New Fishery Improvement Project Launched to Address Sustainability Gap in Indian Ocean Tuna Fisheries

The first project of its kind in the region

February 11, 2020 – Bumble Bee Foods, LLC, FCF Co, Ltd. and Ocean Outcomes have launched an initiative to improve the sustainability of Bumble Bee source fisheries in the Indian Ocean. The project is the first of its kind in the region for longline vessels catching albacore tuna. To date, no albacore tuna or longline fisheries in the Indian Ocean are certified as sustainable.

The project team hopes to change this in the coming years by improving fishery data collection, reporting mechanisms, monitoring tools and management strategies through a newly launched fishery improvement project (FIP). The objective of the FIP is to improve practices on Chinese Taipei longline tuna fishing vessels so that the fishery is able to achieve a certifiable status within five years.

“We are very excited to formally launch our FIP in the Indian Ocean, expanding the work we have initiated in the Pacific,” said Mike Kraft, VP Global Sustainability and Social Responsibility for The Bumble Bee Seafood Company. “This Indian Ocean FIP will work to improve the sustainability of yet another major source of the albacore used in Bumble Bee’s products.”

A transparent, stepwise approach towards sustainability

Participating FIP vessels catch approximately 6,000 metric tons of albacore tuna from the Indian Ocean annually, much of which is loined in Mauritius and exported to North American markets for canning.

Project team members believe this FIP – along with other new and emerging initiatives in the Indian Ocean – can be a catalyst for tuna fisheries in the region to support development of precautionary science-based management strategies, which can help ensure the abundance of albacore species.

“Projects such as this offer a transparent, stepwise approach for fishers to move towards sustainability, which is sorely needed in the Indian Ocean. We’re proud to work with the industry to reduce the negative impacts of fishing and to address the challenges of longline fisheries,” said Daniel Suddaby, VP Strategy and Impact at Ocean Outcomes.

We have a long-term goal of 100 percent observer coverage

As a first phase of the project, the project team will work to generate better fishery data, which will be used to inform science-based management at the regional level for the target albacore stock and any fishery bycatch species. A key component of this effort will be to increase electronic observer coverage on the fishing vessels, with a long-term goal of 100 percent coverage. Currently, observer coverage is occurring in a small subset of longliners.

This FIP is one of two projects between Bumble Bee, FCF and O2 focused on ensuring sustainable Chinese Taipei longline fisheries; the other is for longline vessels in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean. Coordination with – and support from – other organizations working on sustainable tuna, such as International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (ISSF) will be core to the projects’ success. The goal of both FIPs is to achieve a certifiable status by 2024.

Learn more about the Indian Ocean tuna FIP.

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