Sustainable Fisheries Partnership (SFP) and the Hilborn Lab at the University of Washington today released a new and improved version of their Fishery Improvement Projects Database (FIP-DB). The updated 2020 version of the database includes data on all 249 recorded fishery improvement projects (FIPs) known to have been publicly launched to date.

“In order to build the scientific evidence needed to establish and improve FIPs, standardized and consistent analysis of FIP characteristics is critical,” said Nicole Baker Loke, research scientist in the Hilborn Lab at the University of Washington. “This database is a key starting point for researchers investigating the influence of external factors on FIP success. It provides the FIP community with consistent and accurate data to ensure effective FIP implementation and, ultimately, improvements on the water.” 

The FIP-DB is the most comprehensive database of its kind, with historical time series data on FIPs reaching back to 2003, when the first FIPs were established. The database complements and draws from existing web resources on FIPs, including, the one-stop shop for understanding current information about FIP progress. In the last two decades, FIPs have spread throughout the globe, beginning with industrial fisheries in more mature seafood sectors (e.g., whitefish) and markets, and expanding to new regions, such as Asia, Latin America and Africa, new seafood sectors (e.g., tuna and octopus) and artisanal fisheries.

Based on publicly available data, the database provides an important tool for supporting research that could ultimately lead to better management decisions and better FIP design and implementation. As the demand for sustainable seafood continues to grow, it is vital to understand what works in a FIP, which species and countries have made the most advances and what are the underlying factors that contribute to operational improvements in a fishery. “As FIPs continue to expand, it is important to learn from the past and implement FIPs in ways that ensure policy change and lasting success,” said Brad Spear, global policy director at SFP.

The FIP-DB became publicly available in 2018, to facilitate academic research outside of SFP. It includes historical data covering multiple FIP attributes (type, species covered, flag country, start date, type of fleet), FIP progress indicators (stages and progress ratings) and time series of available FishSource scores for the fisheries associated with these FIPs. In order to encourage continued research into this topic, this year the database has been modernized and supplemented with interactive graphics in a Tableau Dashboard, with key descriptive statistics for industry, NGOs, governments and others to explore. 

“The FIP-DB was a valuable resource for our most recent global FIP landscape report and other related analysis,” said Sydney Sanders of CEA Consulting. “The database is the best publicly available longitudinal dataset describing FIP fishery health and allows us and others to gain important insights into how the FIP model is working.”

Global fisheries systems face many challenges in improving their biological, economic and social sustainability. SFP was an early champion and leader in using FIPs to address these challenges within a fishery. A FIP brings together players within the supply chain to work together to demand and leverage better management of marine resources by identifying environmental issues that need to be addressed, setting the priority actions that should be undertaken and overseeing the action plan adopted by the participants. Since 2003, FIPs have spread throughout the world and now cover a considerable proportion of the world’s wild-caught fisheries.