Future of Fish: Maldivian tuna fisheries see big success with cutting-edge FIS

Future of Fish – a nonprofit organization focused on building global supply chains that yield legal, traceable and trustworthy fish – is applauding the new online Fisheries Information System (FIS) recently put into action by Maldivian one-by-one tuna fisheries.

The FIS system, which was launched in August 2016, is “truly innovative and pushes the envelope in terms of what can be achieved in modern fisheries management,” said Future of Fish. The Maldives’ one-by-one tuna fisheries can now meet many of the latest international traceability requirements by way of FIS, which allows for the monitoring of catch logbooks, fish purchase information, fishing vessel license information and catch certificates.

“The FIS is using both catch documentation and catch information to verify their exports. It is one of the bigger steps forward that a government has taken to verify that the catch has actually been reported to the government at the point of export. All while trying to meet EU and IUU task force laws,” said Keith Flett, Strategy Director with Future of Fish, following a recent visit to the Maldives to evaluate the system with support from the Ministry of Fisheries and Agriculture (MoFA) and the International Pole & Line Foundation (IPNLF).

The Maldivian FIS fulfills three of the five core functions listed by Future of Fish as necessary to ensure full-chain transparency in seafood: supply chain visibility, vessel-dock capture and data verification. According to Flett, these are some of the most challenging functions to accomplish. Mohamed Shainee, Minister of Fisheries and Agriculture for the Maldives, offered praise to everyone who worked on the FIS from its inception in July 2012.

“On behalf of MoFA, I thank Keith Flett and Future of Fish for coming to see the FIS in action and for sharing their appraisal with us," Shainee said. "Everyone involved with the system is delighted to receive such valued independent feedback that recognises we have an excellent tool in place to progress Maldives’ one-by-one fisheries. Further to that, through our key role at the IOTC, we are actively encouraging fishery improvements beyond our own borders. I see no reason why a FIS cannot be rolled out to a much broader geography to safeguard the long-term futures of many more coastal communities in the Indian Ocean and beyond."

The IPNLF also praises the FIS, noting its role in helping the organization to achieve some of its key sustainability goals.

“The Maldives has been one of IPNLF’s biggest priorities from the outset,” IPNLF Chairman John Burton said.  “This commitment began with our support work geared towards achieving MSC certification for the country’s pole-and-line skipjack fishery, and the relationship has become even more deep-rooted in the years that have followed that milestone. Today, we are working closer than ever with local fishing groups, NGOs, government, scientists and the commercial industry to ensure its traditional one-by-one fisheries continue to be managed as responsibly as possible, while providing sustainable employment for Maldivian fishermen. An important achievement in this work was the creation of a robust FIS, which we and our Members long considered central to safeguarding the futures of these communities as well as to capitalise on the huge international demand for sustainable one-by-one caught tuna.”

Four years after development on the FIS first started, the system has fully incorporated modules for catch statistics, licensing, catch certification, and fish purchase and transfer. It helps to provide assurances when seeking MSC certification, and provides key metrics necessary for reporting with the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC).


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