What are the goals of this project?
The Marine Stewardship Council, or MSC, is an independent non-profit organization that certifies the ecological sustainability of fisheries. MSC-certified products are widely recognized by the use of the "blue check-mark" eco-label. Fisheries that don't currently meet the MSC standards can have a difficult time reaching those standards. Some non-profit organizations with an interest in sustainable seafood are assisting fisheries in reaching MSC standards through the use of fishery improvement projects.
A group of conservation-based non-profits formed the Conservation Alliance for Seafood Solutions. Together, these organizations created a set of guidelines outlining what characteristics are necessary in a FIP moving toward sustainability. These guidelines create a standard for FIPs, which ideally, companies will use when seeking sustainable seafood products.
This projects looks at a fishery improvement project in the Gulf of Mexico reef fish fishery, led by the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership. The Sustainable Fisheries Partnership is coordinating industry efforts in bringing this fishery to MSC certification level. More information on the FIP can be found at:
The research will examine the theory of how the Conservation Alliance's guidelines are applied to this FIP and how the FIP addresses traditional areas of conflict between conservation and development, such as striking a balance between maximizing a fishery's profit and sustaining the fish stock.
Why is this research important?
Unsustainable fishing practices contribute to the decline of our oceans. Increased sustainability in fisheries is therefore crucial and a current hot topic. Fishery improvement projects (FIPs) are a relatively new tool in the field of sustainable fisheries, and research on their performance is sparse.
The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) has been criticized for the low number of certification of traditional or developing nations' fisheries. Fishery improvement projects show potential to increase the number of fisheries able to achieve certification.
It is important to note that the MSC is not the only organization setting sustainability standards for fisheries. Although many FIPs currently set reaching MSC standards as the end goal, this is not the case for all FIPs present and future. Additionally, few FIPs are alike, even when working toward a common final goal. Different fisheries face different challenges in achieving sustainability. Having a credible process and a standard to measure is essential for FIPs, as is having a thorough understanding of this process.
This project looks at a fishery improvement project in the Gulf of Mexico reef fish fishery, led by the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership. This case is of particular importance, because data for this FIP is readily available, which should yield a more robust analysis.
How will the funds be used?
Funding will be used mainly for professional transcription of recorded interviews into usable word documents. This will ensure better accuracy, and faster turn-around time than transcribing them myself.
Transcription costs depend on the length of the interview, and which company I use, and can range from $50 to $75 per interview. For this project, I anticipate conducting between 9 and 18 interviews.
A small portion of funding is required to purchase recording software, which is necessary to conduct interviews.
If given the opportunity to publish my work, I will acknowledge each and every donor in my publication.