There has never been a more urgent time for seafood businesses and fishing nations to make a commitment to sustainability. The world’s oceans are in trouble, with marine life plummeting and the people who are dependent on the sea for income and food left increasingly vulnerable. Data shows populations of fish and other marine vertebrates, including marine mammals, reptiles and birds have halved since 1970.
Tuna is pretty much the staple lunch food at our office. It’s simple, healthy – and with the blue MSC label I know it’s sustainable. Just throw it in a sandwich or toss it into a salad and you’re good to go. But it wasn’t until I started working here that I realised how much goes into getting my little tin of tuna from the ocean to my salad bowl.
Fun fact: seafood is one of most traded commodities in the world, ten times more than coffee, or rice. That’s a whole lot of fish flying around and makes me wonder where my little tin of tuna came from and, since I’m eating it about four times a week, what kind of impact it has on our oceans.
Just before Christmas 2011, an announcement was made that many in the fishing industry had been eagerly awaiting. After two years of rigorous assessment against the Marine Stewardship Council’s (MSC) Fisheries Standard, one of the world’s largest tuna fisheries, the Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA) Western and Central Pacific skipjack fishery, achieved certification.
Operating off eight small island nations in the Pacific Ocean, the fishery provides 50% of the world’s total skipjack, the type of tuna which often ends up in sandwiches and salads.
The fishery’s reach extends to Papua New Guinea, Kiribati, the Federated States of Micronesia, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau, Solomon Islands and Tuvalu.
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…