In November and December of 2015, FishWise staff Mariah Boyle and Elsie Tanadjaja went on a trip to the South Pacific to learn more about tuna fisheries. Tuna is the third most consumed seafood in this country, with fresh and frozen offerings in steaks and sashimi along with the American staple of canned tuna. Tuna are impressive fish – they are large, migrate throughout the world’s oceans, and have specialized physiology to swim fast and regulate their body temperatures. On this trip, Mariah and Elsie visited several countries and many companies. One of these was Solander Pacific, based in Fiji.
Solander Pacific, a tuna longline fishing company based out of the Pacific island of Fiji, is one of the island’s oldest fishing companies. Founded in 1987, it prides itself with not only directly contributing tens of millions of Fijian dollars to the local economy, but also employing around 400 people with on-going training of skippers, crew, and engineers onboard a fleet of 13 vessels. Solander Pacific is an important part of the country’s domestic tuna industry, dubbed “Fiji’s $300 million industry.”
Solander Pacific’s New Zealand-based parent company, The Solander Group, engages in catching and freezing a variety of tuna species. Solander Pacific catches, freezes, and exports big-eye, yellowfin, and albacore tuna, and is one of the largest catchers and processors of albacore in the Pacific, producing around 2,000 tons each year.
High quality seafood products are ensured by Solander Pacific’s vessels due to short trips out to sea, tuna grading on site, careful packing, and temperature-controlled refrigerated saltwater systems for storage and shipment. Solander Pacific’s fishing vessels are company owned and operated out of the port of Suva and thus are subject to the rigorous fisheries research, management, and monitoring systems Fiji employs for its tuna fishing industry.
Fiji is a signatory country, among many other small island nations, to the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) regional fisheries management organization (RFMO) which gives guidance on sustainability, ecologically important species, and catch reporting. A sizeable benefit to Solander Pacific’s adherence to all relevant management regimes and authorities was the ability for the Fiji Tuna Boat Owners Association (FTBOA), of which Solander Pacific is a member, to obtain Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification in 2012 for its albacore longline fishery. This certification helped the company gain access to markets, mainly those in Europe, that have a high demand for seafood sourced from certified fisheries.
Additionally, Fiji is a signatory to UNCLOS and all relevant UN conventions on the management of fish stocks in the South Pacific. But, there have been recent concerns over the declining stock status of Pacific tuna due to competition from foreign fishing vessels and overfishing of tuna stocks.
Fiji has taken some excellent strides to improve their offshore fishery management in recent years. Their monitoring and inspection of vessels returning to port has been improved, new fisheries regulations have been implemented, and managers are working collaboratively with fishers and fishing associations to address concerns.
There is still work to be done to globally manage tuna in a sustainable manner. Efforts to improve traceability, vessel tracking, enforcement, and set sustainable harvest limits will be vital to the long-term viability of these fish stocks. After this trip, we’re in awe of these beautiful fish and look forward to working to ensure their sustainability is a priority.
FishWise recently had the good fortune of being invited to participate in the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary Exploration Center’s Savvy Seafood event on June’s First Friday – a day each month where Santa Cruz businesses feature art and informational activities designed to engage the community. The aim of the event was for attendees to learn how to make smart seafood choices while celebrating the sustainable fisheries located in the Monterey Bay.
FishWise project managers Meg Songer, Traci Linder, Erin Taylor, and Rachael Confair enjoyed spending the beautiful evening fielding questions regarding sustainable seafood, helping children to create their own FishWise activity pages, and inviting attendees to play FishWise’s educationally-themed cornhole game. Ocean2Table, a local community supported fishery (CSF), supplied a very tasty and sustainable seafood spread that included sablefish cakes and California halibut lettuce wraps.
Opened in 2012, the Sanctuary Exploration Center in Santa Cruz highlights the spectacular Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. The Center’s main goals include educating visitors about the sanctuary’s unique coastal and marine environment while fostering a personal connection with the sanctuary and encouraging marine stewardship. The event was a success with record First Friday attendance and a wonderful time was had by all. FishWise looks forward to any future collaborations with the Exploration Center.
Photo Credit: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration/Department of Commerce
An important two-year study coordinated by the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) – Towards the Quantification of Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated (IUU) Fishing in the Pacific Islands Region – has shone a spotlight on the prevalence of IUU fishing activity in the region that’s home to the most productive tuna stock on the planet. By identifying the volume and composition of illegal catch, and the nature of vessels primarily responsible for the violations, the authors were able to identify priorities for monitoring and enforcement.
This report is the first effort to quantify the volume, species, composition, and value of IUU fishing specifically within Pacific tuna fisheries, in part due to the difficulties in collecting robust information. In order to create an estimate of IUU fishing, risk factors were separated into four main categories: unlicensed/unauthorized fishing, misreporting (including under-reporting and misidentification), non-compliance with other license conditions (e.g. FAD fishing during the purse seine closure period), and post-harvest risks (e.g. illegal transshipping). Then data from 2010 – 2015 on these risks was evaluated for each of the region’s three main tuna fishing sectors – purse seine, tropical longline, and southern longline – and aggregated to produce a total estimate. The data was obtained from vessel logbooks, observer workbooks, public domain catch and effort data, and vessel monitoring systems. The study generated best estimates as well as minimum and maximum range values, to reflect some uncertainty resulting from the inherent secretive nature of IUU fishing.
The following is a brief list of the study’s key findings:
- Total volume of product harvested or transshipped using IUU activity in Pacific tuna fisheries was estimated at 306,440 tons, valued at $616.11 million a year.
- Purse seine was the sector with the highest estimated volume of IUU product, accounting for 70% of overall volume. The prominent IUU activities in this sector were reporting violations and illegal FAD fishing during the closure period.
- Tropical longline was the sector with the highest estimated value of IUU product, accounting for $272.55 million. This is largely due to the higher market value of the sector’s target species.
- Reporting violations ranked as the highest IUU risk category, accounting for 54% of the total estimated IUU volume.
- Majority of IUU activity is conducted by licensed fleets, accounting for 95% of the total estimated volume and value of IUU product.
The study estimates $616.11 million dollars of IUU product is stolen from the Pacific island waters each year – equating to roughly 12 percent of the regional catch. This is a significant loss to the 17 nations in this region that rely on the tuna fisheries as a large source of revenue and livelihoods. Many efforts are already underway to help combat IUU in Pacific tuna fisheries, however the results of this study reveal that more strategic measures are needed to effectively encourage compliance and improve monitoring throughout the supply chain. For instance, the study found that unlike other regions of the world where large unlicensed fishing fleets contribute to the majority of IUU activity, the largest threat to these fisheries is misreporting by legally licensed vessels. Further, these results can provide important data for driving future IUU mitigation management efforts in that region, serving as a baseline against which future improvements and successes in the region can be measured.
In the longline sector, key priorities include strengthening mechanisms for independent monitoring of catch throughout the supply chain, increasing transshipment monitoring and control, and improving on-board monitoring through increased observer coverage and the use of electronic monitoring technology. The key priorities identified for the purse seine sector are strengthening mechanisms to verify fishing activity, using cannery data for catch verification, and improving monitoring and management of FAD usage.
Some companies are aware of the risks associated with current tuna sourcing practices and are taking steps to provide more sustainable options for their customers. These include FishWise’s retail partners who carry sustainably sourced private brands of canned tuna such as Albertson’s Safeway Kitchens, Target’s Simply Balanced, and Hy-Vee’s Select. To learn more about popular brands of canned tuna on supermarket shelves and which ones are leaders in sustainable and ethical tuna sourcing, read Greenpeace’s Tuna Shopping Guide.
Prior to joining Albertsons Companies in April 2015, Senior Sustainability Manager Darcie Renn served in the Peace Corps, was selected as a Packard Environmental Fellow, and earned her MBA in Sustainable Management at Presidio Graduate School. Renn brings her knowledge and experience to bear at Albertsons working to improve the sustainability of the companies’ products, support communities, and promote environmentally responsible business practices.
Over the past year, she has overseen the expansion of the Responsible Seafood Program from Safeway to Albertsons Companies, which operates stores across 35 states and the District of Columbia under 18 well-known banners including Albertsons, Safeway, Vons, Jewel-Osco, Shaw’s, Acme, Tom Thumb, Randalls, United Supermarkets, Pavilions, Star Market and Carrs. Renn has led anti-human trafficking efforts for those companies. Renn also surveys new vendors across all categories to ensure compliance with Albertsons Companies’ sustainability guidelines and expectations, which includes requiring vendors to document how they are combatting human trafficking within their supply chains. Seafood, she says, is a particularly high-risk category for human rights abuses. By expanding the offerings of Fair Trade products in seafood, as well as coffee and produce, Renn is working to build on Albertsons Companies’ reputation for sustainable and ethical business practices.
With the close of Safeway’s 2015 Responsible Seafood Commitment, Renn is excited to set new goals for seafood sustainability at Albertsons Companies. As partners in this endeavor, FishWise looks forward to continuing our work with Renn and Albertsons Companies to set the standard among retailers.
Quixotic Farming, a family-owned, sustainable seafood company that raises traceable, United States tilapia, has begun its expansion of its Missouri farm by purchasing 27 new fish tanks for the facility.
The first load of new tanks was delivered on May 4th to Quixotic Farming’s Missouri facility located at the south end of Chillicothe in a once-vacant Wal-Mart building. This farm is already home to approximately 250,000 tilapia that live in 33 ten thousand gallon tanks. Each tank is equipped with its own filtration and recirculation system, which allows Quixotic Farming to sustainably reuse the water that fills each tank.
By adding the 27 new tanks, Quixotic will increase its water capacity by 250,000 gallons. The farm will be able to hold approximately 200,000 more fish.
“The additional tanks should increase our production by about 70 percent,” says Randy Constant, Founder and CEO.
Right now, the company ships all of its fish to its second farm location in Colorado to be processed. But with the added tanks and water capacity in Chillicothe, the company has a new goal in mind: to open a second processing facility in Missouri.
“The goal is to expand in Missouri and reach the size of our Colorado facility so that it makes sense to process in both locations,” says Constant.
By Wednesday, May 11th, the remainder of the new tanks were delivered to the Chillicothe farm. The tanks will be setup and ready to house fish by the end of the summer. At that point, the Wal-Mart building will be at half capacity. According to Constant, the hope is to fill the rest of the building with tanks in the next 18 months, at which point, the Missouri facility would be complete.
Hello there! I’m Erin Taylor, and I am thrilled to have recently joined the FishWise team as a Project Manager in the newly formed Distributor Division. I’ll be helping to support the division’s work by co-managing new and existing partnerships with seafood distributors—some of the most critical players for achieving progress in seafood sustainability.
I hail from the great landlocked state of Iowa, which is seemingly a paradox given my current engagement in marine affairs. However, I owe my initial passion for the oceans simply to the many aquarium visits made on various childhood family road trips. Knowing I wanted to pursue marine-focused studies, I traded cornfields for coast and transplanted to Boston. I completed my Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Analysis and Policy with a minor in Business Administration and Management at Boston University, but not before bringing my aquarium-inspired journey full circle by beginning to work with the New England Aquarium in 2010. Through collaboration with both BU and the Aquarium, I focused all of my independent studies and grant-funded research on the oceans, with projects ranging from historic whaling in the Phoenix Islands Protected Area to chemical analysis of squid pens.
After graduating, I joined the Aquarium full-time as a wild fisheries specialist within their Sustainable Seafood Program. This role gave me the opportunity to dive head first into nearly every aspect of seafood sustainability—but the aspect I enjoyed most was collaborating with diverse stakeholders, from industry, to environmental NGOs, to policymakers, to scientists, to try to find viable solutions for often vastly divergent perspectives. This work helped me appreciate folks in the middle of the supply chain in particular, as they are so often key stakeholders for addressing tough sustainability issues, but they have their own unique challenges to balance. To this end, I am ecstatic to join FishWise to focus more specifically on serving this group and further advance the state of seafood sustainability with such innovative partnerships.
When I’m not studying fish, I focus on taking advantage of my new California residence to try to be a fish: whether it be scuba diving, surfing, kayaking, sea glassing, or good old fashioned swimming, as long as water is involved, I’m in.
Photo Credit: Wiki Commons, Jacopo Werther
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) recently announced that the Port State Measures Agreement (PSMA) – one of most important international treaties to date for combatting illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing – will enter into force on June 5. This means that vessels suspected of IUU activity will face a greater risk of detection and refusal at ports in 29 nations, plus those in the European Union.
The agreement was adopted by the FAO in 2009, but required the ratification of 25 nations before it could go into effect. This month, the minimum requirement of 25 nations was exceeded, as six additional nations – Dominica, Guinea-Bissau, Sudan, Thailand, Tonga, and Vanuatu – ratified the agreement, bringing the total to 30 participating nations. The nations that have joined together to support the PSMA range in terms of geographical size, economic strength, and level of development; demonstrating that IUU fishing is detrimental to all within the global seafood market.
IUU fishing is a global threat to ecosystems, stock management, coastal communities, and the economy, and it has been linked to organized crime and human rights abuses aboard vessels. It’s estimated that 11 – 26 million tons of seafood is illegally harvested or unreported worldwide every year, accounting for 1 in 5 wild-caught marine fish. This undermines the conservation and management efforts of fish stocks, and annually adds up to between $10 – 23.5 billion dollars that’s taken from legally operating government fleets and private fishermen.
The PSMA is aimed at strengthening and aligning port controls for foreign-flagged vessels, in an effort to prevent IUU product from passing through ports undetected and entering the legal seafood market. Participating nations commit to adopting strict regulations for overseeing vessels attempting to land catch in their ports, and they agree to refuse ships suspected of IUU activity. The idea is that if a vessel is held for fisheries violations or has to avoid certain ports it costs the captain time, fuel, product freshness, and fishing opportunities, making carrying IUU product less profitable. Further, at-sea enforcement is a costly and dangerous undertaking, and some governments lack the resources to properly monitor their waters and overseas fleets. By comparison, port controls are an effective but less resource intensive tool to combat IUU fishing, as those with the resources to monitor at-sea can track vessels suspected of IUU activity and alert the port states who apprehend and prosecute those responsible from the safety of land.
Some of the port controls that the PSMA grants ratifying nations are:
- Captains must provide advance notice of their arrival in port
- Captains must provide information such as the vessel registration details, fishing licenses, catch totals, catch origins, and what it intends to offload
- Documentation is evaluated for validity, and port officials have the option to contact the vessel’s flag state for information verification and inspect the catch
- If inspections lead port officials to suspect IUU catch, then the vessel can be refused entry into port, held for further inspection, or cargo can be seized
- Port officials have the authority to detain and sanction captains suspected of IUU fishing
- If a vessel suspected of IUU fishing is denied entry into port, officials can contact neighboring ports to warn them of their suspicions and the vessels potential entry into their port
To truly stop IUU fishing and prevent IUU product from simply being redirected to other nations, it’s necessary that all port countries ratify the PSMA. Additional nations have shown support for the PSMA by signing the treaty or have initiated ratification, indicating that the PSMA’s reach will soon be expanding. In addition to the PSMA, other collaborative efforts to fight IUU fishing are critical. Smaller regional efforts such as the Central America Fisheries and Aquaculture Organization (OSPESCA) and Fish-i Africa are successful demonstrations of poorer nations with rich fishing grounds cooperating and sharing resources to combat IUU fishing in their waters.
The PSMA benefits every member in seafood supply chains, from fishermen, processor, to consumer, as it helps deter criminal competition and ensure seafood purchasers that their products have been legally harvested. FishWise is proud that our partners Albertsons Companies, Hy-Vee, Sea Delight, and Santa Monica Seafood, and SeaPact members Ipswich Shellfish Group and Seattle Fish Co. showed foresight and leadership in seafood sustainability and urged the U.S. Senate to pass S. 1334: Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated (IUU) Fishing Enforcement Act of 2015 which helped lead to the U.S. ratification of the PSMA.
To learn more about ways to address IUU fishing, visit the FishWise Traceability & IUU Fishing Resources page.
Illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing costs companies, fishermen, and consumers alike. Often coming from fisheries lacking strong and effective management measures, IUU fishing takes many shapes and forms, including activities such as violating catch quotas, misreporting catch information, fishing in marine protected areas, and has been linked to human rights abuses in seafood supply chains. Beyond the environmental and social devastation, the economic impact of IUU fishing is staggering – financial losses due to illegal fishing activities have been estimated to range between $10-23.5 billion annually.
To address these issues and help mitigate risks, companies are increasingly implementing traceability into their business policies, procurement guidelines, and business practices. There are many efforts across both the private sector and government that are seeking to improve supply chain transparency and implement robust traceability systems for the seafood industry. To help guide private and public sector stakeholders in implementing traceability systems and enabling transparency in wild-caught seafood supply chains, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) crafted a set of principles that outlines characteristics of effective wild-caught seafood traceability systems. While this set of six principles is not all inclusive, it can be viewed as a framework for the effective and successful implementation of traceability systems in wild-caught seafood supply chains.
Principle 1 – Essential Information
The backbone of effective traceability systems is the information they collect. For traceability to be effective, information must be collected, recorded, and follow the product throughout every step in the supply chain. While information can vary depending on the source fishery, basic key data elements (KDEs) – the pieces of information that establish the ‘who, what, when, where, and how’ of seafood products – are essential no matter which system is used. This information can be used to trace the fish from catch to consumer to ensure that wild-caught fish are from legal and verifiable sources, and in accordance with national and international laws. The more information collected, the better companies can mitigate the risk of IUU product entering their supply chains.
Principle 2 – Full Chain Traceability
While collecting information is a valuable first step, traceability systems should provide ‘full chain’ traceability from the point the product was harvested to the point of final sale. At any step along the supply chain, whether at a distributer, wholesaler, or grocery store counter, information should be readily available to verify legality of a product. To be ‘full chain traceable,’ traceability systems must provide access to information about a product in all of its forms, across every step in the supply chain, and have the ability to be accessed when necessary. This does not mean, however, that confidential information be accessible to all players in the supply chain, but rather that the authorized parties have the critical pieces of information available to trace a product back through all stages of handling.
Principle 3 – Effective Tracking of Product Transformations
Seafood is often transformed, being combined with other products, processed, reconfigured, or re-packaged as evidenced by the many different forms of seafood products on the market. When seafood undergoes processing, it’s important to record those product transformations to ensure legality up to the final point of sale, avoid mislabeling of species, and prevent comingling of legal and illegal products. It is also important to track products (which may have been harvested from multiple fishing activities or fisheries) with sufficient identification and tracking of all inputs so that at the final point of sale, those products can be traced back to their origin or at least to a limited set of possible sources or fishing activities.
Principle 4 – Digital Information and Standardized Data Formats
Electronic recording of data, labelling, and tracking in standard data formats from point of harvest to point of final sale is crucial to verifying claims of legality and sustainability. WWF believes that even at small scales, these kinds of systems are within reach of commercial fishers, and should be a high priority for all traceability systems. Ideally, this push for electronic traceability systems would be lead by industry and establish minimum international requirements for better harmonization and interoperability across entire supply chains.
Principle 5 – Verification
For claims of full chain traceability to be validated, companies must employ credible and transparent internal and external verification or auditing, as well as effective government oversight and enforcement. Supply chain actors can be influential by adopting and publicly communicating their standards and policies for how they will increase transparency and implement traceability in their own supply chains.
Principle 6 – Transparency and Public Access to Information
A fundamental outcome of implementing full chain traceability is the ability for consumers and stakeholders to ultimately have access to information that helps them make well-informed, responsible choices. Traceability systems should emphasize maximum transparency, while not exposing confidential information. Governments and enforcement agencies can also use this information to ensure compliance with national and international laws.
In all, these six principles are intended as goal statements to be used as a benchmark to address concerns related to IUU fishing and to help guide stakeholders in establishing and improving their traceability systems. Traceability is just one tool among others (such as risk assessments, third party certifications, or audits) that businesses can use to combat IUU fishing and ensure transparency within their seafood supply chains.
You can find the entirety of WWF’s Traceability Principles for Wild-Caught Fish Products here. To learn more about traceability in seafood supply chains, visit the FishWise Traceability Resources Page.
Sea Delight International, with its Subsidiaries Sea Delight Canada and Sea Delight Europe, signed Memorandum of Understanding with Coral Sea Fishing Pty Limited in Australia, Part of the SOS Resources Group, to cooperate in the supply of Tasteless Smoke treated seafood products to Australia and New Zealand. Coral Sea Fishing holds the respective patents, technologies, intellectual property and rights to import, sell and trade Tasteless Smoke, Flavorless smoke and Filtered smoke treated seafood products in Australia and New Zealand.
“This new partnership opens up opportunities to develop new markets in Australia and New Zealand for Filtered Smoke treated seafood products, and Sea Delight will be able to provide technical assistance for the use of this innovative process as well as provide treated raw material to Coral Sea Fishing via our existing supply network,” says Eugenio Sanchez, Sea Delight President. “What is more, through this partnership we also share a common vision for sustainable seafood. Coral Sea Fishing has agreed to provide a financial contribution per pound to the Sea Delight Ocean Fund, Inc. on all imported product so that they may continue supporting Fishery Improvement Projects where this raw material is being sourced from,” says Sanchez.
“This is a partnership built on mutual goals. Collectively we have a very large and capable supply network all using the Flavorless, Tasteless Filtered Smoke Technology. Together we are working on delivering high quality seafood products to our markets using natural shelf life extension processes derived from organics. Our shared vision for sustainable seafood will ensure this is a win-win partnership, for seafood resources and our customers,” says Sean Cauchois, Director for Coral Sea Fishing Australia.
Read more about the Sea Delight Ocean Fund here.
Photo credit: Eleanor Partridge
In February, President Obama signed the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015 (H.R. 644)—a crucial step towards preventing modern slavery in global supply chains. The amendment closed the loophole in the Tariff Act of 1930, which previously did not bar products made abroad by convict, forced, or indentured labor if American domestic production did not meet demand. While plans for enforcing the act have yet to be announced, the mere signing of the act places seafood companies in a different regulatory environment.
The Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015 is the most recent step in a series of actions from U.S. and foreign government, federal agencies, and international trade unions to protect the marine environment and human rights in the seafood industry. Other actions include the ratification of the Port State Measures Agreement which allows officials to prohibit foreign vessels suspected of illegal fishing from receiving port services and access, and NOAA’s seafood traceability program which will require seafood importers to document the supply chains of certain species from catch to arrival in the U.S.
FishWise has drafted a briefing document on this issue, that you can view here. The briefing summarizes the Act and explains why it is important to seafood companies.
For more information on traceability and human rights in seafood supply chains, please refer to the FishWise page on that topic. Our human rights resources page also offers access to informative reports, guidelines, blogs, meeting summaries, and other resources. FishWise will continue to update these pages to reflect the latest services and resources available.