In 2018, SFP published its Framework for Sustainably Managed Aquaculture and FishSource Aquaculture, to help the seafood industry and its supply chain tackle the environmental and resource-use challenges often associated with the aquaculture industry. Now, we are launching the Aquaculture Improvement Project (AIP) Toolkit to support increased development of AIPs and accelerate adoption of better management practices across aquaculture industries.
Similar in structure to Fishery Improvement Projects (FIPs), AIPs are multi-stakeholder processes that address the cumulative environmental impacts and the shared resource demands and risks associated with aquaculture. This is achieved through improved management at the resource, watershed, or landscape level (commonly referred to as zonal management). These projects utilize the power of the private sector to incentivize positive changes toward sustainability and seek to make these changes endure through policy change.
This approach is in contrast to more familiar aquaculture improvement activities, including those designed to achieve certification. Such efforts typically focus on individual farms and often do not take into account cumulative impacts, shared risks, and other resource users, and they often lack the transparency associated with the FIP/AIP model.
Ultimately, AIPs enable aquaculture and resource stakeholders to introduce policies and management practices that drive broad-scale sustainability practices across whole production areas, as opposed to individual farms.
Unlike its wild-capture fishery FIP cousin, an AIP is a relatively new concept, less familiar and far less established within the industry. This has led to multiple questions, such as “What is an AIP, and why is it needed?” “What are the goals of an AIP, and how do we identify them?” and ”How do you launch and manage an AIP?” Our goal in publishing the AIP toolkit is not only to provide answers to these and other questions, but to engage stakeholders in a process that will help AIPs gain the same recognition and acceptance in the marketplace as FIPs have.
The newly published Introduction to AIPs and the AIP toolkit outline the importance of applying a zonal management approach to aquaculture and provide step-by-step guidance on how to initiate, implement, and report an AIP. The toolkit also supplies several support tools that can be used and adapted by AIP stakeholders, as required.
Of course, each industry will be different, and each AIP will likely tackle different challenges.
SFP’s Framework for Sustainably Managed Aquaculture and its five guiding principles, along with the related FishSource Aquaculture assessment methodology, provide a ready-made tool to guide AIP planning and measure progress over time.
To assist familiarity and ease of use, the AIP toolkit is adapted from the established guidelines for FIPs created by the Conservation Alliance for Seafood Solutions, and therefore mirrors SFP’s FIP toolkit and resources. The toolkit applies core attributes from the Conservation Alliance FIP guidelines to aquaculture improvements, including public supply chain commitments, published needs assessments, workplans with time-bound objectives, and regular public reporting of progress. Just like FIPs, AIPs highlight the critical role the supply chain can play in helping industries along the journey toward sustainability.