Solomon Islands’ tuna fishery achieves two MSC certifications / by Francisco Blaha

Is no secret that I'm not a fan of ecolabels, but I do concede that MSC is the most believable of the lot, since it evaluates the fishery and not the companies accessing the fishery. But in any case, I'm a fan of Noro in the Solomons Islands and the companies that operate there.

 Early morning in a Pole and Liner

Early morning in a Pole and Liner

So I was very happy to know that the Solomon Islands skipjack and yellowfin purse seine and pole and line fishery has achieved Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification.

Certification firm MRAG Americas agreed that the Solomon Islands fishery will continue to be managed in a way that ensures healthy stocks, minimizing environmental impacts and promoting good management under the existing regulatory structure for the fishery, which includes overlapping national and regional regulations including the Solomon Islands Tuna Management and Development Plan established by the SI Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources and the Parties to the Nauru Agreement Vessel Day Scheme, and a framework set by the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission, encourages sound management.

The certification covers five purse seiners and three pole and line vessels owned by National Fisheries Developments Ltd. fishing out of Noro but within Solomon Islands archipelagic waters and the EEZ. Around 25,000mt- 30,000mt/year of the fleet’s free-school, anchored FAD and pole and line skipjack and yellowfin catches could potentially qualify as MSC-certified, the majority of which is delivered to Noro-based tuna processing facility Soltuna, that is covered by the certification's Chain of Custody.

Soltuna supplies canned tuna locally and to other Pacific Island markets, as well as frozen cooked loins to Europe. NFD and Soltuna are locally managed and collectively employ over 2,000 Solomon Islanders, representing one of the country’s largest private sector employers.

To maintain its MSC certification, NFD must continue to adhere to several conditions, including carrying observers on their participating fishing to ensure regulatory compliance, wich they have done for years.

They must also continue to follow an action plan implementing harvest control rules and adhere to documentation and evaluation standards. Also, NFD and Soltuna must continue to ensure the certified tuna is kept separate from non-certified product at all stages along the supply chain.

With the MSC certification, these fisheries are in an advantageous position to respond to growing demand for certified sustainable sources of tuna.

I wish I could link to the online presence of both companies, but they don't have a solid space there. However, I'm really happy to have introduced them to my friend (and almost brother) Raul Sarrot, owner of the design and branding studio Fresfish (gotta love that name!). He is now working with them in Noro on their branding, company positioning, and online presence as I write this. He is a heavyweight in that area, as a university lecturer, a designer and a consultant to the Better by Design program of the NZ Ministry of Trade and Enterprise.

Besides I know him since we are 16 years old (I was a roadie for his band) and he also lives on Waiheke Island :-)

So soon, I hope I will have links for you to know more about this amazing place and its companies. I said thousand times that this place and people are the way fishing should be in the Pacific.