The French overseas territory of New Caledonia and the Pacific island nation of Fiji have initiated a jurisdictional approach initiative for their longline tuna fishery.

Arlington, Virginia, USA-based non-governmental organisation Conservation International led the effort to form the initiative, signing a memorandum of understanding with the Fiji Fishing Industry Association (FFIA) on 21 November, 2022, and New Caledonia’s Fédération des Pêcheurs Hauturiers (FPH), and Association des Industriels de Transformation des Produits Hauturiers (AITPH) on 15 December, 2022.

“The jurisdictional approach initiative will include 100 percent of the local tuna industry in New Caledonia, ensuring that all tuna fisheries operating within the New Caledonia exclusive economic zone meet the highest standards required by high-value tuna markets,” FPH and AITPH President Mario Lopez said in a statement

The five-year agreements outline a plan for improved governance of the longline tuna fishery to be co-designed and implemented at a jurisdictional-scale, rather than company by company.

The tuna industry groups involved in the initiative will work together to strengthen the environmental, social, and economic performance of the domestic longline tuna fisheries in Fiji and in New Caledonia, and are currently working to define the role and responsibility of each organisation in driving holistic improvements in the domestic longline tuna fleets, according to Conservation International Director of Tuna Fisheries Pablo Obregon.

The goal of the partnerships formed as part of the initiative is to leverage policy and market-based interventions to support environmentally sustainable and socially responsible fisheries, Obregon said.

FFIA President Radhika Kumar said the agreement will result in a collaboration across the entire tuna industry in Fiji and New Caledonia.

“We are committed to the goals outlined in the agreement, which provides the necessary platform that should benefit the tuna sector and those that rely on it directly and indirectly,” Kumar said.

Conservation International Pacific Ocean and Island Programme Senior Director Susana Waqainabete-Tuisese said she hopes the partnerships provide a model for future tuna-sector collaboration on environmental and social improvements.

“The collaboration between Conservation International and the seafood industry in each country is the first of its kind for each party and will achieve sustainability outcomes by aligning incentives among government, market, and tuna-industry actors,” Waqainabete-Tuisese said.

The programme is financially supported by the Walmart Foundation.