Solander Pacific Ltd – MSC Certified Albacore from Fiji
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 this country, 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 fast and regulate their body temperatures. On this trip, Mariah and Elsie visited several countries and many companies. One of these was Solander Pacific, based in Fiji.
Solander Pacific, a tuna longline fishing company based out of the Pacific island of Fiji, is one of the island’s oldest fishing companies. Founded in 1987, it prides itself with not only directly contributing tens of millions of Fijian dollars to the local economy, but also employing around 400 people with on-going training of skippers, crew, and engineers onboard a fleet of 13 vessels. Solander Pacific is an important part of the country’s domestic tuna industry, dubbed “Fiji’s $300 million industry.”
Solander Pacific’s New Zealand-based parent company, The Solander Group, engages in catching and freezing a variety of tuna species. Solander Pacific catches, freezes, and exports big-eye, yellowfin, and albacore tuna, and is one of the largest catchers and processors of albacore in the Pacific, producing around 2,000 tons each year.
High quality seafood products are ensured by Solander Pacific’s vessels due to short trips out to sea, tuna grading on site, careful packing, and temperature-controlled refrigerated saltwater systems for storage and shipment. Solander Pacific’s fishing vessels are company owned and operated out of the port of Suva and thus are subject to the rigorous fisheries research, management, and monitoring systems Fiji employs for its tuna fishing industry.
Fiji is a signatory country, among many other small island nations, to the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) regional fisheries management organization (RFMO) which gives guidance on sustainability, ecologically important species, and catch reporting. A sizeable benefit to Solander Pacific’s adherence to all relevant management regimes and authorities was the ability for the Fiji Tuna Boat Owners Association (FTBOA), of which Solander Pacific is a member, to obtain Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification in 2012 for its albacore longline fishery. This certification helped the company gain access to markets, mainly those in Europe, that have a high demand for seafood sourced from certified fisheries.
Additionally, Fiji is a signatory to UNCLOS and all relevant UN conventions on the management of fish stocks in the South Pacific. But, there have been recent concerns over the declining stock status of Pacific tuna due to competition from foreign fishing vessels and overfishing of tuna stocks.
Fiji has taken some excellent strides to improve their offshore fishery management in recent years. Their monitoring and inspection of vessels returning to port has been improved, new fisheries regulations have been implemented, and managers are working collaboratively with fishers and fishing associations to address concerns.
There is still work to be done to globally manage tuna in a sustainable manner. Efforts to improve traceability, vessel tracking, enforcement, and set sustainable harvest limits will be vital to the long-term viability of these fish stocks. After this trip, we’re in awe of these beautiful fish and look forward to working to ensure their sustainability is a priority.