Over the past decade, Sustainable Fisheries Partnership (SFP) has been deeply involved in several fishery improvement projects in Mexico, some of which involve fisheries that intend to pursue Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification. These fisheries, and a few others that have already been certified, have implemented voluntary measures to meet certification standards (e.g., improved landings data collection, compliance monitoring). This work has revealed a need for general policy improvement at the national level, to ensure these improvements are permanent and also implemented in non-certified fisheries. Consequently, technical experts are working to identify a set of common policy recommendations that need to be addressed to improve management and fisheries data collection in all Mexican fisheries. While promoting improvements in policy will be most effectively undertaken on the ground in Mexico, support from the US supply chain will be an important component in gaining the participation of the Mexican seafood industry, as well as providing support for the common policy recommendations.

As such, SFP has formed a Mexican Seafood Supply Chain Roundtable (SR). A primary role of the SR participants will be to motivate their vendors in Mexico to join a domestic multi-stakeholder group called Impacto Colectivo por la Pesca Mexicana, which is pressing the government to implement policy reforms. Additional support for the common policy recommendations may be needed to demonstrate to the government the supply chain's desire for the changes, and this will be undertaken by Mexican companies.  

In addition, a number of Mexican fisheries are critical to the success of the Target 75 Initiative, including Gulf of California shrimp; Gulf of California, Pacific, and Gulf of Mexico swimming crab; Pacific and Gulf of Mexico snapper and grouper; Pacific and Gulf of California small pelagics; Pacific purse seine tuna; Gulf of Mexico octopus; and Gulf of California squid. While some of these fisheries are covered by species-specific Supply Chain Roundtables (octopus, small pelagics, squid, and tuna), others are not (shrimp, crab, and snapper and grouper), and progress toward sustainability will be monitored by the Mexican Seafood SR. In some cases, the roundtable may even act to support or catalyze new FIPs in these fisheries. See the T75 tab for more information.

Unlike most other SRs the Mexican Seafood SR is not working within one seafood sector only. The focus of the Mexican Seafood SR is general policy improvement at the national level, to ensure these improvements are permanent and also implemented in non-certified fisheries. Consequently, the SR contributes to Target 75 in several sectors, namely wild caught Large Shrimp, Snapper & Grouper and Swimming Crab, which are of particular interest to the US market. In Squid and Octopus any FIP Support and FIP catalyzation efforts are directed by the applicable sector focused SRs.

Please find an overview of all T75 relevant fisheries SR here.

Current Objectives: 

  1. Ensure diverse and robust participation of the seafood supply chain in the Impacto Colectivo por la Pesca Mexicana, which is working to promote fisheries policy change in Mexico.
  2. Monitor progress of T75 fisheries toward sustainability and support or catalyze fishery improvements where needed. 

Action Recommendations for SR Participants:

  1. Encourage your supply chain to become involved in in-country efforts to reform Mexico’s national fisheries policy, such as Impacto Colectivo por la Pesca Mexicana, and advocate for policy improvements. 
  2. Ensure existing shrimp, crab, and grouper FIPs are making progress and consider expansion to a national FIP approach where necessary.
  3. Support development of Gulf of Mexico and Pacific snapper and grouper FIPs by assisting with supply chain analysis, contributing funds, and/or encouraging vendors in Mexico to become involved in FIPs. 
  4. Support vaquita conservation efforts by donating to VaquitaCPR to fund removal of illegal gillnets in the Upper Gulf of California.
  5. Sign a public letter of support for alternative gear development, targeting government and producers, and pledging to develop a market for vaquita-safe shrimp when such a product becomes available.

A summary of SR progress and activities can be found here

Mexican Seafood SR Update - January to March 2019

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

1Improvement efforts in Target 75 priority fisheries

Gulf of Mexico octopus:

Update: A meeting of Yucatan octopus stakeholders took place on January 16, with industry, scientific institutions, producers, NGOs, and buyers present. A report on the stakeholder meeting was developed and shared with stakeholders. Signing of the Yucatan Octopus FIP MoU took place during Seafood Expo North America in Boston in March. 

Further support needed: Contact SFP if you are interested in involving your supply chain in this FIP. 

Gulf of Mexico snapper:

Update: A Mexican NGO, Comunidad y Biodiversidad (COBI), presented their prospective Gulf of Mexico Red Snapper FIP to the Mexican Seafood SR during the meeting in Miami in February and asked the SR for help funding FIP activities, such as visits to communities to collect fishery data, and connections with stakeholders. COBI’s intention was to focus their FIP on artisanal fisheries in Campeche and Tabasco, but the US supply chain purchases more product from the industrial fishery in Yucatan. SFP is undertaking discussions with COBI to evaluate the possibility of SR support to allow expansion of the FIP to the industrial fishery and the state of Yucatan.  

Further support needed: Consider your level of interest in supporting Mexican snapper improvement work; in May, SFP will be contacting SR participants that source Mexican snapper with further information on supporting the COBI FIP. 

Pacific snapper and grouper:

Update: Ecologists Without Borders, a US-based NGO that works internationally, presented their Santa Rosalia Sustainable Fisheries Project to the Mexican Seafood SR during the meeting in Miami in February. The project is currently focused on community engagement and evaluation of the fishery, which is located in the western Gulf of California from Santa Rosalia south to Loreto (the northern portion of Baja California Sur), with a long-term goal of launching a comprehensive FIP. The fishery is conducted with handline and gillnet, and frequently caught species include yellowtail (Seriola lalandi), snapper (yellow snapper/Lutjanus argentiventris, Jordan’s snapper/Lutjanus jordani, spotted rose snapper/Lutjanus guttatus), and grouper (leopard grouper/Mycteroperca rosacea, gold spotted sand bass/Paralabrax auroguttatus, rooster hind/Hyporthodus acanthistius). Ecologists Without Borders asked the SR for help in identifying the final market destination of the products, as well as for financial support for the project. 

Additionally, Niparajá, Pronatura Noroeste, and SmartFish (all Mexican NGOs) have posted a prospective FIP to FisheryProgress.org for a Mexico Gulf of California grouper, snapper, triggerfish, and yellowtail FIP . This FIP would include species like leopard grouper (Mycteroperca rosacea) and red snapper (Lutjanus peru) and will focus on the western Gulf of California, from Son Cosme to Punta Coyote in Baja California Sur (the middle portion of the state). 

Further support needed: Contact SFP if you are sourcing snapper, grouper, triggerfish, or yellowtail from the Gulf of California and would like to be connected with one of these FIPs.   

Pacific swimming crab

Update: Artisan Catch (formerly Orca Seafoods) continues to work with CeDePesca to develop a new swimming crab FIP in Sonora and Sinaloa

Further support needed: Artisan Catch and CeDePesca welcome inquiries from interested parties. Contact information may be found on the Fishery Progress public report (link above). Once this FIP is launched, and including the new CEDO FIP in the Puerto Peñasco and Puerto Lobos area (see below), there will be five swimming crab FIPs on the Pacific coast of Mexico. SFP strongly encourages these FIPs to work together on common objectives for Pacific swimming crab fishery improvements. 

2. Support to established FIPs and improvement efforts 

Please find an in-depth description of all sustainable or improving Mexican fisheries under T75 priority sectors, their improvement efforts, and their current progress rating here. The table below contains a brief overview of the FIPs of primary interest to this SR, their FIP progress ratings as shown on www.FishSource.org, and recently reported activity or results.

FIP Name

FIP Implementer

FIP Progress Rating

Most Recent Activity/Results

Campeche blue crab

Alimentos del Mar de Norte America/ Ocean Technology

C

The FIP is conducting field work to collect information on the fishery catch composition and to document habitat impacts generated by the fishing practices. Information gathering will continue until July 2019, and a report will be published in October 2019.

Mexico Gulf of California swimming crab

Alimentos del Mar de Norte America/ Ocean Technology

B

In April 2018, a "crabmeter" was produced and distributed among the 2,500 producers supplying the FIP participants, in order to help them verify minimum legal sizes of their landings.

Mexico Western Baja California Sur swimming crab

Alimentos del Mar de Norte America/ Ocean Technology

C

FIP participants have reviewed the 2012 management plan proposal and will promote its update and formalization among fisheries authorities and stakeholders.

Mexico Puerto Peñasco & Puerto Lobos swimming crab

 

Intercultural Center for the Study of Deserts and Oceans (CEDO)

Not yet rated

Workplan published in March 2019.

Mexico Baja California Sur yellowleg and blue shrimp

Northern Chef

C

The FIP has held meetings with independent researchers to discuss stock assessment. FIP participants and researchers agreed to design a call for proposals to conduct the fishery stock assessment protocol, as well as the fishery data and independent data collection process.

Mexican Pacific shrimp

Meridian/Ocean Garden/Promarmex

B

As of March 2019, all the producing companies supplying the FIP participants (around 600 vessels) have signed the Control Document letter of warranty, while collection of signatures on the Control Documents for processing plants is underway, along with development of the audit process.

Mexico Sinaloa artisanal blue shrimp

Del Pacifico/MHMR International

B

The first of a series of two workshops was conducted on January 24, 2019. A refinement of the stock assessment of the bays of Altata and Santa Maria was discussed, and a preliminary work force to implement it later on structured. Pending approval of an MOU between DPS and INAPESCA (currently in review by the legislative office of INAPESCA and attached here), another workshop will be held in May 2019 to formalize the design and launch of the stock assessment refinement.

Mexico Gulf of California small-scale blue shrimp

Eastern Fish/Meridian/Ocean Garden

Not yet rated

Workplan published in September 2018.

Mexico Yucatan red and black grouper

CeDePesca

A

Throughout 2018, CeDePesca participated in the “Committee for the Sustainable Management of the Grouper Fishery” on behalf of the FIP. In addition, 70 workshops were implemented in which 1,540 fishermen from 26 coastal communities of Yucatan and Quintana Roo participated. These workshops were part of the project “Strengthening the Management of the Grouper and Associated Species Fishery in Yucatan and Quintana Roo.” Some of the topics analyzed were: the importance of an accurate fishing registry, origin and consequences of decrease in catches, possible scenarios, and analysis of possible solutions.

Mexico North Pacific barred sand bass

 

Pronatura Noroeste and FEDECOOP

C

Workplan published in November 2018. Even before the workplan was published, the FIP conducted a preliminary assessment to evaluate the catch of secondary species, work with fishermen to identify tools to control fishing pressure, identify data collection protocols, review selectivity of traps, and create a database of the information needed to develop a harvest strategy.

Mexico Gulf of California giant squid

Comité Nacional Sistema Producto Calamar Gigante

B

 

In February 2018, the FIP participants sent a letter to INAPESCA to request relevant information on the sustainability schemes in order to explore improvement possibilities. INAPESCA shared the requested information in May 2018.

Two fishing monitoring workshops were completed in two historically important locations for the squid resource, in May and August 2018

3. Information on T75 fisheries or overarching sustainability issues

Relevant news:

  • At the end of 2018, the US Department of Commerce finalized its review of Mexico’s Upper Gulf of California fisheries under the import provisions of the Marine Mammal Protection Act. Under this regulation, foreign fisheries that may place marine mammals at risk must have regulatory programs that are comparable to what would be done in the US, or they may not export product to the US.  All legal fisheries in the Upper Gulf of California were issued comparability findings, except for the rodeo-style curvina fishery (in which a gillnet is used to encircle a school of curvina). Product from this fishery is now banned from import into the United States.
  • In March, the Mexican government released the “Initiative for Sustainability in the Northern Gulf of California.” This is the new administration’s plan for improving the sustainability of fisheries in the Northern Gulf of Mexico, with respect to both the environmental and socioeconomic well-being of fishing communities. The Initiative contains five basic axes: 1) enhancing community welfare, 2) strengthening legal institutions, 3) ensuring sustainability and legality of fisheries, 4) conservation and monitoring of ecosystems and species, such as vaquita, and 5) diversifying economic activities in the region. Though this document does touch on many important points, it is much less specific and aggressive than the plan put in place at the end of 2018 by the previous administration (which was the basis of the comparability findings described above). As a result, the US Department of Commerce has determined that this Initiative lacks the specificity and the regulatory detail needed to consider it comparable in effectiveness to the US regulatory program. Thus, the US government will be reconsidering the current comparability finding of all fisheries in the Upper Gulf of California (including the industrial shrimp trawl fishery). The US Department of Commerce has provided the government of Mexico with specific details as to what must be included in a regulatory plan, so that the government of Mexico will be considered fully compliant with the MMPA Import Provisions and to generate a comparability finding for the Upper Gulf of California fisheries.
  • Illegal fishing in the Upper Gulf of California continues to threaten the critically endangered vaquita porpoise. Violence peaked at the end of March with a confrontation between fishers and the Mexican Navy. The confrontation began when fishers arrived to retrieve an illegal gillnet from the water and found a Sea Shepherd vessel already removing their gear from the water. The fishers attacked the vessel and took back their nets, then fled to shore where they loaded the boat onto a trailer and towed it away. On shore, Navy personnel attempted to capture the vehicle and vessel and detain the fishers, which led to the physical confrontation during which one fisher was wounded with a firearm. A later protest by residents of San Felipe resulted in injury to two other locals. Later that day, at a facility used to store confiscated illegal gillnets, fishers stole a number of the illegal nets that had been removed from the water by Sea Shepherd and Museo de la Ballena.  The instability in the Upper Gulf of California led the Mexican government, in early April, to ask the Museo de la Ballena to move their vessel from the area for their own safety. Funds donated by members of this Supply Chain Roundtable for illegal gear removal efforts by the Museo are being held until net removal efforts can restart.
  • SFP has hired a new Mexican Fisheries Policy Consultant, Oscar Velez, to help us monitor the actions of the new administration in Mexico and develop a strategy for achieving fisheries policy reform. This new administration is very populist and anti-civil society organizations; thus our strategy must continue to focus on mobilizing the seafood industry in Mexico to request change and explain how better fisheries management will benefit the fishing sector. 

Further support needed: SFP’s new Mexican Fisheries Policy Consultant is finalizing our policy change recommendations and working to strengthen our relationship with Impacto Colectivo por la Pesca Mexicana. The policy change report will be sent to Supply Chain Roundtable members in June with actionable advice on how to support policy reform in Mexico. 

4. Expansion of the SR

Update: The Mexican Seafood SR is currently open to expansion to any US-based importer of Mexican Seafood. Current work is focused on Pacific shrimp, Gulf of Mexico and Pacific crab, and Gulf of Mexico and Pacific snapper and grouper. Pacific squid and Gulf of Mexico octopus are also of interest to SFP, but are addressed in more detail by the Global Squid SR and Global Octopus SR, respectively. 

Further support needed: Promote the SR to fellow industry and invite participation, and share your supply chain knowledge with SFP. Please contact Megan Westmeyer.

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