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Editor's Note: Getting with the FIP picture
By Fiona Robinson
October 01, 2013
Yet another acronym to add to your list these days is FIP, short for fishery improvement project. I kept hearing the term being used at the Seafood Summit in Hong Kong last year (sometimes as a verb, as in “this needs to be FIP-ed” — ugh). In the daily grind of keeping up with abbreviations, this one didn’t register high on my radar screen in terms of topics that I had to understand.
It wasn’t until I had lunch this past summer with Jerry Knecht and Terry Harriman of North Atlantic Seafood here in Portland, Maine, that I started to understand where FIPs fall in the grand scheme of the seafood supply. They described how FIPs offer incentives to fisheries in emerging nations, like Indonesia, where North Atlantic’s subsidiary, P.T. Bali Seafood International, is involved in FIPs. Most fishermen in developing countries don’t have access to technology that enables them to track and report their harvest, and similarly they don’t have the skills or equipment to maximize the financial value of their harvest by processing it as soon as it hits the docks. FIPs in developing nations are both helping the local economy and are the cornerstone of a sustainable seafood plan that otherwise would probably not exist.
The summer’s announcement by Walmart that it would consider FIPs in its seafood sourcing, as long as they were working toward Marine Stewardship Council certification, kicked the hornet’s nest for the Alaska seafood industry. Contributing Editor Steve Coomes summarized the FIP situation well, including the Alaska reaction, in this issue’s Top Story on page 24.
The topic of FIPs and Walmart brings up the heavy question of whether a gigantic retailer, which could put too much resource pressure on a small supply, should get its seafood from an FIP. Read the Top Story to see what others in the industry have to say on the topic. And as always, you can share your thoughts with other readers by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or connecting with us on Facebook and Twitter.