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Addressing the challenges in Southeast Asian fisheries

IFFO, GAA and SPF published a new report focused on Vietnam and Thailand trawl fisheries to further spur development in Southeast Asia and increase the availability of responsibly sourced fishmeal.

Addressing the challenges in Southeast Asian fisheries

November 21, 2019


In 2017, IFFO and the Global Aquaculture Alliance (GAA) commissioned a study on Southeast Asian fisheries and their relevance to fishmeal production. The project final report, delivered by Duncan Leadbitter of Fish Matter Pty., Ltd., was recently published. Its main findings and recommendations highlight a requirement for accurate, comprehensive and up-to-date information as being of prime importance to the management of the sustainability of the aquaculture supply chain. It concludes that an integrated approach, based on the concept of collaboration, is key to delivering change through positive impacts.

Following the publication of the study's main findings and recommendations, IFFO and GAA has now released the full report on Southeast Asian fisheries, Driving change in South East Asian trawl fisheries, fishmeal supply and aquafeed. This report follows shortly behind the publication of Sustainable Fisheries Partnership’s (SPF) report on reduction fisheries, which included a chapter on Asian reduction fisheries.

According to Jim Cannon, CEO of SFP, “the report highlights that with adequate science and oversight, these fisheries could be highly efficient. The recommendations at the end of the report outline a number of pathways to support and inform improvements, and highlight how industry can collaborate for positive change. Industry efforts to date have helped secure formal government action in both Vietnam and Thailand to reduce the massive overcapacity of the fishing fleets, an essential step to reversing decades of overfishing. Much remains to be done, and it is critical the pace and scale of improvement accelerates.”

This report provides some of the best information available on the fisheries of Thailand and Vietnam, tracks the decline in fisheries health starting in the 1960s, and highlights some of the critical challenges facing these fisheries today. These include poor management, weak enforcement, inadequate science and data, inappropriate fishing gear and overfishing (as well as documented labor abuses). The report also highlights that with adequate science and oversight, these fisheries could be highly efficient.

The recommendations at the end of the report outline a number of pathways to support and inform improvements and highlight how industry can collaborate for positive change. Industry efforts to date have helped secure formal government action in both Vietnam and Thailand to reduce the massive overcapacity of the fishing fleets, an essential step to reversing decades of overfishing. Much remains to be done, and it is critical the pace and scale of improvement accelerates. To help achieve this, the principal customers for fishmeal and oil – the aquaculture industry – are stepping up demands that fisheries improve and providing more pathways forward. Leading aquaculture certifications are making it a requirement that fishmeal and fish oil are sourced from fisheries that are either sustainable or improving through a structured Fishery Improvement Project.

Certifications are now emerging that can provide effective assurance that mixed species fisheries are well managed. Specifically, in the fall of 2018, the IFFO Responsible Supply (IFFO RS) Improvers Program launched a pilot to test new criteria developed to assess multispecies fisheries.

SFP has been working with feed companies since 2011 (Europe) and 2015 (South America) through Supply Chain Roundtables (SRs) to support improvements and good progress has been made. In 2018, SPF relaunched their Asian Reduction Fisheries SR and several large feed manufacturers are participating. SFP invites more of the leading Asian feed manufacturers to join this SR and support critical fisheries improvement efforts. While the challenge of fixing these fisheries is large, industry has begun taking key steps in the right direction.

Download full report here.

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