FisheryProgress calls for support for FIPs through business investments

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FisheryProgress, a major backer of FIP development as part of its work supporting the sustainable seafood movement, is calling on more seafood companies to invest in FIP development to ensure they are sourcing sustainably managed seafood – while also getting a financial benefit from customers increasingly seeking environmentally friendly products. 

Launched in 2016, the website currently reports on more than 96 percent of the world’s FIPs and claims an audience of more than 4,000 seafood buyers, NGO representatives, funders, government representatives, and others interested in its work. The purpose of maintaining a comprehensive FIP database, according to FisheryProgress, is aligning buyers with high-performing FIPs as a means of increasing the impact of those projects.

However, according to FisheryProgress, for FIPs to continue to deliver environmental and social benefits and expedite the delivery of those benefits additional financial support is necessary. Additional investments will allow FIPs to conduct performance assessments, such as three-year environmental audits and social risk assessments, and can aid in the implementation of a FIP action plan to address identified challenges.

“FIPs have to do the hard work of delivering environmental and social improvements, but seafood buyers play a critical role in supporting FIPs on this journey,"  FishChoice Program Director Kristin Sherwood said. "Companies can choose an approach to providing financial support for FIPs that meets their business needs and makes a huge difference in helping FIPs increase their progress."

FisheryProgress has profiled three models the seafood industry can use to support FIPs: providing matching funds, contributing via a supply chain roundtable, and contributing directly to FIPs.

Matching funds ensure supply chain partners are sourcing from and relying on FIPs and sharing in the cost of upholding human rights and social responsibility mandates.

FisheryProgress has also recommended seafood businesses participate in a supply chain roundtable, organized by the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership to bring together major buyers and importers in a pre-competitive collaboration to jointly contribute funds and leverage individual companies’ efforts to improve a fishery.

The supply-chain roundtable model has worked well in the past. In 2019, the Mexican Yucatan octopus FIP was initiated by the global octopus roundtable, bringing together octopus processing, importing, and exporting companies globally. At the time, Mexico was responsible for 10 percent of the global market’s octopus production, and Fort Lauderdale, Florida, U.S.A. seafood importer Netuno joined the octopus roundtable to help contribute to efforts to make the fishery more sustainable, Netuno Sustainability and Compliance Manager Andre Brugger said.

“This investment has created a strong pre-competitive collaboration among the participating companies and supported necessary improvement efforts, like realizing a new stock assessment that is being used by local authorities and led to the improvement in an indicator score,” Brugger said.

Finally, direct financial contributions can be made to FIPs in two ways: as a flat fee or a price-per-pound model. WWF uses the price-per-pound model, where any industry members participating in a WWF-U.S.-managed FIP must contribute USD 0.01 (EUR 0.01) per pound of volume imported.

Kroger, another implementor of this model, supports FIPs through funding of select improvement projects. As of 2021, the company was sourcing from 48 FIPs throughout its supply chain, resulting in 94 percent of wild-caught seafood and 98 percent of farm-raised seafood sourced into the Kroger seafood department aligning with Kroger’s seafood sustainability policy.

“Kroger has been improving the sustainability of the seafood we source and sell to customers for the last decade. We recognize the importance of supporting continuous improvement in our supply chain. By supporting the FIP model through procurement and funding, we are helping build a more resilient and equitable food system,” Kroger Head of Sustainability Lisa Zwack said.

In 2017, Syosset, New York, U.S.A.-based D&E Import made the decision to only import mahi from countries actively engaged in a FIP or the development of a FIP. The company’s president, Dean Holzer, said the move has been sound one not only environmentally, but also financially.

“The food service sector still lags behind, but over the past several years we have been awarded business as a result of our participation in key FIPs. Our mahi business for food service, retail, and ecommerce continues to grow, and supporting FIPs is one of the key reasons,” Holzer said.

“To support the continued development of FIPs worldwide, Resources Legacy Fund recently issued USD 152,000 (EUR 140,800) in grants through their Sustainable Fisheries Fund to implement social improvements initiated through FIPs. The four award-winners include CeDePesca, World Wildlife Fund-Peru, Indonesian Pole and Line and Handline Fisheries Association (AP2HI), and Ocean Outcomes. For these organizations to be eligible for the grants, they had to secure matching funds from partners, including industry partners, resulting in USD 170,000 (EUR 162,000) in matching funds from eight companies and three industry consortia. The fund is planning more than USD 1 million (EUR 926,330) in grants to FIPs worldwide between 2022 and 2024.

CeDePesca secured funds from industry partner Sea Delight to complete a social risk assessment to use SFP’s social responsibility assessment tool to address the challenges identified in the Suriname corvina and acoupa weakfish FIP.

“At Sea Delight, our customers require seafood that is sourced responsibly, and a key component of responsible sourcing is that fair social and labor standards are followed, both in the processing facility and at sea,” Sea Delight Sustainability Director Stephen Fisher said. “Supporting the completion of an SRA assessment will help ensure continued customer confidence in Sea Delight and the fine quality corvina products we produce.”

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