The Fishing & Living Program helps fishing communities around the world thrive by promoting sustainable fishing and protecting livelihoods. We look at key objectives of the initiative and its reach to date.
The Fishing & Living program was initiated by Anova in 2010.
A subsidiary of Bumble Bee Foods LLC, Anova is a leading fish and seafood brand. It is committed to protecting fish stocks for future generations, as well as supporting the local communities that rely on the commercial fishing industry.
Anova launched the Fishing & Living Program as part of a Fisheries Improvement Program (FIP) designed to achieve MSC certification of Indonesian yellowfin tuna fisheries.
Building on successes in Indonesia, the initiative has been expanded to the Cook Islands, Vietnam, and Micronesia, where new FIPs have been developed. Anova works with local fishing communities, forming sustainability teams to focus on fishermen training, traceability innovation, logbook programs, and stakeholder engagement.
Uniquely, the program not only addresses fishing best practices and sustainability, but the wellbeing of local fishermen and their families. Anova’s Fishing & Living Program has received numerous awards and accolades, including the Seafood Champion Award for Innovation at the SeaWeb Seafood Summit in 2015. The award recognized the company’s successes in engaging with local fishing communities to achieve environmental goals.
In addition, Anova’s Natural Blue brand is the world’s first Fair Trade Certified seafood brand. The brand adheres to standards that protect human rights, maintain safe working conditions, prevent child labor, regulate work hours and benefits, and promote responsible resource management in partner fisheries.
At the Our Ocean Conference in Bali in 2018, Anova announced several targets the company aims to achieve by 2020. These include:
- Ensuring all tuna products are 100% traceable, from fully transparent, sustainable sources.
- Ensuring that 60% of partner fisheries are either Fair Trade or MSC Certified, with the remaining 40% of fisheries in credible FIPs.
- Investing a minimum of $300,000 per annum into sustainable fisheries and communities throughout Indonesia.
- Ensuring that the Indonesian Fair Trade initiative generates $100,000 per annum for repayment to certified Fair Trade fishermen and their communities.
The Indonesian Handline Tuna Fishery Improvement Program
Since 2010, the Indonesian handline yellowfin tuna (Thunnus albacares) fishery has been subject to a FIP. The fishery’s goal is to receive certification from the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC).
Fishing & Living has supported the FIP since its inception by participating in several activities in Eastern Indonesia, including:
- Engaging with national government fisheries authorities.
- Cooperating with local fishermen and suppliers in the collection of data.
- Implementing awareness campaigns promoting marine conservation and sustainable fishing practices.
Since 2014, Fishing & Living has worked in concert with the Indonesian government, industry partners, and NGOs to support improvements in the Eastern Indonesian small-scale handline yellowfin tuna fishery.
Broad objectives of the Indonesian Handline Tuna FIP include establishing a robust port sampling program, engaging local fishermen in harvest strategy development workshops, and establishing co-management initiatives in local provinces.
Why does Indonesia’s tuna fishing industry need protection?
Indonesia provides around 1 million tons of tuna per year, equating to 16% of global tuna supplies. It is the world’s largest tuna supplier. Many fisheries in the country are seeking to improve practices, and The Guardian reported in January 2019 that the Indonesian government’s actions have helped fish stocks more than double in Indonesian waters. These efforts are encouraging, despite major sustainability concerns in the larger region. Due to historical overfishing and illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing today, analysts warn that exploitable fish stocks in Asia-Pacific waters could crash to zero by 2048.
Fishermen in this region report that not only are tuna numbers declining, but the size of individual tuna caught grows increasingly smaller. In an interview with The Guardian newspaper, fisherman Raul Gomez, who lives and fishes in the Philippines, explained that when he was 14 years old, he would return home from a fishing expedition with his father, hauling catches of 10 or more tuna weighing 100 kg or more. Some forty years later, Raul Gomez counts himself lucky to catch a 70 kg bigeye, and he must venture much further to find them. He rarely sees his family because he spends so much time fishing for increasingly elusive tuna, and he makes the equivalent of about $1.25 per day for his efforts.
Anova’s Fishing & Living Program is designed to prevent situations like this from occurring within the Indonesian, Vietnamese, and other fisheries where it operates.
Hope for the future
Despite these challenges, the good news is that stocks of some tuna species have stabilized, though there’s still much work to do to ensure long-term sustainability. Programs like the Fishing & Living Program are working on the ground to improve fisheries’ sustainability and to support the people who earn their living through fishing. Meanwhile, certifications like the MSC blue label system promote transparency throughout the tuna supply chain, ensuring that participants adhere to stringent regulations designed to protect marine ecosystems and tuna sustainability.
Initiatives like Fishing & Living are also vital in promoting traceability from the line to the plate. They protect consumers by ensuring the buyer gets what it says on the label. Overall, Fishing & Living protects the future of commercial fishing and the livelihoods of local fishermen, their families, and communities.