Report Shows Management of Many Tuna Stocks Not Meeting Criteria for MSC Sustainability Standards

Only six out of 19 major commercial tuna stocks are being managed to avoid overfishing and restore depleted fish populations because the majority of the stocks are not protected by well-defined harvest control rules (HCRs) from Regional Fishing Management Organizations (RFMOs), according to independent scientists in a report published by ISSF.  

ISSF 2017-09: An Evaluation of the Sustainability of Global Tuna Stocks Relative to Marine Stewardship Council Criteria finds that, while there has been progress by RFMOs towards developing harvest strategies and implementing well-defined harvest control rules, failure to implement controls for stocks before rebuilding is required has led to an inability to meet the MSC standard’s minimum requirements on harvest control rules.

In the December 2016 version of the report, more than twice as many stocks — 11 of 19 — were found to be well managed. This variance can be attributed in part to refinements made in 2017 regarding how the MSC standard assesses harvest control rules. The authors note, “Scoring guideposts were changed and additional guidance was provided to interpret the scoring guidepost text. The objective of these changes was not to alter the standard, but to continue to improve consistency in its definition and application across the wide variety of fisheries that are seeking certification.” 

The report also notes an improvement in stock status scores (PI 1.1.1). A visual summary of changes over time in the report’s scores is also available on the ISSF website.

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About the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (ISSF)
The International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (ISSF) is a global coalition of scientists, the tuna industry and World Wildlife Fund (WWF) — the world’s leading conservation organization — promoting science-based initiatives for the long-term conservation and sustainable use of tuna stocks, reducing bycatch and promoting ecosystem health. To learn more, visit, and follow ISSF on TwitterFacebook and Instagram.