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.

Official start of the “Global Sustainable Supply Chain Marine Commodities” Project

The presentation was headed by the Minister of Aquaculture and Fisheries and the Deputy Representative of UNDP. Photo: Ministry of Aquaculture and Fisheries

Aiming to protect and preserve the sustainable productivity of the fishery sector, The Ministry of Aquaculture and Fisheries of Ecuador with the support of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), held the global inception workshop of “Global Sustainable Supply Chain Marine Commodities” project. This inter-regional and multi-state project had the participation of Indonesia, Costa Rica, the Philippines and Ecuador.

The workshop, which finished on November 10th, had participation of fisheries authorities of the four governments members of the project.

This worldwide pioneering initiative, allows participant countries to take actions that guarantee sustainable fisheries by creating stakeholde´s dialogue spaces (at the national level) with the end goal to  improve the selected fisheries (in the case of Ecuador: industrial tuna purse seine, artisanal and industrial Mahi-Mahi, and Hake) by fostering market access for certified MSC (Marine Stewardship Council) fisheries or fisheries intervened by FIPs (Fisheries Improvement Projects) in international markets (Japan, United States and Europe).

The Ecuadorian Ministry of Aquaculture and Fisheries, Katuska Drouet, indicated that “it is of priority to encourage good governance by assimilating and implementing international tools and policies, in order to achieve a productive, inclusive and sustainable production along the region”.

UNDP Deputy Resident Representative in Ecuador, Nuno Queiros, advised to workshop participants about anthropogenic pressure in marine and fishery resources, and the inappropriate practices as illegal, non-declared and non-regulated fishing that is generating overfishing and pollution. In his final remark, Nuno mentioned that “This overfishing situation is leading us to think about the increasing demand of seafood products”.

José Vicente Troya, Regional Technical Advisor for Water and Oceans at the UNDP Regional Center in Panama, reported that 90% of the world´s fisheries are either fully fished or overexploited, which is why it is important to promote markets that support responsible consumption, respect the environment, and use fishing gear that is not destructive.

 “It is important to identify common interests, in order to construct goals and endeavors that allow sustainable efforts”, emphasized Jose Troya.

Better practices generated among participant countries, will be shared and replicated by its members and disseminated to other stakeholders to improve the state of worldwide fisheries.