by Tim Moore and Claire Swingle
In the United States alone, 1/3 of seafood has been found to be mislabeled or fraudulently sold. This means that we don’t know what we’re actually eating, or what social or environmental practices were used to supply it. Though the Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that “IUU fishing takes up to 26 million tons of fish each year, or more than 15 percent of the world’s total annual capture fisheries output,” illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing often goes unnoticed as a problem.
On Monday, USAID and the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch program (“SFW”) announced their partnership to change this by combatting illegal fishing, improving seafood traceability, and enhancing the sustainability of fisheries in the Asia-Pacific region, the world’s largest seafood exporter.
This partnership is a direct result of SSG’s work under the Oceans and Fisheries Partnership Activity, funded by the United States Agency for International Development’s Regional Development Mission for Asia (“USAID Oceans”), to strengthen regional cooperation to combat illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing (IUU), promote sustainable fisheries, and conserve marine biodiversity in the Asia-Pacific region.
Under USAID Oceans, SSG has been working to develop public-private partnerships with ICT firms, leading retailers, Southeast Asian seafood processors and fisheries, and the financial sector to support the development of digital catch documentation and traceability (CDT) to reduce illegal fishing and improve fisheries management. Robust, digital catch documentation and traceability, central to USAID Oceans’ mission, will enable seafood to be traced from “boat to plate,” enhancing transparency and visibility in complex global seafood supply chains, all the way through to export to US, EU, and neighboring ASEAN markets.
SSG facilitated the Seafood Watch partnership through its proven STEP methodology to partnership development in order to leverage SFW’s influence on North American seafood markets — where it assesses over 80% of seafood by volume consumed in the US market, and informs seafood purchasing at more than 100,000 business locations. This partnership also leverages SFW’s strong connections to major seafood buyers, including the largest food service companies in North America – such as Compass Group, Blue Apron, and Sea to Table –and business partners like Mars Petcare, to strengthen responsible sourcing commitments and action plans to promote and co-invest in the expansion of digital traceability and transparency in key seafood suppliers in Southeast Asia.
The Seafood Watch Partnership can significantly mitigate IUU fishing and increase the sustainability of fisheries in the Asia-Pacific – a serious concern given that 90% of all fisheries worldwide are now fully exploited, over-exploited, or have collapsed – as well as promote an ethical seafood supply chain and improving marine biodiversity conservation.
Indeed, according to Senior Partnerships Advisor to USAID Oceans, Timothy Moore, “Together, the partnership with Seafood Watch will harness technical experts, major seafood business partners, and on-the-ground fishers to bring about dramatic and positive changes in Southeast Asia’s seafood supply chain and serve as a model of collaboration for other regions around the world.” The partnership with Seafood Watch is a testament to the innovative approaches SSG takes to engineer sustainable solutions to the most pressing global development challenges.
Get involved in the conversation: #SustainableFoodInstitute2016 #USAIDOceans @seafoodwatch #seafoodtraceability #baittoplate
Find out more about what SSG is doing: http://ssg-advisors.com/