First milestones for the Vietnam yellowfin tuna Fishery Improvement Project

Posted on 15 October 2014

Marking steady progress towards sustainable tuna fisheries, stakeholders of the Vietnam yellowfin tuna Fishery Improvement Project (FIP) gathered recently for the FIP Implementation Workshop, hosted by WWF and the Vietnam Tuna Association, Vina Tuna.
Keith Symington
Responsible Seafood Business Facilitator
WWF Coral Triangle programme

Stakeholders of the Vietnam yellowfin tuna Fishery Improvement Project (FIP) gathered on August 25th and 26th, for the FIP Implementation Workshop, hosted by WWF and the Vietnam Tuna Association, Vina Tuna. The main objectives of the workshop were to check in on early progress (against Milestones outlined in the FIP Action Plan), to clarify 2015 work plans and timelines, to begin identifying traceability requirements for recognized FIP Partners and to identify budget needs and funding strategies.

The Vietnam yellowfin tuna FIP was launched in April 2014 and applied to handline and longline harvested yellowfin tuna in Vietnam – a fishery of approximately 2,000 vessels with an estimated 14,000 metric tonnes of annual landings and total export value of nearly USD 370 million. The FIP is being implemented jointly by the WWF Coral Triangle Programme and WWF Vietnam, in association with Vina Tuna.

The meeting reviewed progress and participants discussed associated issues around the 54 milestones outlined in the FIP Action Plan, covering the 3 main Goals (Stock Status, Ecosystem Management, Governance), and as always, with a view to ensuring progress is measured against Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) indicators and with robust verification systems in place.

The workshop provided a direct dialogue that ensured a shared understanding of the key elements of the Action Plan and the need for stakeholders to actively participate in FIP activities. These include national authorities (Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, MARD) ensuring better compliance with Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) requirements, local fisheries authorities expanding their efforts on data collection and monitoring, or industry partners working with their supply chains on traceability.

Open and frank discussion on key issues led to several key outcomes such as:
  1. Recognition of the differences in methodology used to determine stock status - between Research Institute for Marine Fisheries (RIMF) fisheries scientists in Vietnam and those applied at WCPFC - and agreement on strategies to reconcile methodological issues.
  2. Agreement that Vietnam should apply Limit and Target Reference Points that are consistent with those accepted by WCPFC, and these should be implemented through management measures.
  3. Agreement on new supplemental FIP activities to achieve Goal 2 requirements, including drafting a National Plan of Action (NPOA) for sharks and revisions of the sea turtle NPOA.
  4. New collaborative arrangements between private sector partners, local authorities and WWF to expand logbook coverage, and training and deployment of onboard observers.
  5. New commitments from Vina Tuna to facilitate the establishment of a Tuna Management Advisory Board, an important milestone contributing to Goal 3 outcomes
  6. Agreement in principle on the objectives and minimum requirements of a FIP traceability system, including new collaborative activities planned with MARD officials responsible for tuna chain of custody improvements.
Importantly, MARD officials at the meeting also announced the provisions of Decision 3465, which includes a specific commitment from the Government of Vietnam to achieve MSC certification for tuna.

A key output of the meeting was a report including 23 main recommendations proposed for immediate attention. While this review is not part of an M&E review (scheduled to take place in Q3 2015) and there was no attempt to re-score the fishery at this early stage, the review provided an important reference point for prioritizing activities and planning specific work plans for stakeholders including local fisheries agencies and industry partners.
Vietnamese longline tuna vessels
© WWF Vietnam
Onboard observer training on tuna vessel
© WWF Vietnam
Discussing stock status and catch limits
© Steve Fisher