Sea Pact announces new wave of support for Sri Lanka longline tuna FIP
Soon after the 2018 SeaWeb Seafood Summit’s pre-conference session on tuna sustainability concluded on Monday, 18 June, in Barcelona, Spain, Sea Pact announced new funding for a Fishery Improvement Project (FIP) aimed at reducing the impact of Sri Lanka’s longline fisheries for yellowfin and bigeye tuna and swordfish on endangered, threatened and protected (ETP) non-target species.
Thirty Sri Lankan longline vessels will implement a new crew-based observer program as part of the project, in an effort to better address the problem of inadequate information and data relating to ETP species discarded from the country’s longline fishery. Currently, catch information about the target and non-target species caught and landed or discarded is monitored and recorded in paper logbooks, a method “not sufficient for the fishery to pass MSC performance indicators,” said Sea Pact in a press release. An innovative collaboration of ten leading North American seafood companies, Sea Pact aims to train and support fishworkers to record retained and discarded species, including ETP species, as a part of this new initiative, it said.
“We are heeding the call for industry initiatives and support in collaborative efforts to address tuna sustainability needs,” said Rob Johnson, managing director for Sea Pact. “This is the first project to be proactively funded outside of our annual Request for Proposal (RFP) process.”
An iconic global species, tuna plays a big part in ocean health and seafood sustainability initiatives, according to Sea Pact – as such, association members are “strong proponents of sustainable tuna fisheries to provide sustainable food and jobs and healthy marine ecosystems,” it said. Sri Lankan longline tuna touches upon the supply chains of several companies under the Sea Pact umbrella, and the collective’s members are thusly committed to “purposeful engagement to drive impactful change.” The group hopes that its latest project investment will fulfill this commitment, it added.
This latest project funding is part of a wider-scope Sri Lanka tuna fisheries improvement effort being implemented through the Department of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (DFAR) and in conjunction with the Seafood Exporters Association of Sri Lanka (SEASL). Dr. Steve Creech, director of Pelagikos pvt ltd. and manager of the FIP, said funding from Sea Pact is already bearing fruit for the fishery and the project.
“The interest and engagement of the Sri Lanka Seafood Exporters Association is increasing in response to the commencement of this particular Sea Pact funded project, so it’s already having an impact on driving the overall FIP forward,” Creech said.
Sea Pact is enthusiastic about what lies ahead for the collective’s involvement with the venture.
“We look forward to working with all the different stakeholders on this project and helping drive industry change on tuna sustainability forward” said Hamish Walker, chief operating officer of Seattle Fish Co., and chair of the Sea Pact Advisory Council.
Recently, for World Oceans Day on 8 June, Sea Pact funded three other projects geared toward improving aquaculture, including those involving shrimp farming in Vietnam, Indonesia and Thailand, and the farming of Atlantic salmon.