Final Draft Report for the MSC Processby The Team at the AllianceOctober 4th, 2016

Dear Stakeholders to the Pacific Alliance for Sustainable Tuna’s MSC process,

Today, the final draft report of the MSC process has been published with an affirmative recommendation for certification and is available at this link for your review and continued participation.   This report follows a detailed and rigorous assessment that included scientific experts, extensive peer review, and stakeholder consultation, led by the independent accredited certification body, SCS Global Services.  Today also starts a further opportunity for stakeholder input as part of a 15 working day period allowing objections.

More about the Fishery
The recommendation for certification reflects almost 30 years of significant investments in careful stock management practice, gear and technology innovation, training and capacity building, and rigorous adherence to the international Agreement on International Dolphin Conservation Program (AIDCP), the most demanding and successful dolphin conservation program in the world and the only dolphin conservation program that requires 100% coverage by independent onboard scientific observers. The AIDCP, which was called a “phenomenal environmental success story” by the U.S. government, is a multi-lateral agreement with over 20 signatory members including the European Union, United States, and Mexico. Adherence to AIDCP makes our fleet one of the most observed fleets in the world.

With regards to stocks and species protection, our members take a unique and rigorous approach to protecting tuna stocks by targeting mature tuna and using a fishing technique that protects juvenile tuna stocks more effectively than other commercial fishing techniques and which also minimizes bycatch across critical species including sharks, rays, and turtles.  When regulated under the AIDCP our fishing technique is one of the most ecologically selective and sustainable in commercial tuna fishing.

Our Environmental Commitments
Assessment to the MSC standard is part of our much broader sustainability strategy that includes ambitious commitments to further protect tuna stocks, to further minimize the fishery’s impact on the ecosystem, and to advocate for strong, consistent regulation of the fishery.

Among recent important environmental commitments our members have taken – in addition to the pursuing MSC certification:  our members voluntarily withdrew from fishing Pacific bluefin tuna, a species that is facing overfishing, for a period of 5 years.  To date, the Alliance members are the only private companies in the world to make this commitment.

Sustainability Action Plan:  Promoting Conservation through the MSC Process.

The rest of this email provides details on the fishery and our Sustainability Action Plan (page 321 of the report), an ambitious improvement and conservation program that the Alliance will spearhead as part of its commitment to the MSC standard. With certification, the members of the Alliance will commit to, and invest in, one of the most ambitious conservation programs in global fisheries including investing in continuous improvement, voluntary action programs, and credible technical considerations to achieve the conditions of the MSC standard. Below we summarize our extensive Sustainability Action Plan.

Tuna Population Management

  • Promotion of strong management measures for tuna in the Eastern Tropical Pacific Ocean (the ocean where we fish), including promoting conservation measures at the RFMO level.

Protection: Species + Ecosystem

  • Continuation of Zero Finning Policy with additional crew training.
  • Zero Retention of sharks and rays.
  • Maximum Live Release program for all sharks and rays.
  • Further dolphin protection measures including investments in net alignment, improving the observer program, and training in best practices across the fleet.
  • External audits of the observer program.
  • New investments in training and technology to protect shark, rays, and dolphins.

Scientific Research

  • Funding for workshops and expert scientists to establish methodologies and approaches for a multi-lateral project to assess the current status of dolphin populations.
  • Catalyzing action to conduct dolphin population surveys – and significant financial investment to assess dolphin populations in the Eastern Tropical Pacific Ocean. One of the more challenging aspects of our Action Plan is to invest in, catalyze, and raise funds for an independent, scientist-lead project to evaluate dolphin populations in the Eastern Tropical Pacific Ocean (ETPO). The last dolphin population survey from the ETPO is from 2006; and many scientists, policy makers and stakeholders would like to see new surveys commence.  As part of MSC certification, we will ensure that those surveys move forward.

Regulatory + Management

  • Advocacy to align the national and international regulatory frameworks with the MSC conditions including: incorporating skipjack short-term objectives in the exclusive economic zone; advocating for national regulation to meet MSC conditions including transparent fishery monitoring, control and surveillance; and supporting recommendations for the external review of IATTC performance.

Open Communication, Engagement, and Transparent Reporting

The Alliance has adopted three voluntary lines of action to ensure transparency, collaboration, and contribution to the scientific body of knowledge on the fishery: stakeholder engagement, open communication and reporting, and regional action. A group of stakeholders seeking to catalyze the design of and funding for dolphin surveys has formed – and other stakeholders are invited to engage.  You can email us at this address for further information.

  • Collaboration with stakeholders through technical working groups.
  • Open communication through public quarterly reporting on Action Plan progress which provides the opportunity for NGOs and other stakeholder commentary.
  • Pro-active participation in the RFMO (IATTC) to promote sustainability. The Alliance members commit to being proactive in working with our government and in encouraging further collaboration with environmental stakeholders and other member States in RFMO processes.

Promoting Transparent Fisheries Management in Mexico
In addition to the MSC Action Plan (that is focused on our fishery), we are working with several Mexican NGOs to promote transparency and increase public participation in all fisheries in Mexico. Today, in fact, our team will be participating in workshops in the Mexican Senate. We invite all interested stakeholders to participate in these activities, as well.

We Invite Your Commentary.

On behalf of the Alliance members – Grupomar, Herdez del Fuerte, Pesca Azteca, and Procesa – I’ll say that we thank you for your comments and participation to date. We recognize that the collaboration of industry, the scientific community, NGOs, and governments is critical to ensuring a sustainable future for the Eastern Pacific Ocean – and would like to take another opportunity to express continued interest in collaborating with stakeholders on sustainability strategies.

As always, we are available for any questions, and we welcome your continued feedback.

-Mariana Ramos, Executive Director, and the team at the Alliance