Project Profile

Building Cross-Sector Partnerships for Seafood Traceability

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Project Name

USAID/RDMA Oceans and Fisheries Partnership (USAID Oceans)

client/Funding Partner

USAID/Regional Development Mission for Asia (USAID/RDMA)

Prime Contractor

Tetra Tech ARD

Partner Organizations 

Resonance, Verité, Southeast Asian Fisheries Development Center (SEAFDEC), Coral Triangle Initiative on Coral Reefs, Fisheries and Food Security (CTI-CFF)

Country

Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand

Time Period

June 2015 – May 2020

Challenge

The Asia-Pacific region hosts some of the most biodiverse and productive marine ecosystems in the world. These ecosystems provide food and income for over 200 million people and include the epicenter of global marine biodiversity—the Coral Triangle.

The region’s fish stocks and coral reefs are in danger because of overfishing and illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing—threatening biodiversity, food security, and livelihoods. The Asia-Pacific fishing industry has also faced intense scrutiny for gender inequity and unethical and illegal labor practices. Human rights violations in the seafood industry have gained traction in the international media, prompting human welfare initiatives and growing demand for seafood traceability. This is not a challenge any one company or government can solve alone: Improving transparency, traceability, and management of the region’s complex, transboundary seafood supply chains will demand government and private sector buy in, expertise, and collaboration.

Solution

The USAID/RDMA Oceans and Fisheries Partnership (USAID Oceans), led by Tetra Tech ARD, strengthened regional cooperation for sustainable, legal management and trade of fisheries resources in the Asia-Pacific region. USAID Oceans developed regional electronic catch, documentation, and traceability (eCDT) systems and new fisheries management standards, to help companies and regional fishery organizations better detect and combat illegal fishing. These eCDT systems – which allow seafood products to be tagged and digitally tracked from catch to plate – and new standards give governments and seafood buyers the transparency they need to enforce fishery regulations and incentivize more sustainable seafood practices.

On USAID Oceans, Resonance led private sector engagement and developed public-private partnerships to create and strengthen technology solutions for eCDT, human welfare, and combatting IUU fishing in the region.

Key activities included:

  • Develop Partnership Strategies for Sustainable Fisheries: Resonance conducted four partnership assessments – covering Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, and Malaysia –  to identify and map potential partners to help scale and sustain eCDT systems and sustainable fisheries management across the region. Drawing on insights from seafood buyers, processors, technology companies, and government agencies, Resonance produced a private sector engagement strategy that USAID Oceans followed in designing and implementing private sector partnerships.
  • Implement Partnerships to Scale eCDT and Technology Systems: Resonance co-designed, negotiated, and implemented 14 public-private partnerships that reduced illegal fishing, improved fisheries management, supported eCDT system development and scale, and leveraged over $4.1 million from private sector and government partners. These partnerships enabled fishing vessel tracking, ensured supply chain traceability, and empowered workers to report unethical labor conditions at sea.
  • Strengthen Industry Associations: Resonance strengthened regional industry associations to support, expand, and sustain eCDT adoption and to work with national and regional governments on public-private seafood traceability initiatives.
  • Develop Regional Capacity for Partnership Building: Resonance built the capacity of Asia-Pacific countries to design and execute their own private sector partnerships around IUU fishing and eCDT. This included leading trainings, workshops, and presenting at key conferences and industry events. As part of this capacity building, Resonance produced a guide to developing partnerships and a series of business case studies on eCDT for future use by regional countries and their partners.

Key Results

eCDT Piloting

  • Resonance worked with the USAID Oceans team to engage over 15 seafood companies to pilot nine eCDT tools that tracked 1,949 metric tons of seafood in Southeast Asian supply chains.
  • These companies are the leading edge: By tracking tuna from catch to export to the U.S., these 15 companies are some of the first to trace an entire seafood product supply chain. Thanks to these efforts, the United States has imported $20 million in tuna that is verifiably legal, sustainable, and slave-free. Almost all (90%) of users of these tools said they intend to continue using eCDT. Five national governments committed to collaborating on and endorsing regional guidelines for eCDT systems, thus paving the way for the first unified approach to traceability in Southeast Asia.

Industry Platforms for Sustainable Fisheries

  • In the Asia-Pacific, Resonance helped the seafood industry adopt a unified voice on traceability standards and requirements. We facilitated two consortiums to scale the business case for eCDT and support effective industry-government engagement on fisheries reform:
    • In Indonesia, Resonance formed the Indonesia Coastal Tuna Sustainability Alliance (ICTSA) with three influential tuna organizations—the Indonesia Pole and Line & Handline Association, the International Pole and Line Foundation, and Yayasan Masyarakat dan Perikanan Indonesia (MDPI).
    • In the Philippines, Resonance administered a grant to the Socksargen Federation of Fishing and Allied Industries Incorporated (SFFAII) to develop the capacity of their member organizations to use and institutionalize eCDT systems.

Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs)

Resonance co-designed, launched, and implemented 14 PPPs for sustainable and ethical fisheries in Southeast Asia. Highlights include:

Two PPPs for Low-cost Vessel Connectivity
  • Together with the USAID Oceans teams, Resonance established a partnership with satellite company Inmarsat to pilot communications and tracking systems on fishing vessels in Indonesia and Thailand. These systems enabled quicker and easier digital catch reporting, communication, and fleet management. In Indonesia, Inmarsat and USAID Oceans equipped over 225 fishing vessels with onboard satellite systems for real-time electronic traceability and catch data exchange at sea – meeting government reporting requirements and improving safety at sea.
  • Resonance brokered a partnership with the Futuristic Aviation and Maritime Enterprise (FAME), a Philippines company, to test and expand vessel tracking and monitoring solutions on small-scale fishing vessels in the Philippines. USAID Oceans and FAME installed transponders on small-scale vessels located in and around the Sarangani Bay area in Mindanao. These transponders enabled fishers to trace and document their catch using a mobile application. Resonance worked with FAME to develop new strategic partnerships to expand their eCDT tools to other fisheries in the Philippines and to enter new markets in Vietnam and Thailand.
  • Our partnerships with Inmarset and FAME brought new lower-cost and user-friendly traceability technologies to small-scale fisheries. These private-sector partnerships also increased the number of eCDT technology pilots, increased technology companies’ interest in the fishing sector, and expanded the marketplace of available eCDT solutions for the public and private sectors.
PPPs to Improve Digital Traceability Solutions for Seafood Supply Chains
  • Resonance partnered with the Global Dialogue on Seafood Traceability, Global Food Traceability Center (GFTC), GS1, World Wildlife Fund (WWF), Thai Union, and other companies to demonstrate the business case for digital traceability and data sharing in tuna value chains. Through this partnership, USAID Oceans supported a Traceability Hackathon (Trackathon) in Bangkok, Thailand, in which participants created solutions to improve supply chain traceability, three of which were further developed with SeaDelight, Union Bank of the Philippines, and GFTC. Following this success, Resonance coordinated another Trackathon in Indonesia in October 2019, which led to the development of five additional digital applications for seafood traceability. Resonance leveraged over $500,000 in external funding and linked with 25 leading industry experts through this partnership.
  • Resonance also partnered with the Global Dialogue on Seafood Traceability to ensure new eCDT systems meet global standards. Resonance convened regional industry associations and companies, provided technical advice on eCDT standard development, and tested the 1.0 standard (the first-ever global standard for tracking seafood products from catch to point of sale).
  • Resonance facilitated a partnership with MDPI, Anova Seafood, and a local tuna processor in Indonesia to develop and implement an internal traceability system, TraceTales, which enables tuna processors to electronically capture, store, and manage seafood product data. Through the adoption of TraceTales, the local supplier digitizes their entire catch documentation process. Local suppliers can now meet U.S. Seafood Import Monitoring Program requirements, increase the pace and accuracy of their data capture and business calculations, and reduce product recalls and waste.
PPPs to Strengthen the Sustainability of Indonesia’s Tuna Sector
  • As described above, Resonance developed and launched the Indonesian Coastal Tuna Sustainability Alliance (ICTSA). The Alliance brings together 35 Indonesian seafood companies, 1,000 fishing vessels, and 66 major tuna brands and buyers to reform Indonesia’s tuna fisheries. Through the Alliance, eight fisheries in Indonesia entered into the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification process in 2019. The Alliance created and launched an online verification system for MSC Usage Fees, for companies that sell MSC-certified products to provide production volume data in a secure and transparent manner on blockchain. This online tool provides an efficient way for ICTSA to verify compliance with MSC certification.
Partnership to Raise Fishing Crews’ Voices at Sea
  • Resonance facilitated a partnership between Thai Union, the Thailand Department of Fisheries, Mars Petcare, Inmarsat, and Xsense to pilot an innovative traceability solution on tuna vessels in Thailand. The traceability solution combined digital catch reporting with a messaging application to give Thai fishing crews a voice at sea. The application allows workers at sea to communicate with family members and emergency personnel – improving safety at sea and serving a watchdog function, to ensure humane labor conditions on fishing vessels. This work led Mars Petcare to partner with the USAID Countering Trafficking in Persons (CTIP) Asia project – on which Resonance is also a partner – to assess further technology options for providing connectivity at sea.

 

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