UNESCO GRÓ-FTP’s Sustainable Development Goal 14 Video Series

FarFish partners at UNESCO GRÓ Fisheries Training Programme, who lead the project’s work on Capacity Development and Dissemination (WP7) have developed a series of videos unpacking the science and processes behind the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 14 targets.

This series of videos explores Sustainable Development Goal 14, which relates to life in water and how we can build a path towards conserving living aquatic resources in our oceans and seas.

There are ten targets within SDG 14, and five of them deal with fisheries and how humans can use the living aquatic resources to build the future we want. SDG 14 deals with interactions between humans and aquatic ecosystems. All over the world people rely on these systems to provide them with food, income, livelihoods, and ecosystem services like regulation of the global climate.

For over 20-years the Fisheries Training Program has worked towards building capacity in developing countries to sustainably manage living aquatic resources. Through training and research, the Fisheries Training Programme has worked all over the world, and trained over 400 fisheries professionals, working with research institutions, universities and government agencies in developing countries.

In this SDG 14 video series we explore some of the major issues facing the development of fisheries across the world today.

Small projects for big impact in fisheries; Towards Sustainable Development Goal 14

SDG target 14.4 aims to effectively regulate harvesting, end overfishing, illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing and to end destructive fishing practices. Essentially, this is about fisheries management. The first step in achieving this target is the creation of governance structures that support sustainable management in fisheries. Having rules in place is one thing, but making it work in practice can be an entirely different challenge. Daði Már Kristófersson is a natural resource economist and a professor at the University of Iceland. In this video, he walks us through some examples of how small incentives can lead to real changes on the ground.

Preserving the value of fish; towards Sustainable Development Goal 14

SDG 14.7 aims, by 2030, to increase the economic benefits to small island developing states, and least developed countries, from sustainable use of marine resources. Worldwide, about 10% of people rely on fisheries as a source of food and income. If properly managed and handled, fish is a renewable source of protein and micronutrients vital for human health and survival, particularly among the very young and pregnant women. Unfortunately, in many places today, the way fish is handled turns what should be a health food, into a health hazard. If we are going to achieve SDG 14.7, and increase economic benefits to the poorest countries from our marine resources, one of the biggest issues to solve is related to post-harvest loss. What happens to a fish from the time it is caught until it reaches the consumer? Margeir Gissurarson is a food scientist who spent his career researching the way fish spoils, and what can be done to preserve it better. In this video, he describes how we can make the most out of these precious marine resources.

Data for sustainable fisheries management; towards Sustainable Development Goal 14

SDG target 14.4 asks us to implement science-based management plans to restore fish stocks to maximum sustainable yield as determined by their biological characteristics in the shortest time feasible. A generation ago, 90% of the fish stocks we harvested came from sustainably sourced stocks, today the number is closer to 66%. To achieve target 14.4 and restore fish stocks to MSY, we need information about those stocks, but how do we know what is going on with the fish stocks we want to harvest? Einar Hjörleifsson is a fisheries biologist with the Marine and Freshwater Research Institute in Iceland. In this video, he talks us through a through a fundamental fisheries equation to help us solve this problem.

Defining and defending small scale fisheries; towards Sustainable Development Goal 14

SDG target 14b aims to provide access for small-scale artisanal fishers to marine resources and markets. The UN FAO estimates that about 2/3 of all fish caught for direct human consumption comes from small scale fisheries. 90% of the people directly employed and dependent on fisheries are in the small-scale sector. But what do we really mean when we use the term “small-scale fisheries”? The definition has changed over time, and may be different, depending on where you live. We tend to think of small-scale fisheries as being rooted in local communities, traditions, and values. We imagine that small-scale fishers are self-employed and usually provide food for their communities and households. Tumi Tómasson is a fisheries biologist who has worked all over the world in fisheries development. In this video, he takes us through the concept of small-scale fisheries, how it has changed over time, and how we can apply it today.

Report on potential return on EU long-distant fleet investments in selected West African and Indian Ocean case studies

The FarFish project has published a report that studies potential return on EU investments in selected West African and Indian Ocean case studies connected with the long-distant fleets operations in the areas. The report focuses on small pelagic fisheries in Mauritania and tuna fisheries in West Africa and Seychelles.

The H2020 FarFish project aims to provide knowledge, tools and methods to support responsible, sustainable and profitable EU fisheries outside European waters, both within the jurisdiction (EEZ) of non-EU coastal states as well as in international waters (High Seas). To help achieve this goal, the project has published a report that identifies, studies and recommends investment opportunities for EU operators within some of the areas that conform the project Case Studies. Specifically, the report studies investment opportunities within the small pelagic fisheries in Mauritanian waters, and the associated value chains, and the tuna fish pole and line fishery in West Africa, and the associated value chains. The authors included as well a section dedicated to investigating the specific case of investment of French capital in tuna fisheries in Seychelles.

The analysis done for small pelagic fisheries in Mauritania concludes that although efforts have been made to improve the business environment in Mauritania, it remains more attractive for European investors to continue processing the landings of demersal fishes in Spain and small-pelagic ones in Baltic countries. Still, it is not suitable to foresee large European investment in developing the processing industry in Mauritania to handle the fish landed by EU vessels under the agreement, as this will go against the Common Fishery Policy (CFP) that promotes the maintaining of jobs in the EU based fishing industry. In that regards, a coherence of the external EU policies is sought: the development of the processing industry in Mauritania should be promoted only for the species that are not yet processed in the EU.

For the investigations into tuna fisheries, the analyses were based on interviews with relevant stakeholders, including shipowners and key personnel from public bodies and institutions both in West Africa and Europe. A second case study in tuna fisheries in this case in the Indian Ocean, investigates the investment from the French company SAPMER to improve the land infrastructure in the Port of Victoria (Seychelles), as this would be the only notable investment by European interests in recent years for tuna fishing in Africa. These sections conclude that the fishing area where EU pole-and-line vessels are active is becoming less productive, decreasing the profitability of European flagged vessels, as well as of Senegalese flagged vessels that maintain close partnerships with Europe. As a response, they have attempted to extend their fishing grounds. Additional fishing opportunities are opening in The Gambia (whose EEZ is restricted) and other countries are expected to follow. Contrastingly, the EU sustainable partnership fisheries agreement with Senegal or Mauritania could include fewer fishing opportunities in terms of tonnage, as well as increasingly restrictive conditions for access and landings. European operators have reacted so far by considering the switch to private regime, instead of operating under SFPA, as a preferred strategy.

The full report is available here.

FarFish en Industrias Pesqueras: ejemplos de iniciativas de buenas prácticas llevadas a cabo por operadores pesqueros

Alexandre Rodríguez, Secretario General del LDAC ha publicado en la edición especial de Industrias Pesqueras un interesante artículo sobre iniciativas de buenas prácticas llevadas a cabo por operadores pesqueros. Los tres operadores mencionados, Opagac, Opromar y Orpagu colaboran con el proyecto FarFish ya sea como socios (Opromar) o como miembros del grupo externo de expertos (Opagac y Orpagu). Las iniciativas comentadas centran la atención en la colaboración entre pescadores y científicos, y se incluyen el proyecto FADWATCH, y un proyecto de formación de tripulación para auxiliar tortugas marinas atrapadas accidentalmente. La tercera iniciativa comentada es el proyecto piloto de automuestreo para la evaluación de los stocks de merluza negra realizado dentro de FarFish con el apoyo de Opromar y la tripulación de sus buques, en este caso para el Caso de Estudio de Mauritania. El artículo es accesible desde la web de la revista.

FarFish presented in the Spanish industry journal Industrias Pesqueras

Alexandre Rodríguez from the LDAC, one of the FarFish Consortium members, has published in a special edition of Industrias Pesqueras (main fisheries industry journal in Spain) an interesting article referring some good practices initiatives developed by fisheries operators. These initiatives highlight the collaboration between fishermen and scientists, and all the achievements that we can achieve together. All three operators mentioned are FarFish collaborators in several levels, as partners in the case of Opromar and as advisory experts in the case of both Orpagu and Opagac. As the article is in Spanish, please find below a small summary of the initiatives described:

FAD-WATCH was the first multisectorial initiative at a global level, developed to prevent and mitigate the stranding of FADs in beaches and coral reefs. It was developed in the Seychelles, with the collaboration of Opagac, local NGOs and Seychellois authorities. As a result, around a hundred FADs were intercepted, and the information was then used to design an improved FAD system that reduced their strandings up to 41%.

Orpagu carried out training courses to their crew with the help of Submon, with the aim of increasing the survival of sea turtle bycatches. These training courses included techniques on how to safely remove hooks from the animals and how to manipulate them. The work, mainly done in Cabo Verdean waters, has led to the design and patent by the vessel crews of two devices that will help them safely lift the turtles from the water whilst hauling the catch.

FarFish ran a self-sampling project within the Mauritanian and Senegalese Case Studies with the assistance of Opromar, with the aim of improving the onboard identification of the two black hake species (M. polli and M. senegalensis). Three vessels participated, collecting a total of 358 samples with the fin clipping method following a protocol designed by CCMAR. The identification error was under 18%, with variations depending on depth and fishing area. The fin samples were visually identified and then sent to the University of Oviedo, that identified them genetically. Both identifications were then compared to check the accuracy of visual identification by the vessel crew. The results allow us to better understand data and communication gaps, and work towards their elimination.

FarFish presented in the spring 2021 issue of EU Research

The spring 2021 issue of EU Research includes a two page article on the FarFish project which can be seen here:

New tool for fisheries management

The EU Research magazine is the World leading open access publication for scientific research and dissemination. Each issue covers a different thematic area, presenting cutting edge science in an innovative and entertaining format, and reaching stakeholders, policy makers and EU officials. The article has received considerable attention and is contributing to dissemination of the project progress and results, thereby facilitating that the project will have meaningful impact.

Cover photo: LDAC

Report published on institutional-, social- and economic challenges in selected EU long distant fleet case studies and suggestions for improvements

The FarFish project has published a report where governance structures, as well as social and economic issues, connected with EU long-distant fisheries in selected case studies are analysed. The study focuses on identifying institutional challenges in the relevant fisheries, SWOT analysis of processing and markets for the products, and suggestions for improvements.

The EU is obliged to ensure sustainable utilization of the fisheries’ resources to which EU fleets have access to, both in the high seas and through bilateral agreements, based on the principles of good economic and social governance. This is mainly done through cooperation with Regional Fisheries Management Organisations (RFMOs) and national authorities in partnership countries to improve knowledge and management of the fisheries. Inadequate governance of these fisheries can hinder the goal of sustainable utilization of fisheries’ resources, resulting in suboptimal or over-exploitation of shared and straddling fish stocks. On the other hand, limited knowledge regarding the processing and market conditions in partner coastal states has contributed to substantial criticism regarding the social and economic benefits that the international fisheries actually bring to the partners’ countries.

In line with the overall objective of the FarFish project, to ensure sustainability and profitability in EU fisheries outside of Europe, the project has published a report that utilises the knowledge acquired across the different work packages in the project to identify challenges and opportunities for improvements in the FarFish case studies regarding governance structure, as well as social- and economic issues. This analysis is twofold: 1) identification of institutional challenges obstructing the achievement of the intended governance principles as expressed in the relevant fisheries agreements; 2) analysis of the processing and market strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats for the selected case studies. These are then summarized in the form of road maps, which visualize the pathways towards achieving the ambitions identified for the FarFish project.

The selected case studies included in the report are high-seas fisheries in the SW- and SE-Atlantic, and SFPA fisheries in Capo Verde, Senegal, Mauritania and Seychelles. The report highlights the fact that the different case studies, despite having each their own identity, have several challenges in common, such as the lack of adequate data reporting and collection, limited resources of coastal states to conduct adequate Monitoring, Control and Surveillance (MCS) on international fleets (i.e. processing of VMS signals).

The full report is available here.

La conferencia online “Gestión de Pesquerías Sostenibles en el Atlántico SO: una aproximación científica” fue todo un éxito

El pasado día 4 de marzo, tuvo lugar la Conferencia Internacional “Gestión de Pesquerías Sostenibles en el Atlántico SO: una aproximación científica”, dentro del marco del proyecto FarFish. Con 141 asistentes, la conferencia online fue todo un éxito no sólo gracias al interés generado, sino a las magníficas discusiones de las que fuimos testigos en los diferentes paneles. 

En el primer panel, dedicado a la exploración de colaboraciones científicas para el avance de las evaluaciones pesqueras, los panelistas se pusieron de acuerdo en la necesidad de cooperación científica internacional. Compartir datos es esencial para todas las pesquerías, pero lo es aún más cuando se trata de stocks compartidos que se mueven entre las ZEE de diferentes países (e.j. Illex argentinus y Merluccius hubbsi). Los programas de observadores deben también ser reforzados mediante la colaboración en investigación, ayudando con la promoción de artes selectivas y medidas para reducir el bycatch, así como con la construcción de series temporales de datos ininterrumpidas. Las prioridades de investigación identificadas por los panelistas pueden dividirse en dos campos:

  • Un plan de acción multilateral a ser definido paso a paso mediante programas de colección de datos en:
    • Biología (estructura poblacional, distribución, edad, crecimiento, alimentación, alevinaje, migración)
    • Características del hábitat (idoneidad, bentos, dinámica poblacional)
    • Gestión pesquera (esfuerzo pesquero, bandera, medidas técnicas y legislación internacional);
    • Condiciones climáticas y ambientales (escala espacial y temporal)
  • Establecer un marco legal adecuado para la cooperación científica en el área, centrado en:
    • Lucha contra la sobrepesca y la pesca INDNR
    • Promoción de foros científicos para compartir e intercambiar información
    • Mejorar el MCS y el cumplimiento de las normas por parte de todas las flotas para la protección de EMVs en aguas internacionales

El segundo panel se centró en la discusión de las mejores prácticas en gestión y control pesquero. Representantes del IEO, Global Fishing Watch y la industria resaltaron la necesidad de una mejor integración de la investigación y los datos pesqueros bajo una aproximación multidisciplinar. Por ejemplo, la teledetección podría ser usada para estimar el tamaño de las flotas y sus capturas, siendo este uso complementario al VMS y al ERS. Al mismo tiempo, la incertidumbre en las pesquerías podría reducirse mediante una mayor conexión entre el conocimiento científico y el conocimiento local de los trabajadores del mar.

El principal mensaje que nos dejó la Conferencia es que es necesaria una OROP que implemente los mecanismos que permitirán la coordinación y la conectividad entre los diferentes agentes involucrados en las pesquerías de la zona, así como el intercambio de datos científicos, para de esta manera poder preparar recomendaciones y acordar medidas regulatorias en la plataforma continental patagónica.

Increased interest and fruitful discussions at the International Conference “Sustainable Fisheries in SW Atlantic: a scientific approach”

On 4th of March, 2021, the International Conference titled “Sustainable Fisheries in SW Atlantic: a scientific approach” took place within the framework of the FarFish project. With 141 attendees, the online conference was a success not only because of the interest that it raised, but because of the fruitful discussions that we were able to witness during the different panels.

During the first panel, dedicated to explore scientific collaboration to advance in fisheries assessments, it was agreed that there is a need for international cooperation in scientific research. Data sharing is essential for all fisheries, but particularly on fisheries of straddling stocks that live in different EEZs (e.g. Illex argentinus and Merluccius hubbsi).Observer programmes need to be strengthened too through collaborative research, helping with the promotion of selectivity gear and by-catch measures, and building (uninterrupted) time data series. The research priorities identified by the panelists can be divided into two fields:

  • A multilateral action plan to be defined through a stepwise approach for data collection programs on:
    • Biology (population structure, distribution, age and growth, feeding and spawning grounds, migration)
    • Habitat characteristics (suitability, benthos, population dynamics)
    • Fisheries management (fishing effort, flag state, technical measures and international law);
    • Climate and environmental conditions (spatial and temporal scales)
  • Set an adequate international legal framework for scientific cooperation in the area, focus on:
    • Fight overfishing and IUU fishing
    • Promote scientific forums to share and exchange information
    • Improve MCS and compliance by all fleets for VME protection in ABNJ waters

The second panel focused the discussion on best practices on management and control. Representatives from the IEO, Global Fishing Watch and the industry highlighted the need for further integration of research and fisheries data under a multidisciplinary approach. For example, remote sensing could be used to estimate fleet sizes and catch rates, being complementary to the use of VMS and ERS. At the same time, fisheries uncertainty could be reduced by rising science and strengthening the connectivity between both scientific and local knowledge.

The main take-home message from the Conference is the need of an RFMO to implement the mechanisms that will allow the coordination and connectivity between stakeholders, as well as the sharing and exchange scientific data in order to prepare advice and agree on regulatory measures in Patagonian Shelf.

E-learning tools for training and capacity building in stock assessment and fisheries management developed within the FarFish project

Among the key objectives of the H2020 project FarFish is to build capacities in stock assessment and fisheries management.

Among the training and capacity building tools developed in the project are e-learning courses that are made available on Tutor-web. The focus of these courses is on Methods and techniques for data-limited fisheries. A report has now been published that provides a summary of the educational materials that have been developed as part of FarFish for tutor-web, the report is available here.

The materials include updates of previously existing tutor-web courses that have been tailored for FarFish, as well as new teaching materials directed at FarFish target audience. The material is made available in the tutor-web as a single course, under the heading “Methods and techniques for data-limited fisheries.” It consists of multiple tutorials, providing material and drills at various stages of development, on topics from prerequisite mathematics, statistics and programming, through introductory fish population dynamics to methods for data-limited fisheries. The choice of material is in large part based on discussions, meetings and interviews with potential users.

Report on stock assessment in selected fisheries outside EU waters which are important for the EU long distant fleet

One of the key objectives of the FarFish project is: “To advance knowledge and collate data related to biological characteristics of the main fish stocks in selected fisheries outside EU waters that are important for the EU fleet, and to evaluate the relevance and applicability of appropriate stock assessment methods for these fisheries.” In this context, the review and evaluation of stock assessment models used in the different Case Studies and the status of the stocks is one of the primary objectives of the project. The FarFish project has therefore published a report, which contains a review the stock assessment carried out for the target species in each of the project’s case study areas.

The full report is available here

The report concludes that the tuna fisheries, which are managed through ICCAT and IOTC, has sufficient data to allow for a wide range stock assessment, ranging from catch and effort based Surplus Production models to the state of the art Stock Synthesis approach that can accommodate both age and size structure in the population and multiple stock sub-areas.

In the case of demersal and small pelagic species assessed at the regional level through CECAF and FAO, a more limited range of stock assessment methods and models are used, namely variations of Surplus Production models, and in some cases length-based cohort analysis and yield per recruit. There are few examples of the use of data-limited methods; the exception being the Catch at MSY (CMSY) approach developed by Martell and Froese (2013) and used by ICCAT and CECAF for some species.

The status of tuna and tuna-like species in the Atlantic shows a mixed picture. For some species, mainly by-catch species but also a target species (skipjack tuna), no formal assessment is possible due largely to lack of suitable data and/or to the characteristics of the species (skipjack tuna). Only two species (swordfish and blue shark) are considered not overfished or subject to overfishing, while half the other assessed species are considered subject to overfishing.

In the Indian Ocean, based on the same reference points used by ICCAT, bigeye tuna, skipjack, swordfish and blue shark are considered subject to overfishing. Yellowfin tuna and striped marlin are considered overfished/subject to overfishing, while blue marlin and indo-pacific sailfish are assessed as not overfished but subject to overfishing.

For the 26 demersal species/stocks assessed by CECAF/FAO, half of the 19 that could be assessed were judged to be over-exploited, while seven were considered fully exploited and only three not fully exploited. Due to insufficient data, inconclusive results were obtained for seven stocks, although additional information from fisheries and scientific surveys suggests that many are overexploited.

For the Southwest Atlantic, limited assessment is possible due to lack of RFMO and the fact that the EU fleet accounts for a fraction of the non-EU long-distance fleets for which no data is available. For the Southeast Atlantic, lack of data has hampered stock assessment for some species. However, the South East Atlantic Fisheries Organisation (SEAFO) has put in place a number of management measures and harvest control rules for some of the target species such as Patagonian toothfish, alfonsino, and deep-sea red crab.

The review report shows that lack of suitable data for classical stock assessment methods is an underlying theme in all the case studies and that to date, there has been limited use of data-limited models or approaches applied. For example, in the case of Mauritania and Senegal the number of demersal species/stocks (19) for which there is some kind of stock assessment is a fraction of the total number of commercial demersal species and stocks (more than 100 species/stocks). For these other data-limited or data-poor species FarFish can provide the tools to carry out stock assessment based on the DLM tools package which has minimal requirements (catch time series and life history parameters). FarFish aims to identify sources of data, especially time series of fisheries independent catch per unit effort data from research surveys, that the case study partners can use to assess these species. In the case of by-catch species of pelagic fisheries (Seychelles and Cabo Verde) FarFish has actually compiled data for selected species that are not currently assessed by ICCAT or IOTC and these are used to illustrate the DLM package that has been developed. Thus, based on data that is mainly available from time series of research institute national surveys, along with life history parameters, FarFish can play an important role in showing how DLM can be used to carry out stock assessment of the many species for which there is currently no assessment, thereby contributing to improved management and sustainable exploitation.