SFP report: Better management happening for reduction fisheries

Published on
October 27, 2017

Sustainable Fisheries Partnership has released its annual sustainability overview of reduction fisheries for 2017, showing an overall improvement in their management.

The report, “Reduction Fisheries: SFP Fisheries Sustainability Overview 2017,” reviewed 20 of the most significant fisheries used for the production of fishmeal and fish oil, concluding that 81 percent of the total catch volume out of those fisheries came from stocks that are “reasonably well managed or better.”

“This compares to 57.4 percent last year – a very large improvement,” according to an SFP press release.

An estimated 1.7 million metric tonnes –  or 17 percent – of the total catch used for reduction purposes came from poorly managed fisheries, “a significant drop compared to 42.6 percent last year,” according to SFP.

Of the 20 stocks used for the survey, 10 have fisheries certified by the Marine Stewardship Council, 19 have fisheries that are covered by the IFFO Responsible Sourcing certification, and three are covered by fishery improvement projects. According to the SFP, more than two-thirds of the production covered in its study comes from fisheries that are MSC-certified or under full assessment (25 percent), or in a FIP (44 percent). Those include the newly launched FIPs for Peruvian anchovy (north-central stock) and Mauritanian small pelagic species.

“This report shows a real improvement in the management of reduction fisheries and is a clear demonstration that the fishmeal and fish oil sector is on a very positive trend toward sustainability,” SFP Strategy Director Blake Lee-Harwood said. “There is still a huge challenge in Asia, but with enough support from industry and government we can hope for similar levels of improvement there as well.” 

The study did not include reduction fisheries in Asia because of limited data availability, according to the organization.

“The situation is still far from satisfactory in Asia,” the report said. “A substantial amount of fishmeal in the Asian region comes from mixed-trawl fisheries. These fisheries are poorly documented and managed. There is a clear need for industry to play a role in supporting fishery improvement projects in this region to ensure that eventually all fishmeal and fish oil are derived from sustainably managed fisheries.”

Another challenge is the relatively small total of catch volume coming from “stocks in very good condition,” with just 2.2 percent qualifying as such. 

However, the significant progress made on improving the management of reduction fisheries is notable, can be partly attributed to the aquaculture feed industry playing a larger in promoting improvement through its support for fishery improvement projects, according to SFP. 

Trygve Berg Lea, the sustainability manager at Skretting Group, said the industry has moved to prioritize action to improve management of its fisheries.

“We can only develop sustainable nutritional solutions if we are a part of a responsible and continuously improving supply chain,” Berg Lea said. “Though the aquafeed industry has put much effort into reducing the level of fishmeal and fish oil in the feed, these feed ingredients still are important and nutritionally valuable for a growing aquaculture production. For fishmeal and fish oils, Skretting works toward the goal that they must be sourced from fisheries meeting the requirements of the FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries. The Sustainable Fisheries Partnership is a valuable partner in monitoring and documenting how we progress toward this goal.”

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