Fisheries stakeholders undergo ESES training
Developed by WWF-Australia, the ESES is a tool used to assess the ecological sustainability of commercially harvested seafood and is a methodology that can be applied particularly to data-poor fisheries worldwide to assist in planning management interventions along the supply chain.
According to WWF-Pacific’s Sustainable Fisheries and Seafood programme Manager, Duncan Williams, the refresher ESES training provided a platform for the Ministry of Fisheries and relevant stakeholders to develop standards for responsible fishing addressing gaps in management and data availability in the inshore and offshore sectors.
“The ESES is a rapid evaluation tool which has the potential to assist fisheries managers as well as seafood suppliers, retailers and other stakeholders to efficiently determine the sustainability of their seafood and identify areas that need strengthening in terms of management or in the case of companies seeking to purchase sustainable seafood, can indicate which products to avoid.”
Williams added the ESES methodology was not developed for the purpose of a public or consumer facing tool, but as a robust, scientifically based business-to-business tool that supports (not replace) the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification process.
Jo-anne McCrea, the workshop facilitator and WWF-Australia’s Sustainable Fisheries and Seafood Programme Manager, stated that there are many benefits Fiji’s fisheries sector can gain from the ESES methodology.
“I can see multiple functions for the ESES in Fiji. Firstly the ESES would serve Fiji in terms of identifying risks that need to be managed for particular species, and highlight which are the most important actions that need to be taken to address that risk. If the ESES was applied across the range of important species, it will be possible to see areas of where there is need for systematic improvement (like compliance across all inshore fisheries for instance) which allows government and other plays to be strategic and more cost effective in implementing improvement.”
“Essentially, this means coming up with solutions that can provide benefits to many species at the same time, rather than addressing risk on a species by species basis,” McCrea highlighted.
McCrea added, the ESES methodology allows the full set of ecological risks of a fishery to be assessed in a rapid way.
“Up until 10-15 years ago, only the impact of the fishery on the target species was considered when we spoke about a ‘sustainable fishery’. But now, it is fundamentally understood and agreed that in order to protect the environment and ensure the long term productivity of those key target stock we must also manage the fishery’s impact on the environment more generally.”
“This means considering the impact on species that are caught and discarded including protected species, other species that are retained but of a lower commercial importance, the impact of the fish gear on the habitat and the broader ecosystem impacts of removing volumes of fish from the food web.”
“There is a lot to consider but each issue is itself important and collectively and this is the key to maintaining a healthy environment which can support profitable fisheries which in turn provide for the livelihoods of the communities that fish this resource. A rapid assessment approached, provided for by the ESES, will allow an approach to Fijian fisheries management that can capture these multiple issues but in a cost effective way,” added McCrea.
The onus now is for stakeholders of the workshop to carry the ESES methodology forward.
“I think the ESES methodology is relevant and gives us the mandate to access the type of information for a specific commodity. The methodology adds value to the commodity that is fished from a sourced area and most importantly that it is fished in a sustainable way,” added Nanise Tuqiri, a Senior Fisheries Officer of the Research Assessment and Development Division of the Ministry of Fisheries.
“The ESES methodology is something that is not completely new for us at USP. We have carried out and continue to carry out such assessments on certain fish stock through the use of various toolkits however, the ESES methodology, I think is low cost compared to other toolkits available. Its rapid, it’s fast and something we can use to push sustainable issues on seafood,” added Make Movono, a Senior Scientific Officer of the Institute of Applied Science of the University of the South Pacific.
A key component of the ESES methodology, is that is provides the space for producers and buyers to discuss responsible production to improve fisheries for their mutual benefits.
“ESES assessments can give advice to buyers on the responsible status of the products they are buying and provide them with the improvement to source more responsibly. Equally, it provides them the information on what needs to improve for other products, and provides the opportunity for joint projects to be established,” highlighted McCrea.
By building on past lessons learned and suggestions, the workshop adopted the ESES methodology for the assessment of species of interest identified by the Ministries of Fisheries such as Groupers, which are locally know as Kawakawa (E.polyphekadion, E. fuscogattatus, E.cynopadus), and Donu (P.areolatus, P.leaopardus, P.laevisspecies).