Last Update: May 2017
Snapper and grouper are important fisheries resources with great commercial value not only for export to major international markets, but also for the livelihoods and food security of many local, small-scale communities worldwide. The life history characteristics of these species (e.g., slow-growing, late-maturing, seasonal-spawning aggregations) make them particularly susceptible to overexploitation. However, the status of many snapper and grouper stocks is unknown, particularly in the multispecies, small-scale fisheries in developing countries where the reporting system is absent or insufficient. The main risk to the snapper and grouper seafood sector is from overexploitation and lack of effective management.
Snapper and grouper species are targeted by commercial, recreational, and artisanal (subsistence/traditional) fisheries, using a wide variety of gears. In most cases, they are targeted in multispecies fisheries. Many countries in North, Central, and South America operate sizable snapper and grouper fisheries, and the United States is the main export market for the majority of these products.
The Americas Snapper and Grouper Supply Chain Roundtable focuses on monitoring sustainability status and issues of snapper and grouper stocks in North, Central, and South America and pushing for improvements where they are needed. SFP’s approach with this project is to convene suppliers and buyers to help them identify synergies among companies and find common ground where they can work together to catalyze, monitor, and advance snapper and grouper improvement efforts.
Fisheries and/or FIPs Covered:
This roundtable focuses on snapper and grouper fisheries in North, Central, and South America, as well as the associated non-snapper and non-grouper species harvested in those fisheries. The primary focus of the SR at this time is Mexico, due to the importance of Mexican product in the US market. The following FIPs are supported and monitored:
For more details on the sustainability status of some of the fisheries currently of interest to the SR, progress of the FIPs, and improvement recommendations, please click here.
Improvement Needs and Recommendations:
1. The Mexican grouper fishery management plan has not been fully implemented, enforcement of current grouper regulations in Mexico is inadequate, and substantial harvest of undersized and immature grouper continues to occur. Enforcement of the current minimum legal size would be extremely detrimental to the artisanal fishery, thus alternative management systems may need to be considered.
2. The Brazilian red snapper fishery is overexploited, lacking in some basic fishery data, and in need of essential management measures.
3. The snapper fishery in Mexico is virtually unmanaged and the main target species are unassessed. Because a large proportion of snapper production is exported to the US, there should be adequate leverage to initiate a FIP in this fishery.
4. The Nicaragua snapper fishery has substantial sustainability issues such as overexploitation and bomb fishing. Because a large proportion of snapper production is exported to the US, there should be adequate leverage to initiate a FIP in this fishery.
5. The Panama snapper and grouper fishery is virtually unmanaged. Because the large proportion of snapper and grouper production is exported to the US, there should be adequate leverage to initiate a FIP in this fishery.
Action Recommendations for SR Participants:
1. Support the ongoing Mexican grouper and North Brazilian Caribbean red snapper FIPs. Both FIPs have well-designed workplans but are in need of additional support to fully implement the workplans.
2. Support the creation of a bio-economic model for the Mexican grouper fishery to explore alternate management scenarios.
3. Ensure only legally harvested fish are entering your supply chain.
4. Launch FIPs for Mexican snapper, Nicaraguan snapper, and Panamanian snapper and grouper.
SFP’s general objectives for this roundtable are to provide a platform for the seafood supply chain to catalyze snapper and grouper fishery improvement projects (FIPs) throughout the Americas, learn from each other’s experience and develop best practices, and cooperate to apply leverage to drive further improvements. Our specific objectives are:
- Monitor snapper and grouper FIPs throughout the Americas and offer support when needed.
- Explore methods by which the supply chain can encourage fisher compliance with current regulations.
- Catalyze FIPs for Mexican snapper, Nicaraguan snapper, and Panamanian snapper and grouper.
- Roundtable initiated during Seafood Expo North America in March (see Meeting Notes; Presentation)
- SFP presented a webinar for Supply Chain Roundtable participants in August (Presentation)
- The SR met via conference call in April to review FIP progress, the new Mexican Grouper Fishery Management Plan (FMP), and US and Mexican snapper and grouper improvement needs. Participants of this SR agreed to conduct outreach to NOAA (US) and CONAPESCA (Mexico) (for more details, see Meeting Notes).
- The SR met via conference call in November to approve outreach to the US and Mexican fishery management authorities and discuss methods by which they could encourage fishery compliance with minimum size limits in the Mexican red grouper fishery (Meeting Notes).
- In December, the SR sent a letter to NOAA requesting an update on the Gulf of Mexico reef fish observer program statistical evaluation that was announced in the First Edition Update 1 to the National Bycatch Report (2013).
- A response from NOAA was received in February, containing the requested documents. The statistical evaluation of the reef fish observer program indicated that the program design was adequate and effective in its current form.
- The SR met in February in Miami, FL, (Meeting Report) and again in March 2016 in Boston, MA (Meeting Report). During these meetings and via subsequent email communications, SR participants reviewed progress in current FIPs covered by the SR; identified Mexico, Panama, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica as primary focus areas for future fishery improvement work; began to develop a strategy for encouraging improvements in the Mexican grouper fishery; and approved this Statement of Work for 2016.
- In April, SFP initiated confidential discussions with the supply chain regarding a potential Mexican snapper FIP.
- In July, the US Gulf of Mexico Reef Fish FIP was suspended and removed from the list of fisheries monitored by this SR. The FIP was suspended because participants were satisfied with the improvements that had occurred but were not interested in pursuing MSC certification due to market conditions. More information is available on the archive FIP report at US Gulf of Mexico Reef Fish FIP. Some SR participants are still interested in further improvements in this fishery and are examining options for action.
- In November, the SR met via conference call to review a draft Memorandum of Understanding that SR participants could use with their vendors to ensure purchases of grouper fillet from Mexico are from fish greater than the minimum landing size; to discuss a proposal for a bio-economic model for the Mexican grouper fishery; and to evaluate improvement opportunities for Nicaragua snapper (see the Meeting Report).
- Two SR participants determined that their current procurement policies were adequate to ensure that undersized Mexican grouper was not entering their supply chains, and three other SR participants are considering implementation of MoUs to that effect.
- Six SR participants expressed an interest in funding the bio-economic model for Mexican grouper and requested that SFP explore the logistics of the project.
- In a small group call, three SR participants affirmed interest in scoping a Nicaragua snapper FIP and requested that SFP research issues specific to the Pacific coast of Nicaragua.
- In March, the SR met in Boston during Seafood Expo North America. The SR participants agreed to continue to explore ways to support sustainability in the Mexican grouper fishery, in addition to FIP participation, and to form small working groups to catalyze FIPs in Nicaragua and Panama. All participants and SFP agreed to this Statement of Work. (Meeting Report)
Project Contact: If you would like more information about the Roundtable or wish to support it, please contact SFP.