Posted on 03 October 2022
The Viet Nam Yellowfin Tuna Fishery Improvement Project (FIP) has entered into an exciting new phase (and perhaps the last) towards its long-term goal of entering Full Assessment under the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) eco-certification label.
Rooted in WWF-Viet Nam’s earlier projects that focused on bycatch best practices, the Viet Nam Yellowfin Tuna FIP was launched in 2014 by WWF-Vietnam, the Vietnam Tuna Association (VinaTuna) and several industry partners. With a strong emphasis on private sector engagement, the FIP utilizes a “pay per pound” financing mechanism with FIP Participants*, and has incorporated parallel objectives around traceability (including compliance with the Global Dialogue on Seafood Traceability
) as well as adherence to the Fishery Progress’ Human Rights and Social Responsibility Policy
Following concerted efforts with Viet Nam’s Directorate of Fisheries (D-FISH), and continued on-the-ground efforts with the handline fleet, there is now an improved outlook for entering into MSC Full Assessment.. Based on the most recent updated progress under Fishery Progress and discussions with third-party assessors, the 3 (of 28) remaining “Fail” indicators have been upgraded to a “Conditional Pass.” Though much work remains to be done on the FIP end to not only lock in improved scoring but also to move the needle on the "Conditional Pass" scores (as these would ultimately need to be addressed should the certification be granted), the situation appears overall positive. Reflecting this, the overall progress rating for the FIP profile
on Fishery Progress has been upgraded from a “C” grade (Some Recent Progress) to an “A” grade (Advanced Progress.)
One particular success is the recent inclusion of blue shark (Prionace glauca) in Viet Nam’s list of fish species legally protected from commercial trade in Annex II of Decree 26/2019/ND-CP. While shark bycatch in handline fisheries is relatively limited and the aforementioned Decree 26 had already protected shark species of particular concern such as hammerhead sharks, the exclusion of blue shark was a significant gap identified and highlighted by the FIP in a 2019 Risk Assessment. While the FIP continues to advocate for comprehensive measures on sharks (in particular, a national Fins Naturally Attached policy), the inclusion of blue shark in Decree 26 indicates the Government’s increased willingness to consider concrete measures to improve the environmental performance of marine fisheries.
Moving forward on the MSC process front – and following a series of consultations with international and domestic FIP Participants and other supply chain partners – the FIP will be consulting closely with several Conformity Assessment Bodies (CABs) to explore next steps, with VinaTuna as the proposed Client Group (representing a consortium of international and domestic companies) for MSC Full Assessment.
Meanwhile, the FIP continues to work towards steady improvements on the water. Expanding the Crew-based Monitoring Program (COPPA) – an onboard system for collection of data on Endangered, Threatened and Protected (ETP) species developed by VinaTuna in cooperation with Sea Delight – remains a priority. Also, FIP consultants are currently providing technical inputs to the national Tuna Harvest Strategy and revised Tuna Management Plan dialogues led by D-FISH under the Western Pacific Environment Program (WPEA) with Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission’s (WCPFC) support. The outcomes of these national plans will be crucial to meeting key management objectives of the FIP related to harvest control, WCPFC regulatory compliance and bycatch management.
*List of FIP Participants:
Anova Food LLC
Beaver Street Fisheries Inc.
Coral Sea Fishing
Hilo Fish Company
Norpac Fisheries Exports
Sea Delight LLC
Western United / Annasea
Seattle Fish Company
Arista Industries, Inc.
In addition, over 20 domestic processors have been closely engaged in the FIP via coordination from VinaTuna. The full list can be found here.