The objective of this voluntary commitment is to receive the optimum return from what operators in Fiji catch through eco-labeling and catch certification, while at the same time ensuring that targeted fish stocks are maintained at a sustainable level.
Fiji lies outside the main migratory path for the high valued tuna species in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean. With the continued downward trend in catch for the dominant tuna species (Albacore tuna) in Fijian waters, Fiji needs to get the optimum value of what little fleets catch in order for vessel operators to stay afloat in difficult economic periods.
The ability to trace fish from where they were landed to when they are purchased by consumers is very important to ensure specific fish species remain at sustainable levels.
Certified fisheries must comply with set criteria to ensure long term sustainability of marine resources. Regular audits will be conducted by accredited individuals on certified fisheries annually to ensure that conditions of the certification are complied with.
A portion of Fijis domestic tuna longline fleet fishes in Fijis Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), with caught albacore tuna falling under the Marine Stewardship Council certification. This certification benefits 34 Fiji flagged long line fishing vessel that provide the opportunity to supply markets where environment credibility pays an increasing role in purchasing decisions. The current certificate for the 34 Fiji flagged vessels was issued in 2013 and will expire in December 2017.
A new assessment is currently being carried out by Acoura Marine Limited of Scotland, United Kingdom and the new certification proposes to extend into the three high seas adjacent to Fijis EEZ and to include yellowfin tuna. This new certification will definitely increase the number of vessels participating and offers the market with an alternative species for the export market.
The economic benefits from this new certification will greatly impact into the Fijian economy and ensure the good health of our marine environment and resources.
The new certification will increase demand on authorities to ensure that the traceability of the certified vessels and fish species are not undermined. In this regard, the role the Ministry of Fisheries in this whole exercise is critical.
Under the new partnership between the Ministry of Fisheries, the Fiji Maritime Academy (FMA), World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF) and FFIA we have come up with a project having the following activities:
1. MSC Certification: FFIA and WWF will work together to secure funding for the reassessment of the existing certificate.
2. By-catch mitigation: FFIA, WWF and FMA will develop curriculum for seafarers on fishing vessels in relation to by-catch mitigation.
3. Offshore Fisheries Stakeholder Platform: The Ministry of Fisheries, in collaboration with WWF, will implement the legislated consultative framework that is in place under the Offshore Fisheries Management Act 2012 that will provide advice to the Minister on the sustainable management of our offshore fisheries.
By 2020, effectively regulate harvesting and end overfishing, illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and destructive fishing practices and implement science-based management plans, in order to restore fish stocks in the shortest time feasible, at least to levels that can produce maximum sustainable yield as determined by their biological characteristics
An MOU will be adopted between the Ministry of Fisheries and the Fiji Fishing Industry Association MSC Group.
Receipt of new certification from the Marine Stewardship Council
Formalisation of the Fiji Offshore Fisheries Advisory Council.
At least 75% of all Fiji flagged long line fishing vessels, which are members of the Fiji Fishing Industry Association, are to be certified under the Marine Stewardship Council.