Fisheries Improvement Projects | WWF-Canada
	© © Gilbert Van Ryckevorsel / WWF-Canada

Fisheries Improvement Projects

We need to change the way we fish.

The impacts of overfishing and unsustainable fishing practices have damaged the health of our oceans and the long-term economic well-being of coastal communities.
If our oceans and communities are to recover over the long term, we need a new approach: low impact fisheries for community prosperity, a way of fishing that will meet the needs of people and of wildlife.

Happily, WWF can demonstrate that this vision of the future is possible.

Changing fishing practices to meet high ecological standards for sustainability and becoming certified by a credible ecolabel, the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) standard for sustainable fisheries – a certification that brings many economic benefits by opening doors to a growing sustainable seafood market – is one of the most impactful conservation tools.

So why aren’t all fisheries changing their ways to address environmental challenges and adopt these more sustainable methods?


Unfortunately, while many fisheries may understand the environmental and economic incentives for change, the certification process can be long and costly and the fisheries recovery process can be complicated because of other threats such as ocean warming and acidification or complex food web interactions between commercial fish species, their prey and predators.

That’s where Fisheries Improvement Projects (FIPs) come in.


How does a Fishery Improvement Project work?

When a fishery makes the decision to launch a Fishery Improvement Project, they have to adhere to a rigorous process, from launch to implementation on the water:
Step 1: Identification
A target fishery that may benefit from a Fishery Improvement Project is identified and a supply chain analysis is conducted to understand who else is involved in the fishery and what market leverage exists.  
Step 2: Development
The fishery’s performance is evaluated against the MSC standard and stakeholders are recruited to participate in the project.
Step 3: Launch
The project participants and workplan are finalized and made public. During the launch stage, a workplan is developed including objectives, timeframes, responsible parties, and budget.
Step 4: Implementation
The fishery starts taking action toward addressing its shortcomings and begins tracking its progress. During this stage verification of the FIP is performed by a credible third party.
Step 5: Improvements in Fishing Practices or Fishery Management
In this stage, Fishery Improvement Projects document any demonstrated improvements based on implementation of the workplan.
Step 6: Improvements on the Water
In this stage, Fishery Improvement Projects document any demonstrated improvements on the water. Verifiable change on the water, such as a reduction in fishing mortality, an increase in biomass of the target stock, a reduction in habitat impact, etc.

We believe this is the way to a better future

One of the biggest threats to healthy ocean ecosystems is the demand for and procurement of unsustainable seafood. WWF believes that good management and improved fishing practices can lead to the recovery of our oceans, and that struggling fisheries can thrive for the benefit of people and oceans alike.

What is a Fishery Improvement Project?

A Fishery Improvement Project is a multi-stakeholder initiative that helps recovering fisheries address environmental challenges and reach otherwise unattainable sustainability standards, such as the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) standard for sustainable fisheries. These projects are unique because they use the power of the private sector and markets to incentivize positive changes toward sustainability.