MSC certification gives access to higher prices for tuna

Five Pacific Islands fisheries are certified as being sustainable by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC).

This means that the tuna caught, processed, and sold to consumers can be labelled with the blue MSC eco-label – and may attract higher prices than other tuna, because some consumers are willing to pay more for food they know has been produced sustainably.

The first two fisheries to gain MSC certification were the skipjack free-schooling purse-seine fishery of the Parties to the Nauru Agreement and the albacore longline fishery of the Fiji Tuna Boat Owners Association.

They have been followed by the Chinese-owned longline fishery for yellowfin and bigeye in the Federated States of Micronesia. The same company, Liancheng Overseas Fishery, also has MSC certification for an albacore and yellowfin fishery in the Cook Islands. The Solomon Islands pole-and-line and purse-seine fishery is also certified.

Papua New Guinea has begun the 18-month process of seeking certification.


Marine Stewardship Council blue-tick logo recognises sustainable fishing of wild-caught fishTo gain MSC certification, each fishery had to be independently assessed and prove three things:

  • that it maintains healthy populations of the tuna it fishes for
  • that the marine habitat, including other species that share it, are also healthy
  • that the fishery uses effective management systems to ensure populations and habitat remain healthy.

Tuna that is MSC-certified must be processed separately to other tuna, as the source of the fish must be able to be traced every step of the way from the ocean to the seller’s shelf. The eco-label can accompany the fish product through the supply chain.

The Marine Stewardship Council is an international non-profit organisation that runs a voluntary scheme to promote sustainable fishing of wild-caught seafood, including tuna.

The MSC assessment is based on the best scientific knowledge and the rigorous requirements set by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the ISEAL Alliance.

As well as creating price premiums, eco-labelling may also encourage others to lift their environmental standards.

The Marine Stewardship Council issues certification for sustainable fishing. Certification can lead to higher prices for tuna. Photo credit: Francisco Blaha.