FishWise Visits SolTuna in Solomon Islands
Photo Credit: Elsie Tanadjaja
In November and December of 2015, FishWise staff Mariah Boyle and Elsie Tanadjaja went on a trip to the South Pacific to learn more about tuna fisheries. Tuna is the third most consumed seafood in the U.S., with fresh and frozen offerings in steaks and sashimi along with the American staple of canned tuna. Tuna are impressive fish – they are large, migrate throughout the world’s oceans, and have specialized physiology to swim quickly and regulate their body temperatures. Mariah and Elsie visited several countries and many companies during their trip. One of these companies was SolTuna, based in the Solomon Islands.
Established in 1973, SolTuna is a shining example of a company owned and operated by the local community. The company focuses on economic equity, employing nearly 2,000 local residents and ensuring that most of the profits flow back into the Solomon Islands community. In 2014, SolTuna was awarded the prestigious Business of the Year by the Solomon Islands’ Prime Minister, Manasseh Sogavare, where he highlighted the company’s employment of women and promotion of food security for their families.
In July 2016, the Solomon Islands yellowfin and skipjack tuna harvested by pole-and-line and purse seine completed its Marine Stewardship Certification (MSC). Tri Marine, a partial owner of SolTuna, spearheaded the MSC accreditation along with its subsidiary, National Fisheries Developments (NFD). The group also completed its MSC Chain of Custody certification to promote product traceability throughout its supply chains.
This newly minted MSC certified fishery represents between 25,000 to 30,000 metric tons of yellowfin and skipjack tuna annually. Most of that haul is processed through SolTuna. While canned tuna is the primary product, SolTuna also processes frozen loins, fish meal, and fish oil. There is a strong regional market for SolTuna products as it is also a main contributor to the Solomon Islands’ food security.
Beyond the Solomon Islands, SolTuna products are exported regionally to Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Australia and New Zealand, with some loined tuna exported to European markets. Currently, SolTuna products are not available in the U.S., though the company has expressed interest – our team would be thrilled to see SolTuna’s Canned Chili Tuna on supermarket shelves!
FishWise would like to extend a warm thank you to SolTuna for allowing our staff to tour their facility, learn about its traceability system, and for welcoming Mariah and Elsie to celebrate Christmas in the Pacific! Gaining a better understanding of SolTuna’s traceability systems and contribution to the local economy sheds light on the work we do at FishWise and continues a positive and forward-thinking dialogue on how important it is to continue implementing and improving upon tuna sustainability and traceability within the industry.