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“Self-Certification Schemes Threaten Tuna Fishing Companies”

In an interview on Australian radio the director of PNG’s tuna fisheries authority has said that most fishing companies are refusing to cooperate on sustainable MSC fishing because they have been threatened by the self-certification schemes. He also announced the support for the introduced MSC certification to cover fishing practices on free swimming schools of skipjack, and stressed his view that current self-certification schemes do not provide a reliable basis for a trustworthy eco-label.

Purse seine vessels fishing for tuna in the Exclusive Economic Zone of PNG, Kiribati, Micronesia, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau, Solomon Islands and Tuvalu licensed by the Parties by Nauru Agreement (PNA) will be covered by the new Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) accreditation.

“This is the highest level of certification in the world today as we speak,” said Sylvester Pokajam, managing director at the National Fisheries Authority (NFA) of PNG in an interview on Radio Australia.

The NFA initially outlined its opinion of the unreliability of self-certification eco-labels that are currently being used in a recent public notice. It stated that these schemes in the market today are increasingly being shown as not being a dependable source of a reliable eco-label.

Pokajam outlined that “this is a process whereby there is no certification by captains or fish masters. This is a scheme where we have very strict guidelines where we have observers who are specially trained for MSC on board,” Pokajam explained that when a vessel goes out as working with free school tuna it must have an MSC trip number.

“We have other certification schemes in the world today, but they are schemes where they are certified by captains or fish masters themselves, which is not a proven way in really ensuring that yes the vessels are working with free school. So, therefore…this scheme is the best, it is the strictest in the world.”

PNG endeavors to improve environmental performance and management of its fisheries. The MSC certified tuna from the PNA will be traded under the co-brand Pacifical, and hopes to appeal to customers who support this aim.

Pokajam added: “We are having difficulty at the moment because most fishing companies do not want to cooperate…they are still refusing because they have been threatened by the self-certification schemes. That we have around the world today.”