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Norpac Fisheries Latest News

Longline fishing companies catching adult bigeye in the western Pacific Ocean are likely to face restrictions as growing concern surrounds the stock status of this species. 

While strong efforts from the WCPFC have already been focused towards reducing the amount of fishing on FADs by purse seine fleets, environmental group Greenpeace says that longline fishing companies are also likely to face restriction measures.

Thomas Kraft, Managing Director of Norpac Fisheries Export in Hawaii, one of the main catchers of bigeye via longline said: “Targeting longline fleets, which catch predominantly mature bigeye tuna is being penny wise but pound foolish. Purse seine effort and catch is exponentially greater, and the observer data, as well as the recent ISSF publications, squarely place the problem of bigeye overfishing on juvenile catch by purse seine vessels utilizing FADs to capture skipjack tuna.”
Recent reports have shown the PNA Secretariat raising concern over the sustainability of the bigeye stocks. The Secretariat is due to present draft measures to a critical working group of the WCPFC. Among other proposals they call for a gradual cut on longline fishing.
But Thomas Kraft does not agree that this is where the solution lies: “It may be a bit disingenuous to now target longliners, while continually turning a blind eye to the crux of the problem, and where a solution to overfishing of bigeye is truly achievable.
“It may just be a game of big money versus independent, small businesses (which many longline operators are). Big businesses make huge profits off FAD fishing and the by-catch of juvenile tuna adds to that profitability. Money talks and small businesses walk…the plank.”
Regulations could have severe impact on the over 25 nations fishing for bigeye using longline vessels in this region. According to the WCPFC, in 2011 they caught a combined total of over 63,000 tons of this lucrative fish.

US – The first ever annual Sustainable Seafood Week has taken place in New York City. During the week, Village Fishmonger and Future of Fish hosted an exclusive hospitality industry round table at the Institute of Culinary Education to spark dialogue around how sustainable seafood – or “story fish” – can accelerate brand value, reports Øistein Thorsen, principal consultant of TheFishSites’s sister organisation trie.

Matthew Quetton of Future of Fish kicked off the roundtable by linking the disruptions happening in the seafood supply chain with what took place in the music industry a few years ago.

The digital music revolution allowed emerging, niche and alternative artists to get their music in front of audiences. The same, he argued, is happening to fish. Through what Mr Quetton coined “story fish” producers and fishers are able to add value to their product by telling its story and hence creating a deep sense of connection between the customer and the fish. This process – often referred to as the winefication of products – has played itself out for other commodities like coffee and chocolate over the last decade to some benefit to the farmers.

Chef Evan Hanczor, at Brooklyn’s Parish Hall restaurant, spoke in favor of trust and close personal relationships in the supply chain to ensure that the “story-fish” makes it to the menu. “It is straight from the sea to the table,” he said. “My middle man knows the fishermen personally, and is able to tell me exactly what today’s catch is and bring it to the restaurant.”

Another, more technology based approach, was offered by Keith Flett of Open Ocean Trading who said his system would “replace trust with accountability through legally binding forward contracts”. His company has developed an online trading platform connecting the fishers directly with large-scale purchasers, like institutional buyers and retailers.

By offering forward contracts for specific species and volumes Open Ocean hope to make ‘precision buying’ the norm and hence change the fact that fishers’ only hedge traditionally has been volume. This system, Mr Flett argued, will raise margins across the supply chain and reduce waste as it allows fishers to respond directly to quality attributes and as well as provide pre-pricing signals telling them when to stop fishing.

This is an example of the way Future of Fish believes technology can play a crucial role in shaking up the industry and carrying the story of the fish; a story about origin, the state of fisheries and the people and communities that depend on it for their living. This same technology is also the key to ensure traceability.

Thomas Kraft of Norpac Fisheries Exports said his company developed a digital traceability scheme primarily to prevent illegal, unreported and unregulated fish ending up in their value chain. “We wouldn’t have done it if it didn’t make business sense,” he said. However, after implementing it he found that the system started answering sustainability related questions he hadn’t even thought of asking – from the state of the fisheries, the size and type of by-catch, to the efficiency of his processing plants.

Combined with the efforts of some chefs and seafood companies’ efforts in changing taste preferences and use more so-called trash-fish or under utilized species in their products, traceability and innovative trading platforms are vital in creating a sizeable sustainability market where there until now has not been one.

However, even amongst the sustainability innovators of the industry there is a sense that one cannot sell a fish on sustainability alone. Sean Dixon, founder of the start-up Village Fishmongers which brings fresh fish directly to its members in New York City a couple of times a week, said he see sustainability strictly in terms of the status and viability of the fish stock.

“Sustainability for us is a resource management and economics metrics,” he continued, “from then on we leave sustainability to one side and start telling the story. The story about the fisher, the fish, the species, the location, its freshness and its taste.”

The great opportunity that the seafood sustainability movement is slowly catching, but which the mainstream actors have yet to exploit, is that the most sustainable fish might also be the cheapest.

There are thousands of species in the sea that could be farmed, however the industry has focused on only a handful. Often these are the ones at the top of their food chains, like salmon. Creating a market for the under utilized species, like porgy and dogfish and thousands others, might break open a new frontier. A frontier where by-catch is a thing of the past and where the most sustainable offering on the menu comes at a discount price, rather than a premium price.

Leveraging the public conversation catalyzed at the first annual Sustainable Seafood Week, Village Fishmonger and Future of Fish will be hosting an exclusive hospitality ​industry round table at the Institute of Culinary Education to open up the​ dialogue around how sustainable ​seafood can accelerate your brand.​

This two-hour session will bring together leading national sustainable seafood advocates, food service consultants, distributors and chefs, together with keystone hospitality buyers from NYC to explore growing opportunities in sustainable seafood.

Panelists including Chef Evan Hanczor of Parish Hall, Thomas Kraft of Norpac Fisheries Exports, Keith Flett of Open Ocean Trading, Sean Dixon of Village Fishmonger and Matthew Quetton of Future of Fish will share insights into how market leadership and customer value can be accelerated through rapidly emerging opportunities in sourcing, preparing and serving the best of the world’s sustainable seafood.

SeaWeb announced the winners of the 2012 Seafood Champion Awards at the opening ceremony of the 10th International Seafood Summit in Hong Kong.

The annual Seafood Champion Awards celebrate leaders in the seafood community who have made significant strides in improving practices and awareness of sustainable seafood.

This year’s winners represent leaders working on a variety of pressing seafood and ocean related issues including illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, anti-shark finning, community managed fisheries, traceability, fisheries improvement projects and more.

The 2012 Seafood Champion Awards marks an important milestone for the awards program. SeaWeb is celebrating the 10th Anniversary of the Seafood Summit and is hosting the Summit in Asia for the first time. The winners of the 2012 Seafood Champion Awards are:

 Austral Fisheries Osborne Park, Australia
 Bahamas Marine Exporters Association Nassau, Bahamas
 Blue Ventures Toliara, Madagascar
 Francois Pasteau, Chef/Owner, L’Epi Dupin Paris, France
 Jimmy Martinez Ortiz, Sub Secretariat of Fisheries Manabi Province, Ecuador
 Taylor Shellfish Farms Shelton, Washington, United States of America
 Thomas Kraft, CEO, Norpac Fisheries Export Seattle, Washington, United States of America
 Victor Hamusa Kargbo, Head of Fisheries Enforcement for the Government of Sierra Leone Freetown, Sierra Leone
 Yao Ming, WildAid Ambassador Beijing, China

“This year’s Seafood Champion Award winners represent a truly diverse and international group of leaders signaling the tremendous growth in the sustainable seafood movement over the past few years,” said Dawn M. Martin, President of SeaWeb. “Each one of these Champions has a unique and important story to tell of how they came to embracing sustainability as an essential component of their strategy and business plans.”

Austral Fisheries has made deliberate decisions to ensure that all aspects of its fishing and trading operations are as environmentally sustainable as possible, ensuring a secure future for its company, employees, customers and fisheries. Austral Fisheries remain at the forefront of cooperative and collaborative management of fisheries resources in its activities with conservation groups, industry, governments, international agencies and many others.

The Bahamas Marine Exporters Association (BMEA) is a group of local processors and exporters that provide support for the Bahamian lobster fishery improvement projects. Their efforts to encourage effective management and sustainability of the country’s marine resources have benefitted and secured a productive future for Bahamians.

Blue Ventures is an award-winning social enterprise that works with local communities to conserve threatened marine and coastal environments, both protecting biodiversity and alleviating poverty. Over the past decade, Blue Ventures’ marine conservation work in Madagascar has focused on establishing temporary closures for fisheries to increase the sustainability of landings of highly valued, internationally traded species.

François Pausteau is a Parisian chef and restaurateur of L’Epi Dupin. Established in 1995, his restaurant is today a beacon for sustainable fish, strongly featured in its daily changing menus. François is one of the first French chefs to be conscious of marine resource conservation, believing that chefs act as ambassadors of sustainability.

Jimmy Martinez Ortiz is a strong advocate for fisheries management decisions based on sound and robust scientific advice in his native Ecuador. His work to implement an integrated monitoring system is an example of this vision. Jimmy believes we must shift from short-term fisheries management to management based on the best available science in order to improve the income of fishermen and maintain fishing jobs in a sustainable manner.

Taylor Shellfish Farms has been in business for over a hundred years and has led industry efforts towards environmental, social and economic sustainability in shellfish farming focusing on three areas: certification, political advocacy for clean water, and environmental education & community engagement.

Tom Kraft of Norpac Fisheries Expo founded the Hawaii Swordfish Fishery in 1988, and has since worked tirelessly to improve practices in the swordfish and tuna fisheries worldwide. He has worked alongside NGOs in Asia to promote the adoption of gear modifications to advance ecologically responsible fishing and avoid non-targeted species.

Victor Hamusa Kargbo has been at the forefront of reducing and stopping illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing in Sierra Leone. Victor’s bravery and determination led to the arrest of two large-scale fishing vessel operators that export to the EU who were fined more than US $300,000 for their crimes. He is passionate about marine conservation and a staunch advocate for sustainable fisheries in the West Africa region and beyond.

Yao Ming is a former US National Basketball Association star turned conservationist and an Ambassador for WildAid’s global shark campaign which educates consumers through mass media campaigns reaching up to 1 billion people every week in China. Yao encourages decision makers from all levels of Chinese society to “Say No” to shark fin soup and to actively participate in shark conservation.

SeaWeb’s Seafood Choices program established the award in 2006 to honor those in the seafood industry whose past or present contributions demonstrate a change in practices that help to ensure a permanent and sustainable supply of seafood for future generations, and that that this valuable resource is delivered to consumers in a socially, economically and environmentally responsible manner.

Nominated by the seafood community and judged by a panel that includes previous winners, the awards have been bestowed upon individuals, companies and organizations from the fishing, aquaculture, seafood supply and distribution, retail, media, restaurant and foodservice sectors.

Winners of this award have a proven influence over the marketplace with regard to the sourcing of ocean-friendly seafood.

“Seafood Champions represent leaders in the seafood community who are going above and beyond the call of duty to ensure a sustainable future for fisheries,” said Martin. “These Champions demonstrate true dedication and are evidence that sustainability is not only possible, it is inevitable because once people begin to understand what is at stake, there is no going back.”