From Scotland to Switzerland, European families regularly enjoy tuna caught in the Maldives, hooked by the centuries-old fishing method of pole and line. In the UK, for example, most of the tinned MSC certified tuna you find in Waitrose and Sainsbury’s is Maldivian skipjack. In the Maldives, fishing is not just an industry, it’s a way of life. After tourism, tuna is the country’s major source of income and its primary export.
I grew up in Brittany, which is surrounded by the sea; half of France’s fish is caught and landed there, so where I’m from has certainly influenced me in my choices. Before I moved to the MSC, I was working as an export manager for a leading seafood processor in France, and one of my Swiss customers asked me to source some MSC certified hoki, which was my first interaction.
I found the concept really interesting. At the time the anchovy stock off the coast of France was collapsing. My cousin was a fisher in that fishery, so I knew of the threats to livelihoods and to the area, and thought: yes, we need a positive system to encourage sustainable management of fisheries.
Originally from San Diego, Bill Holden landed a Peace Corp posting in Tonga, in the Pacific Islands and decided to stay on for a while. He owned and operated a tuna fishing business for more than 20 years before joining the MSC. He recently appeared in the National Geographic Wild documentary Mission: Save the Ocean, talking about the Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA) skipjack tuna fishery which operates in the western and central Pacific. We asked him a few questions about his work…