11 Jun 2015

Cook Islands retains tuna certification

8:03 am on 11 June 2015

The Cook Islands Albacore Fishery has survived objections to its Marine Stewardship Council certification by the WWF and the Fiji Tuna Boat Owners Association.

Frozen albacore tuna offloaded in Lami, Fiji

Albacore tuna Photo: RNZ / Philippa Tolley

MSC certification is considered the gold standard of sustainable fisheries practices in the Industry and Cook Islands had to go through a rigorous assessment process to achieve certification.

The objections however arise from the fact that the Cook Islands flagged fishing fleet are almost all Chinese owned and subsidised by mainland China.

The Western and Central Pacific Tuna Program Manager Alfred Cook says the certification of Cook Islands heavily subsidised fishing fleets sets a dangerous precedent for the region.

"What we would like to see is an improvement in the standard that the conformity assessment bodies, CABs are held to. We think that there needs to be some tightening up in the MSC standard language that would help eliminate some of that flexibility that the CABs encounter in applying the standard."

Mr Cook says not only are subsidised fleets exacerbating the overfishing problem in the region, they also make it almost impossible for unsubsidised Pacific owned tuna fleets to compete.

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs