Fishery Quick Facts
- The Pacific Alliance for Sustainable Tuna (Alliance) was formed in Mexico in 2014 by four leaders in tuna fishing – Grupomar, Herdez del Fuerte, Pesca Azteca, and Procesa – with the goal of ensuring the sustainability of their yellowfin and skipjack tuna fishing for the marine environment.
- Members of the Alliance account for over 90% of yellowfin and skipjack captured by Mexico.
- The fishery operates in an area covering 14 million km2
- The fishery operates using purse seine nets, a technique that is used to fish for approximately 63% of all tuna around the world.
- Purse seine fishing is the most commonly used form of fishing in the area of the Eastern Pacific Ocean (EPO) where the Alliance fishes, the Northeastern Tropical Pacific.
- For this reason you will see the fishery called the Northeastern Tropical Pacific Purse Seine Tuna Fishery.
- All of the Alliance’s 36 fishing vessels are included in the MSC certification. These purse seine vessels are equipped with a large, highly trained crew, a helicopter and multiple speed boats.
- The sets including with the MSC certification include those set of free schools and in association with schools of dolphins.
- Purse seine nets deployed by the boats are 2km long and 190m deep.
- The Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC) is responsible for the conservation and management of tuna and other marine resources in the EPO, the ocean where the Alliance fishes.
- The IATTC is conformed of member nations, including China, the European Union, Japan, United States, Mexico and others.
- For decades, the waters of the Eastern Pacific Ocean (EPO) have been amongst the most observed and highly regulated oceans in the world, with some of the most rigorous standards for marine conservation and environmental protection.
- The Alliance members participate in the international Agreement on International Dolphin Conservation Program (AIDCP) which was called an “unqualified success” by the United Nations. As a result of the AIDCP’s efforts, estimated dolphin mortalities in the EPO reduced by 99% of historical levels by 1997, making the EPO one of the safest oceans for dolphins.
- This video by the IATTC explains the Alliance’s fishing practice and the AIDCP program in detail
- There is 100% coverage by independent scientific observers of all Alliance vessels. Each fishing vessel has an independent observer onboard to ensure continued monitoring of sustainable practices.
- All observer data is managed by the IATTC’s AIDCP program which has an independent governance board.
- The level of observer coverage of the larger vessels in the purse seine fleet gradually increased from less than 50% of trips in the early 1990s to 100% by 2007. According to the IATTC, from 1979-2009 observers have recorded data on 11,500 trips and 356,000 sets.
How the fishery aligns to key MSC Principles
Ensuring healthy tuna stocks:
- The Alliance fishes skipjack and yellowfin tuna.
- Skipjack and yellowfin stocks in the Eastern Pacific Ocean (EPO), where the Alliance fishes, are healthy and not subject to overfishing.
- The IATTC is in charge of making management decisions and overseeing the implementation of agreed measures ensuring tuna stocks in the EPO remain at healthy levels (permitting maximum sustainable yields that ensure healthy populations).
Protecting populations of other species:
- The Alliance voluntarily withdrew from fishing Pacific Bluefin tuna a species that is facing overfishing. The members of the Alliance remain the only private companies in the world to make such a commitment.
- During the MSC evaluation, the impacts of fishing on populations of all ETP (Endangered, Threatened or Protected) species were carefully considered by the assessors.
- Special attention was given to the issue of impact on dolphin populations because this was the main focus of stakeholder concerns.
- Evaluation of impacts of dolphins included a review of all scientific literature available, technical reports, data provided by the fishery, the IATTC and by independent observers on board fishing vessels. This review was conducted in a way which was unbiased and focused on science and factual information.
- The dolphin populations in the EPO are healthy and increasing, as confirmed by the most recent analysis of dolphin populations in the Eastern Pacific Ocean (which was concluded in 2012 by IATTC scientists).
- Alliance members continue to participate in the international Agreement on International Dolphin Conservation Program (AIDCP) which was called an “unqualified success” by the United Nations. That program has led to over 99% decrease in dolphin mortality in the ocean (from the time when the United States was fishing in association with dolphins in the 80s until now under the regulation of IATTC and AIDCP).
- The Alliance will be investing over $6million, in in-kind and financial resources to launch an international research project to assess dolphin populations, an unprecedented investment by private industry.
- There independent scientific observers on board of 100% of the Alliance’s vessels, providing a vast amount of accurate data on the amount of bycatch and impact on species.
- Yellowfin tuna form free-swimming schools of the same size range (85% less than 85cm long). This schooling behavior changes in the presence of dolphins with larger tuna congregating beneath schools of dolphin (70% are larger than 85cm). Yellowfin live to around 7 years and reach a maximum length of around 2 m. The Mexican fleet caught 97,538 metric tons (MT) of yellowfin in 2013.
- Skipjack tuna are mainly caught by free school fishing and do not associate with dolphins. They reach sexual maturity at 400 mm long and are estimated to live for 12 years. They inhabit tropical, subtropical and warm temperate waters between 40ᶱN and 40ᶱS. The Mexican fleet caught 12,393 MT of skipjack in 2013.
Find out more about the history and sustainability of this fishery at http://www.pacifictunaalliance.org/sustainability/our-vision.html