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REPORT: Global Tuna Fisheries & the MSC Standard: 6 Stocks Earn Passing MSC P1 Score; Most RFMOs Score Well on P3


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17 Tuna Stocks Not Meeting Criteria for Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) Sustainability Standard

Updated report reveals that six stocks achieve passing scores on MSC Principle 1, and most tuna RFMOs score well on MSC Principle 3

Fisheries scientists in ISSF 2022-03: An Evaluation of the Sustainability of Global Tuna Stocks Relative to Marine Stewardship Council Criteria — a January 2022 report commissioned by the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (ISSF) — found that six out of 23 major commercial tuna stocks worldwide are successfully avoiding overfishing and maintaining target stock biomass levels when measured against the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) Fisheries Standard.

These stocks include North Atlantic albacore, South Atlantic albacore, Eastern Atlantic bluefin, Western Pacific skipjack, Eastern Pacific yellowfin, and Indian Ocean skipjack, all of which earned a passing score for the MSC Fisheries Standard on its Principle 1: “Sustainable Fish Stocks.” Under Principle 3: “Effective Management,” most tuna regional fisheries management organizations (RFMOs) scored well.

MSC is an independent, international, non-profit organization that oversees a program to assess global wild-capture fisheries and certify them as “sustainable” if they meet its Fisheries Standard criteria. In the February 2021 edition of the report, 7 stocks passed Principle 1. In this year’s report, one less stock received a passing score, specifically South Pacific albacore. Principle 3 evaluations remained unchanged for the most part.

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Featured Graphics

An updated graphic, based on data from the report, shows what the average scores based on Principle 1 have been since 2013, and how they have changed over time.

The MSC’s Principle 1 states: “A fishery must be conducted in a manner that does not lead to overfishing or depletion of the exploited populations and, for those populations that are depleted, the fishery must be conducted in a manner that demonstrably leads to their recovery.”

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A second graphic has been updated to show what the average scores for each tuna RFMO based on Principle 3 have been from December 2013–January 2022.

The MSC’s Principle 3 states: “The fishery is subject to an effective management system that respects local, national and international laws and standards and incorporates institutional and operational frameworks that require use of the resource to be responsible and sustainable.”

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