Achieving the Dream: Marine Stewardship Council Certification for Handline Yellowfin Tuna Fishers in Buru Island, Maluku, Eastern Indonesia

Over the last eight years, MDPI has strived to support yellowfin tuna handline fishers in attaining Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification. When we began facilitating data collection in late 2012, as part of Anova Food’s Fishing and Living program, we deeply believed that the communities we work alongside could eventually document and strengthen their compliance with MSC’s 3 sustainability principles – 1) sustainable fish stocks, 2) minimizing environmental impact, and 3) effective fisheries management – therefore securing their access to international markets. Today, this dream has come to fruition.

In 2013, MDPI began actively implementing a Fisheries Improvement Project (FIP) for small-scale handline fishers in Eastern Indonesia with industry partners, Anova Food and PT Harta Samudra. Based on results of a 2009 MSC pre-assessment, MDPI implemented a step-wise approach to fishery improvements. MDPI began collecting catch data – responding to both the data standards and needs of national and regional government bodies as well as industry partners and the MSC. Simultaneously, we set out to strengthen fishery practices and support the collective organization of fishers into associations using the USA Fair Trade standard.


Leveraging the Fair Trade model, an international certification that is not solely focused on the sustainability of the resource, but also on improving livelihoods through community development funds, MDPI was able to assist fisher associations on Buru Island in achieving Fair Trade certification in 2014. With traceability  requirements underpinning both Fair Trade and MSC standards, we were able to transfer progress made and lessons learned from our Fair Trade experience to the MSC standard. Continued implementation and development against our FIP coupled with the better practice, framework, and standards of Fair Trade contributed significantly to the results of MSC pre-assessment conducted in 2018.

At this time, MDPI also signed an MoU with the Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries (MMAF) with the aim of working jointly to strengthen market access for Indonesian tuna products through certification. In 2019, with support from MMAF and the strong results from pre-assessment, the decision was made to enter into MSC full-assessment. In partnership with the North Buru and Maluku Fair Trade Fishing Association, Anova and PT Harta Samudra, in March 2019, MDPI facilitated the assessment of 123 vessels in the Buru Island handline yellowfin tuna fishery.


After a thorough process and rigorous assessment, today MDPI, the North Buru and Maluku Fair Trade Fishing Association, Anova, and PT Harta Samudra are proud to announce that the handline yellowfin tuna fishery on Buru Island has attained MSC certification. The North Buru and Maluku Fair Trade Fishing Association tuna fishery is the first handline yellowfin tuna fishery in the world, and the second in Indonesia, to be certified to the MSC standard. This represents years of development and marks a major achievement for Indonesian fisheries and MDPI alike.

Photo: Green Peace

The fishers who attained MSC certification represent members of the Fair Trade fisher associations MDPI has worked alongside since 2014. These fishers’ catch will now carry two international labels, Fair Trade and MSC. As Jaz Simbolon, our Executive Director, noted earlier today, “this is a beautiful stop on the journey towards sustainable fisheries, one that we believe in deeply, and one for which there is still a lot of hard work ahead.”

We’re extremely proud of seeing the first Indonesian handline yellowfin tuna fishery to meet the highest standard for sustainability. Indonesia commits to support its small-scale fishermen and sustainable tuna fisheries, and this Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification sets as an example that it can be done for other small-scale fisheries in Indonesia and around the World.” – Minister of Marine Affairs and Fisheries

As one of the world’s largest seafood producers, Indonesia plays an important role in maintaining the health of our oceans and supplying seafood produce sustainably. The achievement of this MSC certification proves that through collaborative efforts between governments, the private sector, fishers and researchers as well as other relevant agencies, Indonesia can implement sustainable fisheries management.

MDPI is an NGO founded in 2013 focused on achieving responsible and sustainable fisheries activities across Indonesia. We support the development of small-scale artisanal fishing communities through programs that leverage the supply chain and support economic improvements and social stability of the communities we work alongside. An important aspect of our work is building networks and partnerships  with government, industry, NGOs, academics, and development agencies. We believe that together, we can work more quickly towards fisheries sustainability.

For more information on the MSC, please visit:

For more information on the Fair Trade USA standard, please visit: