PRESS RELEASE: Future of Fish and World Wildlife Fund formalize new collaboration to advance sustainability in Peruvian mahi mahi fishery.

March 16, 2020
For Immediate Release

Future of Fish and World Wildlife Fund (WWF) are excited to formalize a new collaboration designed to advance sustainability in the Peruvian mahi mahi fishery improvement project (FIP). The work brings together Future of Fish’s innovative Fishery Development Model (FDM), which integrates economic and social incentives along with environmental improvements, with WWF’s decades of experience and relationships in the fishery improvement space.

This “FIP+” approach is designed to address continued challenges in Peru’s mahi mahi fishery. Launched in 2013 under WWF’s leadership, the Peruvian mahi mahi FIP set a goal of meeting the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) standard, the leading global standard for wild-caught seafood environmental performance, by the end of 2021. The FIP advanced as expected during the first few years but progress has stalled due to political upheavals and market instability. The fishers themselves also face a series of challenges that make their fishing trips more difficult and compromise the quality of their catch.

The Future of Fish and WWF collaboration puts an emphasis on additional social and economic incentives that can provide short term benefits for fishers and other industry members participating in the FIP. In this case, the economic incentives include finding ways to quickly improve seafood quality so fishers can receive a higher price and the fishery can attract additional resources, which in turn can be reinvested in the FIP to help advance its progress towards meeting the MSC standard. Social incentives are being developed that will aim to build greater security and safety for the fishers, as they conduct their activities at sea and within their communities. This approach centers on the needs of fishers, and allows communities to thrive while providing incentives and safeguards that drive longer-term environmental improvements.

“We are excited to partner with Future of Fish to broaden the scope of the FIP and leverage environmental improvements by working on improving quality in the Peruvian mahi mahi fishery” says Nicolas Rovegno, Marine Program Specialist of WWF Peru. Momo Kochen of Future of Fish agrees, adding that “The initial reaction we have received from stakeholders is very positive—the idea of using quality gains as a means to push environmental improvements seems to really appeal to the supply chain actors, who also see this as a great opportunity to build and expand their market possibilities around a new high quality product.”

The mahi mahi fishers involved in the program are optimistic about the new developments. Fisher Carlos Bayona says “We are excited this project is moving forward, and aligning with our reality.” He is positive about the project’s ability to improve outcomes for fishers, saying “This, we hope, will be a vision for other associations that they can provide a high quality product to domestic and international markets. And show that our buyers shouldn't doubt the ability of the artisanal fisherman of Piura to deliver.”

The collaboration is still in its early stages, but the progress so far has been promising. A December 2019 workshop surfaced six unique strategies for addressing quality improvements, from technological and design solutions on boats, which could help improve quality and living conditions on board, to creative campaigns to build demand. The potential innovations for improving mahi mahi quality set the stage for unlocking new benefits and drivers within the FIP+. Future of Fish and WWF are currently building out a program which incorporates several of these concepts and aim to launch the implementation phase of work in the next few weeks. As part of this effort, a mini ‘demand pilot’ next month will be used to gauge interest in a frozen-at-sea product with a group of US and Canada based importers and selected chefs.

The WWF and Future of Fish collaboration for this FIP+ is one of the first of its kind and will bring insights into how to effectively generate economic, social, and environmental improvements. The lessons learned can ultimately help to inform other FIPs and provide a framework for aligning incentives and accelerating positive change on the water.