Global Squid Sustainability Efforts Take Leap Forward

After three years of work, large-scale Chinese squid project becomes public and implementation phases begin

November 6, 2018 Qingdao, Shandong Province, China – Four leading seafood buyers, Chinese seafood industry groups, retailers, fishermen, and sustainable seafood enterprises came together today at the China Fisheries and Seafood Expo to celebrate the much anticipated launch of the East China Sea and Yellow Sea Squid FIP.

The fisheries improvement project—or FIP for short—is a precompetitive project aimed to improve the management and fishing practices of Chinese trawl, purse seine, and gillnet vessels targeting Japanese flying squid. JFS are one of the most commercially lucrative species of squid, and in the Chinese side of East China Sea and Yellow Sea alone, annual production can approach 30,000 metric tons.

“Squids are one of the most loved seafoods, but compared with many species, squid sustainability efforts are lagging,” said Songlin Wang who is leading the project. “Given squid account for about 5% of global fishery landings, it’s encouraging to see that change.”

In the East China and Yellow Seas, China has important domestic fisheries which target migratory JFS stocks

These supply both a booming domestic market and are exported to the Europe Union, United Kingdom, United States, Japan, and South Korea, among many others, by global seafood companies such as those involved in the project.

However, JFS fishing practices and management need improvement in a number of ways to ensure a continued supply of squid products. For example, China lacks a JFS-specific harvest strategy outside of a summer fishing moratorium banning the use of motorized fishing vessels, and it’s difficult to verify the exact catch locations for some squid products from the region.

“Around a third to half of all squid passes through a Chinese seafood supply chain, whether caught, processed, traded, or consumed,” said Dr. He Cui, who heads CAPPMA, a Chinese national seafood industry group with thousands of members. “Given CAPPMA’s commitment to both domestic and global seafood sustainability, it’s in our interest to ensure a future where all squid stocks are healthy. This project will help us explore a path forward.

The FIP will work to address areas of concern through implementation of a five year improvement work plan designed, in part, to establish science-based stock assessments and bycatch monitoring protocols, harvest rules fit to JFS 1-year lifecycles, and traceability systems to verify and track locations of harvest.

Since its inception, the FIP has grown beyond founding members Ocean Outcomes, Sea Farms, and PanaPesca to include support from a number of industry stakeholders, including, Quirch Foods, Seachill, China Aquatic Products Processing and Marketing Alliance (CAPPMA), Marks & Spencer, Tesco, Sainsbury’s, and local Chinese suppliers Genho, IG and the Zhejiang Industry Group.

Japanese flying squid project participants Project participants at the China Fisheries and Seafood Expo in Qingdao. © Ocean Outcomes

Precompetitive industry collaboration is key

The success and growth of the project were due, in part, to the collaborative forum of the Global Squid Supply Chain Roundtable, facilitated by Sustainable Fisheries Partnership, which heavily featured the East China Sea and Yellow Sea Squid FIP in recent meetings at the North America Seafood Expo in Boston, MA.

“We couldn’t have envisioned the enthusiasm and support for this work when this project began three years ago,” said Dick Jones, who has been working to improve seafood industry practices for decades. “Precompetitive industry collaboration is key to ensuring durable and positive change. This project demonstrates that message is catching on.”

Learn more about the East China Sea and Yellow Sea Squid FIP.

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