Fisheries Improvement Project in Vietnam moving ahead with concrete actions
The Vietnam yellowfin tuna Fisheries Improvement Project (FIP) facilitated by the Asia Pacific Sustainable Seafood and Trade Network (APSSTN) in partnership with WWF Vietnam has entered into a new and important phase.
The completion of the FIP Action Plan and its subsequent endorsement by the government of Vietnam and FIP stakeholders has set in motion an agreed work plan with expected outcomes, activities, responsible stakeholders, and milestones, all aimed at meeting the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) scoring guideposts for each of the three MSC Principles. The Action Plan includes a logframe and FIP Tracking document, as well as Terms of Reference for each of the participating stakeholders assigned to complete specific activities and the required budget.
Finalizing the Action Plan also paved the way for a series of Partner Agreements negotiated with the private sector in support of the FIP and its work plan. These detail the agreed objectives, commitments and responsibilities of all recognized Partners of the FIP, and provide parameters for how FIP Partners should engage in the FIP, support implementation, and communicate their engagement. The Partner Agreements are developed between the individual company, APSSTN, and the relevant WWF National Office.
These Partner Agreements will allow us to utilize new and innovative approaches and methods with regard to FIP implementation, harmonized to WWF network protocols and guidelines; specifically as related to traceability, FIP communications, corporate engagement, and FIP financing.
On traceability, it will be a mandatory requirement of all recognized FIP Partners to have in place suitable traceability that, at minimum, meets this goal of differentiating FIP products and verifying their eligibility as “FIP fish”. FIP Partners are required to have a traceability system in place within one year of signing their FIP Partner Agreement with WWF, and for this system to be audited by an independent 3rd party within 18 months of signing the Agreement.
The Partner Agreements also include guidelines which set the frame for business-to-business (B2B) communication activities by all recognized Partners. These protocols are largely based on new WWF network FIP communication and market recognition guidelines, and thus provide an opportunity to prototype and test new network approaches on the ground. The unique structure of the FIP partnerships - with over 10 potential FIP partners from four counties – also allows for direct collaboration with other individual WWF National Offices on corporate engagement.
A finance structure is under development led by APSSTN, specifically a FIP Sustainable Financing Plan to be adopted, supported and implemented by relevant parties. The Plan will outline strategies for a variety of funding mechanisms or streams, from “pay it backward” price premiums to direct FIP sponsorship. We will work with recognized Partners and their downstream clients to elicit input on these options and to implement the Plan when ready. We will meanwhile continue to engage directly with potential donors and sponsors – both within the commodity’s supply chain and among external donors – to raise funds in support of FIP Action Plan implementation, as well as work closely with the Government of Vietnam to identify parallel and in-kind resources that may be appropriately applied.
These “front-end” activities on the industry agreements, corporate outreach and financing strategy are vital to establish clarity, shared understanding, and controllable structures for the FIP. These are crucial for not only effective implementation of improvements on the ground, but also to ensure that the FIP’s estimated budget is secured including via private sector support.
However, it is also critical to keep a close focus on engagement of the government authorities and other stakeholders in implementing fisheries management improvements. Over the coming weeks APSSTN will work in support of WWF Vietnam in actualizing the work plan, beginning with priorities on governance, harvest management strategies, bycatch management and other key elements identified for improvement and to led by national, provincial and/or district level fisheries authorities.
Finally, on the issue of governance, the Vietnam FIP work plan, and its specific objectives around harvest management and engagement with regional decision-making bodies, presents a compelling opportunity to collaborate with others in the Asia Pacific to address identified deficiencies with the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) management system, through strategic alignment between regional FIP activities on tuna.
We will be sure to provide periodic updates of progress for this comprehensive, multi-year FIP initiative. Please keep a watch of the APSSTN website for further documentation and information on the FIP, or contact directly Keith Symington (FIP coordinator) at firstname.lastname@example.org.