, but so too does the ISSF”.

In answer to this call by Greenpeace, ISSF says that “upon receiving initial reports of possible illegal fishing in the waters off the Liberian coast, it immediately commenced an investigation of the matter. The review has since widened to include the larger issue of alleged fraudulent fishing licenses throughout West Africa and the recent import warning issued by EU authorities concerning tuna from the same region”.

The tuna industry sustainability group says all its member companies must refrain from transactions with vessels on any RFMO IUU list, while maintaining a credible traceability scheme that includes a recall mechanism for any product later found to have come from an IUU source.

It is not likely that fish caught in the Atlantic by Dongwon’s tuna purse seiner “Premier”, accused of fishing with “ fake” licenses, was used for StarKist tuna, which is processed on the other part of the world, in American Samoa. In that sense it is very improbable that any StarKist canned tuna products would become subject to a recall imposed by the ISSF Compliance Committee, which is composed of scientists, NGO representatives and industry participants, advised by outside legal counsel. The Committee is charged with determining the validity of allegations and to what extent they violate ISSF standards. ISSF bylaws provide for imposition of sanctions against industry participants for failure to meet ISSF conservation measures; possible sanctions include expulsion and a mandatory two year waiting period prior to re-admittance.

Greenpeace puts pressure on the ISSF Compliance on its blog by stating: “The ISSF must now state categorically that all of its member companies and close affiliates are not sourcing illegally fished or sourced tuna. Membership of the ISSF is not an endpoint for tuna companies. Signing on the line and paying the membership fees is not the end of the journey to sustainability. Quite the opposite. It is just the start. And the ISSF must be clear that this is the case”.