MarinTrust, the leading programme for the responsible sourcing and production of marine ingredients, has developed an assessment framework for multispecies fisheries. The framework is designed to meet the needs of complex fisheries, such as trawl fisheries in Southeast Asia, that do not fit the conventional approach to fishery assessment. MarinTrust’s solution, a set of multispecies criteria, is a direct response to the complexities that make these fisheries difficult to manage. Major adaptations are required for these regions and their fisheries if they are to meet expectations for the sustainable supply of fish for both direct consumption and for fishmeal and fish oil.
The objective of the multispecies criteria is to enable the assessment of highly complex fisheries in which as many as 300 may be regularly caught. Given the complexities, MarinTrust has begun by testing its criteria in the real world. The criteria need to measure improvements in multispecies fisheries and enable producers of marine ingredients to demonstrate progress and a commitment towards responsibly sourced raw materials.
There are currently two fisheries that have applied the MarinTrust Multispecies Fishery Assessment and have used its structure to develop Fishery Improvement Projects (FIPs): the Gulf of Thailand mixed-trawl fishery (Thailand) and the Vung Tau multispecies fishery (Vietnam). Both FIPs are accepted on the MarinTrust Improver Programme as part of the multispecies pilot project. During the Improver Programme and pilot project process, the FIPs will have to meet a series of time-bound improvement milestones, specific to the Fishery Action Plan, demonstrating positive improvements within the fishery.
The multispecies criteria have been developed by experts in fishery science and are based on best practice fisheries management as specified in international norms and guidance. This includes the 1982 Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and the 1992 Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) as captured in the 1995 Food and Agriculture Organisation of the UN (FAO) Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries (CCRF), with additional input from the 2006 regionalisation of the code for Southeast Asia (Regional CCRF).
The multispecies pilot project is enabling MarinTrust to test the methodology in active fisheries so it can be fine-tuned and ultimately constitute a fully tested, robust and realistic set of criteria, that can be included within the full MarinTrust fishery assessment. The aim being to incorporate the multispecies assessment into the MarinTrust Standard. Although the MarinTrust Standard’s unit of certification is the marine ingredient producing factory, it also requires an assessment of the fishery.
Vorapong Iamtrakul, Project Director- Gulf of Thailand Trawl Fishery Improvement Project (FIP). “Managing multispecies fisheries of over hundred species together is very challenging. The MarinTrust multispecies assessment criteria guides us through the areas we need to focus so that we become more confident on the right pathway for improving Thailand’s fishing sector, restoring aquatic resources, raising stakeholders awareness, and protecting our Ocean. It is truly a multi-stakeholder project, based on the commitment and the expectation of members of the Thai Sustainable Fisheries Round Table with 8 associations along Thailand seafood supply chain joining hands together for the first time ever (Thai Fishmeal Producer Association, Thai Feed Mill Association, National Fishery Association of Thailand, Thai Overseas Fishery Association, Thai Food Processors' Association, Thai Frozen Food Association, Thai Tuna Industry Association and Thai Shrimp Association).”
Kim Thanh, FIP Coordinator for the Vung Tau trawl fishery, says: “A Multispecies Mixed Trawl Fishery Improvement Project is probably the most challenging assignment we have taken on so far. We are proud that the 'FIP Vung Tau' project in Vietnam has been accepted onto the MarinTrust Improver Programme, even though we realize we still have a long way ahead of us.”.
Dan Lee, Standards Coordinator/Program Integrity Advisor at Global Seafood Alliance and Chair of the Multispecies Pilot Steering Group (MPSG) says “The emergence of this assessment methodology is truly something to celebrate. MarinTrust, its fishery experts and these pioneer fisheries are to be commended for their determination to find workable solutions to complex, real-world fishery problems.”
More information on the MarinTrust Improver Programme can be found here
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