On November 14th and 15th, our founder and principal Jerry Knecht attended the Indonesia Fisheries & Aquaculture Trade Show & Forum held in Jakarta. The Forum was hosted by Sustainable Fisheries Partnership (SFP) with the intention of bringing together industry, stakeholders, and NGOs to learn more about the challenges and successes inherent to the fishery and aquaculture industries in Indonesia.

Who is SFP and what do they do?

SFP is a non-profit organization that works together with the seafood industry to encourage improvement throughout the seafood supply chain and on the water. They work closely with industry partners and provide professional guidance to spur industry mobilization toward more sustainable practices. SFP also takes an active role in supporting industry to champion aquaculture and  fishery improvement projects, or AIPs/FIPs.

This past June, SFP launched a new campaign called Target 75. With a goal date of 2020, this initiative seeks to make 75% of the world’s seafood production either sustainable or in a formal FIP or AIP making consistent, trackable progress. SFP presented this new campaign at the Forum and gave an overview of what they’re doing to make this goal a reality.

Highlights of the Forum: Day 1

NAI is involved in multiple FIPs in Indonesia, so we were especially interested to learn what we could do to advance Target 75 and eager to discuss our experiences and those of other stakeholders.

One of the ways we accomplished this was through participation in a panel. Jerry spoke during a session entitled, “The Value of FIPs for Industry: Brand, Quality, Market Access and Assured Supply,” in which he emphasized the importance of FIPs and the role they’ve played in NAI/BSI’s business. The other two industry representative panelists were from Netuno and Cannon fish, two suppliers based in the U.S. who are also working in FIPs in Indonesia. These panelists gave some insightful perspective into how larger international suppliers, who may not yet have the on-the-ground capacity that NAI/BSI has invested in our community-based management model, can and should still play a significant role in improving the fisheries from which they source.

In the creation and maintenance of a FIP, it’s important to closely examine the needs of the individual fishery. While certification programs like the Marine Stewardship Council may be the end goal for some FIPs, they can be a challenging initial bar for others. This is why it’s so critical for industry to come together in forums like this: we need to continue to collaborate to push the leading edge of fishery improvement approaches and ensure collective actions are leading to real changes in management, policy, and harvest practices.

One of the ways we can make sure these changes take place is by using our combined industry power to create appropriate levers and incentives. We believe we must use our position as seafood suppliers to lend support to FIPs that might be stagnant or struggling to reach sustainability goals. While industry is a critical driving force, we can’t do it alone; FIPs need both multi-stakeholder support and policy and enforcement actions from local and national governing bodies. Creating a FIP is only the beginning of a fishery’s journey toward more sustainable practices. Without the combined efforts from industry stakeholders and government, the FIP will be unlikely to meet its sustainability goals.

Day 2: “Building Tomorrow’s Solutions for Sustainable Fisheries and Aquaculture”

During the second day of the Forum, SFP hosted a training clinic so participants could  better understand FIPs and AIPs, as well as breakout sessions that focused on specific species and industries. Two sessions that were of particular interest to NAI/BSI were the Tuna and Large Pelagics Working Group and the Snapper/Grouper Working Group, as NAI is part of Supply Chain Roundtables (SCRs) for both of those species in Indonesia.

SCRs provide an opportunity for different stakeholders to come together and scale up their approaches to improvement. Because SCRs allow industry to pool resources and ideas, they can also have more leverage than an individual FIP in the seafood marketplace and thus can encourage even more rapid change. They are also a way for seafood suppliers to collaborate in a pre-competitive manner and track the sustainability journeys of multiple improvement projects through a single, coordinated platform. For example, we are one of eleven suppliers in the Indonesia Tuna and Large Pelagics Supply Chain Roundtable, which tracks over a dozen tuna FIPs, including our longline FIP.

These working group sessions were an opportunity to get updates, discuss recent developments, and bring to light any new or significant challenges. They also gave Jerry a chance to share progress on BSI’s work to begin operations in the first Fishery Community Center, the complex process of creating the infrastructure needed to build the centers, the services they will house, and how this commercially-based management model will create the incentives needed for lasting change on the water.

We explained in a previous blog why Indonesia has become a hotspot of fisheries investment, and the reasons for that investment were certainly evident during this Forum. It was encouraging to see that SFP understands the challenges faced by the seafood industry and is working with industry to generate innovative solutions. Fortunately, forums like these provide great opportunities for feedback and assessment. Sustainability is not always an easy journey, but through collaboration we can become better prepared for the inevitable bumps and bruises along the way.