May 10, 2013
SFP Blog - Spring Sprint
Spring always rushes by for those us in the seafood business. Actually, I don’t think I’ve stopped running since the year began. We usually have a short lull in the action after the Boston Seafood Show when we can prepare for the European Seafood Expo in Brussels. But this year, we squeezed in a new event, SFP’s European Fishery Forum. We’ve held a similar forum in the US for the past couple of years, but this time we gathered in London with more than 70 seafood buyers and sellers from 8 EU countries.
The forum gives retailers an opportunity to speak directly to suppliers about their sustainability requirements while sharing with suppliers what they are expected to do in order to demonstrate they are acting responsibly. Tesco, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s, and Aldi explained their seafood sourcing policies in detail and outlined their expectations of improvement actions, including how suppliers can be involved in starting a fishery improvement project (FIP). FIPs are still a fairly new concept, so having companies like Espersen, New England Seafood, and Icelandic Group share their experiences in leading and supporting FIPs is valuable to everyone. SFP has resources on FIPs here.
Improvement discussions also included aquaculture. Morrisons and Sainsbury’s shared their views on aquaculture improvement needs and the role they see suppliers taking to make these improvements. There were also lively discussions around Southeast Asian fisheries supplying fishmeal for shrimp production. Here’s SFP’s take on feed fisheries and aquaculture
In the weeks since the forum, I’ve thought about how unique it was to have such heavyweight competitors sitting together discussing common policy objectives and that their messages echoed one another. Our friends at Aldi summed up the forum’s message that “we want suppliers to take ownership and drive improvements forward in fisheries to reach sustainability.”
Another highlight of the forum for me was the wealth of experience provided by the industry leaders in FIPs. Phillips Seafood
on the East coast of the US talked about how important sustainability is in their corporate development. As they grew larger and expanded to crab fisheries in different countries, ensuring the sustainability of those resources was critically important. The result is now that the business has 17 factories overseas and relies on FIPs running in these fisheries to demonstrate good fishing practice. A portion of sales helps to run these FIPs and finance the NFI Crab Council that serves to conserve the crab resources in these fisheries.
I’m also struck by new efforts like those of New England Seafoods
, who is leading a FIP with competitors and retailers on tuna from Sri Lanka. The FIP involved hiring a local coordinator, training in logbook completion, and starting an observer program.
I only hope I can keep pace as the year races by, since we intend to run a larger Forum in 2014 with more participation by retailers based in mainland European countries. Hope to see you there!
March 19, 2013
SFP Blog - Top 3 Questions at the Boston Seafood Show
Another busy Boston show has come and passed. SFP held countless side meetings, participated in a couple panels, and got several shout-outs at several other meetings. Throughout these discussions, it became increasingly clear the sustainable seafood movement has advanced dramatically in the last year. Much more of the industry is interested and engaged in improving wild and farmed fisheries. The most common questions I heard from industry during the show reflect that (well, at least two of them do):
1. How do I start a fishery improvement project (FIP)? Many suppliers are now being required (or will be soon) by their customers to demonstrate continuous improvements in source fisheries that aren’t achieving a high level of environmental sustainability. This has driven companies to work down their supply chain to start developing FIPs where they don’t already exist. Ideally, the bulk of the FIP work will be led by the fishermen themselves or by local processors or exporters.
SFP has compiled its lessons learned, tools, and techniques gathered over the past years in running FIPs in its FIP Toolkit
. The toolkit gives detailed ‘how to’ guidance for initiating, implementing, and communicating FIPs. To initiate a FIP, a few things need to happen:
- Conduct a sustainability evaluation of the fishery in question, or review existing evaluations if available.
- Identify other participants to join the FIP (including competitors).
- Publicly announce the FIP and its participants.
- Begin developing a detailed workplan.
2. Can SFP run a FIP for my company? The short answer is ‘no’. But we certainly want to help!
SFP has built a portfolio of demonstration FIPs
over the years to prove the process and utility and to gather lessons learned. Since that has now been achieved, SFP will focus its effort on providing advice and helping others run FIPs. In fact, many of the FIPs that SFP initiated have now transferred leadership to industry with SFP playing this advisory role.
SFP has FIP experts in North America and Europe to lend a hand to companies in major markets looking to start or catalyze FIPs. And we have staff scattered around the world in many producing countries who can advise the local industry with day to day operations of FIPs. Please contact me (firstname.lastname@example.org
), if you could use our help.
3. Is Mark MacPherson no longer with SFP?
Probably the most common question I heard! Mark’s departure from SFP created quite a buzz in Boston. He recently decided to return to industry. We wish him the best of luck and look forward to working with him in his new role. SFP is currently looking to fill Mark’s old position. Check out the announcement
if you know anyone who would be interested.
The SFP team and I are excited to see what the rest of 2013 brings. Check back for more blog articles and we’ll keep you posted.
March 1, 2013
SFP Blog - New Face in Spain
The sea has been a constant in my life. After graduating with a degree in Marine Biology, I went on to do a master's degree in the Shetland Islands North of Scotland. There I grew to understand the true potential of fishing and mariculture, and also learned about the vast seafaring tradition of Galicia, my homeland. At that point, I decided to change from doing scientific research in laboratories to working on boats and in fish farms, in order to collaborate with the fishers and fish farmers on finding more balanced and sustainable ways to use the resources provided by the sea. I decided to return home and to the sea.
Back home, I worked as an observer on board the Spanish trawler fleet for the Spanish Institute of Oceanography. The EU-funded program studied discards in fisheries such as Sole Bank, NAFO, and Spanish EEZ fishing grounds. This job offered me first-hand experience of the day-to-day lives of the crews and their gruelling work. Next, during 6 years as Fisheries Technician for Fishermen Associations of Aldàn and Bueu, I learned about another type of fishing, another group of people, and even more rewarding and intimate work. This work with artisanal fisheries allowed me to participate in many projects on the improvement of this sector, mostly related to management of fish resources and marketing. In particular, the MSC certification of the razor clam fishery of the Ría de Pontevedra, the first of its kind in Spain, stands out as a success, with its inherent complexity, the length of time the process took, and the many difficulties encountered along the way.
As I look back, I realize with surprise that for 10 years I have been professionally linked to the fisheries sector, and all my life has been connected to the sea and its people. If I’ve learned anything in this time it´s the need to ensure the welfare of the marine ecosystems, because of their environmental, social, economic, and cultural importance. I cannot forget that my “first days at sea” were spent in Galicia, where the seafaring culture is part of our identity.
Now I begin a new journey on board Sustainable Fisheries Partnership
(SFP), as Sustainable Markets Program Manager. This young and dynamic American NGO, in collaboration with the OAK Foundation
, gives me the opportunity to continue working towards fishery sustainability from another point of view. My task this time is directly involving retailers and distributors in the recovery of fish stocks and the reduction of the environmental impact of fisheries and aquaculture.
In this new role, I distance myself physically from the sea, but continue working for a more sustainable fishing sector that can supply food to societies and, at the same time, contribute to the health of the global oceans.
Pedro Ferreiro Velasco
Sustainable Markets Program Manager
February 26, 2013
A Zone Management Approach for Sustainable Aquaculture
The Sustainable Fisheries Partnership (SFP) approach is to ensure that there is not only sustainability in seafood production but also in the supply of international traded seafood. SFP believes engagement in Aquaculture Improvement Projects (AIPs) or Fishery Improvement Projects (FIPs) helps enhance sustainability whilst ensuring greater availability of responsibly sourced seafood.
SFP operates through two main principles: information and improvement. FishSource provides major seafood buyers and the public with up-to date information on the sustainability of fisheries and the improvements they need to make to be sustainable. In both FIPs and AIPs stakeholders work together to improve a fishery or an aquaculture zone by pressing for better practices, policies and management. These projects are increasingly led by industry, with SFP providing technical support and expertise at a various levels.
This article is published with permission by Aquaculture Asia Pacific Magazine. For more information please visit aquaasiapac.com
January 31, 2013
Filet-O-Fish Goes with MSC Fish - SFP Blog
Great news this month about McDonald’s putting the MSC logo on every Filet-O-Fish! SFP has been working closely with McDonald’s for a long time on building up supplies of sustainable seafood and this is really a great result. Now McDonald’s has agreed to use fish from only MSC-certified fisheries and they are willing to declare it publicly. We don’t have a headquarters, but you can imagine virtual champagne corks popping around the world in our home offices.
But the good news on whitefish doesn’t stop with McDonald’s. Just the next day we heard that Russian pollock fishery was being recommended for certification. The announcement has caused some controversy, and it’s possible that the fishery won’t get certified this time around, but it’s still a great step forward SFP will be producing a report on the status of whitefish stocks very shortly and it will contain some interesting results – good, bad, and surprising.
Both these stories are testament to the value of improvement work and the importance of the supply chain sticking with fisheries. McDonald’s didn’t just walk away from fisheries that had problems – they actively encouraged their suppliers to get involved and push for the changes that needed to happen. The results have been spectacular – both Barents Sea and East Baltic cod are now doing great.
Russian pollock was not looking so healthy 10 years ago, but the active engagement of big names in the whitefish industry has brought the fishery to the verge of MSC certification. Businesses that rely on whitefish can look forward to expanding stocks, reasonable prices, and a sustainable supply chain – a very good result that keeps absolutely everyone happy, from catchers to retailers to environmentalists.
These species of whitefish were very early examples of SFP fishery improvement projects and were original members of our FIP portfolio. We have added many more since then and we’re hoping that they all turn out to be just as successful.
But we don’t want to become an organization that runs hundreds of improvement projects; we want industry to take the lead. Our plans for 2013 include handing over as many projects as possible to the seafood industry to run themselves while we create the tools and training needed to do the job. You will be hearing a lot more from us in the future about our work in supporting business in leading the sustainable seafood movement and the exciting products that we will be making available. Stay tuned on Twitter or Facebook if you want to get tipped off about information as it’s released and don’t forget to contact us if you think we can help.
SFP's press release about McDonald's
SFP's press release about Russian pollock