Mexico Embraces 'Fishing with a Future'
Without healthy fisheries, there are no healthy oceans.
Last year, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) reported that nearly 90 percent of global fish stocks were either fully fished or overfished – and that the demand for affordable fish protein would only continue to grow.
Confronted with the scope of the problem, the challenge could seem overwhelming. But there is a solution: Working with diverse stakeholders to adopt science-based fisheries management to manage fisheries sustainably, in ways that protect stocks and ecosystems, for the benefit of fishermen, industries and ocean environments.
It turns out that fishing, done right, has a bright future.
Some of the most promising developments are occurring in Mexico, the world’s 16th largest fishing nation, which hosted The Economist's 2018 World Ocean Summit, March 7-9 in Cancun and Playa del Carmen.
At the summit, Mexico’s fishing sector - including the government, industry, fishermen and civil society - signaled its full support for sustainability and for working in partnership to promote more responsible fishing through the #PescaConFuturo movement. This commitment was solidified through the Playa del Carmen Collaborative Agreement for the Future of Fisheries, signed by key actors in the sector.
PescaConFuturo, or Fish with a Future, aims to build a sustainable seafood market in Mexico, engaging all actors throughout the supply chain - from producers to buyers to consumers - to work together to ensure the sustainability of Mexico’s fisheries. The commitment by the sector is a positive step – and holds the potential to secure the future of the nation's fisheries.
"Sustainability is everyone's responsibility,” Mario Aguilar Sánchez, who heads CONAPESCA, Mexico’s National Commission of Aquaculture and Fisheries, said at a summit event hosted by the Walton Family Foundation.
If fishing continued business as usual, some of Mexico’s key fisheries could collapse within 20 years. However, as Mexico advances farther in sustainable management, it has the potential to generate more than $211 million dollars in additional profits each year, increase the number of fish by 70% more fish and produce a 24% larger harvest.
Today, about 25% of Mexico's fisheries are certified as sustainable by the Marine Stewardship Council.
Mexico is poised to emerge as a leader in sustainable fishing – and the foundation is committed to being a partner in that effort. Today, approximately 25% of Mexico’s fisheries by volume are certified as sustainable by the Marine Stewardship Council. Through the #PescaConFuturo movement, the foundation and partners will strive to ensure that 100% of Mexico’s fisheries are sustainably managed.
We have worked with Mexico partners for the past decade on improving fisheries and ocean conservation and pledge to continue supporting work that builds productive fisheries, healthy fishing communities and more successful fishing businesses.
The foundation is also looking to scale sustainable fishing throughout the Americas, with a particular focus on the U.S., Mexico, Peru and Chile. Both Chile and Peru joined the Mexico fisheries sector’s commitment to the #PescaConFuturo campaign at the World Ocean Summit, with representatives from both nations signing the Playa del Carmen Collaborative Agreement. The foundation is committed to working with sector leaders across all three countries to support information sharing and collaborative efforts to scale the #PescaConFuturo movement.
We understand the difficulty any nation faces in restoring ocean health, particularly when marine resources are shared worldwide and actions are not always taken collectively. We also understand the challenge of improving fisheries management with limited financial resources and the complexities of creating markets that reward fishermen for investing in sustainable practices.
But because Mexico, Chile and Peru are invested in building partnerships with all who have a stake in a thriving fishery, we think the solutions will be durable, improve long-term ocean health and benefit Latin America's fisheries.