Marshall Islands, key to a sustainable global tuna industry |

MAJURO, Marshall Islands, October 17, 2021 (ENS) – In an advance on tuna conservation, Walmart, the world’s largest retailer, selected Marshall Islands-based Pacific Island Tuna to supply certified sustainable canned skipjack tuna for its private label, Great Value.

Pacific Island Tuna, a partnership between The Nature Conservancy, based in Arlington, Va., And the Republic of the Marshall Islands, will soon begin supplying Walmart brand canned tuna.

Pacific Island Tuna ensures that Pacific Island countries own their tuna catch directly from the dock to retailers. Under the Pacific Island Tuna deal, at least 40% of the company’s net income distributions will directly support community-based conservation and climate resilience projects, including marine protected area development and management and restoration coral reefs.

The remaining 60 percent of the profits will be donated to the governments of the Pacific Islands.

Pacific Island Tuna demands the best environmental and labor standards in its supply chain. The ban on the use of fish aggregating devices reduces bycatch of juvenile tunas and species at risk such as sharks, rays and turtles.

Dock unloading – Pacific Island Tuna’s requirement that all fish pass through a port in the Pacific to verify catch volumes – eliminates the possibility of illegal, unreported and unregulated IUU fishing and provides workers on vessels with fishing for the added safety measure of being able to leave the vessel if necessary.

These standards are validated by Pacific Island Tuna’s commitment to 100 percent transparency on the water through human observers and electronic surveillance coverage on all fishing vessels.

The economy of the Marshall Islands is based on revenues from the tuna industry. Almost 90 percent of its non-aid revenue comes from the tuna industry, but that revenue is only a tiny fraction of the $ 26 billion global canned tuna market.

Small island states seek to strengthen the tuna value chain

A low-lying, sparsely populated country of islands and coral atolls stretching over 750,000 square miles of ocean between Hawaii and the Philippines, the Marshall Islands is becoming a center of sustainable tuna management not only for the island nations of the Pacific, but also for the oceans. nations on the march in Africa and the Caribbean.

In July, government and private sector representatives virtually met with development partners in Majuro to discuss the results of an assessment of the tuna sector in the Marshall Islands and find ways to add value to the fishery in the Marshall Islands. tuna for the Pacific island nation and make its sector more sustainable.

The tuna value chain assessment was conducted by FISH4ACP, a € 40 million (US $ 46.6 million) global initiative for fisheries and aquaculture value chains, which defines Fish For Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific.

FISH4ACP is an initiative of the Organization of African, Caribbean and Pacific States to make fisheries and aquaculture value chains more sustainable in Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific. FISH4ACP is implemented by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and its partners, with funding from the European Union and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development.

FISH4ACP investigators based their assessment on focus group discussions with fishermen, fish traders, and containerization and cold storage workers, interviews with private sector and government stakeholders, and in-depth review reports and data sources.

“Tuna accounts for almost all of the Marshall Islands’ national fish production and exports,” said Glen Joseph, director of the Marshall Islands Marine Resources Authority, MIMRA, who hailed the assessment as an important first step towards a stronger national tuna sector. “This will help us increase the economic and social benefits of tuna for the people of the Marshall Islands,” he said.

The assessment shows that Majuro has become the world’s leading transshipment port for tuna. An average of 360,000 tonnes of tuna pass through this island chain each year, which represents almost one-fifth of all tuna catches in the western and central Pacific Ocean.

But it also shows that most of these catches come from deep-sea industrial fishing, while only small quantities are landed in the Marshall Islands to be exported in containers.

“This is the first step towards formulating our support plan for the Marshallese tuna sector in the years to come,” said Gilles van de Walle, director of FISH4ACP.

“FISH4ACP will work closely with the Marshall Islands Marine Resources Authority to add value ashore, while expanding exports to markets such as the European Union,” said van de Walle.

To increase containerized exports, managers will consider expanding cold storage capacity and establishing a competent authority to access EU markets.

“The European Union supports the Marshall Islands’ ambition to strengthen their tuna sector,” said Noa Sainz-Lopez, program manager at the EU Delegation for the Pacific. “With FISH4ACP, we aim to achieve this goal by ensuring sustainable management of fishery resources, enabling people to improve their livelihoods while preserving their natural assets.”

Climate change is changing the equation

The redistribution of major commercial tuna species due to climate change will deal an economic blow to small island states in the western and central Pacific and threaten the sustainability of the world’s largest tuna fishery, according to a major international study released on July 30.

Researchers from institutions and organizations in the Pacific, North America and Europe conducted the study, including University of California Santa Cruz, University of Wollongong, Conservation International, Pacific Community , the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency and the Parties to the Nauru Accord Bureau.

Published in the journal “Nature Sustainability”, the study combines climate science, ecological modeling and economic data to provide a comprehensive analysis of the impact of climate change on Pacific tuna stocks and on small island states. that depend on it.

The 10 island states of the western and central Pacific: Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Tokelau and Tuvalu, depend so much on their tuna fisheries for economic development and food security that they are considered “tuna dependent”.

About half of the world’s tuna catch comes from the waters of the western and central Pacific, and for these 10 small island states, the costs of fishing industrial fishing fleets to access their waters represent on average 37 percent of all revenue in the world. government.

Managing most of the island’s tuna fisheries through a cooperative arrangement has been a sustainable development achievement for several decades, providing reliable income for development while preventing depletion of fish stocks through overfishing.

But as the climate changes, key species like skipjack, yellowfin tuna and bigeye tuna that are currently found in the waters of Pacific island states are expected to move east, out of sovereign waters, and into the highlands. sea.

“In a scenario of still high greenhouse gas emissions, as more fish head to the high seas, the total biomass of skipjack, yellowfin and bigeye tuna in the waters of the 10 states Pacific Islanders could decline an average of 13% by 2050, ”said lead author of the study, Johann Bell, senior director of Pacific tuna fisheries at the International Ocean Conservation Center and visiting professor at the Australian National Center for Ocean Resources and Safety at the University of Wollongong.

Potential implications for Pacific island economies in 2050 include an average fall in purse seine catches of 20 percent, loss of regional access rights to tuna fishing of up to $ 140 million, and reductions in revenue. up to 17 percent for each Pacific country. Island States.

“The greenhouse gas emissions of these small island states are negligible, yet they are among the most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change,” Bell said.

“Many island states have very few opportunities to earn income other than from their tuna resources, which are expected to leave their jurisdictions due to warming oceans,” Bell said. “It is a climate justice issue that should be raised at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Glasgow later this year.”

The selected image: A school of tuna swims in the Pacific Ocean. Large-scale changes in climate, biogeochemical processes, ocean currents and increased acidification of ocean waters are expected to have profound impacts on marine ecosystems, including fisheries. January 29, 2013 (Photo by Danilo Cedrone courtesy of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations)

Environmental Information Service (ENS) © 2021 All rights reserved.

About Marco C. Nichols

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