The International Fishmeal and Fish Oil Organisation has launched its new Improvers’ Programme for fishmeal and fish oil producers. Factories which would not otherwise achieve the full IFFO Global Standard for Responsible Supply (IFFO RS) can progress gradually against a series of auditable milestones on responsible sourcing and food safety.
IFFO’s partner in the Improvers’ Programme is Sustainable Fisheries Partnership and the project was developed in consultation with the United Nations FAO. Initial development is funded by major retailers and aquafeed producers, including EWOS and Sainsburys.
The framework for the Improvers’ Programme was established by IFFO’s independent Technical Advisory Committee (TAC). Next steps early in 2012 will be to encourage applications for the Programme and to initiate gap analyses for these factories.
“Thirty per cent of the world’s fishmeal and oil production capacity is now certified to the RS Standard and there are more audits in the pipeline,” said IFFO Technical Director, Andrew Jackson. “In the Americas and Europe, production is well covered, but there are a lot of factories, particularly in South East Asia, which cannot achieve the RS standard, often because of the lack of fisheries management data.
“This new programme is designed to encourage responsible sourcing of both wild fish and by-product raw material, as well as responsible production, food safety and traceability,” he said.
The announcement followed a recent stakeholder workshop in Bangkok including IFFO, SFP, FAO, retailers, NGOs, feed manufacturers and fishmeal and fish oil producers.
Duncan Leadbitter of Sustainable Fisheries Partnership, who is joining the TAC, explained: “We worked with IFFO to develop a plan based on fisheries improvement projects, which involve consultation with all stakeholders. The strategy is to generate sufficient momentum involving companies, governments, intergovernmental bodies and other interested parties to attract funding and focus on management improvements.”
An initial gap analysis will be carried out on factories applying for the Improvers’ Programme. Then a stakeholder committee will develop an Action Plan for fisheries and factory improvement which includes the auditable milestones. The plan length varies according to the challenges but, provided the plan is adhered to, on completion the applicant should be able to achieve the RS Standard.
“For the core RS programme, fisheries are audited against the FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries,” said Jackson. “This is not suitable for mixed trawl fisheries including the use of incidentally caught fish as raw material for fishmeal and fish oil. So our biggest challenge is to include, in the standard, assessment criteria against which such fisheries can be audited and to identify how they can be fished more sustainably”.
“We are encouraged by the recent approval of the $11.2M FAO-GEF Project on Strategies for Trawl Fisheries Bycatch Management 2012-2015, spanning five countries’ waters in the Coral Triangle and the South China Sea. Its objective is more sustainable use of fisheries resources and healthier marine ecosystems by minimising the catch of juveniles and species at risk from trawling; and avoiding destructive impact on habitats.” he said.
The full RS Standard and a list of factories which have achieved certification are on the IFFO web site: www.iffo.net - click on IFFO RS in the main navigation bar.