Fishery Improvement Project
Last Update: March 2017
Red lobster (Panulirus argus)
Green lobster (Panulirus laevicauda)
FIP Stage according to CASS progress table: 4, FIP is delivering improvement in policies or practices
FIP Rating according to SFP rating tool: A (Exceptional Progress)
FIP Rating according to MSC benchmarking tool: Initial (Jan 2012-3): 0.24; Second (Jan 2014): 0.24; Third (Jan 2015): 0.31; Fourth (Jan 2016): 0.50; Current (Jan 2017): 0.52
Northeast coast of Brazil. See map below.
If you would like more information about the FIP or if you wish to support it, please contact Rochelle Cruz.
- ASSOCIAÇÃO PESCA SUSTENTÁVEL DE ICAPUÍ (fishers association)
- BOMAR (local exporter)
- COMPEX Ltda/Gondomar (local exporter)
- CONDESSA (local exporter)
- ICAPEL (local exporter)
- IPESCA (local exporter)
- MARIS/CELM (ex COMPESCAL – local exporter)
- SINDFRIO-Ceará (local exporters association)
- SL-EX/SANTA LAVÍNIA LTDA (local exporter)
- TEQUESTA BAY FOODS (US importer)
Publicly Announced Date: 2012
Current Improvement Recommendations:
- Adopt a mandatory ‘live-lobster’ delivery policy to processing plants in order to reduce fishing effort and improve product quality.
- Establish fixed landing points and control points for lobster.
- Build accurate traceability through a catch certification system in order to minimize illegal fishing.
- Prohibit the domestic trade of lobster during the four-month closure season in order to reduce fishing mortality of juveniles.
- Fully implement the monitoring and research plan.
- Continue with the annual stock assessment and establish limit and target reference points.
- Establish a management system based on output limits (TAC) instead of on effort limits (number of traps).
The two lobster species, Panulirus argus (red lobster, or lagosta-vermelha in Portuguese) and Panulirus laevicauda (green lobster, or lagosta-verde in Portuguese), represent the most important fishing resources of the coastlines of northern and northeastern Brazil. The fishery exports mainly to the US market, with an average worth 60 million USD per year, and can provide for the livelihood of more than 15,000 fishers.
Unfortunately, largely due to a failure to apply timely management tools and inadequate enforcement, the fishery has faced mortality levels above those scientifically recommended for a long time.
On the other hand, landings have remained relatively stable despite an increase in effort and four decades of constant geographical expansion of fishing grounds, and along the last few years the exports trend has decreased, which are signs of stock overexploitation.
Since 2002, the Brazilian government has been making attempts to change management practices in this fishery. Through the project “Promoting sustainable, resource efficient agri-food supply chains” (April 2009–October 2010), the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture (MPA), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), and the Federal University of Ceará, represented by the Institute of Marine Sciences (LABOMAR), had been working in partnership to develop a set of recommendations to promote sustainable management practices for the Brazilian spiny lobster fishery and its supply chain.
Although not all of the project terms of reference had been fulfilled completely, results of the first studies related to the aforementioned project were presented on October 14 and 15, 2010, in Fortaleza (state of Ceará), during an International Workshop on the Spiny Lobster Supply Chain.
At this workshop, the MPA, LABOMAR, and UNEP welcomed international experts, civil society organizations, representatives of the fishers, and local and international supply chain actors.
Among the conclusions that arose from this workshop were the following:
- Brazil has the opportunity to produce a quality, sustainable product instead of the commodity that is currently produced and exported.
- The demand for sustainable, certified spiny lobster is growing while the supply is so far very limited. From the meetings with European importers and traders, it seems that an eco-certification may be a serious competitive advantage for the Brazilian fishery.
- Failure by Brazil to quickly launch and communicate a meaningful fishery improvement project (FIP) for lobster may cost producers a significant future share of the US market.
In order to get this FIP launched, UNEP entered in a partnership with CeDePesca in 2011. CeDePesca began coordinating the improvement work in the field with local industry, fishers, the government of Ceará, the now-defunct (as of 2016) Ministry of Fisheries (MPA), the Ministry of Environment, and other local stakeholders.
At the time, the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership, an international NGO, agreed with CeDePesca to work with its major buyer and supplier partners to support the improvement efforts.
By August 2011, CeDePesca applied and got funds from the Resources Legacy Fund to contract a pre-assessment against the standard of the Marine Stewardship Council and these were the results:
- No official stock assessment had been performed since 2006. The last one showed the stock as overfished, so a recovery plan is needed.
- Neither adequate limit nor adequate target biological reference points had been set.
- A harvest strategy exists, but it is based on number of traps and monitoring has been deficient since 2006, therefore presumably the strategy is failing.
- Existing rules about effort limits are not realistic because they are established as “trap equivalent” quantities and there is no official calculation for these equivalences with nets and diving, which are largely used instead of traps and also are not legal. Therefore, there is no means of verification.
- The main trouble in meeting requirements of MSC Principle 2 (impacts on the environment) is the lack of information about the impacts on other retained species (lobsters, octopus, and some small fish), discarded species (small fish), and the seabed.
- The legal framework is generally acceptable but lacks specific goals and clear instruments.
- The Lobster Management Commission (CGPL) could potentially do good work, but had not been effective since 2004.
- CGPL has long-term explicit objectives, but the precautionary approach is just implicit and there are no short-term goals.
- The decision-making process at CGPL, though participatory, is not quickly responsive and is not publicly documented.
- No research plan was currently in place.
- The management system conducts no regular self-evaluation of performance.
Along 2012, CeDePesca main efforts were directed at dissemination of these results and in trying to get the support of the Brazilian government, while conducting negotiations with Ceará exporters to build an industry-driven FIP.
In 2013, efforts were directed at designing a private second-party verification program in order to ensure traceability for legally caught Brazilian lobster.
Since 2013, as previously agreed with UNEP and after many onths of negotiations, the local exporters association, SINDFRIO, took over the projet in association with CeDePesca.
- Achieve a mandatory live-lobster delivery policy, so that lobsters are delivered alive to processing plants.
- Achieve the adoption of mandatory landing points and control points as the basis for an accurate catch certificate program.
- Achieve the prohibition of domestic lobster trade during the four-month closure season.
- Improve the work of the Management Commission for Lobster (CPGL).
- Collaborate in achieving the full implementation of the monitoring and research plan.
- Continue to conduct annual stock assessments and recommending TACs.
- Define and propose adequate limit and target reference points for lobster.
- Achieve the adoption of output limits (TAC).
January – March 2012
Bureau Veritas completed an MSC pre-assessment in January.
A workshop, held in Boston in March, encouraged agreements between Brazilian producers and US importers to support the FIP. At the meeting, participants were informed of the results of the pre-assessment and drafted an improvement workplan. Six important US importers decided to be part of the FIP.
April – June 2012
A meeting with Brazilian exporters in Fortaleza, held in May, discussed the findings of the MSC pre-assessment, and the characteristics of the FIP were explained in detail. As a result, all Brazilian exporters decided to enter into the FIP.
A meeting with the Secretary of Fisheries Management at MPA (Flavio Bezerra) and collaborators was held in Brasilia in May to discuss the findings of the MSC pre-assessment and improvements needed. At this meeting it was also agreed that LABOMAR should present to the MPA a project to organize a monitoring system for the lobster fishery.
A meeting with the Secretary of Biodiversity at MMA (Roberto Cavalcanti) and collaborators was held in Brasilia in May to discuss the findings of the MSC pre-assessment and improvements needed.
July – September 2012
In July, a meeting between Brazilian exporters and CeDePesca staff resolved that all companies would become affiliated with SINDFRIO (industry association) and would sign a formal agreement with CeDePesca to take a very proactive role in the FIP. This goal was expected to be accomplished by the end of 2012.
October – December 2012
In November, LABOMAR sent the monitoring project to MPA, whose budget was requested by the Ministry of Fisheries to the Federal Budget Office to be included for fiscal year 2013.
January – March 2013
In January, SINDFRIO leaders had an interview with the Secretary of Fisheries of Ceará, Ricardo Campos, to request news in regard to the monitoring plan. The answer was that the Secretary would talk to the State Governor to include the topic in the agenda of a meeting with the federal Minister of Fisheries.
In February, a formal FIP agreement was signed between SINDFRIO and CeDePesca to “encourage, help, identify and put underway concrete improvements for the lobster fishery in order to obtain a certifiable status against the MSC standards and continue to implement improvements with the goal to attain a score of 80 for each performance indicator as assessed by the MSC.”
In March, CeDePesca started tasks in the field to put in place a second-party verification program through a plan of visits to fishing communities to detect those fishers operating with legal gears (traps) and to obtain market recognition for their products.
Also in March, the Federal Budget is to be approved by the Brazilian Congress, including the financial resources for the lobster monitoring plan.
April – June 2013
In April, SINDFRIO participated at SCC and CGPL meetings and made some propositions aligned with the improvement plan, although the CGPL meeting was suspended.
In May, four companies within SINDFRIO (see list above) agreed, through a Letter of Intention, to constitute a common brand to support the traceability efforts and to create a common brand for legally caught lobster. Since this letter was signed, FIP participants were limited to those agreeing with this commitment.
In June, the Rural Federal University of Pernambuco (UFRPE) was granted a budget by the National Commission of Research to update the Brazilian lobster stock assessment; and the Monitoring Department Director at MPA, Sergio Mattos, announced that the MPA would be sending money (350,000 USD) for the Monitoring Project to the Research Institute (LABOMAR) by the end of July.
Also in June, the Brazilian Institute for the Environment – Ceará branch (IBAMA-CE) was allocated with a strengthened budget for enforcement (400,000 USD) and for monitoring (125,000 USD) targeting the lobster fishery. [Nevertheless, by September the money had not yet been wired.]
In regards to the Traceability Program, Bureau Veritas conducted the first site visit and issued the first report in order to build a traceability system for legally caught lobster.
July – September 2013
In August, IBAMA suffered budget cuts by the federal government, affecting enforcement activities for the lobster fishery close to the end of the season.
In September, Bureau Veritas drafted and delivered a set of documents (Specification Conditions, Evaluation and Compliance of Brand, and Inspection Reports and Audits), constituents of the two initial phases of the Traceability Program.
Throughout the quarter, the Rural Federal University of Pernambuco (UFRPE), in cooperation with IBAMA, continued developing the stock assessment of green and red lobsters by retrieving frequency distributions, catch and effort by type of fishing (boat type and fishing method), and exports per commercial category.
Throughout the quarter, IBAMA-CE drafted agreements containing terms of cooperation with state municipalities and the Federal Institute of Ceará (IFCE) for operationalization of the lobster monitoring project, and worked on data collection at Acaraú, Paracuru, Fortaleza, and Beberibe municipalities in the State of Ceará.
In September, the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture (MPA) signed a Cooperation Agreement with the Federal University of Ceará (UFC) for 350.000 USD to conduct a Lobster Monitoring Project driven by the Research Institute (LABOMAR).
October – December 2013
In November, Bureau Veirtas completed the second phase (Constitution of Reference) of the Traceability Program. The third phase (Validation) is expected to be implemented in June 2014.
In November, the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture did send funds (350.000 USD) for the Lobster Monitoring Project to the UFC.
In December, the Federal Government launched a Program to Combat Illegal Fishing in the country, as a coordinated effort by the ministries of Fisheries, Environment, Defense, Justice, the Navy and the Federal Police.
Also in December, six more companies agreed to become part of the FIP.
January – March 2014
In January 2014, the three founding FIP companies joined with three newcomers, and signatory members of the FIP decided to make a financial contribution for the continuation of the FIP and to collaborate with IBAMA-Ceará to rebuild a database for the last 8 years.
At a meeting held in January 2014, SINDIPESCA-Rio Grande do Norte expressed its will to become part of the FIP. Negotiations are open.
Along February 2014, SINDFRIO-CE held conversations with MPA high level officials to commit them with the development of the FIP. In February 2014, SINDFRIO’s funds for the development of the FIP were received.
In March 2014, exporters started providing annual exports data per commercial size category. The data was collected and systematized by CeDePesca and provided to IBAMA-Ceará.
In March, a contribution from Sea Pact and another from Mark Foods were received in order to continue with the traceability program.
April – June 2014
In April, SINDFRIO and CeDePesca participated of stakeholders’ meetings in the State of Ceará to discuss management measures for the lobster fishery and a document was sent to MPA and MMA authorities in Brasilia asking for a TAC and for better enforcement and monitoring.
In June, Bureau Veritas auditors conducted a new site visit to fishing communities in order to finalize Phase B (Verification) of the Program. Subsequently, ithe Control Plan document will be turned and Phase C will begin.
In June, the Federal Public Ministry and Ministry of Labor have required to the MPA that annual licenses for lobster should be given only after inspections demonstrate that vessels are using traps. The topic will be discussed at a public hearing scheduled for July 2014.
Throughout the quarter, exports data per commercial size continued to be collected and digitalized in order to be used in a stock assessment.
July – September 2014
In July, the Federal Public Ministry (MPF) and the Ministry of Labor (MPT) held a public hearing and recommended that the MPA should perform inspections of lobster vessels and publish the list of those legalized for the exercise of fishing activity. During the quarter, the collection and digitalization of annual exports dataper commercial size continued in order to be used in the assessment of stocks.
Throughout the quarter, IBAMA-CE worked in the operationalization of fishing monitoring on the coast of Ceará, in cooperation with the State’s municipalities and Federal Institutes, and data collection has started.
In September, an addendum to the Term of Cooperation for the decentralization of credit between the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture and the Federal University of Ceará was published for the implementation of the project “Monitoring of Lobster Fishing” in the amount of R$705.960 (USD 300,000).
October – December 2014
In October, digitalization of exports data provided by SINDFRIO was completed. CeDePesca did a preliminary analysis which shows a very fragile situation of the stocks, which are below a limit reference point, and shows the need for urgent intervention to reduce fishing effort in order to rebuild them (See the report here). This document will be used to discuss a management plan for the fishery with the new fishing authorities. The raw data is also available here.
By the end of the year, SINDFRIO and CeDePesca renewed the agreement to continue with the FIP in 2015. The priority will be keeping the database and the stock assessment updated, and working with the government to get the necessary management reforms.
January – March 2015
Along this quarter, CeDePesca has been actively working with US importers and Bureau Veritas to start running the Traceability Program when the fishing season begins in June.
In February, the Associação Pesca Sustentável de Icapuí (Sustainable Fishing Association of Icapuí, APS) was legally constituted in Icapuí, Ceará, with a membership of fishers that use traps only. This association, comprised of 40 artisanal boats, will be working on the traceability program with CeDePesca.
In March, the brand and logo of the traceability program has been legally registered.
In March, at the Boston Seafood Show, there was a new meeting of FIP partners, including Brazilian exporters, US importers and retailers to approve the next steps of the project.
Also in March, there was a meeting between SINDFRIO, CeDePesca, the Minister and the Secretary of Fisheries from Brazil to present the FIP, the outcomes of the pre-assessment and the stock assessment, the activities and goals of the FIP and to coordinate further actions. The high Brazilian officials that attended the meeting were very keen to this coordination and to solve some of the crucial problems of the fishery, including an operative Management Plan. New discussions will be held in April.
April – June 2015
In April, a meeting of CeDePesca with the Secretary of Fisheries Management ratified the need for adopting measures such as making mandatory the delivery of live lobsters into processing plants, prohibiting local trade of lobster during the closure season, and a management system based on a TAC.
In May, CeDePesca participated of the meeting of the Scientific Subcommittee where the outcomes of the stock assessment were presented, together with a similar one from the chairperson of the Subcommitee. The management proposals coming from the FIP were presented and approved as recommendations to the Management Committee.
In June, the Permanent Committee for Lobster Management (CPGL) met for the first time in one year and agreed to adopt two very important measures: lobster must be delivered alive to processing plants as of 2017, and domestic trade of lobster during the closure season will be strongly limited. The adoption of a TAC was approved but the implementation was posponed to a further meeting.
July – September 2015
Along this quarter, CeDePesca has been working with data from the exporters at SINDFRIO to update the stock assessment.
In September, the CPGL ratified the measures adopted in June and discussed further adoption of others such as heavy punishment for violations, a quota system, catch certificate and mandatory landing points to be approved in a November meeting.
In October, the federal government announced the replacement of the Ministry of Fisheries by a Secretariat of Fisheries within the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Food. This measure, not complemented yet with an approved new structure, has delayed all the previous work in a context of political and economical difficulties for the country. With the expectation that this delay will be solved within the next few months, the FIP partners are discussing further steps.
In the meantime, the red lobster stock assessment was updated by CeDePesca with the 2013 and 2014 exports data provided by SINDFRIO. The assessment was released to the public in December 2015 (see progress table for a link to the report).
January – March 2016
During this quarter, the final report on the FIP’s 2015 activities was presented to and approved by SINDFRIO. Negotiations regarding the extension of the FIP agreement continued.
On March 8th, during the Boston’s Seafood Expo North America, SINDFRIO signed the renewal of the FIP Agreement for 2016, and Tequesta Bay Foods renewed its support for the FIP.
The new agreement signed with SINDFRIO, includes the creation of a Scientific Advisory Committee for the FIP, to be formed by researches from the University of Ceará. The objectives for 2016 are to continue promoting improvements within the Lobster Management Committee, including measures regarding the adoption of a TAC-based system, the prohibition of selling lobsters in the domestic market during the closure season, the requirement of bringing live lobsters to the processing plants, and the implementation of mandatory landing/control points to improve traceability.
The renewal of the agreement shows the FIP partners’ determination to continue advancing in improvement actions, despite political and economic turmoil in Brazil and recent setbacks suffered by fishery management institutions.
April – June 2016
SINDFRIO provided exports data for the 2015 fishing season, and the stock assessment is being updated by CeDePesca. The report will include management recommendations for the 2016 season and it is expected to be released to the public in July 2016.
From May 2nd to May 5th, CeDePesca and the Associação Pesca Sustentável de Icapuí (APS – Sustainable Fishing Association of Icapuí) participated at the APAS Trade Show, which gathers together supermarket chains from Brazil with the aim of promoting networking. CeDePesca and APS’ small stand at the show that took place in the city of Sao Paulo, received a lot of attention and visitors showed interest in the FIP and its traceability program.
On May 5th, a meeting was held with ABRASEL, the Brazilian Restaurants and Bars Association. CeDePesca and APS explained the objectives of the FIP and its traceability program, and ABRASEL expressed a strong interest in supporting work with fishing communities. Exchanges regarding the signature of a collaboration agreement are now taking place between CeDePesca and ABRASEL.
From June 14th to June 17th, CeDePesca and APS participated of FISPAL (the restaurants show held in Sao Paulo) with a small booth within the space of ABRASEL, to disseminate the FIP and its traceability program among the domestic market. This is part of the FIP’s effort to involve the gastronomy sector in the project. Also, CeDePesca made a presentation on the characteristics of the global sustainable seafood movement, the traits of certification processes and the need for developing FIPs for Brazilian fisheries. The audience consisted of specialized public.
Finally, during this quarter, CeDePesca has also became a founder member of the Brazilian Alliance for Sustainable Seafood, that together with other NGOs, private sector enterprises, aquariums and fisher organizations will be collectively pushing to get sustainable fisheries in the country.
July – September 2016
In late July, CeDePesca issued its third update of the stock assessment for Brazilian lobster. Prior to the final version, feedback was received from Brazilian researchers: Carlos Tassito Ivo, Jose Augusto Aragao and Adauto Fonteles-Filho. Professor Fonteles-Filho has recently passed away, and therefore the document is dedicated to him.
In summary, the analysis shows that:
– Fishing mortality has continued its descendant trend, although it is still considered high: It was estimated at 0.851 for 2015, while it was 0.890 in 2014 and 1.008 in 2013.
– The reproductive biomass was estimated at 10.4 thousand metric tons for 2015, slightly above the 2014 level estimated at 10.1 thousand mt (for 2013, the estimated level was estimated at 9.9 thousand mt, so there is an increasing trend, albeit slow).
– The ratio between the current reproductive biomass level and the level that would be attained if fishing were to cease is 19%; below the proposed limit reference point (20%) and the proposed target reference point (40%).
– The projections that were conducted as part of this study show that if current measures and current recruitment levels remain the same, in the long term the stock will not grow past its limit reference point.
Given this situation, the document contains several suggestions for the recovery of Brazilian lobster: The adoption of a Total Allowable Catch of 4700 mt of whole red lobster and 1000 mt of whole green lobster, or their equivalent in tails, during the next five years (this is called a constant catch management strategy); the adoption of a live lobster policy with a 5% tolerance in processing plants; mandatory landing control points; real-time monitoring of the fishery production at processing plants in order to give adequate notice of the closing of the fishery when 80% of the TAC has been achieved; and, the prohibition to possess, transport or commercialize lobster in the domestic market during the closure period.
In August, CeDePesca met with the President and the Director of Ceará’s Kitchen Chefs Association, Mr. Luciano Ferreira and Mrs. Jane Alves to share information about the FIP and the Traceability Program, and to involve the gastronomic sector in the project. Mr. Ferreira and Mrs. Alves agreed to holding a workshop in December with CeDePesca and the Assocation’s members, so they can be shown the results of the analyses that show the status of the stocks and to discuss possible solutions to their sustainability and possible ways in which the Association could be of help.
In September, CeDePesca delivered a letter to the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Food in Ceará to be forwarded to the Secretary of Aquaculture and a Fisheries, Mr. Dayvson Franklin de Souza. The document explains the current status of the lobster stocks as derived from the stock assessments conducted using exports data for the period 2004-2015 provided by SINDFRIO. The document also asks for the continuity of the work that had been developed by the now defunct Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture in 2015, as well as the resuming of the work conducted by the Scientific Subcommittee and the Permanent Committee for Lobster Management (CGPL).
Also in September, CeDePesca facilitated the participation of SINDFRIO at the IUCN’s World Conservation Congress held from September 1st to September 10th in Hawaii. SINDFRIO participated of a Knowledge Café organized by CeDePesca and other IUCN members, where the Red List methodologies and their applicability to aquatic species were discussed together with alternatives to strengthen, expand and improve initiatives targeting marine sustainability obstacles in South America.
Also during this quarter, CeDePesca continued to coordinate the Traceability Program in Icapuí together with the APS. The Traceability Program’s aim is to help organize, differentiate and benefit those fishers who use legal fishing gear for catching lobster.
In October, CeDePesca sent a letter to the Brazilian Association of Fishing Industries (ABIPESCA) presenting the results of the stock assessment conducted with exports data provided by SINDFRIO. ABIPESCA had been asking for the reduction of the closure period, and CeDePesca’s letter aimed to show why keeping the six-month closure period is crucial to avoid the collapse of the fishery. CeDePesca also seized the opportunity to once again invite ABIPESCA to become part of the FIP and to invite them to contribute with further data to increase the robustness of stock assessments.
Also in October, CeDePesca received an invitation to participate from SeaPact’s Seafood Legacy 2nd Annual Business Conference. The conference was held in Tokyo, Japan, on November 11th. CeDePesca presented the story of the Traceability Program that is being developed with fishing communities of Icapuí. This Program’s setup phase -that included the creation of the APS (trap-fishers association) and the development of an audit protocol- begun in 2013 and was completed in mid-2015 thanks to SeaPact’s funding commitment. As of June 2015, the Program, under implementation by CeDePesca and the APS, has been successfully running with support from Icapel (member of SINDFRIO) and Tequesta Bay Foods.
In December, CeDePesca held the I Workshop on Sustainable Lobster, in conjunction with the Ceará Kitchen Chefs Association (ACC). During the workshop, the sustainability of the lobster fishery was discussed and an exchange took place on ways to involve the gastronomic sector in the FIP.
Also in December, CeDePesca met with SINDFRIO to discuss the extension of the FIP Agreement. Negotiations will continue during the next quarter, with the aim of signing a new agreement and submit a work plan for the year 2017.
Also during this quarter, the Traceability Program ended the 2016 fishing season having received 20 metric tons of lobster at its Control Point in Redonda, a production 5 times higher that that of the 2015 fishing season.
The fourth update of CeDePesca’s stock assessment for Brazilian lobster was completed in late February. The document is now under revision by the FIP Consultive Committee. The final draft can be temporarily accessed here (in English).
In March, the Brazilian federal government announced that the Secretariat of Fisheries and Aquaculture will be moved from the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Food (MAPA) to the Ministry of Industry, Development and Commerce (MDIC). Unfortunately, this measure once again sets back the efforts made with the Secretariat of Fisheries and Aquaculture, until the new bureaucratic structure is set.