Wednesday, July 24, 2019

IFFO and GAA call for a new co-management approach for South East Asian fisheries

by IFFO, the Marine Ingredients Organisation

South East Asian seas serve as a major source of food and livelihood for hundreds of millions of people. 80 percent of the seafood produced by these waters, mainly fisheries in Vietnam and Thailand, is supplied for human consumption.

The remaining 20 percent is used to produce fishmeal and oil used in aquaculture feeds. Both these supply chains use seafood from complex, multi-species fisheries which are intrinsically more complex than those found in northern waters.

Traditional fisheries management techniques are challenging to apply to this region which has one of the most diverse marine ecosystems in the world and currently there is no consensus on the most appropriate ways to manage these tropical multispecies, multi-gear fisheries.

The Marine Ingredients Organisation (IFFO) co-funded a study with the Global Aquaculture Alliance (GAA), focused on Thailand and Vietnam, to fill information gaps and help drive positive change. Now, IFFO calls for co-management that opens the path to a specific way of addressing the existing challenges.

South East Asian fisheries are facing numerous challenges
South East Asian fisheries are crucial in the global seafood value chain, generating several billion dollars in GDP for the region. As a result, some countries in the region have been subject to media interest in the environmental, social and ethical practices in the region.

Thailand, for instance, is the third largest seafood exporter in the world. As a consequence of the increasing demand, Thailand and Vietnam invested heavily in developing their fisheries from the 1960s through the 1980s, which significantly increased fishing effort.

Today, overfishing and destructive fishing methods threaten the existence of the South East Asian seafood system. A report released in 2018 by the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership (SFP) stated that, “Target 75* (for the sector overall) can only be achieved by expanding improvement efforts in Asian reduction fisheries. Higher-volume multispecies trawl and small pelagic fisheries must be investigated to identify the most likely candidates to contribute to improvement in this sector”.

However, with the increasing drive for certification schemes and the collective involvement of local governments, citizens, local and global NGOs, there are incentives and good prospects of finding the keys to move toward more sustainable practices.

Market pressure from processors, aquaculture producers and exporters can have a positive effect on encouraging a transition to responsible production. In April 2015, the European Union issued a ‘yellow card’ warning in response to a failure by Thailand to sufficiently tackle the problem of IUU fishing, a step also taken for Vietnam in October 2017.

More sustainable practices are already in the works
Thailand’s reforms to address illegal fishing (including the establishment of Port In-Port Out (PIPO) reporting measures, a large electronic vessel tracking system and better traceability, amongst many other initiatives) enabled the lifting of the yellow card in January 2019.

Furthermore, Fisheries Improvement Projects (FIPs) have become recognised as a stepping stone to achieving step-wise improvements in fishery management and providing responsible sourcing opportunities in the supply chain.

In November 2018, IFFO Responsible Supply (IFFO RS) launched new criteria developed specifically to assess multispecies fisheries. These criteria are to be tested as part of a three-year pilot programme.

Read more HERE.

The Aquaculturists
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