The Vietnam Blue Swimming Crab FIP was initiated by blue swimmer crab processor companies whom have sustainability requirements by their overseas customers, and also a real need to address depleted resources. The process began in 2009 with a partnership between WWF-GreaterMekong, fishery consultancy Poseidon, and Vietnamese processor companies. The group initiated a Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) Pre-Assessment. Following the pre-assessment, a FIP scoping document was developed, which includes potential strategies for addressing the deficiencies identified in the pre-assessment. In June 2010, a FIP stakeholder meeting was held in Kien Giang, Vietnam, to discuss the pre-assessment and to develop a FIP Action Plan. The FIP Action Plan describes the necessary FIP activities, associated responsible parties and timeframes required to meet the MSC standard. The pre-assessment and planning of the FIP to address the MSC were advised by fishery consultant, Richard Banks, of Poseidon. Implementation of FIP activities began in September 2010 once the Action Plan was finalised.
In 2011 the VASEP Crab Council was formed under the umbrella of the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Processors, VASEP (http://www.vasep.com.vn/). The VASEP Crab Council is comprised of 5 prominent seafood companies exporting blue swimmer crab products around the world the association represents 90% of Vietnamese exports of pasteurised blue swimmer crabmeat. The association deals with contentious issues in the fishery, paramount of which is sustainability. The VASEP Crab Council chose to work with WWF to help facilitate their sustainability initiative. WWF is the FIP advisor.
Current FIP Status
Since the initiative’s inception, VASEP Crab Council companies have been working WWF-Vietnam to plan and implement the FIP. The FIP has been planned and assessed using MSC standards and advised through 3rd party consultations. After the Annual Review last October, the FIP is well on track with improvements made on a number of MSC Principle Indicators regarding P1, P2 and P3.
The FIP is dedicated to continuous data collection for the stock assessment with the Research Institute of Marine Fisheries (RIMF), using recognized methods to estimate biomass (i.e. Beverton Holt Yield Curve). The stock assessment has produced adoption of Target and Limit Reference Points and a working status of stock. These two outputs will be used as a basis for stock rebuilding strategy. Recommendations for harvest control rules include: gear modifications to increase size selectivity, seasonal reduction of fishing effort, enforcement of area demarcation for gear and boat types and enforcement of legal minimum carapace width at 10 cm. As a result of the FIP, new policies for increased mesh sizes has been approved and implemented for bottom-set gillnets, collapsible traps and ‘Chinese’ trap gear types.
Co-management and community-campaigns have been planned and implemented since 2015 and will continue into 2017. These initiatives are catered to help improve compliance and stewardship of harvest strategies that are in place to recover blue swimmer crab resources and improve fisher livelihoods. The FIP has also solicited RIMF to conduct a bio-economic study to highlight the economic upside to good fishing practices and industry alignment. Vietnam will also look to pilot traceability and control document systems in BSC supply chains with VASEP Processors, DARD and the Crab Council.
The VASEP Crab Council also became a grantee as a prototype to pilot 50in10’s Theory of Change. The approach looked at the entire system of a fishery that includes empowerment of fisher communities and effective management rather than solely environmental indicators. The program would further be rolled-out to an investible proposition from the private sector for fishers keen to take responsibility for their resource. While foundations and multilaterals can provide up-front investments to catalyze change, private finance can sustain it over the long term. This will be in collaboration with already planned co-management, social-economic and compliance systems.
FIP Accomplishments/Next Steps:
During the FIP Managers meeting held in Bangkok, Thailand, Nguyen Thi Dieu Thuy of WWF Vietnam reviewed the work-to-date of the Vietnam blue swimming crab FIP.
Since 2013, VASEP has been reporting on stock assessments on an annual basis. Stricter enforcement is needed for responsible harvest regulations such as minimum catch size. Regarding by-catch data collection, an RFB Assessment was done in 2015 and will be repeated in 2016. Gillnet and normal traps caused a low impact on ecosystem and bycatch species. However, monitoring is needed for the catch of Brownbanded Bamboo shark.
VASEP CC members have demonstrated strong engagement attending all FIP meetings and workshops. VASEP has sent to the Provincial People’s Committee a request to ban Chinese traps.
Ongoing challenges include increasing demand for blue swimming crab from the local and regional markets, especially from markets that don’t require sustainable production. Also, the use of small mesh size gears, limited resources for enforcement and foreign fishing vessels present obstacles to sustainability.November 22
At the end of November, a stakeholder meeting was held between DAARD, WWF and VASEP. During a FIP meeting of thirty plus participants, VASEP stakeholders discussed the prevention of undersized crabs entering the market and the need for legal enforcement of minimum catch size. Richard Banks of Poseidon presented on the fishery progress noting that improvements were tracking with Marine Stewardship Council standards. Meeting participants agreed on the need to ban Chinese traps due to small mesh size.
Quong Trong Thao, Deputy Director of DARD (Department of Agriculture and Rural Development), Kien Giang, calls for more action on the ground. Since the FIPs launch in 2012 most activities have been centered around forming the FIP Steering Committee and conducting the fishery stock assessment. The fishery has had no history in collecting landing, fishing effort, nor biological baseline data. The fishery assessment model requires comparative seasons so that outputs are more precise, and management inputs effective. However coming to 2 years of data collection and a year prior for organizing the FIP, fishery managers are keen to see more actionable progress on the ground. Co-management and communication initiatives have been planned for the past 2 years but have not been able to be implemented because of a shortage of funding. After the FIPs last annual review in October, DARD are keen to keep the momentum going, and capitalize on whatever data is utilizable to enable change at the fisher and trader level for the better.March 31
The Vietnam FIP has been dedicated to continuous data collection, using recognized methods to estimate biomass. The Kien Giang stock assessment has produced several inputs for management including target and limit reference points, biological parameters on blue swimmer crab stocks, and a suite of harvest control rules. This year the FIP will switch-gears to address enforcement, compliance, and co-management initiatives. The FIP is Comprehensive as per CASS guidelines. Click on hyperlinks for FIP Action Plan, FIP Tracking, MSC BMT, and BMT Dashboard.
BSC fishery stakeholders in Kien Giang, Vietnam, gathered on August 27th to 30th, for the annual FIP Review, and the RBF (Risk Based Framework) workshop conducted at DARD. Local government, fisher community members, researchers, NGOs, and the industry were represented at the meetings.
The biggest take-away from the 4-day workshop was how good data, good management, and good planning in sustainability are key success factors for a FIP. Robust stock assessments are the backbone for effective policies, and should be facilitated by a scientific 3rd party. Public-private partnerships are essential to marshal in fishery reform. A road map to sustainability needs to come from experienced professionals who understand the MSC Standard’s environmental criteria’s and have worked in the fisheries as well.October 1
At the GAA Goal Conference in Vietnam Crab Council Secretary Gavin Gibbons participated in a FIP round-table discussion with VASEP Crab Council members. The discussion focused on the need for a Co-Management and Communications programs to spread awareness and foster compliance of the initiative; VASEP’s potential role in lobbying the government for fishery reforms; planning and budgeting for the next semester. Gavin was also able to visit a factory facility of VASEP member YCC, to inspect meat grading and talk with procurement staff about the supply chain.
Fishery Stakeholder meeting in Phu Quoc. Key talking points were finalizing the 2014-2015 work plan, retrain DARD staff on data collection protocols for their contribution to the fishery stock assessment, preliminary planning on co-management and communication strategies to be approved by the PPC, and a workshop in June with help from 2 international consultants to interpret the research results for recommendation for change in management of the blue swimming crab fisheries.
The fishery’s Crab Management Council (CMC) held a FIP stakeholder meeting in August. The group was made up of industry, government, and scientific organizations including: DARD, RIMF, VASEP Crab Council, WWF, DICAFIREP, NIO, and community Fisher Groups. Discussion was fruitful and led to positive revisions in the FIP work plan.
Highlights from the dialogue:
- More interim meetings between WWF and VASEP to ensure smooth transition of funding and work plan development.
- VASEP Crab Council will draft an industry standard on minimum unit size of crab and mitigating risks on catching berried-crab.
- DARD will cooperate with RIMF to effectively implement the onboard logbook system.