CROWD SOURCING SUSTAINABLE FISHING SOLUTIONS
The Walton Family Foundation needed to more effectively increase environmentally sustainable fishing practices across the globe.
Context Partners identified nine indicators contributing to the success of FIPs and created a diagnostic tool for in-field use to reduce impacts like pollution and bycatch.
WE SPENT TIME WITH FISHER FOLK ON THEIR BOATS, AND OBSERVED THE MULTI-TIERED PROCESSES BY WHICH FISH MAKE THEIR WAY FROM THE WATER TO STORES AND RESTAURANTS.
More than 85 percent of the world’s fisheries have been pushed to or beyond their biological limits, according to the World Wildlife Fund. To ensure the long-term viability and sustainability of global fishing, multiple stakeholders involved in the industry—fisher folk, retailers, producers and NGOs—have established alliances called Fishery Improvement Projects (FIPs) to set standards and goals to improve specific challenges that fisheries face, including bycatch and overfishing. Working with the Walton Family Foundation, which has established a Fishery Improvement Partnership Fund, Context Partners was asked to find ways to make FIPs more successful and effective.
Our crowd-sourced research took us to the East and West Coasts of the U.S., and to the Gulf of Mexico, where we spent time with fisher folk on their boats, and observed the multi-tiered processes by which fish make their way from the water to stores and restaurants. We studied the supply chain to understand the needs, problems and challenges of stakeholders, observing that fishing practices are diverse and distinct, from the types of nets used to value added processing. This research, including 50 interviews with community partners on seafood supply chains, exposed the gaps and opportunities in the current practices used by FIPs.
To help the fishing industry and FIPs meet their sustainability goals, Context Partners devised a health diagnostic tool for organizations to define success, root out inefficient and redundant efforts and implement sustainable and scalable practices. The tool is built around nine indicators that measure a FIP’s level of health. These include: the presence of an NGO coordinator or community manager; open communication; government engagement and a premium buyer. These indicators are important because they break down how a FIP can benefit from the qualities deployed by the most successful FIPs to date.
The second phase of the project is to refine this prototype by working across the sector to increase the access to information and exchange among FIP implementers and stakeholders.
With this project and others, Context Partners has built a solid body of knowledge and expertise in marine conservation and fisheries, using our community-centered design approach to help make our oceans more sustainable, improve the lives of fisher folk and the best practices of the global and complex fishing industry.