With the support and cooperation of stakeholders from around the region, the Oceans and Fisheries Partnership (USAID Oceans) aims to strengthen regional cooperation to combat illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, promote sustainable fisheries and conserve marine biodiversity in the Asia-Pacific region.
USAID Oceans held their Inception Workshop, September 2015, to introduce the program to Southeast Asian Fisheries Development Center’s (SEAFDEC) Member Country representatives. Following, the team presented the project and its 2016 workplan and expected outputs to the Program Committee Meeting in November 2015. At the meeting, USAID Oceans gained the support and official approval of the SEAFDEC Program Committee.
In tandem with the SEAFDEC Program Committee Meeting, the USAID Oceans team conducted a series of consultations with fisheries agencies in Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, Singapore, and Vietnam. Through the consultations, USAID Oceans examined the national governments’ interests and priorities for combatting IUU fishing, implementing catch documentation and traceability (CDT) and promoting sustainable fisheries management, to ensure that the USAID Oceans CDT system and EAFM agenda is in alignment.
Together with government partners, USAID Oceans identified two transboundary fisheries in Bitung, Indonesia and General Santos City, Philippines areas, for initial demonstration of the CDT system, which will ultimately be expanded to areas across the region with high biodiversity value. Through these country consultations, USAID Oceans was able to obtain the buy-in and support of the governments, which will enhance the long-term effectiveness and sustainability of the project’s activities.
In addition to engaging governments in the region, USAID Oceans sought the input and partnership of companies along the entire seafood value chain. By partnering with a variety of companies and organizations along the supply chain including fisheries, processors, technology companies, satellite communications providers, logistics companies and seafood buyers, USAID Oceans can increase the impact of its traceability and marine conservation efforts, anchor the CDT system in market realities and provide increased scale and sustainability. USAID Oceans has engaged local and international companies, including Thai Union, Global Food Traceability Center, Future of Fish, Anova and Morrisons UK.
Recently, USAID Oceans has engaged with Thai Union, a global seafood processor, which has said that they want to be an agent of change for responsible, sustainable fisheries. Their potential partnership would cement collaborative efforts to implement the regional CDT system and promote fair and ethical seafood supply chains, sustainable fisheries and marine biodiversity conservation in Asia Pacific.
USAID Oceans also strives to harness groundbreaking technology and innovations by seeking to partner with leading communications technology organizations including Qualcomm, Cisco, Iridium, Orbcomm and Immarsat. Utilizing the technologies and tools developed by these organizations, combined with the fisheries expertise of the regional, national and local fisheries organization partners will ensure the USAID Oceans electronic CDT system is effective, accessible and actionable.
USAID Oceans will continue to engage a variety of stakeholders to establish local ownership of the project activities and ensure the sustainability of the project efforts in the future.