A paper recently published in the journal Science drew attention to the rising interest in Fishery Improvement Projects (FIPs), initiatives through which a number of stakeholders collaborate to drive improvements in the sustainability of a fishery’s practices. Many FIPs are established in small-scale and developing world fisheries. These fisheries provide a vital source of income for over 90% of the world’s fishers, but often lack the funding and detailed evidence required to achieve full certification.
Fanny Vessaz is an MSc graduate of marine biodiversity and conservation from the Federal University of Paraná in Brazil. She was a recipient of one of our MSC scholarship program grants in 2014. Her research involved assessing bycatch reduction devices in the southern Brazilian artisanal seabob shrimp trawl fishery. Here she reports on the importance of collaboration and why bycatch is a complex topic where fishing communities’ voices need to be heard.
Brazil is a highly diverse country, and its fisheries are similarly varied. Even among small-scale shrimp fisheries, the methods used can differ drastically, but regulations covering them don’t. Over the course of this year, I have been exploring the dynamics of a small-scale shrimp trawl fishery in southern Brazil and examining the issue of bycatch (the unintentional catching of marine animals that are not a fishery’s target species).
Prince Charles’ letters, released yesterday, refer to the need to protect Patagonian toothfish. But what is so important about this creature and how have things changed since Prince Charles wrote of its plight to the then environment minister in October 2004?
Patagonian toothfish, also known as Chilean sea bass, lives in the cold waters of the Atlantic and sub-Antarctic. This slow growing fish generally lives for up to 24 years and grows to over two meters in length. It’s a species of huge ecological importance, but also supports fishing communities throughout Southern America and the Antarctic islands who fish it commercially for markets in USA, EU and Japan.
Just before Christmas 2011, an announcement was made that many in the fishing industry had been eagerly awaiting. After two years of rigorous assessment against the Marine Stewardship Council’s (MSC) Fisheries Standard, one of the world’s largest tuna fisheries, the Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA) Western and Central Pacific skipjack fishery, achieved certification.
Operating off eight small island nations in the Pacific Ocean, the fishery provides 50% of the world’s total skipjack, the type of tuna which often ends up in sandwiches and salads.
The fishery’s reach extends to Papua New Guinea, Kiribati, the Federated States of Micronesia, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau, Solomon Islands and Tuvalu.
Our oceans are vital: they supply protein, livelihoods and even every second breath of air we take. But our oceans are under increasing pressure.
In 1997 after the Newfoundland cod stocks collapsed, the Marine Stewardship Council was established with a mission to safeguard fish stocks for future generations.
Clearly, the challenges of overfishing have not gone away even though supplies of wild capture fish and seafood have plateaued at around 90m tonnes over the past five years . Some 29% of our seas are overfished  and if anything, the challenge will intensify as the global population rises to 9.6 billion by 2050, and with it the demand for protein to feed the world.