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WWF has expressed its deep concern at the likely Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification of the North-eastern Tropical Pacific tuna dolphin-set purse seine fishery.
WWF had previously objected to this certification proposal due to its belief that impacts of the fishery on depleted dolphin populations have not been sufficiently examined and addressed, therefore not meeting the MSC standard. An independent adjudicator assigned to consider the objection has now dismissed WWF’s challenge.
“This is a deeply troubling outcome that we believe shows that the MSC standard is not consistently being adhered to by certifiers and that the objections procedure provides insufficient opportunity for consideration of the scientific basis for certifiers’ conclusions,” said Franck Hollander, Seafood Officer for WWF-Germany and the global team lead for WWF on this project.
In the waters of the Eastern Pacific, one technique used for decades to catch tuna involves targeting schools of tuna associated with dolphins, contributing to high dolphin mortality. Despite reductions in the number of dolphins killed by this practice, it is yet unknown whether populations have recovered from dramatic declines that began in the late 1950s and continued though the early 1990s.
In October 2016, WWF filed an objection to the MSC assessment conducted by an independent certifier based on two factors: that the information used to assess fishery impacts on depleted dolphin species was not transparent and that the assessment did not accurately account for impacts of the fishery on dolphin populations.
“While WWF continues to support the MSC as the world’s leading wild-caught sustainable seafood certification program, it remains our opinion that the North-eastern Tropical Pacific purse seine tuna fishery does not meet the MSC standard. Depleted dolphin populations that frequently associate with commercially-targeted schools of tuna in the Eastern Pacific could be negatively impacted by this fishery. WWF believes the existing science does not support the conclusions made in the assessment,” Hollander said.
“WWF urges all stakeholders to work together to improve fishing practices and the availability of up-to-date scientific information on the impacted dolphin stocks in order to quantify and address any impacts of the fishery,” said Enrique Sanjurjo, Lead, Food Practice, WWF-Mexico.
WWF recommends that seafood buyers should not consider this fishery as sustainable.
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