SFP report: Global reduction fishery sustainability continues to slip

The latest report by the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership (SFP) on the state of the planet’s reduction fisheries has found that the sector has continued to see a decrease in sustainability since 2018.

The report found that overall the sustainability of reduction fisheries – fisheries which go primarily to producing fish meals and oil – has remained relatively steady, with a few key fisheries showing drops in sustainability. In addition, the share of the catch from the “poorly managed” category of reduction fisheries jumped, and accounts for 22 percent of the global catch of reduction fisheries.

“This year’s report contains a mix of positives and negatives,” SFP Director for Aquaculture and Reduction Fisheries Dave Martin said. “The industry in Europe and Latin America continues to support responsible sourcing despite minor declines in overall sustainability performance. Yet, significant environmental and social challenges persist in key production regions. Given the global scope of the challenges, SFP is encouraging all users of marine ingredients to come together in a global roundtable to support environmental and social improvements.”

Overall, the report, which is the 11th edition of the annual assessment of reduction fisheries, found that 3 percent of reduction fisheries are very well-managed, 33 percent reasonably well-managed, 22 percent poorly managed, and 42 percent was not scored.

Of the fisheries analyzed by SFP, changes in sustainability status were observed in nine fisheries: Five fisheries improved, while four decreased. One of the species highlighted was the Northeast Atlantic blue whiting, which has been troubled by a lack of agreement on total allowable catch limits. Currently, the species has combined TAC that’s well above the level advised by the International Council for the Exploration of the Seas – something that has also led the fishery to be at risk of losing MSC certification.

Companies that utilize blue whiting have assured that the continued sustainability of the species is a priority.

"The report from SFP clearly highlights the need for improvement in some fisheries to ensure sustainable development for long-term success. Skretting is committed to supporting sustainable fisheries, and has recently called on the regulators from the coastal nations who set the quotas for the Northeast Atlantic blue whiting fishery to find agreement,” Skretting Sustainability Director Trygve Berg Lea said. “Unsustainable management ignoring scientific advice is a threat to the industry. As an industry partner, we are committed to take appropriate actions to underline the importance of sustainable management of blue whiting."

One large hole in SFP’s assessment is Peru’s north-central anchoveta fishery, which makes up 42.4 percent of the volume of all fisheries the report assessed. The fishery has been plagued by scandal over quotas, with suspicions of foul play by the country’s Sea Institute – a specialized technical agency of the Ministry of Production. The fishery, this year, reached 100 percent of its quota of 2.41 million metric tons.

Lack of assessments of other reduction fisheries in Southeast Asia and Northwest Africa also underscored the need for improvements.

“Southeast Asian fisheries provide significant volumes of marine ingredients, yet are poorly understood and plagued by persistent environmental and social issues,” an SFP release states. “As there is so little data publicly available on these fisheries, SFP was unable to include them in the annual assessment.” 

Photo courtesy of Peru anchoveta Sociedad Nacional de Pesqueria


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