Spain’s number one producer of pre-cooked, frozen seafood products, Congalsa, has become the first Spanish company to join forces with the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership (SFP). Through this partnership, Congalsa said it aims to ensure that “all of its seafood sources originate from approved, certified sources or from fisheries and farms engaged in improvement projects”.
The SFP is an NGO, which operates through information and improvement: SFP has created a database of fisheries (FishSource.com), accessible to all, which contains assessments of sustainability and improvement needs. Once seafood companies, such as Congalsa, have identified where the problems lie in their supply chain, they can take action. SFP helps them with Fishery Improvement Projects (FIPs), which are multi-stakeholder groups that include catchers, processors, and others with an interest in the fishery who together “press for better policies and management”, while voluntarily changing their practices to better address issues such as illegal fishing, by-catch levels and impact on fragile habitats.
The SFP works with the seafood industry to meet international sustainability standards, by helping less well-managed fisheries to meet the environmental requirements of major markets, such as the European Union. SFP takes an active role in initiating and coordinating Fisheries Improvement Projects (FIPs). However, its objective is for the industry eventually to take a leading role, with SFP providing technical support and expertise at a variety of levels. SFP now has more than 40 FIPs operating around the world – but currently none in any ACP country – for products such as shrimp, small pelagics, grouper, tuna and whitefish.
Fisheries Improvement Projects represent a way for stakeholders to actively engage in discussion and agree future actions to improve local/regional fisheries sustainability. This requires a certain level of dialogue among stakeholders (producers, suppliers and processors) that is currently often lacking in ACP countries. However, some current FIPs suggest that it may be useful for ACP stakeholders to consider the possibilities for entering into such dynamics. For example, SFP manages a South American Small Pelagics Roundtable which focuses on monitoring sustainability status and performance of fisheries used for fishmeal production as well as direct human consumption. SFP provides a platform for stakeholders to discuss matters of common interest, identifying issues to be addressed and improvements required to promote sustainability. Lessons could be learned from this FIP for engaging West African small pelagic fisheries stakeholders in a dialogue about how these fragile resources should be sustainably exploited.