Triple Impact FIPs: Finding and Capturing Value to Accelerate Fisheries Improvement
Fishery Improvement Projects (FIPs) are the sustainable seafood movement’s primary tool for incentivizing fisheries improvement, and they have yielded notable progress over the past twenty years, primarily in industrial fisheries in developed countries. Despite the commercial success of the FIP model, evidence suggests that it can unevenly distribute the costs and benefits of improvement; in many cases fishers are forced to pay the majority of the costs of improvement but receive few if any benefits to cover those additional costs. This unforeseen social impact contradicts current definitions of seafood sustainability which have evolved over the past 20 years to include fisher livelihoods. Because the majority of FIPs are now being run on fisheries in developing nations, fundamental North-South economic imbalances further exacerbate the issue so that FIPs may be undermining irreplaceable fishing livelihoods in developing nations. FIPs may be achieving environmental improvement but at great social cost to fishers, those who in globalized supply chains are least capable of paying for improvement.
By design, FIPs were created to drive improvement of fisheries’ environmental performance without explicit regard for their social or financial performance. During 2018 Ocean Outcomes teamed with Conservation International, SmartFish AC and Wilderness Markets to explore triple impact FIPs – the explicit integration of assessment and improvement of fisheries’ social and financial along with their environmental performance. We propose a revision of the FIP model, in order to evaluate, track and incentivize improvement of fisheries’ social and financial performance along with their environmental performance.
This panel will present how this approach can work, how it can be more durable (and replicable) than the traditional FIP model, how this approach has led to higher value for fishers and stronger seafood supply chains, and how it may be used to predict and avoid the stalling, slippage, and reversion that FIPs can exhibit.