Tuna fleets have been given the clearest indication yet over how target stocks might perform if they were entered for Marine Stewardship Council accreditation.

Few tuna stocks currently carry MSC certification, but in a bid to provide information on how non-certified stocks might perform under assessment, the 19 commercially fished tuna stocks were scored on two of the three ‘principles’ used during MSC assessment.

The report - from the International Seafood sustainability Foundation - concluded that only five of the 19 stocks would currently pass the MSC test on stock health and management (principle one).

In most cases, stocks failed because they did not have well-defined harvest control rules and reference points in place rather than because of the poor health of stocks.

The report had delivered some encouraging findings about tuna stocks, revealing that most of the 19 stocks were stable, said the ISSF. “In addition to serving as a resource for an interested public,” said ISSF president Susan Jackson, this report would “help ISSF focus its resources on addressing the roadblocks to certification for tuna fisheries.”

MSC certification of tuna is increasingly being sought by retailers and brands. In December, John West announced it would fund an MSC pre-assessment of the Seychelles purse seine tuna fishery.

Tuna fisheries were not scored against the second MSC principle (ecosystem impacts) and only scored for part of the third (elements of international stock management were not scored).