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Improving Gulf Fisheries
Engaging Stakeholders to Build Better Fisheries
Responsible fisheries management is a process of continual improvement. Fisheries exist in a dynamic environment. They depend on fish and shellfish—living resources that inhabit an ever-changing ecosystem influenced by both manmade and natural variables including fishing, climate, pollution, and salinity. Other forces such as shifts in market demand and policy also impact fisheries. To be effective, a fishery management program must monitor changes in these conditions and adapt to them, improving the science, management, and operation of a fishery.
Through G.U.L.F., Audubon Nature Institute will be an active part of this process, facilitating fishery improvement projects, or FIPs, to help Gulf fisheries be the best they can be. FIPs are designed to engage stakeholders, including industry, regulators, and scientists, to collaborate in continually enhancing fisheries, from research and regulations to harvesting and handling. The seafood supply chain increasingly recognizes established FIPs as a way of demonstrating to their customers that the seafood they’re sourcing is from a responsibly managed fishery, as it is committed to continual improvement.
Audubon is working to adapt Sustainable Fisheries Partnership’s established model for FIPs to facilitate these projects for fisheries in the Gulf of Mexico. The model includes three main steps:
- Identify FIP participants.
- Define scope of FIP.
- Formally evaluate the fishery. This does not have to be a pre-assessment for third-party certification; however, it must use a standardized and thorough methodology.
- Participants come together to review the fishery evaluation, discuss issues and recommendations for fishery improvement, and agree on project goals.
- Participants draft work plan, which sets expectations for the project and milestones to measure progress.
- Participants make work plan publicly available.
- Participants carry out activities identified in the work plan and report on their progress.
Communicating these projects throughout the supply chain is a key component of the previous steps and important to the overall success of a FIP. Information about FIP participants, fishery evaluations, work plans, and progress reports should all be publicly available and will be posted on Audubon G.U.L.F.’s website.