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Document: ISSF 2023-02: An Evaluation of the Sustainability of Global Tuna Stocks Relative to Marine Stewardship Council Criteria*

This is a March 2023 version of a report ISSF has published since 2013.

The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) has established a program whereby a fishery may be certified as being sustainable. The sustainability of a fishery is defined by MSC criteria which are embodied in three Principles: relating to the status of the stock, the ecosystem of which the stock is a member and the fishery management system. Since many of these MSC criteria are comparable for global tuna stocks, the MSC scoring system was used to evaluate twenty-three stocks of tropical and temperate tunas, including the bluefin tuna stocks (added in 2021), throughout the world and to evaluate the management systems of the Regional Fishery Management Organizations (RFMOs) associated with these stocks. No evaluation has been made here of the fishery specific ecosystem criteria in this report. The principles that were assessed were:

  • Principle 1 (P1): A fishery must be conducted in a manner that does not lead to over-fishing or depletion of the exploited populations and, for those populations that are depleted, the fishery must be conducted in a manner that demonstrably leads to their recovery
  • Principle 3 (P3): The fishery is subject to an effective management system that respects local, national and international laws and standards and incorporates institutional and operational frameworks that require use of the resource to be responsible and sustainable

Each of these Principles is evaluated in relationship to Performance Indicators (PIs) within each Principle based on public information available by February 2022. The MSC has established rigorous Guidelines for scoring fisheries (MSC Fisheries Standard and Guidance v2.01 – effective from 28th February 2019; This version does not evaluate against MSC Fisheries Standard version 3.

See also our related infographics: Summary of Sustainable Tuna Stocks (MSC Principle 1) and RFMO Performance (MSC Principle 3).

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Suggested Citation:

Medley, P.A.H. and Gascoigne, J. 2023. An Evaluation of the Sustainability of Global Tuna Stocks Relative to Marine Stewardship Council Criteria (Version 10). ISSF Technical Report 2023-02. International Seafood Sustainability Foundation, Pittsburgh, PA, USA