New partnership looks to progress market access for small-scale tropical fisheries

A memorandum of understanding (MOU) has been signed to drive the sustainability of small-scale tropical fisheries and the fishing communities that depend on them through the influence of consumer markets.

Partnering Rare on the science-industry project, which forms part of the NGO’s Forever Fish fisheries recovery and restoration program are the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch program, the Asian Seafood Improvement Collaborative (ASIC) and sustainable seafood producer Salty Girl Seafood. Together they have identified that unlike high-volume, high-price, single-species fisheries in developed countries, small-scale, community-based, multi-species fisheries in the developing tropics have not yet benefitted from the global consumer interest in the sourcing and certification of food.

By leveraging the purchasing power of markets interested in environmentally and socially responsible sourcing, the partnership believes that it can drive improvements. However, it deems that that the true value of its work is in building sustainable fisheries that support local fishing communities and contribute to domestic market access, food security and livelihoods.

Through the MOU, an improvement protocol will be developed to evaluate whether Seafood Watch’s Good Alternative consumer ratings for fish is realistic in the context of tropical small-scale fisheries resources and data collection, and links to commercially viable supply chains.

Over the next two years, under the umbrella of Fish Forever, pilots of the protocol will be rolled out in Indonesia and the Philippines with the ambition of developing pathways for sustainable small-scale tropical fisheries to reach prime markets. 

Pilot sites for the partnership are currently being identified with the goal to scale it to several dozen locations with a species mix and variability in volume.

"Now more than ever consumers are mindful the impact their dollar has on the world around us – consumers want to know that they're part of the solution, not part of the problem. In seafood, particularly in small-scale fisheries internationally that really need improvement, there just aren't enough mechanisms for consumers to contribute positively in a meaningful way. Collaborations like the one between Seafood Watch, ASIC, Rare, and Salty Girl Seafood enable consumers to wield their power to have a positive impact through their purchasing decisions and experience a greater connection to our global oceans," said Norah Eddy, co-founder of Salty Girl Seafood.


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