Japanese Tuna Fishery In Tsunami-affected Region Receives Global Sustainability Recognition

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Tuna by Matt Chan via flickr

Albacore tuna and skipjack pole-and-line caught by Meiho has achieved MSC certification

Five years after the devastating earthquake and tsunami, a tuna fishery in Shiogama-city, Miyagi Prefecture, has become the first in the quake-hit Tohoku region to obtain the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification for its pole-and-line skipjack and albacore tuna.

Meiho is only the third fishery in Japan to be MSC certified, after Kyoto flathead flounder and Hokkaido scallop fisheries.

This milestone marks a new chapter for fisheries in the Tohoku region, and signals that collaboration, hard work and commitment has the power to improve the health of fish stocks, and provide hope for the many in the region who rely on this fishery for their livelihood.

Meiho Fishery was established in 2012 following the Eastern Japan Great Earthquake in March 2011. A lack of skipjack tuna prompted CEO Kenji Matsunaga to start Meiho Fishery Inc. Now they are the first certified fishery in the quake-hit area.

Meiho Fishery’s CEO Kenji Matsunaga says: “My experience of the Earthquake made me realise that delivering sustainable seafood to the market is essential for the future and this belief inspired me to start this sustainable fishery. I therefore am very delighted that our fishery has been certified by the MSC. Recently this fishery’s parent company, Meiho Co. Ltd., a processor, gained MSC Chain of Custody certification for all seafood from this fishery, and my next agenda is to promote our sustainable skipjack and albacore tuna, caught by pole-and-line, in the market.”

To achieve MSC certification, the Meiho fishery demonstrated that it meets a high bar of sustainability set by the MSC Fishery Standard. Widely recognized as the world’s most credible and robust standard for sustainable fishing, the MSC Fishery Standard is founded on three principles: a healthy fish stock, protection of the surrounding marine ecosystem, and effective fishery management.
An independent certification assessment body, Acoura Marine, also conducted rigorous assessment of the fishery’s sustainability and impact on the environment and management system.

MSC’s Program Director in Japan, Kozo Ishii, says: “I sincerely congratulate Meiho Fishery and the CEO Matsunaga, who has made every effort to get this fishery certified. I hope this certification will further develop Meiho’s business as well as raise Japanese public awareness on the importance of well managed sustainable fishery.”

Meiho’s two pole-and-line fishing boats catch about 3,000 metric tonnes of skipjack and albacore tuna per year.