JAPAN – The Global Tuna Alliance (GTA) has announced Meiho Co, a fish processing company based in Shiogama City, Japan, as its first partner in the country marking a significant milestone in its mission to advocate for sustainable and responsible tuna fishing.

The alliance considered the move as a breakthrough given Japan’s status as one of the world’s largest consumers of tuna and the second-largest tuna fishing nation.

Daniel Suddaby, Executive Director at the Global Tuna Alliance, expressed excitement about this development, stating that 2024 marks a defining moment for the organization as it enters GTA Phase II.

He emphasized the importance of broadening the GTA’s global scope and influence by establishing partnerships in new markets like Japan.

In addition, Suddaby noted that the GTA has reinforced its governance structures with the implementation of a new charter and is gearing up to recruit new talent to grow its outreach and engagement.

The GTA, founded in 2019, has been instrumental in international fisheries management, advocating for environmentally sustainable and socially responsible tuna fishing practices.

The alliance has evolved from a European-focused initiative to a global coalition spanning four continents.

Japan, being a key player in the tuna industry with significant market share and political influence, is viewed as a tantalizing prospect for the GTA.

The Japanese delegation plays a crucial role in tuna Regional Fisheries Management Organization meetings, where decisions regarding tuna management are made.

Tomo Matano, COO of Culimer USA, a GTA partner, highlighted Japan’s historical influence on seafood and its global impact through sushi.

Culimer USA played a pivotal role in connecting Meiho with the GTA. Meiho, known for obtaining MSC certification for skipjack tuna in 2006, aligned with the GTA’s commitment to sustainability and traceability, making its products appealing to North American customers.

Gunther Errhalt, the GTA’s Japan Outreach Officer, sees the Meiho partnership as a breakthrough in connecting with seafood market players in Japan.

He expressed confidence that Meiho’s leadership in Asia would encourage more Japanese members to join the alliance, fostering a greater understanding of the market’s perspective in the region.

Despite these positive developments, challenges persist in the tuna sector. The GTA has urged governments to commit to setting tuna catch quotas in line with scientific advice for sustainable limits.

However, the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission recently missed an opportunity to agree on a rebuilding plan for overfished yellowfin tuna.

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