The eight Pacific island nations that control most of the region's tuna stocks are having more than half a million tonnes of skipjack tuna assessed for eco-certification.
The Parties to the Nauru Agreement, or PNA, which includes the Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, the Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Tuvalu, announced earlier this year that it was approaching the Marine Stewardship Council to begin the certification process.
If the assessment determines the fishery meets the council's standard, about half of the skipjack tuna caught from the Western and Central Pacific will be eligible for the MSC ecolabel in 2011.
The fisheries entering into full assessment use purse seine nets targeting free swimming schools of tuna and log sets instead of the destructive artificial Fish Aggregating Devices.
The PNA's director, Dr Transform Aqorau, says seeking MSC certification is an important step towards maximising the economic benefits to Pacific Islanders from sustainable management of tuna.
The MSC's deputy chief executive says a successful assessment will be a significant milestone towards satisfying some of the canned market's demand for credible, certified, sustainable skipjack tuna.