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One-by-one tuna conference blog: Can industrial and small-scale fisheries coexist?

The world's first dedicated one-by-one tuna conference took place on the Azores Islands, Portugal. Read the dedicated IntraFish blog to get all the news from the event.

Tuesday, Oct. 17, 3.00 p.m. UTC

Azores declaration in support of one-by-one fisheries

The conference concluded with participants issuing The Azores Declaration in Support of One-by-One Tuna Fisheries.

The declaration establishes definitive commitment to ensure a sustainable and equitable future for fisheries as well as to prioritize the needs of associated communities and cultures

It calls for six key principles to be supported throughout all one-by-one tuna fishery supply chains. Those are:

Sustainability to be approached in a holistic manner that acknowledges the environmental, social and economic characteristics of fisheries and the people involved.

  • The socio-cultural heritage of one-by-one tuna fisheries to be respected and supported.
  • The economic, social and cultural rights of women to be addressed, strengthened and protected to enable them to participate fully in, and benefit from one-by-one tuna fisheries.
  • One-by-one tuna fisheries to have a valid stake in the resources that is valued and protected.
  • One-by-one tuna fisheries to have their position represented and reflected in fisheries management at all levels.
  • One-by-one tuna fisheries to have a valid place in the global marketplace and their participation encouraged and not discriminated against or presented with barriers to market.

In signing the declaration, participants at the conference agreed on three clearly stated courses of action:

Work towards sustainable and equitable tuna fisheries and to address the needs of one-by-one tuna fisheries.

  • Use our collective voice to raise the profile of these fisheries with relevant decision makers, throughout supply chains, and to consumers to ensure these fisheries can thrive for generations to come.
  • Take action to support the one-by-one tuna fisheries and the associated communities and marine environments linked to them.

Tuesday, Oct. 17, 2.47 p.m. UTC

What next? Find solutions!

Stop the finger-pointing and strive to work on finding solutions -- that's the message Azores officials had this afternoon for attendees at the conference.

"We must stop pointing fingers, join our resources and recognize the responsibility we have to protect this source," said Luis Rodrigues, regional director for fisheries at the Government of Azores.

"We all can contribute to improving one of the most important resources we have, the ocean."

Filipe Porteiro, regional director of maritime affairs at the Government of Azores, agreed, saying the Azores wants to do its part.

"The Azores fleet is the very reduced and in the global context the effort is relatively low," he said. "Nevertheless it is hugely important for the Azores."

All stakeholders, especially the people working in the sector, have to be involved in finding solutions," he said.

IPNLF's Adam Baske called the one-by-one tuna conference a "very important start" but added it's now time to think about ideas to start delivering.

"If we don’t engage and push for policies we’re the ones going to lose out," he said. "We need to keep pushing for it, no one else is going to do it for us."

One of the biggest challenges, he said, is to get RFMOs' support for the interest of these one-by-one tuna fisheries.


Tuesday, Oct. 17, 12.04 p.m. UTC

Fair Trade to add aquaculture standard

Fair Trade is planning to launch an aquaculture standard pilot at the end of this year or the beginning of 2018, said Julie Kuchepatov of Fair Trade USA.

So far, the NGO has five fisheries certified under its program: yellowfin tuna from Indonesia, US scallops, Maldivian yellowfin and skipjack tuna, and Mexican shrimp.

According to Kuchepatov, the certification provides small-scale producers with additional market opportunities.

"I like to think of Fair Trade as a fisheries improvement project [FIP] that has been audited with a label to put on," she said. "It can provide access to new markets and decrease risk."


Tuesday, Oct. 17, 11.50 a.m. UTC

The Tinder of seafood

Tuesday, Oct. 17, 11.40 a.m. UTC

Not sustainable? You're out at Woolworths South Africa

Retail giant Woolworths -- the biggest retailer in the southern hemisphere with a turnover of ZAR 74.3 billion and more than 1,800 stores in four countries -- has put sustainability at the forefront for quite some time.

Ten years ago, in 2007, it launched its Good Business Journey, which puts the community, people and the planet at the heart of all it does, Latiefa Behardien of Woolworths South Africa, said.

This also means dropping suppliers who don't comply with its standards, she said.

It started its sustainable tuna journey in 2009, committing to supply only MSC-certified tuna by 2014.

However, it's previous supplier was unable obtain certification and as a consequence the relationship came to an end, Behardien said.

Last year, Woolworths South Africa then launched its MSC-certified pole-and-line tuna from the Maldives -- from a different supplier.


Tuesday, Oct. 17, 10.50 a.m. UTC

The growing threat of FADs

Fish aggregating devices (FADs) in tuna fishing have been around a while but their use has exploded over the years, posing a threat to stocks and the environment, Sandra Jen, an independent expert at the Pew Charitable Trust, said.

Every year more and more new FADs are being deployed due to the use of new technology, which is significantly contributing to marine debris and increasing bycatch.

They also have been affecting migration patterns of tuna and driving overfishing across all the world’s oceans.

One of the key issues is that the management framework is "lagging behind," she said.

They would have to address unsustainable catch of juveniles, address marine debris and non-tuna bycatch and address the lack of information on FAD use in general, Jen urged.

In a discussion, following this morning's presentations panelist argued that purse seiners and FADs are probably never going to go away.

"One-by-one tuna fisheries are not going to feed the world," one attendee of the conference said.

However, there must be better laws to restrict their use, to protect the environment and ensure the survival of small-scale fisheries.


Tuesday, Oct. 17, 10.04 a.m. UTC

One-by-one: The gold standard of fishing

The environmental sustainability of one-by-one tuna fisheries is undisputed -- especially when compared to large-scale, industrial fishing fleets.

Juliette Tunstall, communications manager at IPNLF, called it the "gold standard when it comes to the environmental impact."

It's a "highly selective fishery. It comes with the nature of the one hook, one line story," she said.

In addition, the interaction with endangered and protected species such as sharks, dolphins and seabirds such as albatrosses, which are under threat of extinction, is at a minimum and there's nearly no bycatch.

Large-scale tuna fisheries also often lack transparency and at times have the "lowest commitment" when it comes to mitigation and management, Tunstall said.

The impact on the habitat is also minimal. The gear doesn't interact with the ecosystem and the chances of losing that gear is "significantly minimized."

In addition, "with one-by-one fishing it's hard to overfish," she said, adding fishermen only catch a portion of the tuna schools.

New studies also indicate that the fuel use of one-by-one fisheries is lower than previously thought, which strongly relates to the economics of these fishermen.


Tuesday, Oct. 17, 9.25 a.m. UTC

Can industrial and small-scale fisheries coexist?

Europe's fishing industry -- as well as the world's -- needs to find a balance between industrial and small-scale fishing, Ricardo Serrão Santos, member of European Parliament, Committee on Fisheries, told attendees by a video message this morning.

Despite a drastic reduction in artisanal and small-scale fishing it is still surviving and an important factor to the livelihood of many coastal communities, he said.

"In order not to become fully destroyed we must safeguard the stocks closest to coast," he said. "But there is a decrease in stocks and I believe industrial and illegal fisheries are important factors in the reduction in tuna captures for small island fishing communities."

Vessels using fish aggregating devices (FADs) have an impact on migratory levels of tuna species, he said, often leaving small island communities without fish to catch.

Industrial and large-scale vessels "certainly have their own space but they cannot threaten small-scale fisheries," Serrão Santos said. "Both types of fisheries need to coexist, be sustainable and economically viable."


Monday, Oct. 16, 6.40 p.m. UTC

Of story-telling and breaking myths

Marketing and consumer communication is increasingly important to stand out in the ever so competitive tuna market, the audience heard in the last session of the day.

And one-by-one tuna suppliers have a clear advantage against major tuna suppliers: quality, traceability, sustainability, ethical sourcing, a valuable social impact and a good story, IPNLF's Juliette Tunstall and Anova USA's Helen Packer said.

Showcased in appealing videos, original packaging, easy infographics, and by simply getting the message of the 'One boat, one fishermen, one tuna' out there is a recipe for marketing success.


Monday, Oct. 16, 5.40 p.m. UTC

Will ethics ever win?

Is ethical purchasing really possible? That's the question Charles Redfern, managing director at Organico Realfoods, which owns the Fish 4 Ever brand, posed to the audience in a passionate speech late this afternoon.

The answer is a bit ambivalent and Redfern had some harsh words for major tuna companies along the way.

Fish 4 Ever already embarked back in 2008 on a mission to sell sustainable, ethical tuna. Publishing the Hidden Cost of Canned Tuna that same year, the company revealed some dark secrets in the supply chain -- even before Greenpeace started campaigning against the world's largest canned tuna suppliers.

"We were the first company globally to actively source pole-and-line tuna, as in making it a political sourcing choice," he said.

After Greenpeace launched its campaign against canned tuna suppliers, the industry busied itself with resolving the "crisis," which they saw as a PR crisis and not a sourcing crisis, Redfern pointed out.

Companies' objectives were "to show you’re doing the right thing, make pledges and policies, employing experts and writing a big report."

As a second measure the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (ISSF) was created with both the support of the WWF and MSC. However, ISSF also blamed the source instead of shouldering some of the burden, he said.

Redfern believes the biggest issue is that companies are shareholder and profit-driven.

"Ethical tuna yes, but not at the cost of profits," he said, describing a toxic mix of competition, price pressure, and profit motives.

"At the other end you’ve got ethics. And ethics will never win," he told the audience.

So what can be done?

Redfern's suggestions were to try winning via marketing quality, look, and innovation. "People do like quality and that’s a really good point for the pole and line fishery."

Secondly, one-by-one tuna suppliers should try to tell a story and thirdly "claim the moral high ground and tap into the change-maker consumerism. People in general want to feel good about what they buy".


Monday, Oct. 16, 4.10 p.m. UTC

‘Something is not quite right…’

… in the Atlantic, said Paul de Bruyn, head of department of research and statistics at ICCAT.

Bigeye tuna – and important species for one-by-one tuna fisheries -- “is potentially in danger,” while yellowfin is “also in trouble.”

Skipjack is, however, by far the biggest species in the Atlantic for one-by-one tuna fisheries, mainly caught by baitboat method, he said.


Monday, Oct. 16, 4.02 p.m. UTC

Monday, Oct. 16, 3.52 p.m. UTC

Rosy times ahead for Eastern Pacific tuna

“Things are looking good for everybody” in the Eastern Pacific Ocean (EPO), Alexandre Aires-da-Silva, scientific coordinator at The International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT), said.

One-by-one tuna fisheries have been around for a while, with Mexico, the United States and Canada accounting for the biggest catches, and the stock outlooks for the major species is positive.

The achievement of MSC certifications in recent years is a “good indicator” for that.

“But let’s be clear,” he said, “there are challenges.” But they are mainly associated with management and regulation across countries, Aires-da-Silva said.


Monday, Oct. 16, 3.15 p.m. UTC

Monday, Oct. 16, 2.59 p.m. UTC

Let's talk about size

Just how big is one-by-one tuna fishing? Anthony Lewis, expert at The Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC), has the answer.

Globally about 350,000 metric tons of pole-and-line tuna was caught last year.

Japan, Indonesia and the Maldives were the leading suppliers, he said.

In comparison, total tuna catches in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean (WCPO) alone amounted to more than 2.72 million metric tons.

Focusing on the WCPO, Lewis said all pole-and-line fishing -- handline and troll -- are in decline, mainly due to economic reasons.

Handline has the biggest opportunity to expand due to increasing market demand and lower capital investments needed and supply chains are being improved.

Good news is that the four fish stocks of interest for the one-by-one tuna fishing industry -- skipjack, yellowfin, bigeye and albacore -- are not in decline or in an overfished state for the first time.


Monday, Oct. 16, 2.54 p.m. UTC

Monday, Oct. 16, 2.15 p.m. UTC

A call for change

A number of speakers this morning, while presenting their respective country's one-by-one fishery, shared the same story of declining stocks and declining catches.

Carlos Monteiro of the Instituto Nacional para o Desenvolvimento das Pescas of Cape Verde, put it in a nutshell, saying it's the international tuna fleet that may have contributed in large parts to the drops.

"Thinking in the medium and long-term we need to reflect and change some of the decisions, especially in terms of fisheries management," he urged. "That’s up to the decision-makers."

While there's been a lot of talk around sustainability and "blue growth" not much has happened so far, he said.


Monday, Oct. 16, 1.50 p.m. UTC

Making a case for purse seining

Ken Goto of Japan's Meiho Fishery made a case for purse seine fishing during his short presentation this Tuesday.

The company, which was founded in 2012 as a one-by-one tuna fishing focused firm, bought two purse seine vessels in June this year.

"Purse seine fishing is also a traditional fishing method in Japan and we need to protect that fishery too," he said.

Goto doesn't believe there is an issue with the sustainability of the purse seine method per se but it's about "how the crew think.

"We need to train them to act responsibly."

Meiho Fishery currently owns two one-by-one tuna fishing vessels, charters are third one and is currently in the process of constructing another vessel, which will have a fishing capacity of 750 metric tons.


Monday, Oct. 16, 12.30 p.m. UTC

St. Helena opens EEZ exclusively to OBO tuna fishing

The island of St. Helena -- located in the midst of the Atlantic ocean between Namibia and Brazil -- just opened its 200-mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ) to one-by-one tuna fishing only.

No other fishing methods will be allowed.

"It's the first in the world to do so and we're very excited about it," Adam Baske, policy and outreach director at IPNLF, said.

Around 500 metric tons of bigeye, skipjack, yellowfin and some albacore are caught annually.

South Africa, Spain and Portugal are the main export markets but the construction of a new airport will open up new markets for fresh fish in South Africa.

"Things are hopefully about to change," said Baske.


Monday, Oct. 16, 11.50 a.m. UTC

Bigger vessels 'threatening' Senegalese one-by-one tuna fishery

Senegal's one-by-one tuna fishing industry has been around for a while -- it was first introduced in the 1950s when the first vessel was purchased from the Azores.

However, fishing has declined and decreased by half between 2010 and 2017 to about 2,000 metric tons today, Ibra Ndao of the Societe d’exploitation des Resources Thonieres, said.

The quota is still at around 4,000 metric tons.

Ndao said this decline is mainly due to the "introduction of vessels that are bigger in size" but has disturbed the traditional pole-and-line fishery.

"They use new methods, which is threatening our artisanal type of fishery," he said.


Monday, Oct. 16, 11.45 a.m. UTC

Monday, Oct. 16, 11.30 a.m UTC

Monday, Oct. 16, 10.56 a.m. UTC

Knowledge sharing is key

Sharing knowledge and best practices to prevail against the growing challenges for one-by-one tuna fishermen across the world is key, this morning's speakers agreed.

"We see collaboration as a key way to progress for the one-by-one sector," IPNLF's John Burton said.

The industry has to "work collectively on solutions on common problems," he urged.

Jose Leonardo, mayor of Horta, said the industry is a significant diver for the economy of Fajal Island, as well as for the Azores as a whole.

"We consider it fundamental to have knowledge as the best factor of defense in the sector, which is very fragile," he said.


Monday, Oct. 16, 10.45 a.m. UTC

Monday, Oct. 16, 10.30 a.m. UTC

Maldives: Challenges are on the rise

The Maldives has probably the best-known one-by-one tuna fishing industry in the world -- and Minister of Fisheries and Agriculture Mohamed Shainee wants to keep it that way.

"The topic is extremely dear to my heart; I'm a strong believer in one-by-one tuna fisheries," he said. "There are more economical ways to tuna fishing but we’ve maintained a strict policy."

This is mainly due to the negative environmental impact other tuna fishing practices have. Shainee highlighted that there was no bycatch with pole-and-line tuna fishing and also said the social impact on the Maldive population is enormous.

"The one-by-one fishery is part of the cultural fabric in the Maldives. Around 90 percent of our physical exports are fishery-related products and the fishery provides livelihood to our population," he said.

But there are growing challenges, Shainee said, and some of the fishermen are increasingly "unable to cope" with them.

The high cost of third-party sustainability certifications -- such as the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) -- is just one to be named, he said, but the market is increasingly demanding it. "It's putting a huge burden on one-by-one fishermen."

Market access and the high capital investments required is another one, and Shainee also called climate change "a major concern."


Monday, Oct. 16, 10.10 a.m. UTC

International demand growing 'significantly'

The International Pole & Line Foundation (IPNLF) -- co-organizers of the conference -- today has 48 members, Chairman John Burton said in his opening remarks.

This shows the "huge international demand" for one-by-one tuna.

"Without question the international market is on board," he told the audience. "There's been a growth in market appetite for the last 30 years."

Burton expects this to continue to increase and it will be driven by a "leading sustainably-minded international market."

However, this means the industry will have to find ways to increase the international supply without over-exploiting stocks.


Monday, Oct. 16, 9.15 a.m UTC

Monday, Oct. 16, 9.00 a.m. UTC

Small business, big impact

The world's first dedicated one-by-one tuna conference is getting underway on the picturesque Fajal Island in the Azores, Portugal -- despite the Atlantic Ocean hurricane Ophelia brushing the islands over the weekend.

Around 200 conference delegates involved in the sector are set to attend the two-day event.

They will share best practices, discuss solutions to shared challenges, evaluate the marketing potential of the social and economic dynamics of one-by-one fisheries, and explore collaborative ways to progress the sector.

Speakers and attendees include stakeholders from fisheries, processors, suppliers, brands, retailers, governments, researchers and NGOs.

The Azores itself has been home to a pole-and-line tuna fleet since the 1950s, and the fisheries form an integral part of the local economy today.

Check back here to get all the latest from the event.


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