Sustainable fisheries consultants MacAlister Elliott & Partners have trained and appointed a Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) auditor in the Maldives.
Seema Ali will specialise in MSC assessment programmes, awarding sustainable fisheries certification to local companies in a move aimed to support employment in the Maldives.
“It is great to have someone based in the Maldives who can take on new MSC assessment programmes and also manage existing ones, for example through surveillance audits,” said Kat Collinson of MacAlister Elliott.
The Maldives’ skipjack tuna fishery is the first Indian Ocean tuna fishery to receive the MSC certification in 2012 for its low-impact technique where each wild fish is caught individually to reduce by-catch.
“Seema has embraced the role with great enthusiasm and she will also be well placed to take on new and existing MSC assessments in other parts of the Indian Ocean such as Thailand, Sri Lanka, Malaysia and Indonesia,” Collinson added.
Collinson undertook MSC Chain of Custody (CoC) surveillance audits of the Maldives skipjack tuna pole and line fishery while in the Maldives. CoC standards for seafood traceability ensures the MSC ecolabel is only displayed on seafood from sustainable sources, explained MacAlister Elliott.
Traditionally the Maldives’ primary industry, the fishing industry has declined in recent years, falling behind tourism and construction as the country’s third-largest industry.
The volume of fish catch in the country has been steadily declining for the past seven years. While approximately 185,000 tonnes of fish were caught in 2006, the number had dropped to about 70,000 tonnes in 2011.
During the past five years, the value of the nation’s fisheries industry declined from MVR489 million (US$31.7 million) to MVR321 million (US$20.8 million) with a corresponding fall of 3.3 percent of the economy to 1.1 percent in 2012.
Statistics released by the Maldives Monetary Authority this month showed that fish purchases declined by 44 percent to 2,124.7 metric tonnes between July 2013 and July 2014.
The Ministry of Islamic Affairs has recently started awarding halal certification to local fisheries companies in order to open up Islamic markets for export.
The move followed notification from the European Union that extension of the duty-free status of imported fish from the Maldives would be rejected due to he country’s failure to comply with international conventions concerning freedom of religion.
UK Supermarket chain Sainsbury announced earlier this year that it had introduced the country’s first certified sustainable tuna sandwich using the MSC eco-label.