Fishery Improvement Projects as a governance tool for fisheries sustainability: A global comparative analysis
Fishery Improvement Projects (FIPs) are a form of private governance using seafood supply chains to reduce environmental impacts of fishing in some of the most challenged fisheries. Some FIPs are industry-led, others are championed by NGOs. They range across many different fishery types, in both high- and low-income settings. Their diversity is notable, and their proliferation remarkable. This rapid growth suggests FIPs are becoming a key feature of the fisheries governance landscape globally. Based on a global sample of 107 FIPs, we systematically examined their reported actions, the actors involved, and their achievements in terms of policy and practice outputs. The most common actions were dialogues with policy stakeholders, data collection, and educational efforts directed at fishers. Common policy outputs included development of management plans and/or a management body, and rules for limiting entry and increasing compliance. Practice related outputs were dominated by gear changes, and observer and traceability programs. Only crab and lobster FIPs engaged in sustained policy conversations as one of the most common actions. Shrimp and tuna fisheries report more engagement in testing and implementing changes to fishery practices. While supply chain actors are involved in all FIPs, retailers and 1st tier suppliers are relatively absent from FIP activities, and are primarily involved in rallying financial support or some policy engagement. Based on our analysis we discuss the opportunities and challenges FIPs will likely need to engage with to contribute to a global transition to more socially and environmentally sustainable fisheries. We outline key areas where further work is needed to understand how FIPs can improve their contribution to global fisheries governance in the future.
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