MarinTrust, the program for the responsible sourcing and production of marine ingredients, has developed an assessment framework for multispecies fisheries. The framework is designed to meet the needs of complex fisheries, such as trawl fisheries in Southeast Asia, that do not fit the conventional approach to fishery assessment.
MarinTrust’s solution, a set of multispecies criteria, is a direct response to the complexities that make these fisheries difficult to manage. Major adaptations are required for these regions and their fisheries if they are to meet expectations for the sustainable supply of fish for both direct consumption and fishmeal and fish oil.
The objective of the multispecies criteria is to enable the assessment of highly complex fisheries in which as many as 300 may be regularly caught. Given the complexities, MarinTrust has begun by testing its criteria in the real world. The criteria need to measure improvements in multispecies fisheries and enable producers of marine ingredients to demonstrate progress and a commitment towards responsibly sourced raw materials.
There are currently two fisheries that have applied the MarinTrust Multispecies Fishery Assessment and have used its structure to develop Fishery Improvement Projects (FIPs): the Gulf of Thailand mixed-trawl fishery (Thailand) and the Vung Tau multispecies fishery (Vietnam). Both FIPs are accepted on the MarinTrust Improver Programme as part of the multispecies pilot project. During the Improver Programme and pilot project process, the FIPs will have to meet a series of time-bound improvement milestones, specific to the Fishery Action Plan, demonstrating positive improvements within the fishery.
The multispecies criteria has been developed by experts in fishery science and are based on best-practice fisheries management as specified in international norms and guidance. The multispecies pilot project is enabling MarinTrust to test the methodology in active fisheries so it can be fine-tuned and ultimately constitute a fully tested, robust and realistic set of criteria, that can be included within the full MarinTrust fishery assessment. The aim is to incorporate the multispecies assessment into the MarinTrust Standard. Although the MarinTrust Standard’s unit of certification is the marine ingredient-producing factory, it also requires an assessment of the fishery.