Cook Islands

Sustainability training conducted for LTFV staff


Mike McCoy (left) demonstrating to LTFV manager of the captain training program Li Pan (right) the method for using a long-handled line cutter.

On 14 April 2016 consultant Mike A. McCoy of Gillett, Preston and Associates conducted a workshop in Zhoushan, China to train staff of Luen Thai Fishing Venture (LTFV) who train fishing base managers to instruct captains of pelagic longline tuna vessels that are based out of the Federated States of Micronesia, Republic of the Marshall Islands and Cook Islands. In addition to the LTFV trainers, three longline vessel captains and their crew attended the workshop. The captain training is an activity of Fishery Improvement Projects of the three fisheries, as well as a condition of certification of the Marine Stewardship Council-certified Cook Islands longline fishery for albacore tuna. This train-the-trainer workshop was made possible through the support of LTFV, Anova Foods USA, Norpac Fisheries Export, and The Nature Conservancy, who are participants of Fishery Improvement Projects in these fisheries.





The training covered:

  • The importance of avoiding and minimizing the catch and mortality of endangered, threatened and protected species, including sea turtles, whales and dolphins, sharks and rays, and seabirds;
  • Handling and release equipment to be kept onboard, and guidance on prescribed handling and release methods for sea turtles, whales and dolphins, sharks and rays, and seabirds;
  • Overview of government longline rules;
  • LTFV company policy banning the use of gear to target sharks, and banning the retention of sharks;
  • Guidance for proper use of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community/Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency logbook form for pelagic longline fishers;
  • Introduction to the Secretariat of the Pacific Community species identification guide for longline fishers;



Mike McCoy (left) demonstrating the consequences of leatherback sea turtle ingestion of plastic bags, longline captain train-the-trainer workshop in Zhoushan.


Capacity Building Workshop to train Cook Islands Longline Captains

On 26-27 August 2014, fisheries consultant Mike McCoy met with staff from the Cook Islands Ministry of Marine Resources (MMR) and the Huanan Fishery Cook Islands Company, a subsidiary of Luen Thai Fishing Venture (LTFV), to review the objectives, draft workshop presentation and training materials for a workshop on 28 August. The purpose of the workshop was to augment the capacity of Cook Islands government and longline fishing company staff to lead workshops for captains of longline vessels that fish in the Cook Islands Exclusive Economic Zone.

On 28 August a two-hour workshop took place attended by MMR and fishing company staff, and by available longline captains. A second capacity-building workshop is planned in mid-2015. The intent is for MMR and fishing company staff to lead future workshops so that all longline captains of vessels authorized to fish in the Cook Islands waters attend at least one training workshop.

The aim of the workshops is to provide longline captains with an improved understanding of:

(i) Cook Islands rules for longline vessel operators

(ii) how to properly complete government logbook forms

(iii) how to use a guide to identify catch to the species level, to augment the rigor of logbook records

(iv) prescribed methods to handle and release sea turtles, sharks, rays, cetaceans and seabirds to maximize the probability of their survival after release, and

(v) LTFV Venture company policy restricting gear and fishing methods and prohibiting the retention of sharks, including shark fins.

Seafood companies and associations send joint letter to WCPFC

letter to wcpfcSeafood companies and trade association active in the WCPO submitted a joint letter requesting WCPFC to ensure updated terms of reference are developed for the third Management Objectives Workshop (MOW3), and that every effort is made to ensure MOW3 goes ahead this year, prior to the annual meeting.

In the letter signatories request WCPFC to ensure candidate target reference points and harvest control rules to be developed for albacore, bigeye and yellowfin, in addition to planned continued work on skipjack, for consideration by MOW3 during 2014 and for consideration for adoption by WCPFC11 in December 2014.

Setting target reference points and harvest control is an important step towards addressing crucial aspects of tuna stocks management in the WCPFC as they represent the pillars of setting a harvest strategy for tuna exploitation. To date, the WCPFC has set an interim limit points for Skipjack, Yellowfin, Bigeye and Albacore (LRP= 20% of the equilibrium spawning biomass expected in the absence of fishing) but has not set any target reference points (currently, MSY is the implicit TRP for all species) nor any harvest control rules. Read more below on why reference points and harvest control rules are important.

Among others, the letter was signed by ANOVA and Coral Triangle Processors and Luen Thai Fishing Ventures. The letter can be viewed here.



Fishing & Living takes part in Industry Alignment Meeting to reach MSC certification

Fishing & Living participated, together with 27 other Marine Stewardship Council client groups and participants of FIPs to the first Meeting on aligning MSC Principle 1 Activities of Bigeye, Yellowfin and Albacore Fishery Improvement Projects in the WCPFC Convention Area (Bangkok, May 21st 2014).

The target of this first meeting was to “initiate discussions between relevant MSC client groups and participants of FIPs to coordinate and align policy activities related to sub-regional and regional management of fisheries for albacore, bigeye and yellowfin tunas in the Convention Area of the WCPFC.”

Points discussed in the meeting were:

1) Overlap of activities across FIP action plans for MSC P1 performance indicators

2) The draft Tokelau Arrangement for the Management of the South Pacific Longline Fishery

3) FFA, PNA and WCPFC management systems and status of the 4 tuna stocks under the scope of the group

4) Guidance on FIPs and the CASS guidelines

5) Chinese subsidies to Longline Fleet in WPCO

6) Electronic Monitoring Systems (i.e. electronic observers)

7) WCPFC delegations preventing the adoption of measures to address MSC principle 1

8) Letter for co-signature by the leads of relevant fisheries in the MSC program and FIPs to be sent to the WPCFC Secretariat requesting that management options for South Pacific Albacore.

The meeting resulted in the formation of the “WCPO Tuna MSC Principle 1 Alignment Group” whose role was summarized as ” to disseminate information and coordinate and align policy activities of relevant MSC client groups and participants of FIPs related to sub-regional and regional management of fisheries for albacore, bigeye and yellowfin tunas in the Convention Area of the WCPFC”. More information on the WCPO Tuna MSC Principle Alignment Group website.


Fishing & Living welcomes the MSC Benchmarking tool

Fishing & Living welcome the launch of the MSC Benchmarking tool: “As a company really entrenched in FIPs, to have a tool that we can use to consistently benchmark and track our projects, report on the milestones and gauge FIPs performance is phenomenal” Mark McPherson says to Seafood Source, at the MSC Developing World Conference in Bali, last April.

What is the BMT?

The Marine Stewardship council recently developed and released a Benchmarking and Monitoring Tool (BMT) for FIPs to help fisheries moving towards MSC certification to provide consistent and credible information about the progress of their FIPs to all interested stakeholders. The tools is easy to use and shows progress of fisheries against the MSC Sustainable Fisheries standard in a very simple manner.

The BMT will help improve the reporting and transparency of FIPs. BMT reports should be used by someone with a good understanding of the MSC standards and is involved in the fishery as a coordinator, manager or consultant.

How does the BMT work?

1. Each MSC performance criteria (PI) is given a score (<60; 60-80; >80)

2. Each score corresponds to a BMT score (0; 0,5; 1)

3. The BMT Index reflects the average BMT score and ranges from 0 to 1. As the BMT Index moves closer to 1, the fishery is moving towards all of the PIs being at least at the 80 level.

4. The BMT also provides reporting on the number of PIs that fall in each scoring category (<60; 60-80; >80). This allows users to see where the fishery is in (most) need of improvement and differentiate fisheries that may have the same overall BMT Index.

5. Progress is evaluated against expected outcomes & milestones (as described in the FIP Action Plan)

Current BMT scores of FIPs where Fishing & Living is involved:



Preparations for Crew Trainings in the Cook Islands

Since February 2014, FIP partners have been active in preparing crew trainings with regards to national and regional regulations, including management measures to mitigate negative impacts on endangered, threatened and protected (ETP) species. Training materials and equipment is being organized with a close collaboration with the Cook Islands Ministry of Marine Resources and the South Pacific Community.Crews will be trained in species identification, logbook completion on ETP, WCPFC regulations, domestic rules and best practice on handling and release of sharks, turtles and other vulnerable species encountered by the fishery. These trainings aim at improving data collection on ETP interactions for the longline fishery in order to determine the extent and nature of these interactions and identify potential actions needed to reduce negative impacts. Training activities aim to take place in July 2014.

FIP partners are also engaging with other fisheries improvement programs in the wider Pacific region to collaborate on common regional activities such as setting reference points, harvest control rules and improving WCPFC decision-making process for high seas management. A first meeting is planned to take place in May 2014.

Cook Islands Albacore longline tuna fishery enters MSC full assessment

Given the results of the pre-assessment, LTFV commissioned an MSC full assessment of UoC (1) Longline caught South Pacific Albacore caught in the Cook Islands EEZ by member vessels of the Liancheng Overseas Fishery (Shenzhen) Co. Ltd (SZLC), China Southern Fishery (Shenzen) Co. Ltd and China Fishing Agency Ltd. This full assessment was launched in September 2013 and is scheduled to be finalized in December 2014.

The other units of certification (2), (3) and (4) have not entered full assessment. Until certification is obtained, all 4 units of certification included in the fishery remain in the FIP, lead by LTFV and ANOVA Food. If certification is obtained for UoC (1), this UoC will no longer be considered in a FIP. If there are any conditions on the certification, UoC (1) will no longer officially be considered in a FIP but will be subject to a workplan based on the FIP draft Action Plan below as well as the full assessment conditions and timelines. The three other UoC will remain in the FIP, aiming for MSC full assessment and unconditional pass.

An overall timeline can be found here

Fishing & Living™ Conducts a FIP scoping visit in Cook Islands

Fishing & Living™ Conduct a FIP Focused Site Visit to Pago-Pago, American Samoa Focusing on the Cook Island Albacore Fishery

pagopagoThe Fishing & living™ program is actively involved with Luen Thai Fishing Ventures in carrying out a Fisheries Improvement Program (FIP) on the longline Albacore fishery within the Cook Island EEZ waters. The Fishing & Living team carried out an information gathering trip to Pago-Pago, American Samoa, in order to identify the status of the FIP activities, the implementation of MSC requirements on the vessels and the involvement of the governments from both Samoa and the Cook Islands in the data collection and observer activities. While the fishery is conducted in the Cook Island EEZ, the unloading occurs in Pago-Pago.





Confirmation of the presence of circle hooks on all the LTFV vessels, turtle dehookers and training in the use of these of the crew, good observer coverage and detailed logbook completion were all found to be implemented to very high standards by LTFV.




The results of this trip lay the basis for planning and development of activities which will address the findings of the recently conducted pre-assessment and will be conducted throughout the duration of the FIP.

The trip report and FIP recommendations can be found here.

For further progress of the FIP, visit the Cook Islands fisheries Improvement Program page.