SFP: Reduction fishery sustainability improving, Asian fisheries still an issue

The Sustainable Fisheries Partnership has released its latest annual report on reduction fisheries, and has concluded that the sustainability of the fisheries worldwide has improved by roughly eight percent. 

The report, which analyzed 26 reduction fisheries – fisheries that harvest fish to be processed into fishmeal and fish oil – found that the amount of catch coming from poorly managed fisheries has dropped 16 percent from last year, and has been steadily decreasing since 2016. The report also found the 91 percent of the catch volume came from stocks “that scored 6 or better on all five criteria outlined by SFP’s FishSource database,” according to SFP. 

While the report is positive, the authors – Pedro Veiga, Marina Mendes, and Blake Lee-Hardwood – also noted that Asian fisheries have been largely excluded from the data, “because of the current difficulty in establishing management and catch data.”

“This omission is significant, because the fisheries of Asia provide very large quantities of fishmeal; it is hoped that future editions of the report will be able to extend coverage to at least some of these fisheries," the authors wrote. “Nonetheless, we are confident that the report covers approximately 50 percent of global fishmeal and oil production.”

Roughly three percent of the total catch volume of what was included in the report is coming from fisheries that have stock in “very good condition.” The entirety of that amount is attributed to one fishery: Antarctic krill in the Atlantic Southern Ocean. Of the 91 percent of fisheries that are “reasonably well-managed” or better, the largest contributor was the Peruvian anchoveta fishery, representing 33 percent of the total catch. 

“This report clearly identifies a positive trend among the reduction fisheries of the North Atlantic and Eastern Pacific, although there is still significant room for improvement with some fisheries,” the authors wrote. “The proportion of fisheries achieving higher sustainability ratings has increased significantly; this builds on improvements identified in the previous report for 2017. These results clearly represent a good news story for the fishmeal and fish oil industry and show that it is becoming ever more responsible with regards to fisheries management.”

Industry leaders within aquaculture were pleased by the news in the report. 

"BioMar is proud to support SFP in its efforts to improve the environmental stewardship of global marine resources. The positive trend in this year's report demonstrates the power of the multi-stakeholder approach to "greening" value chains through responsible sourcing," BioMar sustainability specialist Erik Olav Gracey said. "We will continue to actively support SFP through collaboration and support of fisheries improvement projects worldwide.” 

As with the previous report on 31 May, SFP recognized that increasing the sustainability of fisheries in Asia will be key to increasing the sustainability of the overall fishery.  

“The industry is still confronted by the realities of Asian reduction fisheries. This report features some Asian fisheries – the Indian oil sardine – for the first time, and although it reveals an inadequate level of management, it is important that these fisheries have been assessed (at least partially),” the report states. “Only through creating and supporting fishery improvement projects can we expect to see the kind of progress currently experienced in the Atlantic and eastern Pacific and eventually build a fishmeal/oil industry that is 100-percent sustainable."

Photo courtesy of Sustainable Fisheries Partnership


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