Fishery Improvement Projects better known, as FIPs are a pragmatic, stepwise approach to enhancing the sustainability of a fishery, encouraging harvesting and supply of seafood to continue, while continual improvements are achieved.
A FIP typically involves a gap analysis to identify areas within a fishery where improvements are needed. It also involves setting out actions, milestones and timelines required to meet these improvements over time. FIPs provide an effective mechanism for fisheries to improve towards sustainability. However, due to wide variations that exist from one FIP to another, there is an identified need for a transparent and comparable way of tracking information about FIPs and how they are progressing towards their end goal.
FIPs often bring together an alliance of seafood buyers, retailers, processors, suppliers, producers and non-government organisations with an interest in a specific fishery to encourage improvement in policy and management at government level.
Sometimes a FIP works toward third-party certification, like Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), and sometimes it simply addresses priority issues facing the fishery. Whatever the long-term aim, all FIPs follow a structured path that takes into account the needs of both the fishery and the stakeholders involved.
The MSC has recently launched a new tool, which can be used by FIPs or a fishery that is making improvements towards eventual MSC certification, to enable them to track progress in a consistent and robust way.
The MSC Benchmarking and Monitoring Tool (BMT) has been designed to provide a consistent method of benchmarking FIPs against the MSC standard, while also tracking progress as the fishery moves towards meeting MSC requirements.
A portion of the State Government’s $14.5m pre-assessment funds will be available to assist with FIPs to help fisheries to transition through to full certification. This allocation will be available to leverage funding from other sources.