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Could Echebastar Gain MSC For Tuna Fishery Despite FADs? Spain, October 29, 13

The Echebastar Indian Ocean tuna fleet is under full assessment for Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification despite RFMO data revealing substantial rates of fishing on FADs in this region. Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC) data representing the status of the Indian Ocean stocks shows that as much as 31 percent of the region’s skipjack tuna is caught using FADs.

Covering areas 51 and 57 of the FAO Major Fishing Areas, the Echebastar Indian Ocean purse seine skipjack, yellowfin and bigeye tuna fleet spans the entirety of the Indian Ocean. Twenty percent of bigeye tuna caught in this ocean area is also caught using Fish Aggregating Devices (FADs), as well as 17 percent of yellowfin tuna.

In January this year, the fishery was entered into full assessment for the MSC sustainability certification on the heels of its pre-assessment. MSC recognizes Echebastar’s use of this fishing method, listing it under its assessment status. According to the Pew Charitable Trusts environmental initiative, by-catch of juvenile yellowfin and bigeye tuna has rocketed since the boom in FAD-usage in the early 1980’s.

The MSC assessment is based on three principles; health of stocks, harvest method and management systems of the fleet. While the IOTC data rates skipjack, bigeye and yellowfin in the Indian Ocean as being at healthy stock levels and not subject to overfishing, it does outline clearly the significant rates of tuna caught using FADs.

The assessment process for MSC certification is expected to take 12 months, which would make Echebastar’s conclusion due for the beginning of 2014. If the fisheries are granted the accreditation, they will join nine other tuna fisheries holding the MSC certification across the globe.