Crab Council Monthly Update
Thank you for supporting Blue Swimming Crab sustainability with the NFI Crab Council. The Crab Council is a group of U.S. and international crab importers committed to preserving crabmeat as a quality product and robust resource.
Crab sustainability takes work. The council is focused year-round on our fishery improvement projects, and we want you to hear about it. Please take a moment to read our monthly newsletter highlighting the Crab Council’s most recent efforts in Southeast Asia and at home. Thank you for staying current with the NFI Crab Council and keeping focused on tomorrow’s catch.
Brendan Sweeny, Chairman
In Indonesia, APRI Director Arie Prabawa has moved on from the position. Arie helped maintain partnerships with IMACS, P4KSI, UNDIP and the hatchery in Betahwalang-Demak while fostering new efforts with RARE and MRAG. The Asia Liaison is coordinating the search for a replacement director with assistance from partners like Sustainable Fisheries Partnership.
APRI voted in the new Executive Committee on September 5th. Kuncoro Catur Nugroho (PT. KML) is the new Chairman, Bambang Arif Nugraha (PT. SJA) as Secretary, and Alfred Goenawan (PT. BMI) remains as Treasurer.
SULTRA, Southeast Sulawesi, APRI completed the final milestones of a small-grant program funded by USAID/IMACS (Indonesian Marine and Climate Support). IMACS highlighted their I-FISH approach to fishery management, which was two-fold. First launching online platforms for storing and processing stock assessment data in real time to share with fishery stakeholders. Then establishing collaborative Data Management Committees that included public and private partnerships, research groups and technical staff to collect and review fishery data.
The project lasted for over a year, it used the SPR (Spawning Potential Ratio/Spawning Per Recruit) method to assess the fishery, and experimented with modified collapsible trap designs with escape vents. Proposed harvest control rules were based around increases in size selectivity via minimum carapace width at first maturity, trap designs, area closures, and mitigation of harvesting berried females; reference points based around. IMACS wrapped up the small grant program with an MSC Pre Assessment that will be a baseline for further fishery management to take root from, the result of which will be finalized in mid-October. APRI have committed to support further data collection and coordination of the data management committee, which has been restructured into a formalized steering committee, at least till the end of 2015.
The I-Fish server was handed over to the MMAF (Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries) in a conference in Bali, September 2nd – 4th that saw the end of the IMACS initiative. MMAF will take ownership of the server and management of the data. APRI member, Bambang Nugraha participated and represented the industry on the panel discussion at the high profile conference. Bambang reiterated the need for proper fishery data and enforcement. Processors remain committed to the sustainability cause and will support the ministry to enforce fishery legislation.
PACPI will solicit MRAG fishery consultants to conduct the MSC Pre-Assessment, project scoping, and FIP Action Planning for the Blue Swimming Crab FIP. MRAG has vast experience in advising on sustainability projects and played a key role in getting the Thai FIP started. MRAG’s experience in the BSC fishery and coordination of BSC sustainability efforts around the region makes this an opportune partnership.
BSC fishery stakeholders in Kien Giang, Vietnam, gathered on August 27th to 30th, for the annual FIP Review, and the RBF (Risk Based Framework) workshop conducted at DARD. Local government, fisher community members, researchers, NGOs, and the industry were represented at the meetings.
The biggest take-away from the 4-day workshop was how good data, good management, and good planning in sustainability are key success factors for a FIP. Robust stock assessments are the backbone for effective policies, and should be facilitated by a scientific 3rd party. Public-private partnerships are essential to marshal in fishery reform. A road map to sustainability needs to come from experienced professionals who understand the MSC Standard’s environmental criteria’s and have worked in the fisheries as well. Vietnam is the ideal model for how FIPs should be planned and monitored; however, the fishery still has a lot of hurdles to overcome.
Key discussion topics at the FIP review were RIMF’s findings from the stock assessment, annual review of progress and amendments to the FIP Action Plan. New and old concerns in the fishery were brought to light during the floor discussions as well.
Read a more in depth update on the Vietnam FIP on the Sustainability Passport Blog.
In June, the Thai Crab Product Group (TCPG) and WWF-Thailand, hosted a stakeholder roundtable, in Donsak, Surat Thani
(Southern Thailand). The discussion centered on scoping the sustainability initiative and refining sustainability issues to be addressed in the FIP Action Plan, such as stock assessments, fishing methods and policy enforcement. Topics on crab rearing and no take zones were also touched upon. Invasive aqua-culturing of a bi-valve fishery in the coastal areas also raised cause for concern.
The second round of stakeholder roundtables with MRAG fishery consultants will plan to commence on September 17-19 in Surat Thani.
ASEAN FIP Protocol
After months of deliberation an ASEAN FIP Protocol will be available for public comment around the 3rd week of September. The FIP Protocol seeks to define a space between western standards of sustainability, and fishery performance in Asia, which may take time and coaching to operate at high level. The Asia Liaison proposed the concept to the USAID funded initiative (“MARKET Project”), which seeks to address fishery issues in the ASEAN context. The concept rapidly gained momentum, as fisheries in Asia are coming to terms with the FIP concept.
The steering committee for the FIP Protocol includes the private sector and NGO representatives from all over Southeast Asia, including PACPI members, and Jeremy Crawford the Asia Liaison. Crab Council representatives and in-country trade associations were able to share their experience, contributing to the concept, process, environmental and social benchmarks.
ISU-EDF Panel “Financing the Future…”
In July, the Asia Liaison was invited to participate in a conference held by the Prince of Wales’ International Sustainability Unit (ISU) in the United Kingdom, entitled “Financing the Transition to a Sustainable Blue Economy”. This was in regard to a new report the ISU, EDF and 50in10 had published: http://www.50in10.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/fisheries_handbook.pdf
The conference focused on turning our oceans health into an investment opportunity, whereas a sustainably run fishery is in fact a more profitable fishery. Because of the Crab Council’s innovative, industry-driven approach to fishery improvement, Jeremy Crawford was recognized by the conference as an authority on bridging the gap between the finance sector and fishery managers. Mr. Crawford spoke about the attractiveness of Blue Swimming Crab to investors as a small-scale, resilient fishery and demonstrated the correlations between the fitness of a fishery and the profits of a fishery. Read more on Jeremy’s Sustainability Passport Blog.
Sustainability At Home
The Crab Council has added three new members in 2014 growing to a total membership of 18 companies. These companies (GB Aqua, Mark Foods and Sea Pearl Tradelinks Pty Ltd) represent the diverse and broad-spread interests of the Blue Swimming Crab market. Sea Pearl , based in Australia, joins the Crab Council as its first international member. GB Aqua is a hatchery feed company expanding into crab, and Mark Foods imports and sells high-end specialty items, including canned crab, from all over the world. These new members will increase council funding and further the council’s sustainability goals.
Open Letter to Crab Buyers
In mid-August the Crab Council sent an open letter to key crab buyers in the retail and restaurant spheres. The letter detailed the Crab Council’s sustainability mission and work underway as well as urged buyers to have a conversation with their
supplier on sustainability and ask if the supplier is a member of the Council. The letter is part of a Council effort to recruit more companies, especially larger suppliers.
The outreach has seen positive pickup in the trade press with publication on Perishable News, Seafood Source and Seafood News. In addition, the Crab Council published a follow-up piece on the open letter linking sustainability with profitable fisheries.