Improvements already implemented in order to obtain MSC Chain of Custody
Traceability has been a core focus area at AP2HI since it’s inauguration in 2014. Validating raw material and its legality as it goes through the supply chain, assessing the range of a fishery and the fisheries impacts on the environment all have roots in good traceability systems. Traceability helps provide market assurances from suppliers, and in return increased value of products and market access for small-scale fishery stakeholders. AP2HI has initiated several programs to address traceability concerns from helping vessel owners to register and license their vessels, deploying vessel-tracking devices for small-scale fishing fleets, supporting the compliance and distribution of eLogbook applications for fleets beyond central government jurisdiction.
As part of AP2HI’s mission to increase the global supply of sustainable one-by-one tuna, the Association with its partners such as, IPNLF, have implemented Fishery Improvement Projects (FIPs) for a number of member supply chains that are apart of Units of Assessment (UoAs) in order to improve the performance of these fisheries to operate at the level that would pass the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) environmental standard. Now that these fisheries are ready for MSC full assessment, AP2HI is supporting members in these supply chains to achieve the MSC Chain of Custody (CoC) certification. Being MSC certified doesn’t only mean having sustainable tuna and fishing operations, but it also means being certified against the MSC CoC standard in order to sell fishery products as “MSC Certified” in the market. The CoC standard have 5 main principles:
Principle 1: Certified products are purchased from certified suppliers
Principle 2: Certified products are identifiable
Principle 3: Certified products are segregated
Principle 4: Certified products are traceable and volumes recorded
Principle 5: The organisation’s management system addresses the requirements of the standard.
In a “MSC preparedness” workshop held in October 2019, it was highlighted that processors within the UoAs would not have problems to purchase, identify, segregate and trace MSC certified tuna. Likewise, pole-and-line supply chains were quite centralised in terms of their landing centers and government monitoring initiatives. It was however clear that traceability issues are more challenging in the artisanal handline fisheries due to the sheer number of fishing vessels involved and the remoteness of some landing sites. To overcome this AP2HI and IPNLF have restricted the handline vessels that would be eligible to sell MSC-certified fish as those that (a) land their catches in public ports or ports owned by AP2HI members, (b) vessels that are registered and allowed to fish, (c) vessels that supply AP2HI members and that have signed letter of commitment to comply with fishery regulations and subject themselves to independent audits.. Eligible vessels have already undergone an initial audit by the AP2HI team and have been issued with a plaque that is affixed to each vessel, containing the vessel details, registration and AP2HI identification numbers, including a scannable QR code to retrieve those details in an electronic form.
As the MSC full assessment of the one-by-one tuna supply chains across Bitung, Maumere, Larantuka and Banda is now underway, companies associated with these supply chains, wishing to sell MSC certified tuna, have committed to initiate their CoC certification during the coming months. As CoC certificates are valid for a three-year periodmany companies will aim to obtain certification once the assessment has been underway for a number of months. The MSC allows for fish caught in the window between the eligibility and certification dates to be held within the Client Group as ‘under-assessment’ and then converted to ‘certified’ once the fishery is certified. AP2HI members can therefore store or internally sell product that is ‘under assessment’ as long as they (a) clearly identify and segregate ‘under-assessment’ product from other product, (b) maintain full traceability records for all under-assessment product, demonstrating traceability back to the UoC and including the date of harvest and (c) not sell under-assessment product as certified, or label it as such, before the fishery is certified.
AP2HI members have already initiated discussions with Conformity Assessment Bodies (CABs) about CoC audits and an industry training session on the CoC standard is planned for the first quarter of 2020 as part of MSC’s Fish For Good project. AP2HI is therefore confident that its members are ready to capitalise on the demand coming from international markets once the first tranche of its fisheries is certified. This is expected to happened around September 2020.