Improver Programme

What is the MarinTrust Improver Programme?

The MarinTrust Improver Programme provides a mechanism by which fisheries that do not currently meet the MarinTrust requirements can work towards approval for certification along a structured pathway and in alignment with the MarinTrust Quality Control Manual, to provide guidance on good practices. The programme also enables such fisheries to obtain recognition for consistent progress made towards achieving MarinTrust approval. Fisheries approval in MarinTrust is based on meeting the requirements laid out in the FAO’s Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries (CCRF, http://www.fao.org/3/a-v9878e.pdf).

What is the difference between the Improver Programme (IP) and a Fishery Improvement Project (FIP)?

A Fishery Improvement Project is a multi-stakeholder effort to improve the sustainability of a fishery and may vary in scope and nature. It is used to facilitate improvements within a fishery no matter where that fish is going to. If the fish is being used in marine ingredient production, then the MarinTrust IP offers recognition of that marine ingredient production while encouraging the supply chain to be involved in the improvement efforts at the fishery level. This ensures improvements in fisheries supplying into the supply chain are benefiting a broader range of stakeholders as well as gaining support from these.  To be a credible FIP it must meet a number of requirements pertaining to participation, funding, transparency, and scientific rigor.

The MarinTrust IP provides assurances to your buyers and their buyers that the raw material entering the supply chain is fully traceable from the fishery.

Who is the designated co-ordinator for a FIP?

The designated co-ordinator for the FIP is a person nominated to ensure all members of the multi-stakeholder group involved in the FIP are involved in all aspects of the FIP development and should be the person to communicate with MarinTrust during the application process.

What is a Fishery Action Plan (FAP)?

A Fishery Action Plan is a schedule of improvements based on individual aspects of the fishery that require improvements and take place within a specified timeframe.

Who recognises MarinTrust Improver Programme marine ingredients?

MarinTrust Improver Programme marine ingredients are recognised by other standards such as the BAP.

•   BAP (Best Aquaculture Practice): Recognises MarinTrust IP as an approved programme for demonstrating improvement.

MarinTrust IP is also recognised as a pathway to responsible sourcing and production by other stakeholders and NGO’s including the SFP.

How much does the Improver Programme cost?

MarinTrust Improver Programme charges are based on the multi-stakeholder application (with details of the FIP) and individual companies wishing to utilise MarinTrust IP accepted raw material. A break-down of these one-off and annual charges can be found on the MarinTrust website via the following link (click here).

The costs of running the MarinTrust Improver Programme (IP) remain the same, regardless of geographical location. Applicants to the IP are multi-stakeholder groups, which must include a commercial fishmeal/oil producing plant to be eligible. Each individual stakeholder in the applicant group has to sign an MoU (or equivalent) as evidence of their commitment to the FIP before an application can be considered. The majority of stakeholders in each stakeholder group are commercial profit-making companies that have made a business decision to drive change in the fisheries they source from to secure market access and to also help drive long term change in their national marine resources through improved fisheries management and enforcement. In the future it is likely that some stakeholder FIP groups may be able to attract funding from charities, NGOs and global foundations, but as the IP is predominantly commercially driven this has not been necessary so far. This is demonstrated by our currently accepted applicants and more information can be found in these case studies.

What are the requirements for applying to the MarinTrust Improver Programme?

You can find the requirements for applying to the MarinTrust Improver Programme in the MarinTrust Improver Programme Application Mechanism in the downloads section on the MarinTrust website via the following link (click here). It is important to note that a production site wishing to use the MarinTrust IP claim must pass a MarinTrust audit for that site and be part of a credible FIP.

How long can you be on the MarinTrust Improver Programme?

The maximum time that an accepted fishery may remain on the Improver Programme is 5 years. Should a fishery feel that they are unable to make sufficient improvement within the 5 years, they may appeal for an extension when this becomes apparent. In such cases, a determination will be made by the MarinTrust Improver Programme Application Committee regarding a possible extension to the timeframe and will only be granted if the fishery can demonstrate that continuous improvement has been made over the course of the Fishery Action Plan (FAP).

How do I apply to the MarinTrust Improver Programme?

You can apply to become accepted onto the MarinTrust Improver Programme by following the application process found on the MarinTrust website here. Before starting the application process, a multi-stakeholder group should be assembled and an initial assessment and gap analysis carried out of the fishery against the MarinTrust standard. A Fishery Action Plan (FAP) then needs to be developed to demonstrate how improvements will be made towards full fishery approval over the duration of the Fishery Improvement Project (FIP). Once this has been agreed to by all stakeholders, a formal application can then be made to MarinTrust using the application forms found in the downloads section on the ‘Become Improver Programme Accepted’ page here. Application Form 3A should be completed by the FIP Coordinator on behalf of the FIP stakeholder group and then agreed to and signed by all members. Application Form 3B should be completed by each individual company wishing to use the MarinTrust IP claim for their production sites. Once completed, these application forms should be submitted to MarinTrust Ltd. directly at standards@marin-trust.com. Your application will be reviewed by MarinTrust and any comments will be sent back to you before approving the application for submission for Peer Review (Form 3A) and to your certification body of choice for the audit process (Forms 3B). Please ensure that you follow the instructions carefully and you complete the information as accurately as possible.

How can I join an existing MarinTrust Improver Programme?

Should a new company wish to join an existing MarinTrust Improver Programme they should first contact the members of the current accepted MarinTrust IP directly and discuss participation. Once an agreement has been signed by the current participants, the FIP Coordinator should submit theMarinTrust IP Application Form 3C (scope extension) to MarinTrust via standards@marin-trust.com to include the details of the new site(s).

How does the MarinTrust Improver Programme Peer Review work?

Once an applicant to the MarinTrust IP has submitted Application Form 3A for the FIP and this has passed initial review by MarinTrust, the form will be sent to an accredited certification body for a Peer Review in accordance with specified Guidance documents. The Peer Review is an evaluation of the FIP including all necessary documentation to ensure the Fishery Action Plan is robust and credible over the proposed timeline.

What if the fishery is a multispecies fishery?

The extent to which a fishery meets the requirements of the MarinTrust Standard is measured by completing a fishery assessment. The current MarinTrust fishery assessment methodology is designed to ensure the responsible management of fisheries where a small number of species make up a majority of the catch, which makes it difficult to directly apply the methodology to multispecies fisheries.

To allow a greater range of fisheries to apply to the scheme, MarinTrust is currently developing a methodology to allow multispecies fisheries to be assessed against the MarinTrust Standard. The draft methodology has been developed with input from the MarinTrust Technical Advisory Committee (TAC), mixed trawl fisheries workshops conducted in Vietnam and Thailand, the Asia-Pacific Fishery Commission (APFIC) Guidelines and other expert guidance. The draft has been peer reviewed by experts.

Once developed, the testing of the Multispecies Criteria within the methodology will enable a limited number of multispecies fisheries to apply to the MarinTrust Improver Programme (IP). Once the Criteria are fully tested and established, the aim is for these fisheries to apply for full MarinTrust Approval.

How can we ensure the FIP and improvements are transparent?

All applicants accepted onto the MarinTrust IP can be found on the MarinTrust website (click here). Once accepted into the programme, the FAP, its associated deadlines and all other pertinent information must be made publicly available via the MarinTrust website and/or other recognised tools such as the FisheryProgress.org website or equivalent, as approved by MarinTrust.

What happens if we don’t meet the improvement milestones?

A fishery which is found to have fallen behind the timeline defined by the FAP will have one or more conditions raised against its membership of the Improver Programme. The precise nature and timeline of these conditions shall be determined through the usual IP review process (i.e. recommended by the surveillance assessment team, reviewed by the peer reviewer, and finalised by the Application Committee).

Fisheries which fail to demonstrate consistent progress along the FAP timeline will be suspended from the IP following the procedures in the MarinTrust Quality Control Manual. A suspended fishery may be re-instated to the Improver Programme if it meets the requirements of the Condition(s) which resulted in its suspension within 6 months of the suspension (dependent upon continuing to meet any other requirements, such as surveillance assessments). Re-instated fisheries must adhere to the original improvement timeline.

What should the IP production sites do once the FIP timeline comes to an end?

The aim of the MarinTrust IP is to provide recognition for production sites while the fishery they are sourcing from improves. Therefore, once the fishery has reached the level of being able to become MarinTrust Approved, the production site should apply for MarinTrust Certification. This process is outlined here.

Why are IP accepted sites not automatically transitioned onto certification?

In order to maintain integrity and robustness of the programme, the site must go through the full application process for certification and be audited by an independent third party certification body. In accordance with application procedures, the fish being used as a raw material for marine ingredient production must comply with the full fishery assessment which may not have been carried out for a few years while the improvements were being made in the fishery.

If the production sites decide not to apply for certification, or if the fishery fails the approval assessment, the site loses all recognition and can no longer claim to be MarinTrust IP Accepted.