SCHOOLING TOGETHER: peer to peer knowledge exchange on fisheries management in Galicia, Spain

For thousands of years, fishing has supported the many towns and villages built along the banks of the Galician Rias, or fjord-like bays that spread inland from the Atlantic Ocean in this hilly landscape in northwestern Spain. In 2017, Galicia reported more than 200,000 metric tons of total seafood landings, which represents more than 500 million Euros in sales[1]. Over 70% of seafood consumed in Spain comes off the 4,400 registered fishing vessels in Galician ports, where the industry employs approximately 4.6% of the active population[2]

In a place whose cultural identity and the economy is so closely tied to the fishing sector, it is a government priority to ensure that fish and marine invertebrate stocks are harvested responsibly and sustainably. To prevent overexploitation of the fishery resources, the regional authorities have worked in close coordination with scientists, fisherfolk and the private sector to design management systems that are now internationally recognized for their effectiveness.

The people and institutions involved in these successful systems shared their experiences, best practices and knowledge with public and private sector delegations from the three countries that receive support from the Global Marine Commodities (GMC) Project in an in-situ peer-to-peer knowledge exchange event organized by project facilitating partner, Sustainable Fisheries Partnership (SFP) from June 26-28 2019.

“In Galicia, it is very important to properly plan for effective fisheries management. This management consists of three interacting elements,” said Marta Villaverde Acuña, Deputy Director of Fisheries and Seafood Marketing, Regional Government of Galicia

“The first element is to have scientific data regarding the status of fisheries stocks; the second is that there must be structured mechanisms for consulting fisherfolk and arriving at a consensus about management measures; and the third is that managers consider the social and economic impact of fisheries management measures and strive to guarantee the long-term sustainability of fisheries activities.” Marta Villaverde Acuña, Deputy Director of Fisheries and Seafood Marketing, Regional Government of Galicia.

Those three “elements” were common themes throughout the peer-to-peer knowledge exchange. Ecuadorian, Indonesian and Philippine representatives from the fisheries and planning government agencies, as well as from the private sector were given the opportunity to interact directly with fisheries regulators from the Galician government, with port authorities who monitor and collect data about fish catch and sales, and with fisherfolk from Cofradias, or local fishing development organizations who participate in management plan construction.

The Cofradias were a focus point of the trip, as they represent a unique model of fisherfolk organization that participates directly in decision making regarding the management of Galician fish and marine invertebrate stocks.

“In the Philippines, similar to the Cofradias, the Technical Working Groups (TWG) are the bodies or platforms that serve as a venue where government entities and fisherfolk can discuss about fishery management activities,” said Rafael Ramiscal, Chief of the Capture Fisheries Division of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR).

The Cofradias and Cofradia federations have been granted territorial fishing rights by the government of Galicia, and are actively involved in setting harvest quotas, monitoring fishing effort and catch, establishing bans and deciding on the distribution of fishing effort. Through its engagement with the cofradias, the Galician government has been able to effectively involve the private sector in management decision making, thereby improving compliance and facilitating data collection.

Viviana Jurado, a biologist from the Ecuadorian National Institute of Fisheries (INP), attended the learning exchange and commented that the event helped reinforce the importance of public-private partnerships to establish good fisheries management plans.

The INP is the Ecuadorian government agency in charge of studying and monitoring fish stocks within Ecuador’s national jurisdiction, and Jurado is currently working on an innovative partnership with the Ecuadorian Small Pelagic Fishery Improvement Project to study the Small Pelagic Fishery stocks.  

“Galicia presents a model to learn from, in which there is a very good organization of small-scale fishers in cofradias, who are considered by the regional administration in decision-making,” said Enrique Alonso, Latin America Fisheries Director for SFP.

“The Ecuadorian industry is noticing that independent of which country you are talking about, all the participants here follow the same technical guidelines for fisheries monitoring and research,” Jurado said. “I hope to see the private sector representatives return to Ecuador and share this vision with their industry partners.

Participants were also able to visit several different lonxas or controlled seafood auction centers where catch data is collected, and artisanal and industrial fishers are provided a space to sell their catch to first buyers. At the lonxas, participants learned about the Pesca de Galicia electronic system, which was established by the regional government as a tool to collect data about fishing activities in the Galician jurisdictional waters.

Through the Pesca de Galicia online system, fisherfolk register their fishing journeys, fishing gear utilized, location of catch, total sales by species and other data in designated ATM-like computer stations located at fishing ports across the region. The system can also provide updates to fishers regarding fishery or area closures

 “Our platform ensures that we collect good information at the first sale of the seafood product, which allows us to trace the product from the location it was caught or collected and further along the supply chain,” Acuña said.

“It also ensures that we have reliable and constantly updated information about our fisheries to inform sectorial decision making. For example, the platform can help Sardine fishers track how far along they are toward reaching their total allowable catch of say 40 tons in a season. Once a week the fishers can log in to the system and check the total sum of sardines that he/she has sold this season to make sure they do not pass their limit.”

Rommel Soto, from the Philippines Cephalopods Producers and Exporters Association, said he was impressed with the Pesca de Galicia platform, which facilitates data-informed adaptive management of the Galician fisheries.


Participants also had the opportunity to share their strategies for addressing challenges related to starting up, implementing and funding the distinct Fisheries Improvement Projects (FIPs) and national platforms (dialogue working tables) supported by the GMC Project.

Regarding the national platforms, Ramiscal commented that “with support of the GMC project, the Blue Swimming Crab and the Octopus Technical Working Groups have institutionalized a form of consultative fisheries management where any management measure is constructed together as a group.  This helps improve fisherfolk adoption and compliance with management measures.”

The GMC Project-supported FIPs have multi-year work plans and budgets established to implement actions needed to achieve sustainability certification from either the Marine Stewardship Council, the International Fishmeal and Fish Oil Reduction Standard or simply to improve fisheries sustainability performance of key fisheries


Marinelle Espino, from the Philippine Association of Crab Processors (PACPI), is overseeing the implementation of the Blue Swimming Crab FIP in the Philippines that receives support from the GMC Project. Espino said the primary challenge facing her FIP, which has existed for more than 4 years, is that many of the actions that have been taken to date by the FIP do not necessarily respond to the MSC pre-assessment of the fishery.

The knowledge exchange event in Galicia provided managers and seafood company representatives with ideas, tools, and models to adapt to their own contexts.  Participants expressed their excitement to return to their respective countries and share their new knowledge with colleagues who participate in the GMC Project-facilitated sustainable marine commodity platforms.



Indonesia collaborates with UNDP to develop root cause analysis and operationalize inclusive multi-stakeholder platform for sustainable fisheries

Optimization of production, improvement of post-harvest, and governance are three focus areas for addressing root cause in marine fisheries in Indonesia.

These focus areas are discussed in the focus group discussion on experts input to analyze findings of the root cause analysis towards sustainable fisheries in Indonesia led by the Ministry of National Development Planning/BAPPENAS.

This analysis is part of the process towards the operationalization of an inclusive multi-stakeholder platform to coordinate the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals, especially Goal 14: Life Below Water.

Since they were adopted at the General Assembly of the United Nations in 2015, Indonesia has embraced the Sustainable Development Goals. The Government has shown strong commitment and taken early actions, including linking most of the SDGs targets and indicators to the national mid-term development plan (RJPMN).

The signing of the Presidential Decree no 59/2017 on SDGs implementation was a major milestone, which established the national SDG governance structure and mechanisms for planning and budgeting, monitoring and reporting. While the Ministry of National Development Planning/BAPPENAS leads Government’s efforts in bringing the new agenda to both the national and sub-national levels, the Decree also gives a clear role to non-Government actors such as civil society, the private sector, philanthropy, and academic institutions.

Goal 14: Life Below Water.

As a commodity, fisheries sustainability can effectively be achieved if government align their stakeholders behind a shared vision for the future of the fisheries sectors and engage and commit all actors in efforts to generate change.

Through Indonesia’s SDG governance structure, a multi-stakeholder platform on SDG 14 will be operationalized to bring together government, fishers, civil society groups and the private sector in a safe space to coordinate action to tackle the root causes limiting the sustainability of a fisheries sector in Indonesia.

The root cause analysis will be finalized based on the inputs from experts and presented in the plenary meeting of the multi-stakeholder platform for sustainable fisheries in the mid-2019.

Through the Global Sustainable Supply Chain for Marine Commodities project funded by GEF, UNDP supports the Government of Indonesia to operationalize a multi-stakeholder platform on sustainable fisheries, as well as to generate lesson and model for improving fisheries sustainability through Fisheries Improvement Projects in tuna and blue swimming crab fisheries.


Costa Rica presenta su primer proyecto de mejora pesquera

En la búsqueda de acceso a mercados de consumo responsable, los sectores productivos y exportadores pesqueros de Costa Rica lanzaron una nueva iniciativa para promover una pesca sostenible en las aguas del pacífico costarricense.

Se trata del primer Proyecto de Mejora Pesquera (FIP por sus siglas en inglés) de Costa Rica para atún, dorado y pez espada que permitiría aspirar en el 2023 a una certificación del Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), una entidad independiente que premia a las pesquerías que adoptan prácticas de pesca sostenible.Hasta 2018 más de 228 pesquerías en todo el mundo han sido certificadas con la certificación MSC, equivalente a 10 mil millones de toneladas de 141 especies distintas, un 14% de la captura mundial. Esta es la primera vez que Costa Rica inicia un proceso similar.

Para cumplir con los estándares que les permita alcanzar una certificación MSC, este FIP ha desarrollado un plan de trabajo de cinco años, en el cual paulatinamente se introducirán mejoras en la pesca de las tres especies, tanto en pesca de palangre como en el uso del llamado palo verde o green stick, un arte de pesca complementario que utilizan las flotas pesqueras de pequeña, mediana y avanzada escala.


Artes de pesca de palangre (derecha) y palo verde (izquierda) en Costa Rica.


Para los próximos 5 años de ejecución de este plan de trabajo se propone mejorar la pesquería de atún, dorado y pez espada, hacer reformas de conservación, impulsar mejoras y avanzar en la gobernabilidad y capacidad de gestión pesquera en Costa Rica. Este FIP, además, es uno de los pocos que abarca a toda una flota nacional.

Delegación de Costa Rica en el Foro Seafood Expo North America.

“El FIP de pelágicos grandes de Costa Rica constituye un paso más que el país da en su esfuerzo por promover una pesca sostenible y un paso necesario para llegar a mercado internacionales de consumo responsable, que cada vez más exigen el cumplimiento de estándares de sostenibilidad. Nuestro compromiso como pescadores es aplicar mejores practicas y contribuir con la implementación de este proyecto de mejora pesquera como lo hemos venido haciendo con otras iniciativas similares desde el 2004”, explicó Mauricio González Director Ejecutivo de las organizaciones pesqueras de Costa Rica.



El FIP para estas especies pelágicas en Costa Rica se desarrolla como resultado de los alcances de la Plataforma Nacional para la Pesca de Grandes Pelágicos Sostenibles, que se desarrollo en el marco del proyecto Cadenas Mundiales Sostenibles de Productos del Mar. Esta plataforma multisectorial impulsó un diálogo democrático e innovador dirigido a abordar los principales desafíos de sostenibilidad de las pesquerías de grandes pelágicos en el país y en el que participaron autoridades de Gobierno, pescadores, exportadores, representantes de la academia, cooperación internacional, restaurantes y supermercados entre otros.


Lanzamiento del Plan Nacional de Acción para la Pesca de Grandes Pelágicos, Costa Rica.

La acción prioritaria de FIP es el plan de manejo de la pesquería de dorado, atún y pez espada que implica contar con: objetivos biológicos para estas tres especies, generar procesos de toma de decisiones efectivos participativos, diseñar mecanismos de seguimiento, control y vigilancia para el cumplimiento de las medidas de gestión de la pesquería con un proceso de monitoreo y evaluación del desempeño del sistema que está público en línea.

La mayor parte de las capturas del Pacífico costarricense de grandes pelágicos como el atún, dorado y pez espada son destinadas a la exportación. El 95% de las exportaciones de dorado van hacia Estados Unidos, siendo también este país el principal destino del atún, de ahí la relevancia de presentar este proyecto en ese escenario.

Es por esta razón que la Cámara Nacional de Exportadores de Productos Pesqueros y Acuícolas (CANEPP) ha hecho una importante apuesta  por esta iniciativa.

Ana Victoria Paniagua, Directora Ejecutiva de CANEPP Costa Rica.

“Hemos hecho un gran esfuerzo por mejorar la competitividad de los productos pesqueros de Costa Rica asegurándonos procesos de trazabilidad claros y transparentes que le den a los compradores internacionales la garantía de que nuestro pescado proviene de fuentes sostenibles. Es un proceso en el que seguimos trabajando y este FIP nos abre las puertas a este mercado” aseguró Ana Victoria Paniagua, Directora Ejecutiva de CANEPP.

Precisamente, un primer paso para llegar a esos compradores fue dado en marzo pasado cuando una delegación de pescadores, exportadores, oficiales de cooperación internacional y socios de del proyecto presentaron los avances de esta  iniciativa en la Feria Internacional Seafood Expo North America, un evento que reunió a más de 20.000 visitantes y actores clave de la cadena comercial de productos del mar provenientes de más de 57 países.

El Plan de trabajo del FIP de atún, dorado y pez espada plantea una serie de acciones concretas que tanto pescadores, exportados y la autoridad de pesca se han comprometido a implementar en los próximos cinco años.


Acerca del proyecto GMC
Cadenas Mundiales Sostenible de Productos del Mar (GMC por sus siglas en inglés), un proyecto interregional implementado por los Ministerios y Oficinas de Pesca, Producción y Planificación de Costa Rica, Filipinas, Indonesia y Ecuador. Su implementación es facilitada por el Programa de las Naciones Unidas para el Desarrollo (PNUD), con el soporte técnico de Sustainable Fisheries Partnership (SFP); y financiamiento del Fondo para el Medio Ambiente Mundial (GEF por sus siglas en inglés).


BFAR catalyzes formation of Octopus Business Group in pursuing fishery sustainability

Philippines, Quezon City— Octopus commodity producers and exporters, together with the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), Sustainable Fisheries Partnership (SFP), and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), banded together in support of the formation of the Philippine Cephalopods Producers and Exporters Association (PCPEA).

PCPEA was formed to address mid and long-term sustainability problems of the Octopus supply chain in the Philippines.  This move was initiated under the BFAR-UNDP project: Global Sustainable Supply Chains for Marine Commodities (GMC-PHI), supported by the Global Environment Fund (GEF) and implemented by the BFAR – Capture Fisheries Division.

Philippine Cephalopods Producers and Exporters Association Meeting

“Sustainability of the fishery is everyone’s concern,” BFAR Region 9 Director and Octopus Technical Working Group Chairman, Isidro Velayo said “PCPEA is a testament to the joint aspiration of public and private partnership to work hand-in-hand in finding ways to help manage, protect and conserve our resources for the next generation”.

Upon unanimous vote by its board, Mr. Romel Sotto of Seachamp International Exporter Inc. will serve as the PCPEA President and represent the group at  the upcoming  Global Octopus Supply Chain Roundtable (GOSR) meeting in  Boston, Massachusetts this 18 March 2019.  The GOSR is a network of international octopus buyers that regularly meets to discuss priorities, actions and progress related to the integration of sustainability in Octopus fisheries across the globe.  It is led by GMC Project partner SFP.  PCPEA will present to the GOSR its proposed fishery improvement project that will operate within the framework of the upcoming BFAR-supported Octopus Commodity National Management Plan for sustainability.

The current seventeen (17) company membership of PCPEA includes: Seachamp, Seaglory, Crustacean Trading, HJR, Super Royal, Bluefin, Millenium, Sanmar, Ozean 8, Agri Aquatic Care, Aquatic Ace, Cinmic Industrial, Triton, YL Fishing, Central Seafoods, PUFFI, and Makran Trading.


About GMC Project

The Global Sustainable Supply Chains for Marine Commodities (GMC) project contributes to the transformation of the seafood market by mainstreaming sustainability in the value chain of fishery commodities from developing countries. This initiative achieves this goal by employing and strengthening emerging tools such as corporate purchasing policies, sustainable marine commodity platforms, and fisheries improvement projects (FIPs).
The GMC project is an interregional initiative implemented by the Ministries and Bureaus of Fisheries, Production 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).



Target 75 Forum: Public-private partnerships key to seafood sustainability

Global Marine Commodities Project participation at T75 Forum.

The National Chamber of Fisheries of Ecuador (CNP) and the Ecuadorian Tuna Pole and Line Association presented the steps they are taking to improve the sustainability of fisheries to international seafood buyers and retailers during the Target 75 Forum in Miami Florida, held February 6-7, 2019.

With the global sustainable seafood market valued at US$12.71 billion in 2017 and growing, there is an opportunity to capitalize. However, to effectively scale up sustainable seafood sales, industry currently faces the challenge of securing a reliable and verifiably sustainable supply.

To help meet this challenge, Sustainable Fisheries Partnership (SFP), a facilitating partner of the Global Marine Commodities (GMC) Project, created its Target 75 Initiative (T75).  T75 aims to see 75 percent of world production in key seafood sectors certified sustainable by an international third-party program or making regular, verifiable improvements toward sustainability by 2020.

The GMC project contributes to the T75 target by creating multi-stakeholder dialogue roundtables (i.e. national platforms) for the creation of fishery management plans and new regulations in Costa Rica, Ecuador, Indonesia, and the Philippines. In addition, the GMC Project supports the establishment and facilitates implementation of ten Fishery Improvement Projects (FIPs).

At the T75 Forum, a representative of the National Chamber of Fisheries of Ecuador (Cámara Nacional de Pesquería, CNP) described how the association is fostering public-private partnerships through its work with the Small Pelagic Fishery Improvement Project  in Ecuador.

“In a public-private partnership, industrial fleet ships, together with the National Fisheries Institute, are conducting research cruises to feed into stock assessments.  All costs are fully covered by private sector funds,” said Carlos Cacao Meléndez, the president of the Small Pelagic Commission of the CNP.

Small Pelagic landing in Puerto López in Ecuador – UNDP Ecuador.

Cacao also noted the positive interaction that the Small Pelagic FIP has with the GMC project.“Through the small pelagic national platform, the same participants of the FIP are working on the design of an active, transparent, participatory, and legitimate governance system for this fishery,” Cacao said. “This space will allow the fishery stakeholders to discuss and approve policies to overcome challenges to the sustainability of the small pelagics fishery.”

As part of the GMC project’s strategy to connect FIPs to international buyers, Augusto Lopez, president of the Ecuadorian Tuna Pole and Line Association, accompanied the GMC delegation to the forum. Lopez presented the Pole and Line Association’s plan to initiate a FIP in order to achieve certified sustainable Yellowfin and Skipjack Tuna, ready for sale to international buyers.

“I appreciate the opportunity to attend this forum and meet representatives from different companies that import tuna,” Lopez said. “The Cañeros de Manta Pole and Line Association is committed to achieving sustainability in our fishery, and we look forward to future engagement with the buyers who purchase sustainable seafood.”

Finally, Christian Severin, the Global Environment Facility’s lead for its International Waters (IW) focal area, presented how the IW portfolio seeks to strengthen national and regional policy and legal frameworks to address challenges affecting the planet’s oceans.  Severin reinforced the linkage between T75’s goals and the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 14, specifically SDG indicator 14.4, which is closely aligned with T75:

Christian Severin, Global Environment Facility’s lead for International Waters (IW), at T75 Forum.

By 2020, effectively regulate harvesting and end overfishing, illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and destructive fishing practices and implement science-based management plans, in order to restore fish stocks in the shortest time feasible, at least to levels that can produce maximum sustainable yield as determined by their biological characteristics.

Like T75, the SDGs intend to unite industry, international donors, governments, and NGOs toward common goals for the betterment of global society.  Now, it’s up to these players to develop efficient and effective partnerships to drive change forward.

About the GMC Project:
GMC is an interregional initiative implemented by the Ministries and Bureaus of Fisheries and Planning of Costa Rica, Ecuador, Indonesia and the Philippines, with technical support from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), facilitated by the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership (SFP), and funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF).

Costa Rica: first country to protect sustainable fisheries of large pelagics species

Large Pelagic National Action Plan Launching – Costa Rica

According to data estimated by the Costa Rican Institute of Fisheries and Aquaculture (INCOPESCA), the country’s fishing sector is made up of around 400 boats with each boat carrying between five and eight people, forming a working population of around 2,000 to 3,200 directly linked to the sector. 

Twelve years ago, in a restaurant in Puntarenas on the pacific coast of Costa Rica, a group of long line fishermen met with three UNDP conservation specialists.

The conservationists wanted to understand how best to avoid illegal fishing inside Cocos Island Marine Protected Area, located off the shore of Costa Rica and now a UNESCO World Heritage site.

As part of their stakeholder engagement strategy, they decided to meet longline fishermen for dinner. It didn’t turn out quite as they had hoped – not many hands were shaken after dessert.

There was one table but two very different perspectives. The UNDP personnel were working on a project which saw illegal fishing on Cocos Island as a conservation issue. On the other hand, the group of local entrepreneurs from Puntarenas were challenged by depleted resources and closed markets. Though some of them were indeed responsible for illegal fishing, none were big businessmen with major ambitions, but rather owners of a couple of long line vessels trying to make a living — with little access to credit and paying the highest social security costs in the region for every member of their expeditions.

The prospect of UNDP supporting the government to further restrictions on their livelihoods, was not taken lightly. A lot of mistrust turned the food, and the mood, sour.

Large Pelagic Fisheries Costa Rica

Together with the families that depend on this activity, the affected population reaches between 10 to 16 million people and this is without including those indirectly linked through the thousands of other indirect jobs which ensure fishing activity such as transportation, fishing supplies, food, mechanics, and others.

Fast forward to the present day and twelve years later, the perspectives of both the conservationists and the fishermen have changed. Last November, not far from that restaurant in Puntarenas, Costa Rica was the first country in the world to launch a National Action Plan for sustainable fisheries of large pelagic species, using UNDP’s methodology.

Through the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock (MAG), the Ministry of Environment and Energy (MINAE), the Costa Rican Institute of Fisheries and Aquaculture (INCOPESCA) and the support of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the country officially presented a plan with three main areas of work: improving the fisheries of large pelagic species in Costa Rica such as tuna, swordfish and mahi mahi; increasing the supply of seafood from sustainable sources and ensuring the social welfare of the people linked to the fishing activity.

During the presentation of the plan, one of those same sector leaders from the restaurant took the opportunity to approach the same UNDP staff member he met all those years ago and said to him, “I wanted to thank UNDP for the trust it has given us and for helping us build a formal plan with institutions”.

A clear victory for UNDP’s firm confidence and strong commitment to multi-stakeholder dialogue as the key element to achieve systemic change for sustainable commodity production.

A model case study of successful convening and collaboration between different stakeholders, it is the result of a process of dialogue lasting twelve months and involving more than one hundred representatives of government, academia, civil society, international cooperation, fishermen, exporters, restaurants and supermarkets.

A group of people who were not likely to be happy in same room a few years ago but are now committed to working together towards a more sustainable, inclusive and promising future for Costa Rican fisheries.

Through 2019, we celebrate ten years of UNDP supporting multi-stakeholder approaches to the sustainability challenges of highly-traded commodities around the world.

Through the Green Commodities Programme, UNDP’s approach has been to build trust among stakeholders by facilitating neutral spaces where they can collaborate on a shared vision and agenda for action, coming to a collective agreement on the root of the sustainability problems of key commodities and on how they will work together to resolve them.

Through its multi-stakeholder National Commodity Platforms, the programme is currently working on palm oil, cocoa, coffee, beef, soy, pineapple and fisheries in Dominican Republic, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Peru, Paraguay, Liberia, Cote D’Ivoire, Ghana, Philippines, Indonesia and Papua New Guinea.