MCLEAN, Virginia -- Eminent marine scientists, major figures in the non-profit environmental community and leaders of the seafood industry have joined forces to establish the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (ISSF), a non-profit organization developed to respond to the growing threats to global tuna populations. Through this unique and unprecedented partnership, ISSF aims to undertake science-based initiatives to support the long-term conservation and sustainable use of tuna stocks.
“This is an unprecedented collaborative commitment on the part of major industry players to work alongside the world’s premier marine scientists and environmental non-governmental organizations, especially our founding conservation partner WWF, to preserve the world’s marine ecosystem,” said ISSF President Susan S. Jackson.
“Our mission is to help ensure that targeted tuna stocks will be sustained at or above levels of abundance capable of supporting maximum sustainable yield,” said Jackson. “This includes working towards the reduction of by-catch and helping to fund scientific research that supports improved management of tuna stocks. ISSF has already advanced this cause with its first board actions.”
Conservation Measures Enacted
ISSF adopted conservation measures to refrain from using tuna from any boat listed by an RFMO as being engaged in illegal, unregulated, and unreported (IUU) fishing and refrain from using eastern Pacific bigeye tuna after Sept. 1, 2009, unless the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission enacts science-based conservation measures before then.
ISSF participants also committed to sharing relevant catch or purchase data with responsible regional fisheries management organizations (RFMOs) to help ensure that scientific recommendations are made based on the best available information.
While the ISSF founding seafood companies do not deal in the bluefin segment of the industry, which primarily supplies the sashimi market, the board enacted a statement of concern urging the adoption of policies supporting proper management of bluefin in the Atlantic – one of the most threatened of all tuna stocks.
Science Leads the Way
ISSF initiatives will be based on recommendations from the independent ISSF Science Committee, comprised of internationally recognized authorities on marine biology and ecosystems, ocean fisheries and especially tuna sustainability.
The ISSF Science Committee is chaired by Dr. James Joseph. With more than 50 years of scholarship, administrative, and policy-making experience Dr. Joseph is considered by many to be the dean of science based tuna conservation. The committee also includes scientists from each of the tuna RFMOs, the U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service and the Commission of the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research. In addition, the ISSF board includes as vice chairman the distinguished marine biologist, author, professor, and international science delegate Dr. William Fox, vice president and managing director for fisheries of WWF-U.S.
ISSF will work closely with the four major RFMOs responsible for managing the world’s tuna stocks which have encountered challenges to maintaining tuna at healthy levels.“While tuna RFMOs are designed to make sound management decisions based on good science, their procedures too often allow short-term economic and political interests of some member nations to trump the science that supports greater long-term economic returns,” said Dr. Fox. “Consequently, a number of the world’s tuna stocks are being overfished and those that are not now in an overfished state may soon be in that condition.”
"Given the management problems of Atlantic bluefin, ISSF wants to ensure that effective management practices are in place to maintain the health of all the tuna stocks,” said Dr. Joseph. “Stocks of skipjack, yellowfin and albacore tuna, the species most commonly processed for canned and shelf-stable tuna products, appear to be in generally good health around the world.”
“Our customers in the retail and food service trades, our consumers who buy tuna in grocery stores and restaurants, and indeed all of society rightfully expect that the world’s highly valuable stocks of tuna will be fished responsibly and sustainably,” said Chris Lischewski, chairman of ISSF and president and chief executive officer of Bumble Bee Foods.
“This responsibility, not only regarding tuna stocks but also the marine environment as a whole, rests in very large part with the seafood industry. It has become one of the most important topics that we want to address. And we will do it! ” said Adolfo Valsecchi, MW Brands CEO.
The ISSF founders are Bolton Alimentari; Bumble Bee Foods / Clover Leaf Seafoods; MW Brands; Princes Ltd.; Sea Value Co., Ltd.; StarKist Co.; Thai Union Manufacturing Co. Ltd / Chicken of the Sea Intl.; TriMarine International; and WWF.
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