SFP kicked off Seafood Expo North America 2019 with a luncheon featuring CEO Jim Cannon sharing exciting updates about the Target 75 initiative.

The 50-seat room was packed to capacity as Cannon laid out what T75 was all about, and where the initiative stood. In his opening remarks, Cannon described T75, in part, as an antidote to negative stories that often plague the industry.

“We said, ‘You know what? Let’s be big and bold! We’ve got to communicate this,’” he said. “You can show an overwhelmingly good story at a global scale, and change the narrative, but you have to put a clear target out there. You have to align the industry behind some common strategic targets, and that’s what we did with T75.”

Cannon described the initiative as a whole as making progress, noting that in 2018 there were “no improvement efforts known” for as much as 48 percent of global seafood volume covered by T75 sectors, but by 2019, that number had shrunk. As of now, Cannon said, 32 percent of the seafood volumes in the T75 sectors are either sustainably produced or “on track to sustainable,” with the global seafood supply chain showing a strong interest in fishery or aquaculture improvement projects (FIPs and AIPs), which will add another 28 percent more. That gets the overall volume of all T75 sectors more than halfway toward the total goal of 75 percent classified as sustainable or improving toward sustainability.

There was more good news: In 2018 alone, SFP’s supply chain roundtables (SRs) initiated or re-activated 14 FIPs and supported another 25 pre-FIPs. That led to two million more tons of seafood meeting T75 criteria, and three million more tons of seafood connected to potential new FIPs and aquaculture improvement projects.

Cannon also highlighted very positive news in the squid sector, which at one point had no volume whatsoever meeting the T75 criteria, but now has risen to 14 percent, with a number of projects in the works that promise to push that number even higher.

“We do have progress,” he said.

Cannon described the ongoing priorities for SFP in the initiative overall, including recruiting new supply chain roundtable participants in Japan and South Korea to advance improvements in tuna, squid, and octopus. He also emphasized holding to account those stakeholders who are running FIPs and AIPs. Cannon said he hopes to see clear signs of improvement, including policy changes for larger-scale, national-level projects.

“If all we do is launch new projects that then don’t achieve very much, ultimately that’s not a great outcome,” he said, noting that this is the advice he gives to stakeholders starting a FIP or AIP for the first time: “It’s about those FIPs having shown an impact in the water, ideally. Some real substantive change. Show me the results. Show me the policy change.”

Cannon noted that there has been significant improvement progress this past year, with 45 FIPs achieving A or B ratings, which means they made measurable improvements in the past 12 months. Examples of progress include new logbook systems, new harvest control rules, and new research programs.

“A lot of those improvements are not very ‘sexy’ at all,” he said. “But these are the building blocks upon which you ultimately do get stock recovery. There’s a lot of stuff you have to get in place to see the end result. So, those bits are getting built, block by block, through a very structured process.”

Editor’s note: This is part one of a two-part blog post. You can read part two here.