We are getting closer and closer to the market introduction of the MSC skipjack tuna, caught and processed in the pristine waters of our PNA nations. I bet you must be curious to know when you can expect to see the first products on your store shelves? … Let us update you on that.
Before a MSC certified fishery can bring its product to the market, all stages of its supply chain need to be organized and set up to ensure that MSC fish is kept 100% separate, until it reaches the consumer, and the scheme is audited and certified against MSC standards. MSC calls this the group scheme Chain of Custody (COC).
Due to the massive surface that the PNA skipjack fisheries cover (40% bigger than Europe), and the fact that most purse seiners do not land directly to the canneries but are transhipped in PNA port to carrier vessels, to transport to the processor, this extension of the COC is a separate challenge. Setting up such a system has required major innovations in procedures on how tuna is being handled on board, transhipped and landed and how this system is managed and monitored. The PNA has taken up that challenge!
For our PNA free school skipjack fisheries, that means that we will show to an independent – third party – auditor that our supply chain or COC meets all the very stringent conditions of the MSC program: from the moment that the purse seiner leaves the port to go fishing, to the moment it has discharged the tuna at the coldstore.
Effectively, this requires that we make all the people involved in this operation -observers, captains crews and their company’s management- fully aware of what is exactly expected from them in their daily work, and held responsible.. Intensive training programs and extensive manuals, for each part of the supply chain, have been designed to assure that they are well informed, educated and tested. Throughout February, March and April, the PNA and Pacifical have joined efforts to instruct the PNA fishing and processing companies that have chosen to follow the rigorous MSC chain of custody standards and to fish MSC skipjack in PNA waters for Pacifical customers all over the world.
For the past few weeks, a total of 7 major fishing and processing companies have been internally audited and on the list there are still 5 more to go for the introductory phase. The strengths and weaknesses regarding MSC COC standards for each of these audited companies have been identified; they are currently making the necessary adjustments.
Now that the training sessions and internal audits are almost finished, trial trips are being prepared to assess onboard the performance of the catching procedure and separation of the skipjack in different wells. The first trial trip was already done last year, and now the final trials will follow this coming month, which with transhipping will last an average of 45 days.
As always, we will keep you posted!