Fishery Improvement Projects (FIP) Overview

For fisheries that do not yet meet the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) standard, a fishery improvement project (FIP) offers a stepwise approach towards achieving more sustainable practices.  A FIP brings together multiple fishery stakeholders—including fishers, the private sector, fishery managers, researchers, and NGOs—who collaborate to improve fishing practices and management. The involvement of  multiple stakeholders with varying perspectives and backgrounds ensures that the FIP activities are appropriate for the socio-political context of the fishery. Fishery improvement projects are typically multi-year projects that increase levels of sustainability until a fishery is ready to enter MSC full assessment.

WWF works with retailers and food service companies to responsibly source seafood from fisheries that are MSC certified. To increase the supply of certified seafood, WWF’s corporate partners also support the advancement of their source fisheries toward MSC certification through FIPs. By leveraging their influence within their supply chain, these companies help create incentives for positive change on the water, contributing to the health of the world’s oceans and ensuring the long-term viability of these fisheries for generations to come.

Characteristics of a FIP

  • Draw upon market forces (e.g., suppliers, retailers, food service, fishing industry, etc., to motivate fishery improvements);
  • A workplan with measurable indicators and an associated budget (i.e., FIP Action Plan);
  • Explicit willingness from participants to make improvements (e.g., a signed memorandum of understanding, email correspondence stating a commitment, etc.);
  • Willingness from participants to make the investments required to make improvements as outlined in the workplan and budget; and
  • A system for tracking progress. 

For a FIP to be considered for public recognition for moving toward sustainability, it must:

  • Have a scoping document completed by a third party experienced with applying the MSC standard;
  • Have a workplan specifically designed to address deficiencies in the fishery to achieve a level of sustainability consistent with an unconditional pass of the MSC standard;
  • Employ a system for tracking and reporting progress against the indicators in the workplan; and
  • Include active participation by supply chain companies, at a minimum local processors and exporters.

Please see the FIP Process page for additional details, including the FIP Handbook and the Fisheries in Transition (FIT) Financial Toolkit. For fisheries working to develop a FIP, you can use the MSC Handbook in conjunction with the FIP Handbook. The MSC Handbook will help guide you through the MSC pre-assessment process, which is the first step in developing a comprehensive FIP. 

Learn more about WWF's work on sustainable fishing, and WWF-UK's fisheries improvement work.


           ©Jurgen Freund / WWF-Canon

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