Prof. Simon Bush presented his ideas on the future of Fish Improvement Projects or ‘FIPs’ at the 2nd Americas Tuna Conference & Exhibition in Panama last week.
FIPs have gained prominence over the last decade as a means of supporting fisheries to adopt more sustainable practices. The question is whether those implementing them in tuna fisheries around the world are following through on their commitments to improve.
There is no one FIP model, instead a number of models with different methodologies and end points. Some FIPs end with successful Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification, while other FIPs provide ongoing support for improvements with no set goal or end point. The concern over FIPs stems in part from the proliferation of approaches has led to concerns over the credibility of FIPs, by opening up opportunities for multiple claims to be made in the market over what constitutes ‘sustainable tuna’.
In his presentation, Prof. Bush outlined range of claims and methodologies involved with FIPs. He also outlined how greater credibility, and therefore impact, might be achieved through a clearer alignment of improvement goals and stricter conditionality of sustainability claims in the marketplace. Without such alignment, he argued, the future of FIPs might be short-lived.