Sustainable Fisheries Partnership (SFP) today released the first edition of its sustainability overview of fisheries that supply mahi mahi (Coryphaena hippurus) – also known as mahi, dolphinfish, or dorado. The overview is based on information from, SFP’s online fisheries information resource. 

While current assumptions are that Pacific mahi stocks are generally in good condition, SFP’s researchers found that the species may face a higher risk than was previously understood.  Changes in fishing gear, catch methods, and grounds, as well as changing environmental conditions should be considered when evaluating relative (local) and absolute (total) mahi abundance of Pacific Ocean stocks.

The analyses of mahi fisheries found that stock-wide assessments of Pacific mahi have not been conducted and that regional fisheries management organizations (RFMOs) do not have mahi conservation and management harvest control measures in place. There are, however, input controls for purse seine tuna fisheries and output controls for other pelagic species for pelagic longline fisheries.  The report can be found here.  Commenting on the results of the report, Jim Cannon, CEO of Sustainable Fisheries Partnership, said:“Pacific mahi is a good example of where the seafood supply chain can make a difference in determining the future sustainability of a fishery resource. Industry should support the development of greater information about the fishery and stock, which will lead to more reliable assessments and a better understanding of the abundance of mahi.   A next step would be to increase the number of fishery improvement projects in the region.” In summary, the overview urges commercial buyers of Pacific mahi to take the following actions: 

  • Encourage management authorities to invest in relevant research to improve the knowledge of the stock and population structure of Pacific mahi. Because mahi is a highly migratory species, regional-scale research is required.
  • Request national and regional management authorities to conduct stock assessments and establish reference points and harvest control rules for Pacific mahi stocks.
  • Call upon companies in the supply chains of all fisheries that supply mahi for which fishery improvement projects (FIPs) are needed to publicly establish improvement projects and begin to make progress in addressing deficits in fishing practices and governance systems.
  • Encourage those fisheries that supply mahi that are already in FIPs to ensure continuous progress in achieving priority improvements and to publicly report on this progress.
  • Ask fisheries management authorities for fisheries that supply mahi to gradually incorporate ecosystem-based elements. This is applicable for both rudimentary and more advanced local and regional management systems.