As consumer demand for wild caught seafood continues to grow, so do the pressures that lead to overfishing and collapses of global fisheries. To help overfished stocks recover, as well as to safeguard those that are still within sustainable harvesting limits, both the private and public sectors have important roles to play. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is currently implementing an innovative project, the Global Sustainable Supply Chains for Marine Commodities Project (GMC Project), and just released a new publication “The GMC Project: Our Model and Early Results“, that describes its unique approach to engage different public and private sector actors along the seafood supply chain to drive sustainability into 9 distinct fisheries in Asia and Latin America.
“As we enter the first year of the UN Decade of Action to deliver the Sustainable Development Goals, UNDP is working actively with multiple partners to build a sustainable Blue Economy that fosters a healthy marine environment,” said Diego Orellana, GMC International Project Coordinator.“Collective action and public private partnerships will help unlock society’s potential to achieve the 2030 Agenda and safeguard the resources, services and livelihoods that are linked to our oceans.” added Orellana.
After two years of implementation, the GMC Project has produced compelling results in the four countries in which it operates: Costa Rica, Ecuador, Indonesia and the Philippines.
On the one hand, the project focuses on assisting national planning and fisheries authorities to facilitate multi-stakeholder dialogue spaces called Sustainable Marine Commodity Platforms to formulate policies aimed at improving the sustainability and effective management of the targeted fisheries in their corresponding Large Marine Ecosystems.
The Sustainable Marine Commodity Platforms adapt the UNDP-Green Commodities Programme methodology to the fisheries context and seek at once to promote systemic change for commodity supply chains (sustainable production and demand) while assisting state actors to apply the ecosystem approach to fisheries management. These platforms aim to produce National Action Plans or Fisheries Management Plans with active multi-stakeholder participation.
Simultaneously, the GMC project’s NGO partner, Sustainable Fisheries Partnership (SFP), works to engage international seafood retailers and buyers to help support the critical improvements needed for the sustainability of fisheries. In short, the model harnesses market incentive tools and bottom-up public governance efforts to effectively drive sustainability to meet in the middle of fishery supply chains.
To date, the project has facilitated new fisheries policy consultation forums in Costa Rica, Ecuador, and Indonesia and has strengthened the fisheries management Technical Working Groups in the Philippines. The GMC Project is also providing direct assistance to seven Fishery Improvement Projects (FIPs) and indirect support to another two. Between these nine FIPs the project is contributing to improve the sustainability of an estimated 344,313 metric tons of annual seafood landings. SFP has also helped eight major global seafood retailers to adopt or improve their sustainable seafood purchasing policies, and have engaged an additional 29 international seafood supplying companies in four relevant Supply Chain Roundtables to support fisheries improvements across the globe.
The GMC Project with the support of its partner SFP has helped secure industry financing for the sustainability of fisheries. In Ecuador, for example, the GMC Project provided seed funding to initiate the Small Pelagic FIP, and in return, the Ecuadorian private sector FIP implementers committed more than $1.5 million dollars to implement the FIP’s five-year work plan. This FIP, which is comprised of 19 Ecuadorian fishing and fishmeal producing companies, is aiming to achieve sustainable certified from IFFO-RS, the world’s leading sustainable certifying agency for reduction fisheries.