28 Jul Sustainable Fishery Profile: Cook Island Fishery
The Cook Islands are spread out across 1.2 million square miles of the Pacific Ocean between New Zealand and Hawaii. Exotic and unspoiled, these 15 islands are a popular destination for tourists seeking to experience a slice of tropical paradise. They are also home to one of the world’s 283 Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certified sustainable fisheries that Wild Selections is proud to source their premium seafood from.
Cook Island’s Fishing Industry
While tourism is an important industry to the Cook Islands, many of the 20,000 islanders rely on the fishing industry for their livelihoods (over 50% of Cook Island’s exports come from fish and seafood products). The tuna industry is particularly important, with a majority of the world’s tuna population located in the Pacific.
The Threat of Unsustainable Fishing Practices
Over the last decade, well-documented challenges have threatened the sustainability of this vital industry. Overfishing is the main culprit, with dwindling stocks leading to a vicious cycle where fewer fish mean more effort and expense to catch them. The nations of the Pacific, such as the Cook Islands, stand to lose economically in a big way if nothing is done.
Cook Island’s Long-line Albacore Fishery: A Sustainable Fishery
A little over a year ago, the Cook Islands Long-line Albacore Fishery, achieved Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification. The fishery underwent, and continues to undergo, scrutiny from an independent team of experts to ensure that it meets the rigorous standards set by the MSC.
Harvest control strategies and other measures such as circle hooks have been implemented to help ensure healthy stock levels and prevent by-catch of non-target sea life such as turtles. While Long-line Fisheries sometimes receive criticism from sustainability advocates who favor “Pole and Line”, the MSC standards are equally applied to all certified fisheries. This means that regardless of catch method, the Cook Island Albacore stock is healthy, by-catch is below stringent MSC requirements, and strong management practices are in place including the collection and use of scientific data on the health of the fishery.
The Benefits of Sustainable Fishing
The New Zealand Hoki MSC-certified sustainable fishery is a great example. The Hoki fish population more than doubled since the fishery was certified, underlining the very real, and very positive, impact of the certification. Achieving MSC certification could help not only sustain, but also expand, the market for tuna from the Cook Islands.
Is Your Product from Cook Island Fishery?
Find out now. Visit Trace My Catch and enter the code found on the bottom of your can to find out more about the MSC certified sustainable fishery your product comes from.