There are a number of successful fishery improvement projects (FIPs) connected to the world’s fresh and frozen tuna fisheries, but the global sector could accomplish a lot more with greater efforts in several buyer and producer countries, including Japan, Indonesia and Sri Lanka, according to the newest report on fresh and frozen tuna released by Sustainable Fisheries Partnership (SFP).

The report, released today, is the latest sector report focused on SFP’s Target 75 Initiative, a global movement launched last year that sets the goal of seeing producers of 75 percent of the world’s seafood operating sustainably or improving toward sustainable production by the close of 2020.

According to the report, SFP classifies a mere 15 percent of global fresh and frozen tuna as sustainable or improving toward sustainability. Much of this percentage comes from fisheries that are already operating under FIPs, and SFP believes adding more successful FIPs to the list will help the sector achieve the T75 criteria overall.

Jim Cannon, CEO of SFP, said: “Fresh and frozen tuna remains iconic in the seafood market but the fisheries have only made limited progress towards sustainability. We need to see a significant increase in FIPs – both in size, scale and number – to see this valuable product heading toward a sustainable future. Engaging the Japanese market is going to be crucial given its global dominance of the fresh/frozen tuna trade and its ability to leverage improvements from producer countries.” 

One way to expand the number of sustainable or improving fisheries worldwide would be to encourage national level FIPs both in Indonesia and Sri Lanka. If this were to happen, a further 19.5 percent of global production would then be classified as “improving.”

Another key country for changing the status of the global fresh and frozen tuna sector, according to the report, is Japan.

“Japan is classified as a country with some sustainability engagement efforts underway, thus efforts must be focused on collaborating with NGOs already working in Japan and on engaging the Japanese retail/food service sector,” SFP analysts said in the report. “With Japanese importers on board there is moderate confidence that satisfactory progress can be made toward the target. It is highly doubtful we can reach T75 without them.”

SFP also believes that for improving the sustainability of global fresh and frozen tuna production, an overarching supply chain roundtable (SR) such as the one SFP currently facilitates is an important component for management of multiple FIPs. So far, more than 20 seafood industry leaders have joined the SR and found value in its collaborative work.

Hamish Walker, Chief Operating Officer at Seattle Fish Co., said:

"Through the tuna SR we were strongly challenged to support, proactively drive, and even lead FIPs. As a result, we, with the other members of Sea Pact looked at how we could revive the Sri Lankan FIP. As it happened, local organizations were already working on this so we have been able to provide input, and we will continue to closely support their efforts. Similarly, Seattle Fish have worked directly with Chef's Trading to support the setting up of a new FIP in Costa Rica. What the SR has really provided is the challenge to get involved and lead change.”

Gavin van der Burgh, Chief Commercial Officer with Afritex Ventures, commented:

“Since joining the SR last year we have enjoyed access to resources and guidance on initiating and implementing credible FIPs that will be recognized by the market. Target 75 is an ambitious initiative and we recommend companies involved in tuna sourcing support the goals by joining or starting their own tuna FIPs. The overall guidance of SFP is extremely valuable in implementing FIPs in Mozambique and Mauritius for longline tuna.”

Adriana Sanchez, founder of Seafood Ninja, Inc., said:

“Being involved in the SR provides a space for pre-competitive collaboration and helps identify areas in which industry players can work together to achieve common goals. The SR also provides opportunities to have a collective impact by reaching out to Regional fisheries management organizations (RFMOs) as well as participating in FIPs through the experience and expertise of the SFP staff. I highly encourage companies to participate in the SR as it provides them with tools to successfully address sustainability issues in their tuna supply chain.” 

EDITOR’S NOTES: 

T75 Sector Report Fresh and Frozen Tuna 2017

SFP’s Target 75 page

SFP’s Fresh and Frozen Yellowfin and Bigeye Tuna SR page

Contact: Sean Murphy, SFP Communications Director


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