Mahi-mahi, also known as dolphinfish, is a migratory pelagic species that is highly resilient to fishing, due to its rapid growth and early maturation. However, despite this high productivity, many regions of the world have reached their maximum levels of capture and are beginning to see decreases in levels of production. Mahi-mahi is found in tropic and subtropic waters worldwide. Although it is highly desired by sport fishers, most of the production comes from artisanal fisheries, which represent an important source of income for fishers, but also present specific challenges related to sustainable management. Most mahi-mahi fisheries face issues with stock structure, monitoring, control, and surveillance, as well as proper data recording and reporting. Other issues include a lack of management measures at national and regional levels, low observer coverage, and interactions with sea turtles and sharks.  

The Global Mahi Supply Chain Roundtable focuses on monitoring and supporting fishery improvement projects (FIPs) in global mahi-mahi fisheries. The participants also cooperate to engage with national governments on policy and management needs, communicate with the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC) about the need for improvements in science and conservation measures, coordinate regionally to meet these improvements through participation in COREMAHI, and request their suppliers to participate in FIPs and implement accepted best practices and improvements.

The Global Mahi SR is comprised of leading importers of mahi-mahi in the North American market (see the Participants tab for a full list). The SR participants monitor and support the following FIPs in global mahi-mahi fisheries, as well as other large pelagic fisheries in the Eastern Pacific Ocean:

The SR participants played a key role in the 2019 establishment of COREMAHI, a group of mahi processors and producers from Costa Rica, Ecuador, and Peru, the principal exporters of mahi in the Eastern Pacific Ocean. COREMAHI coordinates regional actions to promote the sustainability of mahi fisheries in the region through better science and responsible management. COREMAHI members are working on endorsing a regional code of conduct among the three countries and creating a regional mahi-mahi scientific plan, and have encouraged participants to submit the plan to their IATTC national commissioners.

For more information on current work being undertaken by the Global Mahi Supply Chain Roundtable, please see the Activity tab.

Currently, 50 percent of global mahi volume is considered sustainable or improving (see SFP’s mahi-mahi T75 sector report). An additional 15 percent of global production could achieve the sustainable or improving categories via engagement through the Global Mahi Supply Chain Roundtable (SR). To achieve this goal, SR work would need to focus on the following actions:

  • Encouraging producers and key vendors to engage in existing FIPs, to ensure national coverage of improvement efforts in key countries (Costa Rica, Ecuador, Indonesia, and Peru)
  • Requesting national delegates to the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC) to advocate for the adoption of improvements in science and management in mahi fisheries at the regional fisheries management organization (RFMO) level
  • Encouraging FIP implementers and key vendors in the IATTC region to coordinate efforts to enhance regional impact at the RFMO level
  • Providing support to new and current FIPs.

Current Fisheries and/or FIPs Covered: 

The SR focuses on global coverage of mahi-mahi fisheries and monitors other large pelagic FIPs in the Eastern Pacific Ocean. The scope of this SR includes promoting FIPs at a national level to ensure improvements in fishing policies and practices, advocating for improvements in regional policies to achieve sustainability goals, and engaging key national vendors on sustainability goals. 

The following FIPs are supported and monitored:

More details on the sustainability status of the fisheries, progress of the FIPs, and improvement recommendations, can be found here

Progress Update

A summary of SR progress and activities can be found here.

Sustainability Issues

For 2020-2021, SFP has advised the Supply Chain Roundtable participants of the following improvement needs:

  1. Formalizing unregulated fleets to contribute to ending IUU fishing.
  2. Identifying the stock structure of mahi-mahi in the EPO, through genetic studies or by conducting a tagging program.
  3. Conducting conventional stock assessments and adopting biological reference points and harvest control rules for mahi-mahi and key bycatch species (e.g., sharks, billfish).
  4. Mandatory and standardized data collection and observer programs, with a minimum coverage of 20 percent of the longline fishing operations, to document bycatch and discards of ETP species, including sharks, turtles, and other non-target species.
  5. Industry-recognized adoption of changes to fishing practices to minimize the bycatch and mortality rates of ETP species, such as those outlined in the Best Practices for Reducing Bycatch in Longline Tuna Fisheries report.
  6. Encouraging producers and key vendors to engage in existing FIPs, to ensure national coverage of improvement efforts in key countries (Costa Rica, Ecuador, and Peru), and encouraging FIP implementers to coordinate efforts to enhance regional impact at the IATTC level. 

SR Workplan

The SR will be reviewing a proposed workplan based on the above listed improvement needs in the second quarter of 2021.

Project Contact

If you would like more information about the Supply Chain Roundtable or wish to support it, please contact SFP.

Quarterly Global Mahi SR Update – July to September 2020 

This briefing provides an update on progress, activities, and news in the areas of interest to the SR. It also indicates any actions and further support needed. A full summary of past progress, including details from past quarterly updates, can be found in our SR Chronicles.

1. Improvements in Target 75 Priority Fisheries

Please find an overview of fisheries identified in the T75 Sector Report, including those currently not necessarily prioritized by the SR, here.

Ecuador:

Update: During this quarter, two meetings with Fair Trade representatives took place. The first meeting, between SFP and Fair Trade, focused on understanding the demand for Fair Trade-certified mahi-mahi in US markets. Two buyers were identified: Kroger and Margaritaville Foods. The second meeting, which included Fair Trade, Degfer (an Ecuadorian mahi-mahi processor), and the Santa Rosa fishers association, was about the Fair Trade Standards and benefits for producers and processors. The fishers expressed interest in the standards and agreed to participate in the Fair Trade certification process. Degfer also showed interest in and committed to organizing a meeting with its Board committee to discuss their participation in the certification process.

The principal Ecuadorian exporters of swordfish have been identified, and SFP will meet with Alfagama, which is interested in catalyzing a new swordfish FIP in Ecuador.

Further support needed: SR members to support catalyzation of a Fair Trade FIP in Ecuador.

2. Support to Established FIPs and Improvement Efforts

Please find an overview of all existing FIPs and improvement efforts, their current progress ratings, and status here.

Update: WWF Peru confirmed that the CONFREMAR mahi-mahi FIP is inactive.

Due to changes in Marpesca staff, the Panama Mahi FIP is inactive.

SFP met with Costa Rica large pelagics FIP representatives to discuss the private sector’s in-kind support. Based on this analysis and the report on the value of in-kind services, SFP will ask for GMC’s approval to use project funds to hire a consultant to build the capacity of longliner crews for handling and releasing ETP species.

Further support needed: SR members to support development of a financial mechanism to implement the Costa Rica Longline Large Pelagic FIP.

3. Support for Mitigation of Overarching Fishery/FIP Sustainability issues

SR members agreed on the following SR action points: a) requesting the IATTC, through their national delegates, to support requests from the Mahi Regional Committee COREMAHI (www.coremahi.org), and b) continuing to support current FIPs, new FIPs, and regional initiatives.

Relevant News: SFP held a virtual meeting with COREMAHI participants on July 31 to discuss and approve the final version of the regional mahi-mahi scientific plan, and to encourage RFMO engagement. The plan was developed based on the needs identified in previous COREMAHI meetings. During the meeting, SFP encouraged COREMAHI participants to present the scientific plan to their IATTC national commissioners, so that the commissioners can share the plan during the upcoming IATTC Scientific Advisory Committee meeting. SFP also reviewed the activities completed by COREMAHI over the last year, including the participation of COREMAHI representatives in the 94th IATTC meeting (July 2019) and the adoption of resolutions during the meeting on mitigating the impacts of longline fishing on sharks and sea turtles.

The IATTC SAC virtual meeting was postponed to October 26. SFP is registered to participate in the meeting, which will focus only on the management measures for tropical tuna, and not on any topics related to mahi-mahi. However, the Ecuador National Institute of Fishing has sent the plan to the IATTC scientific staff for feedback.

Further support needed: SR members to sign the letter requesting their national delegates to adopt the mahi-mahi scientific plan.

4. Expansion of the SR

Updates: Buyers of Indonesian mahi have been identified and will be invited to participate in the next SR meeting.

Further support needed: SR participants to report if they source from Indonesia and refer other companies who do to the SR as well.

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