Initiated by the Marine Stewardship Council, Fish for Good was a four-year project (2017 – 2021) aimed at guiding fisheries in Mexico, Indonesia and South Africa towards more sustainable fishing practices.
To date, four Mexican fisheries are MSC certified: a red lobster fishery, two small pelagic fisheries and a tuna fishery. The Mexican market is also increasingly interested in sustainable seafood products.
In collaboration with the Mexican campaign Pesca Con Futuro, the MSC highlighted the importance of maintaining healthy fish stocks to guarantee future food and economic security and safeguard the natural wealth of the Mexican waters. Fish for Good joined forces with the Mexican NGO Pronatura Noroeste to guide seven fisheries in the northwest of Mexico towards more sustainable fishing practices.
of Mexican seafood is exported to the US
How it worked
Stage 1 - mapping
The MSC and Pronatura Noroeste conducted a scan of 31 fisheries in the northwest of Mexico. Fisheries were selected according to their:
- economic value
- market potential
- food security
- area(s) fished
- gear(s) used
- catch volumes
- stock status
- environmental impacts
The field assessment and mapping of these fisheries allowed the identification of 12 fisheries as highly likely to benefit from Fishery Improvement Project (FIP) processes and MSC certification. After engaging with stakeholders, eight fisheries were selected to enter stage 2.
Stage 2 - pre-assessments
The Fish for Good advisory group evaluated the findings and selected seven fisheries to be pre-assessed against the MSC Fisheries Standard. The pre-assessment process measures the performance of each fishery and identifies areas for improvement. Pre-assessment of the fisheries is undertaken by an accredited third-party assessor.
Fisheries undergoing pre-assessment
- barred sand bass
- chocolate clam
- red sea urchin
- red lobster
- multi-species finfish fishery in Baja California Sur
- multi-species finfish fishery in Nayarit
Stage 3 - action plan development
At the end of pre-assessments a report will identify where fisheries need to improve to meet the MSC Fisheries Standard and be certified as sustainable. From this point action plans are developed with proposals for how to make the necessary improvements.
Action plans are developed by local organisations. The MSC supports these organisations by supplying them with templates and guidance on global best practice.
Each action plan is different and addresses challenges specific to each fishery. Actions may include:
- Adding on board observer programmes
- Implementing vessel tracking systems
- Improving baitfish management
Stage 4 - implementation
As of 2022, the eight fisheries are implementing actions plans identified in Stage 3.
The fisheries have made progress and improvements due to this project. Updates include:
- Octopus: Fishers have adopted a more ecosystem-focused management model and an electronic data collection system.
- Barred sand bass: Published a first barred sand bass Fisheries Management Plan. Cooperatives are participating in the development of alternative methods to control fishing mortality.
- Chocolate clam: Developed an Ecosystem Fisheries Management Plan with explicit objectives. The Mexican government established a two-year temporary closure to help stock recover.
- Blue swimming crab: Generated an evaluation of harvest strategy performance in conjunction with the national fisheries authorities.
- Red sea urchin: A stock assessment was performed, and a Stock Recovery Strategy workgroup has been established.
- Red lobster: Developed an assessment of surveillance and enforcement. Fishermen have been trained in harvest strategies and control rules.
- Multi-species finfish fishery in Baja California Sur: Developed an improved information and monitoring system and assessed stock status.
- Multi-species finfish fishery in Nayarit: An improved data and monitoring system in process. FIP members have voluntarily implemented three partial refuge areas where either nets are not allowed or there are temporal restrictions.
The red rock lobster and red sea urchin fisheries aim to achieve MSC certification by 2025 and have received further support through the MSC Ocean Stewardship fund.
Each fishery has its own profile on Fishery Progress.
Fishery profile videos
The Mexican Advisory Group provided independent advice and guidance to ensure the effectiveness and transparency of the activities needed to deliver the Fish for Good project
objectives. The role of its members included advising on which fisheries to select for pre-assessment, action plan development and recommendations needed along the process.
Members of the advisory group included representatives from the governmental organisations Conapesca and Inapesca, the NGO Pronatura Noroeste, the University of Baja California,Pesquera Miramar, Federación Regional de Sociedades Cooperativas Pesqueras and S.P.R. Litoral de Baja California.