At Seafood Expo Global, Sustainable Fisheries Partnership (SFP) and Purina Europe launched today the “Bycatch Solutions Hub” to connect seafood retailers and businesses that want to financially support projects to reduce ocean wildlife bycatch with organizations capable of implementing in-the-water solutions. This first-ever, web-based platform was created by SFP and Purina Europe to solve the challenge for companies to help protect endangered, threatened and protected (ETP) species in their seafood supply chains.
“Companies want to help fix the bycatch problem, but they don’t know how or where to go to find solutions,” said Kathryn Novak, Biodiversity and Nature Director at SFP. “The Hub serves as a matchmaking service to bring together interest, funding, and expertise to help reduce ocean wildlife bycatch. The Hub has the ability to mobilize significant amounts of funding that will directly help protect hundreds of thousands of sharks, sea turtles, marine mammals, and seabirds from being harmed or killed in fishing gear.”
Seafood Expo Global is the largest seafood trade event in the world. The event demonstrated how the biggest barrier for retailers in addressing ocean wildlife bycatch has been fragmented information on the work being done and how they can participate in and support these efforts. The Hub was explicitly designed to solve this problem and is establishing a new trend of industry-led bycatch mitigation.
“We wanted to be the founding sponsor of the Bycatch Solutions Hub to kickstart action by the seafood industry to help protect ocean wildlife,” said Nicola Bedding, Nestlé Purina Petcare Europe Raw Material Buyer. “The resources are there, but there are major barriers for industry and companies in finding and supporting practical, real-life solutions. The Hub will be a new global place that connects stakeholders who care about marine life that previously could not find each other.”
Bycatch is the capture of non-target species in fishing, such as sharks, marine mammals, sea turtles and seabirds, all ecologically important in ocean biodiversity. Bycatch is still occurring globally on a significant scale, despite an increase in the number of certified fisheries and improvement projects and significant public attention to this issue.
Among the Hub’s first “matches” include a prominent regional US retailer with a pilot project (mahi) in Panama to reduce the bycatch of sharks and sea turtles. This funding is providing electronic monitoring systems to fishers to collect at-sea data as they try different fishing techniques to reduce bycatch.
Another connection produced funding to purchase ropeless lobster traps for at-sea trials to better protect whales from entanglement in pot and trap fisheries. This funding enables fishers to provide their expertise and feedback to improve and continue the innovation of this promising new gear.
Also through the Hub, retailers will be able to obtain best practice solutions to ETP bycatch, including new innovations currently in testing. Updates on existing projects and their progress and data will drive the creation of new projects. The Hub will establish a new dynamic community, including webinars, meetings and interactive events for participants to hear about new developments, share feedback and experiences, and learn from others.
With founding sponsorship from Purina Europe, SFP developed the Bycatch Solutions Hub as part of its Protecting Ocean Wildlife campaign to help the seafood industry address bycatch and improve ocean biodiversity through action at all levels of the supply chain.