Over the past 15 years, 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 is 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 (see below) have been developed and shared with the SR, but have not yet been approved and finalized, due to COVID-19.

Progress Update

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

Current Objectives: 

  1. Promote fisheries policy change in Mexico through direct industry outreach to government or by encouraging robust industry participation in the Impacto Colectivo por la Pesca Mexicana.
  2. Monitor progress of key T75 fisheries (e.g., Pacific shrimp, Pacific and Gulf of Mexico crab, and Gulf of Mexico snapper and grouper) toward sustainability and support or catalyze fishery improvements where needed. 

Action Recommendations for SR Participants:

  1. Undertake actions to support national policy change work (actionable advice will be conveyed by SFP throughout the year).
  2. Support progress in FIPs in key sectors (i.e., shrimp, crab, snapper, grouper) and encourage FIPs to expand to national coverage.
  3. Buyers of Pacific shrimp should purchase from Mexican Shrimp Council participants (or ask vendors to join the Council) and require full traceability incorporating review of vessel monitoring system (VMS) data.
  4. Buyers of Gulf of Mexico snapper should encourage Mexican vendors to participate in the FIP and provide financial support to the FIP, as able.
  5. Buyers of Gulf of Mexico seafood should request Gulf of Mexico FIPs to collaborate to address shared challenges and participate in implementation of control documents to combat illegal fishing.

Mexican Seafood SR Update – January to March 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. 

1. Improvements and activities in Target 75 priority fisheries 

Gulf of Mexico snapper and grouper: 

Update: The Mexican Seafood Supply Chain Roundtable’s Gulf of Mexico snapper FIP initiation work is on hold until the COVID-19 crisis passes. SFP will alert the SR when we are able to reschedule the stakeholder meetings that were supposed to occur in late March. 

In addition, COBI has launched a Mexico Campeche and Tabasco red snapper - vertical and bottom longline FIP. 

The Mexico Yucatan red and black grouper FIP has reported that INAPESCA has presented a proposal to modify the regulation managing the grouper fishery, in order to reduce fishing effort and improve the fishery. According to the FIP report, most of the proposal is focused on modifying minimum legal size and number and size of hooks, although an analysis of a possible quota system was presented and discussed. SFP advises that SR participants who are supporting this FIP should request that the FIP implementer share with INAPESCA the bioeconomic model commissioned by the Americas Snapper and Grouper SR in 2018. For more information on the bioeconomic model, please contact Megan Westmeyer.

Further support needed: Contact SFP if you are interested in involving your supply chain in the SR’s snapper FIP initiation work. 

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 San Cosme to Punta Coyote in Baja California Sur (the middle portion of the state). 

In addition, there is a prospective Mexico Gulf of California yellowtail, snappers and groupers - hook & line/encircling gillnets FIP, focusing on the fishing sector in the Municipality of Mulegé (central part of Baja California). 

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 one of these FIPs.   

Pacific swimming crab 

No update 

Gulf of Mexico blue crab

No update 

Pacific shrimp

Update: The Marine Stewardship Council announced that the Mexican Pacific shrimp fishery entered the full assessment process in January 2020. The client group is Comité Sistema Producto de Camarón de Altamar, and the assessment unit includes blue, white, and brown shrimp harvested by in the industrial trawl fleet. The prognosis for certification is not good, because of the number of performance indicators with unresolved sustainability issues. The Announcement Comment Draft Report advises the client to not proceed with the full assessment until these issues are resolved. Stakeholder input meetings were held in March 2020.

In March 2020, NOAA Fisheries published a notification revoking the comparability findings for fisheries in the Upper Gulf of California, including all shrimp. The justification for this embargo is that the government of Mexico failed to put in place and implement a regulatory program to protect and recover the vaquita porpoise. In addition, the government of Mexico has failed to fully implement and enforce its existing gillnet ban.  Because there is no regulatory program at all, the embargo applies to all fisheries in the region. In order to ensure that there is no embargoed product leaking into US supply chains, US importers must establish a full traceability system all the way back to the boat. This is in line with the spirit of the Code of Conduct announced by the Mexican Shrimp Council in September 2019. For product from the industrial fishery, the audit process should check the vessel monitoring system (VMS) data for each trip; for the artisanal fishery, which for the most part does not yet have any sort of VMS, the audit process should ensure the product was not landed in ports that allow easily accessibility to the Upper Gulf of California embargo area. 

Further support needed: US importers of Pacific shrimp should 1) continue to support or join existing fishery improvement projects and encourage them to expand in scope and coverage, 2) purchase from Mexican Shrimp Council participants, or ask existing vendors to join the Council, and request regular updates on the implementation of the Code of Conduct, and 3) require full traceability back to the boat, including review of vessel monitoring system track data when available. 

2. Updates from existing FIPs 

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: In March 2020, the FIP reported that a biological monitoring program has been implemented at the facilities of the FIP partners. The program collects information on supplier, fishing gear, fishing area, crab size, sex, maturity, mortality, and incidental catch. This activity is likely to generate an improvement in the FIP progress rating when it is next evaluated. 

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 March 2019, the FIP reported 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; the FIP has not posted an update to its public report in over a year. 

Mexican Pacific shrimp 

FIP Implementer: Meridian/Ocean Garden/Promarmex

FIP Progress Rating: B 

Most Recent Activity/Results: This FIP is currently marked as “inactive” on FisheryProgress.org, due to missing two consecutive public reports. 

Mexico Sinaloa artisanal blue shrimp 

FIP Implementer: Del Pacifico

FIP Progress Rating: B 

Most Recent Activity/Results: In February 2020, Del Pacifico Seafood staff and INAPESCA researchers met to discuss establishment of a sampling methodology to collect fishery-independent data during the closed season to support evaluation of stock status, as well as collection of catch composition data to evaluate fishery impacts on associated species. 

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 December 2019, the FIP reported conducting two workshops with fishermen in Telchac Puerto and one meeting with stakeholders in Progreso. The objective of the workshops was to promote quota management per fleet and promote the idea of fishery refuges, but they were also used to highlight the need for proper registration and traceability, in order to implement improvements to the management system, and to discuss the participation of stakeholders in data gathering and compliance.

Mexico Campeche and Tabasco red snapper 

FIP Implementer: COBI

FIP Progress Rating: Not yet rated 

Most Recent Activity/Results: FIP workplan published in March 2020.                             

3. Information on overarching sustainability issues 

COVID-19 Response

Sustainable Fisheries Partnership is very much aware of the current challenges that the seafood industry faces from the COVID-19 pandemic and the threats posed to every part of the supply chain. Like so many others, we’re trying to do what we can to use or repurpose our tools and platforms to help others. For SFP, that includes using our Supply Chain Roundtables to help speed the worldwide adoption of measures to help prevent fishers and seafood workers from catching COVID-19. With that in mind, we have gathered guidance documents and resources from international institutions, organizations, and others addressing COVID-19 and food safety, protecting workers, specific guidance for vessels, and measures being requested by workers. We intend for this to be a living resource, and welcome your assistance in sharing similar documents from the places you are working in, and in sharing success stories and lessons learned in implementing protections around the world. Please take a few minutes to visit the following link and let us know of other resources and stories we can add: https://www.sustainablefish.org/COVID-19

In addition, in Mexico, Impacto Colectivo por la Pesca y Acuacultura Mexicana has issued a public proposal for measures to help mitigate the effects of COVID-19 on food security and on rural and coastal economies, and has shared this proposal with the Mexican government. The full proposal can be viewed here

Further support needed: If you have not yet completed SFP’s survey to collect feedback on our Mexico Fisheries Policy Brief on stock assessment needs, please take 30 seconds to complete the short, three-question survey here. 

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: Deep Sea Shrimp Importing Company, Iberostar, and US Foods joined the Mexican Seafood SR during the first quarter of 2020. 

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