Local tuna fishers group earns historic sustainability certification

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A small-scale tuna fishers group became the country's first certified organization under a globally recognized standard for sustainable fishing.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 20) — A small-scale tuna fishers group became the country's first certified organization under a globally recognized standard for sustainable fishing.

The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), announced on Oct.19 the certification of the Philippine Tuna Handling Partnership (PTHP) based in Mindoro Strait and Lagonoy Gulf.

The group passed an assessment which looks at a fishery sector's "sustainable fish stocks," "minimizing environmental impact" and "effective fisheries management."

"This is a historic certification that marks a ten-year long journey of making improvements towards sustainability in this small-scale fishery," said Patrick Caleo, regional director Asia Pacific at the MSC.

The certification also means the products from the fishery sector can use the MSC label, which is expected to attract marketing opportunities.

The PTHP is made up of 500 artisanal fishing boats that harvest yellowfin tuna using traditional handline fishing gear. While it was just formally organized in 2019, its efforts have been supported by conservation group WWF Philippines since 2011.

“This decade-long journey we have been on together with our partner fishers has shown to us what is possible in fisheries work,” said Joann Binondo, Project Manager of WWF Philippines’ Sustainable Tuna Partnership.

The MSC noted there is still room for improvement, as it laid down nine conditions or time-dependent goals that the fishery sector must meet to retain its certificate. Progress will be assessed annually.

"We still have a long way to go before we achieve environmental sustainability for our tuna fisheries, but MSC certification stands as a testament to how far we've come," said Binondo.