Fisheries Improvement Projects
Ecologists Without Borders (EcoWB) and its partner, the Sustainable Fisheries Foundation (SFF), are helping fishermen and fishing organizations in developing countries that desire to increase the sustainability of their fisheries and, in some cases, eventually have their fisheries certified as sustainable by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC). The MSC is an international organization that has developed credible, science-based standards and guidelines for sustainable fishing and seafood traceability. Certification helps fisheries because consumers are more likely to support well-managed, socially and environmentally responsible fisheries. Many fisheries in developing countries may want to obtain MSC certification, or at least want to increase their fishery productivity and sustainability, but lack basic information that would enable assessment of the fishery, associated fishing practices and management systems, and the targeted fish populations and habitat they rely upon. MSC and other leading NGOs use a rational and systematic process, referred to as Fisheries Improvement Projects (FIPs), for obtaining the requisite information, so that aspiring fisheries are able to take the steps necessary to meet MSC standards and become certified. FIP activities include meeting with representatives of fisheries to ascertain their interests, needs, opportunities and constraints; compiling and analyzing available information on the fisheries and species harvested, and determining what additional information and/or reforms are necessary to improve the fishery.
How EcoWB Is Helping Fisheries Achieve Sustainability
While many major world fisheries have already been certified and more are under assessment for certification, there is an ongoing need for improving small-scale, local fisheries in the developing world toward more sustainable practices. That’s where EcoWB wants to focus its FIP assistance. EcoWB volunteers, referred to as Ecological Service Providers (ESPs), can play an important role in the FIP process by helping to reduce the costs of each FIP, making the FIP process more affordable in areas with less financing. EcoWB FIP project leaders have undergone MSC’s Technical Consultant and FIP training. EcoWB ESPs have expertise ranging from long-term, highly technical professional expertise to recent college coursework in fisheries. EcoWB professionals involved in FIPs include fisheries scientists, managers, economists, and technicians. We use the best combination of volunteer and paid professionals that will most efficiently achieve each FIP process. All EcoWB FIP projects are coordinated closely with local fisheries stakeholders and other team members to ensure a successful project.
Implementing Fisheries Improvement Projects in Developing Countries
EcoWB assists fisheries that wish to engage in a FIP but do not yet meet the MSC standard by:
- Encouraging other organizations to partner with EcoWB, SFF, other NGOs, and local organizations to support FIPS and promote sustainable fisheries
- Soliciting and screening eligible fisheries, and recommending FIPs for those that have good potential for achieving MSC certification
- Conducting a fishery Pre-Assessment, developing and implementing a FIP Action Plan, and applying MSC’s Benchmark and Tracking Tool
- Assigning various tasks to ESPs to support FIP needs
- Assisting with fundraising and development of products and markets; solicit endorsements and commitments from key parties (fisheries scientists, conservation groups, buyers, retailers, consumers).
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