Overview

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). Consequently, our technical experts have identified a set of improvement needs that are common to many fisheries in Mexico (download the report here). These issues would be most efficiently addressed by general policy improvement at the national level, to ensure that these improvements are permanent and also implemented in non-certified and non-FIP fisheries.

One of the most common needs shared by many Mexican fisheries is for improved knowledge on the status of the stocks for target species. This includes conducting, updating, or enhancing stock assessments, or simply improving knowledge of the target species stock status through the use of abundance estimates. This often requires the implementation of an improved data-collection system. After extensive consultation with industry and NGOs in Mexico, SFP has developed a set of policy recommendations to address this issue (available in English and Spanish) and will begin facilitating domestic (Mexican) industry outreach to government regarding the need to develop a plan to increase number, frequency, and transparency of stock assessments. While promoting improvements in policy will be most effectively undertaken on the ground in Mexico by Mexican stakeholders, support from the US supply chain will be an important component in gaining the participation of the Mexican seafood industry, as well as providing supply chain support for the 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, or to participate in policy outreach activities facilitated by SFP.

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 (crab, shrimp, 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.

For more details on the sustainability status of the fisheries, progress of the FIPs, and improvement recommendations, please click here.

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.

Improvement needs, objectives, and action recommendations for 2020 are in development, and will be published after the annual SR meeting.

Progress Update

A summary of past progress can be found in the SR Chronicles.

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 – October to December 2019 

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 the 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.

Gulf of Mexico snapper: 

Update: Beacon Fisheries, Incredible Fish, and Inland Seafood provided funding, with matching support from Sea Pact, to initiate a basic national snapper FIP for the Mexican Gulf of Mexico. While the FIP will primarily focus on some of the most commonly imported species of snapper (e.g., red, yellowtail, and silk), it will push for improvements in management for the entire snapper fishery and will be national in scope. Stakeholder consultation meetings will be held in Mexico in early 2020 to recruit domestic FIP participants and agree on a workplan. 

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

Pacific snapper and grouper: 

Update: The Mexico Gulf of California grouper, snapper, triggerfish & yellowtail - hook & line FIP is now active (formerly a prospective FIP). This FIP includes 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: If you are sourcing snapper, grouper, triggerfish, or yellowtail from the east coast of Baja California Sur (Gulf of California), please ask your supply chain to become involved in this FIP.   

Pacific swimming crab 

Update: In November 2019, CONAPESCA published a draft update to the fishery regulatory framework for Pacific swimming crab (NOM-039-PESC-2003). The regulatory framework update includes provisions that allow traps and pots to use biodegradable construction materials to avoid ghost fishing by lost devices, as well as legalization of new designs of ring nets that have a much lower bycatch incidence than traps and pots. The update also extends the fishery closure for female crabs an additional two months (1 May – 30 June closure for males and females; female-only closure 1 July – 31 August), by repealing a 2013 regulation that shortened the female closure to 1 July – 9 July. This extended closure for females is likely to have negative economic repercussions on the crab fishery, without a clear demonstration of the biological need or benefits through a recent assessment of stock. The comment period for this draft regulation is now closed, but SFP is aware of comments submitted by at least one FIP. The government must now review comments and publish responses before the final regulation goes into effect.  

Further support needed: Contact SFP if you are sourcing crab from the Mexican Pacific and would like to be connected with an existing or developing FIP.  

Gulf of Mexico blue crab 

Update: The Yucatan Crab FIP (led by Ponchartrain Blue Crab and Sustainability Incubator) was initially launched in 2013, but eventually stalled out and was deactivated in 2018. In April 2019, FIP leadership shifted to CeDePesca and the FIP reactivated. Because the FIP has not yet reported any new stage 4 or 5 results (changes in fishing practices or policies or changes in the water), it is currently receiving a D progress rating (some past progress). 

Further support needed: Contact SFP if you are sourcing crab from the Mexican Gulf of Mexico and would like to be connected with an existing or developing FIP. 

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. Below is 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 Progress Ratings and Recent Activity/Results in bold text were changed/added this quarter. 

Mexico Campeche blue crab 

FIP Implementer: Alimentos del Mar de Norte America/ Ocean Technology

FIP Progress Rating: E 

Most Recent Activity/Results: This FIP has not yet reported any stage 4 or 5 results (changes in fishing practices or policies or changes in the water), thus the FIP progress rating has been downgraded to E, negligible progress. The FIP has reported recent activity (November 2019), including a description of the results of a survey on secondary species that concur with a 2017 report published by INAPESCA (though no supporting evidence of the 2019 results is publicly available). 

Mexico Yucatan Peninsula blue crab 

FIP Implementer: PESMAR/CeDePesca/Ponchartrain Blue Crab/Mayaland Seafood

FIP Progress Rating: D 

Most Recent Activity/Results: This FIP was recently reactivated but has not yet reported any new stage 4 or 5 results (changes in fishing practices or policies or changes in the water), and thus is receiving a D progress rating (some past progress). 

Mexico Gulf of California swimming crab 

FIP Implementer: Alimentos del Mar de Norte America/Ocean Technology

FIP Progress Rating: B 

Most Recent Activity/Results: In November 2019, CONAPESCA published a draft update to the fishery regulatory framework (NOM-039-PESC-2003). The regulatory framework update includes suggestions from FIP participants for traps and pots to include the use of biodegradable materials in trap construction, to avoid ghost fishing by lost devices, as well as requests from producers to include new designs of ring nets, which have a much lower bycatch incidence than traps and pots. 

Mexico Western Baja California Sur swimming crab 

FIP Implementer: Alimentos del Mar de Norte America/Ocean Technology

FIP Progress Rating: B

Most Recent Activity/Results: In November 2019, CONAPESCA published a draft update to the fishery regulatory framework (NOM-039-PESC-2003). The regulatory framework update includes suggestions from FIP participants for traps and pots to include the use of biodegradable materials in trap construction, to avoid ghost fishing by lost devices, as well as requests from producers to include new designs of ring nets, which have a much lower bycatch incidence than traps and pots. In September 2019, a workshop among fishery experts was conducted to discuss the data collection protocol for both stock assessment and bycatch impacts. During this workshop, participants reviewed the sampling and data collection protocol proposed by Loaiza-Villanueva in 2009, concluding that such methodology is appropriate for the fishery and the funds available. 

Mexico Puerto Peñasco & Puerto Lobos swimming crab 

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

FIP Progress Rating: C 

Most Recent Activity/Results: In October 2019, the FIP and INAPESCA (with the collaboration of Environmental Defense Fund) agreed to test a potential management framework based on exclusion of mega-producing females and recruits from commercial catches. These measures would be voluntary, but would test the efficacy of such a management regime. In October 2019, CEDO and the San Jorge cooperative undertook a first prospective effort, consisting of underwater inspections at the main fishing grounds and visual inspections by walking during ebb periods at the intertidal zones of San Jorge Bay, to detect and remove lost or abandoned swimming crab traps causing ghost fishing.                                                                

Mexico Baja California Sur yellowleg and blue shrimp 

FIP Implementer: Northern Chef

FIP Progress Rating: C 

Most Recent Activity/Results: In 2017, the FIP 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. Due to lack of results in the past two years, this FIP is in danger of dropping to a D progress rating – updated FIP progress evaluation pending publication of draft report. 

Mexican Pacific shrimp 

FIP Implementer: Meridian/Ocean Garden/Promarmex

FIP Progress Rating: B 

Most Recent Activity/Results: 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 

FIP Implementer: Del Pacifico/MHMR International

FIP Progress Rating: B 

Most Recent Activity/Results: In January 2019, a workshop took place to discuss the refinement of the stock assessment of the bays of Altata and Santa Maria. A stock assessment was conducted in February 2019 and used to mandate closure of the 2018-2019 season. 

Mexico Gulf of California small-scale blue shrimp 

FIP Implementer: Eastern Fish/Meridian/Ocean Garden

FIP Progress Rating: C 

Most Recent Activity/Results: In February 2019, field work was conducted on the Chinchorro de linea driftnet to collect information on the interaction with endangered species (results published on FIP public report). Additionally, a system to verify legality of fishers is in development – a procurement policy has been defined and agreed with FIP participants, and small-scale shrimp product flow and critical points have been identified. 

Mexico Yucatan red and black grouper 

FIP Implementer: CeDePesca

FIP Progress Rating: A 

Most Recent Activity/Results: In July 2019, the FIP reported increases in expected scores for four MSC performance indicators. PI 2.1.1, 2.1.2, and 2.1.3 are now expected to score above 80, due to changes to the MSC Fisheries Standard with respect to evaluating non-target species. PI 3.2.2 is expected to now score over 80, due to improvements in the decision-making process. 

Mexico North Pacific barred sand bass 

FIP Implementer: Pronatura Noroeste and FEDECOOP

FIP Progress Rating: A 

Most Recent Activity/Results: In June 2019, the FIP reported implementation of a new logbook and an electronic reporting system. This system provides adequate and updated information to monitor and evaluate harvest in the barred sand bass fishery.                                 

Mexico Gulf of California giant squid 

FIP Implementer: Comité Nacional Sistema Producto Calamar Gigante

FIP Progress Rating: B 

Most Recent Activity/Results: In July 2018, the FIP initiated an Ecopath analysis to determine the effect of the squid fishery on the Gulf of California ecosystem. Preliminary results of the ECOPATH analysis in November 2019 suggest little impact of the fishery on the ecosystem. 

Mexico Yucatan Octopus 

FIP Implementer: COBI/Global Octopus Supply Chain Roundtable

FIP Progress Rating: Not yet rated 

Most Recent Activity/Results: The workplan was made public in August 2019. 

3. Information on T75 fisheries or overarching sustainability issues 

Mexican Shrimp Council Code of Conduct 

  • In September 2019, the Mexican Shrimp Council, a coalition of US shrimp importers and Mexican shrimp exporters (including Mexican Seafood SR participants AquaStar, Amende & Schultz, Deep Sea Shrimp Importing, Delta Blue, Eastern Fish, Meridian, Ocean Garden, Mexican Shrimp Paradise/Promarmex as well as others such as APAES, CANAINPESCA, and Manta Bay), publicly announced a Code of Conduct for Fishing Processes of Mexican Shrimp. In the announcement, they pledged to only source legal shrimp, to not buy from any fishing areas or gear that threaten protected/endangered species such as vaquita and turtles (and require their processing plants to do so as well), conduct audits on all purchases to ensure legality, and implement full traceability all the way back to boats. Sustainable Fisheries Partnership commends this industry-led effort to ensure legality of product. 

Illegal Gillnet Shrimp Harvest in the Upper Gulf of California 

  • Illegal harvest of shrimp with gillnets in the Upper Gulf of California is ongoing during this 2019-2020 shrimp season. Gillnet-caught shrimp from the upper Gulf of California is under a US embargo – it is illegal to import this product into the US. The government of Mexico has not taken any action to enforce the current ban on the use of gillnets to capture shrimp. Instead, the government has provided shrimpers with the needed documentation to enable landing and transportation, while threatening to prosecute processors that receive, process, and store the illegally harvested product. This has reduced the likelihood that the product will enter the US market; instead it is likely to stay in the domestic Mexican market. 

Pressure on Mexico to Take Action to Prevent the Extinction of the Vaquita Porpoise 

  • As mentioned in previous quarterly briefings (April 2019; September 2019), under the US Marine  Mammal Protection Act Import Provisions, the US National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) is reconsidering the current comparability finding of all fisheries in the Upper Gulf of California, due to the failure of the government of Mexico to implement an adequate regulatory program for the protection of the vaquita porpoise.
  • In a letter sent on September 9, 2019, the US government confirmed that: “The Initiative is not a regulatory program. The GOM has failed to implement the regulatory modifications that were the basis for determining that the GOM's regulatory program was comparable in effectiveness to the U.S. regulatory program and provided justification for issuing comparability findings for the fisheries operating in the Upper Gulf of California. The MMPA import provisions require NMFS, prior to denying or terminating a comparability finding, to notify the nation that NMFS is preliminarily denying or terminating a comparability finding and explain the reasons for that preliminary denial or termination.”
  • In October 2019, CONAPESCA responded, stating that they were unwilling or unable (due to financial limitations) to take any further action.
  • In a follow-up letter sent on December 9, 2019, NMFS confirmed to CONAPESCA that it is recommending to initiate the process to terminate the comparability findings for the following Upper Gulf of California fisheries:
    • Shrimp, using trawl fishery for small and large vessels
    • Shrimp suripera fishery
    • Sierra purse seine and hook/line fishery
    • Chano trawl fishery for small vessels
    • El Golfo de Santa Clara curvina rodeo-style gillnet fishery (previously denied comparability finding)
    • El Golfo de Santa Clara curvina purse seine fishery. 

National Policy Outreach on Stock Assessments 

  • In October 2019, SFP published a Mexico Fisheries Policy Brief with regard to improving stock assessments in Mexico. The Policy Brief was sent to all Mexican Seafood SR participants, as well as numerous stakeholder in Mexico, and can be downloaded in English or Spanish.
  • In November 2019, 14 Mexican Seafood SR participants (along with five Mexican companies) signed a letter to the Mexican government in support of the asks put forth in the Mexican Fisheries Policy Brief on stock assessments. These SR participants are: Aquastar, Artisan Catch, Beaver Street Fisheries, Chefs Trading, Delta Blue Aquaculture, Eastern Fish, Fortune International, Inland Seafood, Meridian Products, Netuno USA, Ocean Garden, Santa Monica Seafood, Sea Delight, and Seattle Fish. The Mexican companies are: Gaja Treat, Grupo TOKs, Kraken Alta Cocina del Mar, MantaBay, and Productores del Mar de Mexico. No response was received to the initial letter, so a copy was hand-delivered to the SADER headquarters in Mexico City in early January 2020. 

Further support needed: Please attend one of the two Mexican Seafood Supply Chain Roundtable meeting sessions to be held in Boston during Seafood Expo North America: Sunday, March 15, 10:30 am – 12:00 pm OR Monday, March 16, 3:30 – 5:00 pm. Both meetings will be held in the Carlton Room of the Westin Boston Waterfront (adjacent to the Boston Convention Center). Attendees must RSVP to Megan Westmeyer.

4. Expansion of the SR 

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. 

Update: No new SR participants this quarter. 

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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