PRINCIPLES AND CRITERIA
PRINCIPLES AND CRITERIA
The objective of this principle is to contribute to the conservation of marine fish species, preventing and mitigating their overexploitation and the negative impacts on habitat, fishers and traders.
This criteria requires the company to have clear knowledge of both the common and scientific name of each commercialized species. Fish are typically known by their common names; however, these names tend to include various species or genres, and vary from one region or country to another. Thus, the company should know both the common and scientific name of the species it is selling in order to be certain which product is actually being sold.
Several fish species are threatened due to overexploitation, and their populations cannot tolerate further extraction. MarViva provides companies involved in the Standard with a list of species recommended for sale, as well as those not recommended. MarViva has based these recommendations on the IUCN Red List, local studies in each country, and the resilience and vulnerability criteria established by FishBase (www.fishbase.org).
The application of this criteria will ensure that the companies do not offer species that are in a critical or vulnerable condition. The company will look for the substitution of those species with other, less-threatened species.
The size at first maturity (SFM) is the size at which the fish reached its sexual maturity and has reproduced at least once, leaving its offspring in the environment that it inhabits and guaranteeing that there are more individuals of its species. The first maturity size is an essential criteria for species conservation.
Although the environmentally responsible thing to do is for all species to be commercialized above the SFM, the difficulties of the immediate application of this criteria are evident due to the lack of information on this aspect. In the absence of a recognized SFM, the FAO precautionary approach to fisheries will be applied. The MarViva Foundation will provide the SFM for the species sold using this precautionary approach.
Fishing methods and gear vary in their level of selectivity regarding the species captured and the impact level on the marine environment. Responsible fishing seeks to capture resources using highly selective and environmentally friendly methods. Fishing methods such as handline, rod and reel, bottom longline and trolling are all selective and low-impact. On the other hand, trawl nets, purse seine nets and explosives have low selectivity and cause a significant impact on the marine environment. The company must source products captured with highly selective and low impact gear.
Closed seasons are periods of time in which it is prohibited to capture a certain fish species or within a certain fishing area. These restrictions aim to prevent the capture of species during their reproductive phase. Banned species or fish products caught within a restricted fishing zone should not be commercialized. A responsible company varies the species it offers throughout the year, or seeks alternative supplying from other fishing areas to adjust to the closed seasons.
Fishing may be limited or prohibited in protected marine areas such as National Parks or Reserves, or in areas such as streams or river mouths. These zones protect high diversity areas or species reproduction sites.
The company should ensure that the fish it sells do not come from marine protected areas or sites where fishing is prohibited.
One of the most important elements of the Standard is the traceability program. This program allows for the fish to be traced from the moment it is caught until it reaches the end consumer. The program enables the provider to identify its product by lot number, capture site, fisher identity, volume, common and scientific names, fishing method used, etc. To comply with this criteria, all participants in the distribution chain (from the fisher/receiving center to the processer and final seller) should keep records with all this information to inform the consumers, with security and certainty, about the origin and characteristics of the fish being sold.
The objective of this principle is to promote the generation of policies, practices and documentation within the company in order to ensure the adequate application of the Standard. The company should also conduct activities that incentivize environmental responsibility and awareness raising among its staff and providers, requiring that the latter comply with species conservation criteria. The principle of internal processes guarantees that the company will play an active role in the construction of a value chain centered on responsible fishing.
Companies that apply the Standard must have all legal applicable documentation and comply with all processes required by the laws and procedures that regulate fish commercialization. The company should ensure consumer rights with respect to information about the products they purchase.
Companies must have a formal and written environmental policy that clearly states its commitment to the conservation of marine resources and the promotion of responsible consumption. Clients, staff and suppliers should all be aware of this policy. It is expected that an environmental policy would entail environmental responsibility actions that are sustained over time and extend beyond current staff and their ideals, becoming part of the company's permanent day-to-day operation and philosophy.
In order to comply with this criteria, the company must promote and implement awareness-raising activities about the relevance of responsible fishing and consumption during the implementation of the Standard. Both the company and the supplier'semployees should receive technical trainings to improve their understanding and value of applying resource conservation criteria. Company staff must have sufficient knowledge to be able to transmit the importance of responsible consumption initiatives to clients.
The company must have an internal audit or periodic evaluation program that determines its level of compliance with the criteria for each of the four principles. It will also serve to prepare for the external audits every two years, when a certifying entity will define the company's achievement level within the Standard.
Companies can use their purchasing power to influence suppliers to comply with the Principle of Fish Species Conservation criteria. They must require compliance with these criteria in their trade agreements, as well as in pricing elements. Supplier training will facilitate this transition. The company should demonstrate that it complies with the criteria of responsible fishing through the documentation generated by the traceability program.
The goal of the Principle of Consumer Awareness is to employ strategies, campaigns or communications efforts with education and promotional activities that aim to raise consumer awareness regarding the importance of conserving marine fish species through responsible consumption and commercialization.
The company must conduct a baseline diagnostic to determine the knowledge level and consumer attitudes towards responsible fishing and consumption. The goal is to design a communications strategy to promote a substantial and measurable change over time.
The communications strategy is based on current knowledge level and consumer trends, and defines the consumer's future expected behavior. Combining these aspects strengthens the commercial strategy and allows the company to measure its perceived image.
The communications strategy must contemplate an implementation timeline or period. It is important to consider that the ultimate goal is for the consumer to contribute to overall environment health through their decision to acquire responsible fish products, and for this message to be clear and prompt.
Once the consumer awareness activities have been implemented, the company must measure the increase in the target group's knowledge level as well as the achievement of the communications strategy's objectives and goals
With this Standard, the MarViva Foundation also seeks to influence the general aspects of the fishing commercialization chain and increase the support that companies provide to artisanal fishing communities. This principle seeks to generate the development of relationships, agreements and strengthening activities with the fishing communities that directly or indirectly supply these companies.
The company must establish long-term commercial relationships with artisanal suppliers that apply the criteria of responsible fishing. The company should recognize the efforts made to comply with the responsible fishing criteria through different incentives, including, but not limited to, the purchase price offered to fishers.
It is expected that the companies that apply the Standard will implement some type of action to strengthen artisanal suppliers, such as training in good manufacturing practices, product handling and quality control; training on administrative, accounting and organization topics; improvements to infrastructure or facilities, ice making equipment, etc.
The company must seek to strengthen value chains in which environmental and social responsibility are fundamental. To this end, it must formalize commercial agreements with fish providers that require specific commitments in compliance with fish conservation criteria. In addition, it is expected that these agreements will set the basis for constant, long-lasting commercial partnerships, based on responsible fishing, cost transparency, equal benefit distribution and fair trade.