Overview

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 – April to June 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 stakeholder meetings have been rescheduled for late August and early September; if these meetings are canceled due to COVID-19, we will attempt to complete the launch of this FIP through virtual/remote means. Further information will be forthcoming soon.   

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: Mexican NGO COBI has expanded the scope of two existing Mexican FIPs to cover Pacific snapper and grouper species. The Sonora yellowtail FIP has been converted to the Guaymas finfish FIP and now includes red snapper, gold-spotted sandbass, Gulf grouper (rooster hind), and ocean whitefish. The El Rosario whitefish FIP has been converted to the El Rosario finfish FIP and now includes California sheepshead, barred sand bass, vermilion rock fish, and red rock fish. 

Further support needed: If you are sourcing snapper or grouper from either of these regions, please ask your supply chain if they are involved in these FIPs, and if they are not, ask them to become involved.   

Pacific swimming crab 

Update: The Gulf of California swimming crab and Western Baja California Sur swimming crab FIPs (led by Ocean Technology) were recently labeled inactive on FisheryProgress.org, due to missed reporting in two consecutive periods. 

Further support needed: If sourcing from Ocean Technology, press them to reactivate the Pacific crab FIPs and update the FIP public reports. 

Gulf of Mexico blue crab 

Update: The Campeche blue crab (led by Ocean Technology) was recently labeled inactive on FisheryProgress.org, due to missed reporting in two consecutive periods. 

Further support needed: If sourcing from Ocean Technology, press them to reactivate the Campeche crab FIP and update their public report. 

Pacific shrimp

Update: The Mexican Pacific shrimp FIP (led by Meridian, Ocean Garden, and Promarmex) was recently labeled as inactive on FisheryProgress.org, due to missed reporting in two consecutive periods. The FIP is waiting for the results of the MSC full assessment for Mexican Pacific shrimp before any further actions are taken.

The Mexico Baja California Sur yellowleg and blue shrimp FIP (led by Northern Chef) was recently labeled as inactive on FisheryProgress.org, due to missed reporting in two consecutive periods. 

Further support needed: US importers of Pacific shrimp should 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. If sourcing from Northern Chef, press them to reactivate the Baja California Sur shrimp FIP and update the public report. 

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: Inactive 

Most Recent Activity/Results: This FIP is now marked inactive because of two consecutive missed progress report updates. 

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: Inactive 

Most Recent Activity/Results: This FIP is now marked inactive because of two consecutive missed progress report updates. 

Mexico Western Baja California Sur swimming crab 

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

FIP Progress Rating: Inactive 

Most Recent Activity/Results: This FIP is now marked inactive because of two consecutive missed progress report updates. 

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 June 2020, the FIP reported development of a formal petition establishing the Crab Fishery Advisory Committee for the Sonora and Sinaloa States. Regional stakeholders have been invited to sign the petition.

Mexico Baja California Sur yellowleg and blue shrimp

FIP Implementer: Northern Chef

FIP Progress Rating: Inactive 

Most Recent Activity/Results: This FIP is now marked inactive because of two consecutive missed progress report updates. 

Mexican Pacific shrimp 

FIP Implementer: Meridian/Ocean Garden/Promarmex

FIP Progress Rating: Inactive 

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 

Pelly Amendment lawsuit

In June, the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) and the Animal Welfare Institute (AWI) filed a lawsuit against the US government, hoping to force a certification of Mexico under the Pelly Amendment to the Fishermen’s Protective Act, which provides the United States leverage to prompt other nations’ compliance with international agreements through trade restrictions. The Pelly Amendment directs the Secretary of Commerce or Interior to investigate whether nationals of a foreign country are engaging in trade or harvest that diminishes the effectiveness of any international program for endangered or threatened species. In this case, the CBD is seeking certification that Mexico’s failure to stem the growing trade and export of endangered totoaba “diminishes the effectiveness” of the 1973 Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), as it simultaneously drives the vaquita to extinction. If the Secretaries find that this is occurring, they must “certify” that fact to the President. The President may then act to prohibit imports from the offending country as a way to exert additional pressure on the Mexican government to stop totoaba poaching and associated vaquita mortality. The Pelly Amendment requires the Secretaries to make a determination, but does not require the President to do anything specific, thus the type of import restrictions (if any) are at the discretion of the President. The CBD has requested that the Secretaries recommend trade sanctions against Mexico for these violations in the form of a ban on importation of all Mexican wildlife products into the United States until Mexico effectively bans totoaba fishing, trade, and export. 

Proposed transfer of inspection and surveillance authority to SEMAR

In April, the Morena Parliamentary Group introduced an initiative in the Mexican Chamber of Deputies that would transfer fisheries inspection and surveillance authority from CONAPESCA to SEMAR, the Mexican Navy. The justification for this transfer of authority is that SEMAR already has partial enforcement authority, possesses greater resources (technical, human, and infrastructure) than CONAPESCA, and is a more authoritative figure.  Impacto Colectivo has organized a series of virtual forums to facilitate gathering of expert opinions and multi-stakeholder discussions of the potential benefits and drawbacks to the proposed shift in authority. Summaries of the past three forums can be found here; the next forum, which will entail sharing of perspectives from CONAPESCA, SEMAR, and the Morena Parliamentary Group, is tentatively scheduled to take place on Wednesday, July 8. 

Further support needed:Share this information with your vendors in Mexico and encourage them to contact Impacto Colectivo and ask to be included on the invitation for the next forum. 

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: The Mexican Seafood SR has not yet approved the 2020 workplan proposed during the March SR webinar.  Though we understand the need to focus on your core business during the COVID-19 crisis, we must give our funders feedback on where we expect to see delays or changes in our grant deliverables. SFP will recirculate the proposed workplan in August, and feedback about the activities, especially regarding changes needed due to COVID-19, is welcome. SFP does require active approval of this document by SR participants, and it will be posted on SFP’s website. Approval of the workplan does not mean SR participants are committing to participate in every activity stated; instead participants are approving of the general activities being undertaken by the group at large.  SR participants should be willing to undertake a least one of the activities listed on the workplan. 

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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