Fiji Tuna fisheries stakeholders hold bait importation workshop
This comes after the 2020 MSC CAB report noted that Fiji is behind target in achieving Conditions 5 & 6 on bait importation due to fishing companies not being able to ascertain and provide information on the bait imports by the genus and species.
In opening the workshop, Director of Fisheries, Mere Lakeba, stated that maintaining the eco-label certificate is a challenge for the Fiji Fishing Industry Association (FFIA), the license holder for MSC certification of Fiji’s albacore and yellowfin longline fisheries which, as a whole and the regulatory requirements for the industry are audited against the MSC standard requirements.
“An example is the 2019 and 2020 MSC surveillance reports conducted by an independent body, Lloyd’s Register (MSC Conformance Assessment Body (CAB)), which have shown that seven conditions needed to be addressed. The 2020 MSC CAB report showed that of the seven conditions to be met, four are “on target”, one is now “met”, while two (Condition 5 & 6) are “behind target”. The two “behind target” are on bait importation,” the Director of Fisheries revealed.
The CAB report further stated that FFIA are to produce a report clearly outlining a breakdown of all imported baits by origin, species, volume and whether they have management measures or any other harvesting guidelines ensuring sustainability of the imported bait species. The Ministry of Fisheries is closely working with the companies to ensure that all targets are fully met.
The workshop was attended by key stakeholders including the Fiji Revenue and Customs Services and Biosecurity Authority of Fiji. A virtual forum with Senior Fisheries Manager, Oceania and South East Asia for the Marine Stewardship Council, Bill Holden, based in Sydney, Australia was also held on Day 1. He specifically focussed on addressing Conditions 5 & 6.
FFIA in a statement adds that the conditions are straight forward.
“All we need to do is to come up with a protocol that is acceptable by all and simple noting that the Ministry of Health, FRCS and BAF do have interests in imported fish. So the association will continue working with the Ministry of Fisheries and other Government agencies for a leak proof procedure to avoid illegal mixing of baits that will be acceptable by our CAB,” FFIA said.
According to the Director of Fisheries, the workshop was critical with outcomes from the discussions to lead to creating and strengthening knowledge capacities amongst fishing bait importers and highlighting the 2020 MSC report relating to conditions 5 & 6.
“At the end of the workshop, a clear standard such as the companies’ Bait Importation Reporting Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) is thoroughly thought out for all bait importation requirements with the discussion done on bait import and reporting requirements during the workshop should assist the ministry and the importing companies,” said Lakeba.
Lakeba highlighted that the fisheries sector plays a critical role in contributing to the national economy and livelihood of the people of Fiji and that the ministry continues to work closely with the industry stakeholders to ensure sustainable management of Fiji’s fisheries resources.
“FFIA has shown great commitment on tuna sustainability and combating IUU fishing. This is evident through the MSC certification of albacore and yellowfin tunas with FFIA as the clients to this eco-labelling certification. Having such eco-labelling certifications guarantee consumers that fish is sustainably caught, and fishing vessels are following Fisheries regulations,” the Director of Fisheries added.
The two half-day workshop is a project partnership between FFIA and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) in close collaboration with the Ministry of Fisheries through the Developing Sustainable and Responsible Tuna Longline Fisheries in Fiji project that is funded by the New Zealand Government.
WWF-Pacific’s Industry Liaison and Facilitation Officer, Adriu Iene stated that outcomes of the workshop was also a project output to assist in developing a plan of action to address MSC certification and conditions.
“The WWF team acknowledges the work already in progress in relation to meeting conditions 5 & 6. Through the current project, funds available are effectively utilized to further enhance compliance and build knowledge capacity for the fishing bait importing companies. WWF recognizes the importance of regulatory compliance and the detrimental effects non-compliance can bring to the current MSC tuna exports status on livelihoods and socio-economic wellbeing of Fijians that are involved in the offshore fisheries sector,” added Iene.
In 2015, the value of catch by Fiji’s tuna fishing fleet was worth approximately US$73m. The sector is estimated to employ approximately 3,800 people.
CAB here is Lloyd’s Register (formerly known as Acoura Marine).