Sustainable Fisheries Partnership published a major update to its FIP Evaluation Tool that will help ensure the accuracy, accountability and transparency of information about fisheries that are part of a fishery improvement project (FIP).

For seafood buyers seeking to meet sustainable procurement commitments, accurate information about the environmental progress of a fishery is vital. This revision, the fourth since the tool was launched in 2007, clarifies guidelines for use, addresses the need for improved accountability and more explicitly identifies connections between FIP actions and fishery improvements. 

“These changes were driven by requests from seafood buyers and stakeholders to see increased verification of progress and a clearer linkage between FIP activity and impact on the water,” said SFP Global Policy Director Brad Spear. “More and better information can help us all do a better job.”

Specific updates include new requirements to better evaluate the link between FIP tasks or actions and FIP results, to increase transparency about whether it is the FIP’s actions that are driving the improvements. The evaluation process and time benchmarks have also been adapted to encourage more regular reporting of FIP actions. The tool will continue to use letter ratings A through E for tracking progress.

For FIP implementers, the revised tool will more accurately reflect their progress and make sure that they get credit where credit is due.

“FIP ratings are a valuable tool for FIP implementers like us to display our progress and efforts to suppliers, clients and larger audiences, and not simply show the scoring or performance of the FIP,” said Tom Evans, FIP director at Key Traceability. “This monthly measure allows us to monitor the progress of all of our active FIPs against the same reference, to ensure targets are being met and changes are actively occurring. The revised FIP rating system led by SFP should add even more dynamism to this already valuable process by ensuring there is a stronger pressure for FIPs to continuously improve."

The increased specificity of the progress ratings will also give seafood buyers more confidence in their purchases.

“At US Foods, we rely on Sustainable Fisheries Partnership’s FIP ratings to guide and evaluate our seafood purchases. Our corporate commitment to sustainable seafood sourcing includes purchasing seafood that is either certified to a GSSI benchmarked standard or coming from an A-C rated FIP. Ongoing revisions to improve the accuracy of the evaluation tool will make it even easier for us to ensure our purchases from FIPs are making progress and improvements,” said Jennifer Wandler, senior director, category management, for seafood at US Foods, a leading foodservice company that supplies about 300,000 restaurants and foodservice operators throughout the US.

SFP’s FIP progress ratings form the lead metric on FisheryProgress, the online platform where FIPs are publicly reported and reviewed. In the new version of the FIP Evaluation Tool, technical terms and definitions have been aligned with those used on the FisheryProgress website, to reduce confusion for stakeholders using FIP progress ratings.

“FIP progress ratings help seafood buyers quickly understand the rate of environmental progress made by a FIP against specific time benchmarks,” said FisheryProgress Program Manager Jeremy Rude. “FisheryProgress works collaboratively with SFP to ensure rigorous verification of the data that is used to generate these ratings. We welcome the launch of the revised FIP Evaluation Tool, which will increase its impact and its contribution toward sustainable fisheries.”

SFP and FisheryProgress worked together to update the FIP Evaluation Tool, following a multi-year review and consultation process that looked at lessons learned and how to increase the tool’s contribution to sustainable fisheries. Following the formal launch, FIPs will get a grace period of three months, until October 2021, to allow them to adjust to the new requirements and time benchmarks. Until that time, FIPs will continue to be evaluated and rated against the current FIP Evaluation Tool.

Background

A FIP brings together retailers, processors, producers and fishers to address environmental challenges in marine fisheries by driving the adoption of best practices and better management of marine resources. SFP’s FIP Evaluation Tool assesses FIPs against six different stages of achievement, using time benchmarks to quickly understand the rate at which a fishery is improving, and assign a related letter grade to that progress.

These FIP progress ratings are widely used by seafood buyers, NGOs, governments, academia and other stakeholders to understand the environmental sustainability of a given fishery. The tool is a metric, rather than a standard, providing a snapshot in time of the fishery’s progress.


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