The Chinese common squid （Loligo chinensis）Fishery Improvement Project（FIP）in Shantou-Taiwan bank fishing ground was initiated in late 2013 as a cooperation between Beaver Street Fisheries Co., Ltd. and Shantou Haimao Foodstuff Factory Co. Ltd., facilitated by Sustainable Fisheries Partnership (SFP). Since China Blue was founded in the beginning of 2015, the project implementer has changed from SFP to China Blue.
In June 2015, China Blue and Shantou Fisheries Industry Association successfully held a roundtable of sustainable development of Chinese common squid resources in Shantou. This roundtable brought together domestic and foreign professionals, industry practitioners, administrators, etc. to discuss the current status and challenges of the squid fishery. At the meeting, the importance of the sustainable development of squid resources and the need to improve the management model of the Chinese common squid fishery at the present stage were unanimously recognized by all participants. At the same time, an initial workplan was agreed regarding the assessment of the current situation of the Chinese common squid resources, research on the protection measures of spawning grounds, and analysis and improvement of current fishery management policies as concrete steps for the FIP implementation. After the meeting, China Blue was appointed to research the feasibility of the workplan and design the implementation scheme.
After more than three years of preparation, in September of 2017, the FIP was officially launched with the joint support of a number of squid buyers and suppliers.
As the project implementer, China Blue planned to mobilize local supply chain parties and fishery resources management departments firstly to strengthen the sustainable use of Chinese common squid resources in the fishing grounds around Nan’ao island, Shantou, and seek to establish a wider regional fishery management mechanism involving multiple stakeholders. The project is anticipated to establish a fishery information collection and sharing mechanism. China Blue would mobilize processors and local fishing communities while fully considering the management needs of the fishery departments. A multi-stakeholders participatory fishery resource management will be created, which integrates the sustainable use of fishery resources with the implementation of the policies such as fishing efforts reduction, recreational fisheries development and fishery community co-management by fishers and governments.
At present, the project is steadily advancing with the support of China Aquatic Products Processing and Marketing Alliance, Guangdong Ocean and Fisheries Department, Shantou Ocean and Fishery Bureau, and Shantou Aquatic Industry Association, and has also engaged the major international buyers including Netuno USA, Panapesca, High Liner and local processing companies.
In September 2017, the project was officially registered as Prospective FIP at FisheryProgress.org and began to conduct data collection, field research and stakeholder consultation. On October 31, China Blue hosted the “Squid Fisheries Sustainable Development Roundtable” at the “Sustainable Seafood Forum” which 25 representatives from fishery administrative departments, domestic and foreign suppliers, buyers, and NGOs in Qingdao attended. At the meeting, the FIP project manager of China Blue introduced the project progress. Participants discussed how to effectively implement FIPs in China, how to guarantee the common interests of fishers and the industry, and how to expand the domestic market.
Squid Fishery Sustainable Development Roundtable (November 2017 Qingdao)
In February 2018, the FIP officially upgraded to a basic FIP through an official review, which meant that the FIP had entered the implementation phase and its progress would be regularly tracked according to the workplan. At the beginning of March, China Blue assisted Guangdong Department of Ocean and Fishery to design a pilot project that would experiment Total Allowable Catch (TAC) on the target squid fishery. Though the plan was not adopted by the National Fishery Bureau, it still provided practical suggestions to the follow-up pilot work.
On July 6, 2018, China Blue jointly held a seminar on targeted fishery resources management and industrial upgrading with the local fishery authorities, research institutes and representatives of enterprises and fishermen. The meeting focused on how to use the targeted fishery resources more efficiently and sustainably and how to unite various stakeholders to collaborate on data collection, and reached initial consensus. Meanwhile, the FIP’s Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC) was established, consisting of five experts from the South China Sea fisheries Research Institute, Chinese Academy of Fisheries Science (SCSFRI), Shantou University and Shanghai Ocean University. In late July, China Blue together with the enterprises and fishermen reached a consensus and in conjunction with SCSFRI launched a one-year monitoring scheme for studying the minimum catchable size of the target fishery and the identification of the spawning grounds. According to the scheme, China Blue guided the fishermen, middle men and processors to collect squid samples monthly for scientists to conduct biological analysis, which provided solid scientific foundation for implementing fishery management measures.
Squid Biological Sample Analysis (October 2018 SCSFRI)
In September of 2018, China Blue and Shantou University designed a scheme to mobilize fishermen to participate in the survey to study the impact of fishing on the marine ecosystem, especially on the endangered cetacean species, and tried to obtain support from upstream and downstream firms in the industry chain. Assessing the impact of fishing on the marine ecosystem is an important indicator for measuring the sustainable development of fisheries according to international industry standards (MSC Fisheries Certification Standard Principle 2). This work will provide a scientific basis for the improvement of relevant legal systems such as fishery production management (including small-scale fisheries management) and marine protected area (MPA) management. Meanwhile, the research can enhance fishermen’s awareness of endangered, threatened or protected (ETP) species protection, and integrate the concept of sustainable fisheries with marine conservation to reshape the ecological civilization of marine community.
In October 2018, China Blue updated the scores of the target fishery according to the MSC fishery certification standard and the “Needs Assessment Report of Sustainability of Uroteuthis chinensis Fishery in Shantou-Taiwan Bank Fishing Ground” on the Fishery Progress official website. At the same time, China Blue is exploring the feasibility of upgrading the project from Basic FIP to Comprehensive FIP. Comprehensive FIP aims to enhance fishery management from multiple internationally recognized perspectives.
Meanwhile, China Blue reported problems found during the implementation of the project to related institutions that it was difficult to apply international standard to the current fishery reality in China. China Blue played an active role as an interpreter to help improve the international standard. On the one hand, China Blue made endeavor to gain more understandings and supports from international counterparts for the unique background of China’s fisheries industry. On the other hand, China Blue has been exploring the most appropriate methodologies to improve the industry. China Blue has been invited as a member of the group for Lower Range Assessment to optimize FIP standard.
On November 6, 2018, China Blue and Ocean Outcomes held a roundtable meeting on the Chinese squid supply chain in Qingdao. At the meeting, the project manager introduced the progress and workplan of the project to the representatives and experts in the industry. The participants also expressed their recognition of the project progress and their willingness to the further support.
FIP Progress Report (November 2018 Qingdao)
In December, 2018, in order to promote FIP in a more in-depth and effective manner, the FIP department of China Blue moved to Shantou (Nan’ao) to keep a closer and more frequent contact with the core fishery community of the project and carry out local fishery surveys and key person interviews, etc.
Fishermen Interview (December 2018 Nan’ao)
In addition to squid FIP as the core, China Blue also launched FIPs of other local fishery species. The main categories involved octopus (Octopus Ocellatus), mussel (Perna Viridis) and shrimp (Metapenaeopsis barbata, Trachypenaeus curvirostris). As one of the “Top Ten Fishing Grounds” in China, the targeted fishing ground is not only rich in cephalopods, but also other species that play important roles in the ecological environment and creating economic value. The producers and fishing methods of the fisheries of these species overlap to some extent. Therefore, promoting squid FIP as the major one while advancing FIPs of other related species is anticipated to improve the sustainability of the fisheries in the targeted fishing ground and the surrounding waters in a holistic way.
Through the implementation of the Chinese common squid fishery improvement project in the Shantou-Taiwan bank fishing ground, China Blue hopes to explore a sustainable development model of China’s offshore fishery in a wider range. With the national policy of reducing fishery production and resource conservation, we need to solve fishery problems in an interdisciplinary way, not only using resource assessment through biological methods, also properly in the perspectives of anthropology, sociology, economics and rural development. We are also exploring how to smartly balance between business interests and the common goods with the trade chain. China Blues hopes to create regional fishery co-management mechanisms through facilitating the collaboration of multiple stakeholders in the industry chain.
Further project progress will be updated here. Please stay tuned.