At this years Seafood Summit in New Orleans, Anova’s Fishing & Living program was awarded for the Seafood Champion Award for Innovation for advancing sustainable fisheries by incorporating community development and the wellbeing of fishers in their work to achieve environmental goals. Through Fishery Improvement Projects and fisher education, Anova is contributing to bringing the Indonesian Handline Yellowfin towards Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification.
When Anova Food, LLC launched the Fishing & Living (F&L) Initiative in 2010, the core values of the Anova team meant it would be a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) program unlike others. Concerned with the environmental health of the fisheries they sourced from in Indonesia, Anova partnered with WWF to implement FIPs and begin the process of working toward MSC certification of Indonesian Handline Yellowfin tuna and better fishing practices in longline fisheries. Anova’s team wasn’t satisfied with focusing just on the environmental health of the fisheries. They wanted to help the fishing communities as well. What emerged was a novel approach to sustainability driven by the core tenants of Fishing & Living- that truly sustainable fisheries address not only the environmental aspects of the fishery, but also the local community development and the wellbeing of the fishermen.
In a nation like Indonesia, where artisanal fishermen have limited understanding of responsible fishing and how to compete on the global market, the first steps towards MSC involved teaching young men and women from local universities the framework of sustainable and responsible fishing practices. These new “agent of change” were then placed in small villages to train local fishermen and create permanently staffed Fishermen Centers at landing sites.
For a large archipelagic nation, collecting catch statistics in artisanal and remote fisheries such as handline has been one of the greatest challenges to achieve sustainability. Therefore, working with a small USAID grant and Anova’s own funding, F&L took on the task of collecting fishery data in sites nationwide. As a result, F&L brought about a robust and growing supply of accurate and reliable information that is now used by the Indonesian government for fishery management purposes. By taking on this role, F&L became a leader in mobilizing and engaging a range of stakeholders: from fishermen and local suppliers to universities, government and NGOs.
F&L has distinguished itself from other seafood sustainability initiatives through its conviction that fisheries improvements go hand in hand with community development. As result, F&L has implemented social programs directly tied to fishing communities and the marine environment: beach clean-ups, safety-at-sea guidebooks, conservation awareness and alternative livelihood programs. There have also been efforts beyond the water’s edge with donations to local schools and orphanages such as books, sporting equipment, water filtration systems and English classes.
Driven by its vision for improved life in fishing communities, F&L has been actively involved in the development of the first capture fisheries FairTrade standard and setting up a pilot project for its implementation. F&L was key to forming fishermen associations and helping fishermen meeting FairTrade requirements. This project will enable Anova to bring the first FairTrade fish to market. To continue the implementation of this project, F&L is now funding a local NGO (MDPI), a direct result of F&L’s presence in Indonesia. One the outputs of FairTrade for fisherman and their community will be larger financial rewards, to be re-invested in development projects. Further contributing to this aspect, F&L provides handling and quality enhancement trainings, yielding lower spoilage rate and higher incomes.
F&L’s has also been a champion of sustainable tuna to Anova’s clients. Given its unique position as the sustainability arm of a seafood company, F&L is changing the seafood appetite of North America to something more sustainable and contributing to aligning market demand with sustainability needs.
As Anova expanded to other tuna fisheries, F&L took the opportunity to adapt its model to the needs of other fisheries. Since 2012, F&L has actively supported the WWF lead Vietnam FIP and in January 2013 F&L started leading the charge towards FIPs in the Pacific Islands. It took on the role of FIP leader for the Cook Islands, developing FIP Action Plans, improving logbooks and training crews for improved ETP interaction. Plans are currently being made to implement tuna FIPs in the Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Fiji and Mauritius as well.
Anova’s F&L wants to show the seafood industry that concern for the environment and fishing communities is the best route to sustainability. It is for pioneering this approach that Anova’s Fishing & Living initiative won the SeaWeb Seafood Champion Award for Innovation.
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