Sea Delight Advocates Initiating Sustainability Goals with RFMO’s

June 10, 2019. Bangkok, Thailand

The gathering was billed as a “Pre-Summit Workshop” because it was held the day before the start of the annual Sea Web Summit in Bangkok. Japanese Sustainable Seafood Organization, Seafood Legacy, hosted the event that brought together presenters from a wide range of Western seafood business and NGO roles to share and exchange knowledge and experience with Japanese industry leaders, all with an interest in learning more about sustainability.

The meeting begins

The meeting begins

Presentation subjects ranged from fighting IUU fishing and human rights abuses in the seafood custody chain to innovative concepts for incentivizing FIPs. 

Sea Delight representative Stephen Fisher was invited join the session on the topic “Designing and Implementing Seafood Procurement Policy”, and to share Sea Delight’s experience in initiating industry demands on Regional Fishery Management Organizations (RFMO’s) to adopt fishery management policy changes that support sustainability.

 Sea Delight has long supported the Sustainable Seafood Partnership (SFP) in its ongoing efforts to request change in tuna management policy with RFMO’s. As an example, this month, Sea Delight is a signatory to the SFP Joint Advocacy Letter to the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC) annual meeting that states, in part:

“We are writing to bring to your attention our collective views on several issues crucial to the long-term sustainability of tuna stocks:

 • The development and implementation of comprehensive, precautionary harvest strategies”

 Unfortunately, this advise was not met by IOTC. A yellowfin catch reduction of around 10% from 2017 levels was adopted. This is not enough to reduce overfishing and recover biomass to be above the maximum sustainable yield target reference point.

 This is just an example of why business initiatives to influence RFMOs are so critical.

 In his presentation Mr. Fisher shared with the panel that in December 2019 Sea Delight not only signed the SFP Joint Advocacy Letter but he also accompanied SFP to the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) annual meeting in Hawaii.

Stephen Fisher addressing the WCPFC Annual Meeting

Stephen Fisher addressing the WCPFC Annual Meeting

At the meeting he read a statement to the assembly that went on the Official Record. This statement requested management guidance for swordfish and beginning the data collection program needed to provide a stock assessment for mahi mahi.

From Fisher’s Seafood Legacy presentation:

 “Income from secondary catch like mahi, wahoo and swordfish can make a huge difference in the livelihood of tuna fishing communities. Sustainable or improving fisheries can secure a steady market share for these "fringe market" species and return more market value associated with FIP or certified fish back to the fishers and their families.”

 Fisher also talked about some of Sea Delight’s other sustainability efforts. From the presentation:

 ‘Some of the other initiatives we are working on include developing a new FIP with a small-scale handline tuna fishery in the Western Atlantic Ocean. We have also recently developed the capacity to prepare FIP pre assessments and action plans in-house to help increase our ability to help new fisheries work towards sustainability.

 In the Vietnam handline tuna and swordfish fisheries, we are engaged in sea trials of our own Android data collection app. This new app uses a simple point and shoot photo system to identify and record catch events as they happen onboard.”

Stephen Fisher, center and Wakao Hanaoka, right

Stephen Fisher, center and Wakao Hanaoka, right

At the end of the presentation the session moderator, 2019 Seafood Champion for Leadership, Mr. Wakao Hanaoka, began a question and answer session with the panel.

Fisher was pressed for details on why industry initiatives were so important (because the NGOs pace of change and adoption of sustainability goals is too slow and driven by the interests of large national and corporate fishing operations) and how to engage FIPs at the community level.

Hanae Matsui, the coordinator of the event, shared comments from Japanese participants that “the pre-summit workshop was one of the most useful and inspiring sessions during our time in Bangkok and we would like to continue the discussion to apply some of the key lessons from the session.”

Group photo from the Seafood Legacy Japan Workshop

Group photo from the Seafood Legacy Japan Workshop

 Sea Delight thanks Seafood Legacy for the opportunity to participate in this important work.



Adriana Sanchez