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Gulf United for Lasting Fisheries FAQs
What is this?
Audubon Nature Institute’s Gulf United for Lasting Fisheries (G.U.L.F.) is a region-wide program dedicated to promoting the high quality and good management of Gulf State fisheries, and to helping Gulf State fisheries obtain third-party certification of their fisheries management. We want to reassure consumers that our seafood is the highest possible quality; that means we are going the extra mile to have our fisheries certified as sustainable.
What is a “fishery?”
A fishery is an area where fish are caught. It could refer to fish only caught within the waters of a certain state—for example, the Louisiana shrimp fishery—or it could be the Gulf of Mexico red snapper fishery. Or the world-wide tuna fishery! It’s a very broad term. When G.U.L.F. uses the term “fishery,” we’re typically referring to one of the fisheries within our state or associated federal waters.
I want the fish I eat to be sustainable. How is G.U.L.F. helping?
“Sustainability” is a huge term that means many things, but to us, it means ensuring our fisheries are not over-harvested (we’re not taking more than nature can replenish on its own), catching fish doesn’t permanently damage our ecosystem or harm other animals that share that ecosystem, and that any changes to management or practices won’t drive people who depend of fishing out of business.
So how are we doing?
The Gulf States have a long history of good management. The species that popular our waters are extremely robust. Having a robust fishery means that even if many fish are caught, their populations rebound quickly. Despite population resilience, the Gulf States have quotas in place to make sure we never get to a level where a fishery needs to be closed in order to protect the future of the fishery.
What is accreditation and why do we need it?
Across all industries, from manufacturing to zoos to construction, accreditation is used to ensure that high standards are being maintained. The reason accreditation is important is because it takes standardized language and applies it to something subjective in a relevant way. The reason we need it for our fisheries is because it proves that something besides our opinion says we’re doing a good job.
The G.U.L.F. project is facilitating the process of making our fisheries sustainable: because Audubon G.U.L.F. is neither an accreditation firm nor an ecolabel, we have contracted with Global Trust Ltd, a company that specializes in fisheries assessment, auditing and certification of responsible fisheries management under the auspices of the Food and Agriculture Organization’s Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries Management.
When will Gulf State fisheries be certified as sustainable?
We are calling G.U.L.F. a “project” rather than a “program” because we want to emphasize the nature of the work we’re doing: assessment and validation of fisheries is not a process that will be finished region-wide in a year, or possibly even five years. The movement of our fisheries towards certification will be a staggered process and, depending on the fishery, will take time. One of Audubon’s primary functions will be to communicate the message that this is, in fact, a journey.
One of the main goals of the G.U.L.F. project is to disseminate the information that Gulf State fisheries are already well-managed, our fisheries are unique, their intricacies cannot be easily or fairly communicated with a color, and our management is not static. One of G.U.L.F.’s main concerns is ensuring that any certification scheme or fisheries improvement program protects the livelihoods of the fishers and processors involved in that fishery, a facet we feel has sometimes been lost in the rush when other groups have evaluated Gulf fisheries.