This weekend marks the start of the 2017 Seafood Expo North America (SENA) in Boston, Massachusetts. SENA is North America’s largest seafood exposition, with thousands of buyers and suppliers from around the world traveling to attend the three-day conference to meet, network, and do business. The attendees represent the spectrum of the seafood supply chain – from importers, exporters, restaurants, supermarkets, and even hotels, to supply chain logistics companies, non-profit groups, government representatives, and funders.

North Atlantic, Inc. and Bali Seafood International will be among the many suppliers in attendance. While taking advantage of the time to meet potential buyers and network with our colleagues, we will also be using this platform to bring together stakeholders and check in on our fishery improvement projects (FIPs).

While NAI/BSI are charter participants in three FIPs, our focus in Boston will be on two in particular: one for tuna and other large “pelagics” (fish living in the open ocean) caught with longlines in the Indian Ocean, and another for “demersal” fish (those living near the seafloor) caught with multiple gear types in the Aru, Arafura, and Timor Seas around Indonesia.

Organized in 2015, the longline tuna and large pelagics FIP consists of 35 fishing vessels and 8 species, including the popular seafood targets of yellowfin tuna, swordfish, and mahi-mahi. This FIP is an evolution of improvement efforts started by the NGO Sustainable Fisheries Partnership (SFP) in 2012. SFP’s philosophy emphasizes empowering the industry and transitioning seafood sustainability leadership to the companies directly affected—a philosophy NAI/BSI have embraced as we move forward in our FIP engagement.

Under the leadership of Indonesian seafood suppliers PT Permata Marindo Jaya and PT Intan Seafood, the FIP is making good progress and is showing improvement in policies and practices. A large focus on traceability is the defining characteristic of this FIP; the main objectives are increased traceability and more accurate use of monitoring and logging protocols for vessels. Key to this traceability focus is our pilot project to install passive vessel tracking systems on small fishing boats.

Like the longline pelagics FIP, the demersal FIP was launched in 2012 with the help of SFP. Now led by PT Intan Seafood, it constitutes 58 bottom longline vessels and 10 species, including various grouper and snapper. Pilot vessel tracking systems are also being deployed, highlighting the FIP’s commitment to increased traceability and improved harvest record data.

Both FIPs are being executed in line with guidance from the Conservation Alliance for Seafood Solutions, a collaboration of conservation groups working with a suite of businesses that represent over 80% of the North American grocery and foodservice markets. First published in 2012 and updated in 2015, the Alliance Guidelines for Supporting Fishery Improvement Projects define what elements a FIP needs to demonstrate measurable improvements in its environmental performance and, in turn, earn the support of global buyers.

Part of this accountability involves ensuring that FIP information is publicly available. This is why both the longline Indian Ocean pelagics FIP and the Aru, Arafura, and Timor Seas demersal FIP have websites sharing their long-term workplans and objectives, as well as regular progress. Given their efforts, the FIPs have both earned “B” progress ratings by third-party FIP reviewers.

In the spirit of continually increasing transparency, we will be sharing highlights from our FIP meetings in Boston—so stay tuned!