In many parts of the world, there are three general steps that bring wild caught fish from the Ocean to a consumer’s plate. The following excerpt from the University of Washington’s Sustainable Fisheries Seafood 101 website explains the process. “First, the fish has to be caught; next it needs to be processed for sale—that means cleaning, fileting, and packaging; then finally marketed and sold to grocery stores and restaurants. Everyone involved in these steps, from fishers to processors to fish mongers is a part of the industry. And, like all food industries, it is regulated. Processing and marketing regulations are mostly comparable to other food regulations—sanitation, transportation, waste disposal, etc., but fishing is a unique way to gather food here on planet Earth. Successful Fishery Management ensures sustainability for fish stocks, food for consumers, and livelihoods for those in the industry.” Regulating the wild caught seafood industry to ensure sustainability can be challenging, particularly in developing and emerging economy countries, where fishing regulatory agencies may lack the institutional capacity or reliable data on fish stock status to make effective and enforceable policy.
The global increase in demand for seafood coupled with an increase of the number of fisheries that are poorly managed, overfished, or negatively affected by Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing, poses a significant threat to the sustainability of fish stocks, to ocean biodiversity, and to the livelihoods of fishermen and women across the world. However, under strong management regimes, fisheries can provide a sustainable, renewable protein resource and millions of jobs for people across the globe.
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) through its Global Sustainable Supply Chains for Marine Commodities (GMC) Project aims to mainstream sustainability into seafood supply chains through market and policy mechanisms and partnerships with the overarching goal of rebuilding and protecting fish stocks and livelihoods.
GMC project emphasis:
Establishes multi-stakeholder dialogue roundtables (platforms) for the development and implementation of sustainable fisheries management policy (National Action Plans);
Harnesses the market power of sustainability certification mechanisms (eco-labelling) to engage seafood retailers and private sector actors in the supply chain to drive the transition to responsible seafood sourcing; and
Generate private sector investment for implementing Fishery Improvement Projects (FIPs) for target fisheries.
The four-year GMC project (2017-2021) is an interregional initiative implemented by the Ministries and Bureaus of Fisheries and Planning of Costa Rica, Ecuador, Indonesia and Philippines, with technical support of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), facilitated by the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership (SFP) and funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF).