SFP report indicates key to reduction fishery sustainability lies in Southeast Asia

The Sustainable Fisheries Partnership released its Target 75 (T75) Reduction Fisheries Update on 31 May, and it indicates that the key to reaching the organization's sustainability goals lie in increased engagement in Southeast Asia. 

The report outlines the various reduction fisheries and separates the global fishery into two distinct categories: Atlantic/Pacific reduction fisheries and Asian reduction fisheries. The Atlantic/Pacific primarily utilizes small pelagic species like anchoveta, sandeel, and sardine, as well as blue whiting, Antartic krill, and crustacean. The Asian reduction fishery includes trawl fisheries of a large variety of species. 

“The rationale for splitting the global sector into two sub-sectors is that almost all Atlantic/Pacific reduction fisheries are for small pelagics, and are quite similar in terms of trophic level, gear, ecology and management, as well as engagement in FIPs,” the report said. “In contrast, the levels of FIP engagement in Asia are much lower, and only 50 percent of Asian sourcing comes from small pelagic fisheries, while the remainder comes from multispecies trawl fisheries (sometimes described as ‘Trash Fish’), which face fisheries management and sustainability challenges that are unique among sources of fishmeal and fish oil.”

According to the report, roughly 41 percent of reduction fisheries can meet the T75 goal, i.e. having either certifications or a FIP that indicates the fishery is moving towards sustainability. Of the sustainable fisheries, 99 percent are located in the Atlantic/Pacific fishery sub-sector. 

“Engagement in Asia is lower because of the complexity of the fisheries, a lack of transparency, and insufficient governance,” the report said. 

The path to creating a sustainable reduction fishery in Asia isn’t yet clear, according to the report.

“While Target 75 (for the sector overall) can only be achieved by expanding improvement efforts in Asian reduction fisheries, the path to close the gap to T75 is not yet clear. Higher-volume multispecies trawl and small pelagic fisheries must be investigated to identify the most likely candidates to contribute to improvement in this sector,” the report said. “Asia faces persistent challenges that include data deficiency, weak governance, and severe environmental impacts. For most of these fisheries, the information on the amount of catches, species captured, size compositon, main fishing grounds, and effort are scarce and not systematically collected.”

Without further improvements in those countries, the T75 goal will be out of reach, said the SFP. 

“Reduction fisheries in South America and the North Atlantic have made steady progress but there is a real challenge in achieving improvements within Asian fishmeal fisheries and that's where efforts need to be concentrated,” SFP Strategy Director Blake Lee-Harwood said. “Improving the sustainability of mixed species trawl fisheries is not going to be easy but it’s a journey that has to be taken.”

Photo courtesy of Sustainable Fisheries Partnership


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