Fisheries experts evaluate the sustainability of nineteen stocks of tunas and their international management systems

For Immediate Release                                                                                              

Contact:         Erin Grandstaff and Charlie Patterson, +1 202-466-4437,

Washington, D.C. – 9 April 2015 The International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (ISSF) released an updated report assessing the status of global tuna stocks according to the methodology developed by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), one of the world’s most widely recognized certification schemes for sustainable seafood.

The report, An Evaluation of the Sustainability of Global Tuna Stocks Relative to Marine Stewardship Council Criteria, is written by independent and experienced MSC assessors Paul Medley and Joseph Powers applying a consistent methodology across 19 major tuna stocks and four tuna Regional Fishery Management Organizations. The aim is to evaluate the sustainability of these stocks and RFMO management systems applying the MSC standards.

The scores represented in the report are not a complete MSC assessment as they are not fishery-specific – they focus only on stock status (MSC Principle 1) and the international management aspects relevant to Regional Fishery Management Organizations (RFMOs) (part of MSC Principle 3). They do not consider management in national or bilateral jurisdictions, nor gear or fleet-specific ecosystem impacts (MSC Principle 2), which are important components in any complete MSC assessment.

As such, the primary purpose of this exercise is to:

  • Provide a basis for comparing between stocks scores that are assigned by the same experts;
  • Become a useful source document in future tuna certifications;
  • Provide a “snapshot” of the current status of the stocks and the strengths and identify opportunities for strengthening RFMO management.

Whereas as previous versions of this report were based on early 2013 MSC standards – specifically, version 1.3 – this updated technical report reflects the version 2.0 of the MSC Standards announced in October 2014.

“ISSF first asked these two outside experts to score 19 tuna stocks against the MSC standards in 2013, and we are pleased that since then this document has been taken into consideration in Full Assessments of tuna fisheries against the MSC standards, or in Fishery Improvement Programs (FIPs) that make use of the MSC scoring principles,” said ISSF President Susan Jackson. “We believe that this has helped improve consistency in new scores. In addition, the document has served to identify several global shortcomings in tuna management that has led to a more consistent recognition of improvements needed in management of tuna fisheries.”

Click here to watch Susan Jackson discuss the report.

One of the primary objectives of ISSF is to improve the sustainability of global tuna stocks by developing and implementing verifiable, science-based practices, commitments and international management measures that result in all tuna fisheries meeting the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification standard without conditions. In addition to An Evaluation of the Sustainability of Global Tuna Stocks Relative to Marine Stewardship Council Criteria, ISSF has posted this visual guide to the evaluation.

About the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation

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 their website at