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Panama fishmeal and fish oil producers work towards Marine Trust certification - case study

Panama small pelagics fishery is working to meet the full requirements of MarinTrust certification through an industry-led multi-stakeholder effort.

Panama fishmeal and fish oil producers work towards Marine Trust certification - case study

May 25, 2020


The Panama small pelagics fishery made history as the first accepted applicant for the MarinTrust Improver Program (IP) scheme in 2015. The MarinTrust IP enables companies unable to meet the full requirements of MarinTrust certification, to come under the umbrella by getting involved in a Fishery Improvement Project (FIP) while working towards the greater prize.

The FIP was started in 2011 as an initiative of CeDePesca, a non-profit organization founded in 1997, to help Latin American fisheries become sustainable, along with Promarina SA, the most important local producer. It is now run in conjunction with Procesadora Bayano SA (Probasa).

“Before entering into the FIP, the Panama small pelagics fishery was data-poor, with inadequate records of effort or landings and nothing known about its impacts on the ecosystem. No-one could say whether or not it was sustainable, but the market had started demanding third party proof of sustainability, so something needed to be done,” said Ernesto Godelman, executive director of CeDePesca.

Most of the fishmeal and fish oil produced in Panama is now commercialized by Animalfeeds Inc. Managing director, Brian Murtagh explained that “all the participants came together and cooperated to understand each other's views, then worked to implement measures in the right direction. We are happy that the government approved new rules and a management plan for the fishery that clarifies definitions of fishing vessel activity and regulates fishing methods. On our side, we have invested heavily in staff training and technical equipment. Together, these efforts have stimulated a real change from the fishermen and helped the environment and the local communities.”

Libby Woodhatch, executive chair of MarinTrust, said “I am very proud of the Panamanian Fishery Improvement Project. It is an excellent example of what can be achieved through clear milestones, robust frameworks and a commitment from all stakeholders: it is all about creating the conditions to shift mindsets.”

Read more about this case study here (Spanish).

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