An independent adjudicator has confirmed it will look into the re-certification of the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certified Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA) western and central Pacific skipjack and yellowfin tuna fishery.
This comes after the International Pole and Line Foundation (IPNLF) filed a formal objection to the process. Its chairman, John Burton, also recently backed a campaign, named “On the Hook”, calling for the MSC to intervene in the ongoing re-assessment of the PNA fishery, claiming it is not sustainable as claimed.
In its objection, IPNLF stated that the conformity assessment board (CAB) for the re-certification process made “a serious procedural error that made a material difference to the fairness of the assessment and that the scores given by the CAB cannot be justified”.
The perceived error follows the same lines as the On the Hook campaign: that “during the PNA fishery the same vessels fish in the same areas, on the same trip, targeting the same species and switch between free school (FAD-free) and associated (FAD) sets (often on a daily basis)”.
“None of the impacts of their fishing operations when fishing on FADs have been taken into consideration under the current assessment, and in our view this undermines the notion of rewarding sustainable fishing practices and driving improvements on the water.”
IPNLF had set out 24 separate challenges in respect of the CAB’s passing score for the fishery. The independent adjudicator confirmed that some of these seem to be “appropriate challenges with intelligible reasoning”, but required further details on others.
It claimed a serious irregularity in the process “has enabled the CAB, erroneously, to (i) compartmentalize the PNA purse-seine tuna fishery into a FAD-free element (for MSC certification) and a FAD element (not for MSC certification) and so (ii) conduct its assessment on only the FAD-free element of the fishery”.
Responses from the PNA and any other stakeholders who wish to be involved are now due by Oct. 31.