Finalist, Seafood Champion Awards for Innovation, a project of FishChoice and a collaboration with the Conservation Alliance for Seafood Solutions, is a one-stop shop for reliable, verified information about Fishery Improvement Project (FIP) progress that seeks to help accelerate sustainability in the seafood industry. Today, nearly 90 FIPs are on the website, approximately two-thirds of all FIPs globally, with more joining each month. More than 1,000 companies and NGOs from around the world are using FisheryProgress to inform seafood sourcing. FisheryProgress makes it possible for FIPs of any size or scope to connect with potential buyers, making sourcing from FIPs easier than ever.

Overview is a one-stop shop for reliable information about fishery improvement project (FIP) progress. FisheryProgress is a project of FishChoice, and is a deeply collaborative effort with the Conservation Alliance for Seafood Solutions and many other non-profit organizations and companies around the globe.

Previously, information related to FIPs was complex and presented in different ways on many different websites. Companies throughout the seafood supply chain needed simple, consistent, and trustworthy information to make decisions about whether FIPs met their sustainable seafood commitments. FishChoice and the Conservation Alliance recognized these challenges and launched a website in late 2016 that presents FIP progress information in a clear, consistent and credible way. Businesses can now track progress of a FIP in one place and see for themselves if these important projects are meeting their targets (or not). FIP managers are required to report on their action plans every 6 months – and buyers can see where progress is being made or note additional areas of improvement. All other major FIP tracking websites have now closed in order to support FisheryProgress and make FIP tracking simpler and more straightforward for buyers and FIP managers. As a result, businesses are becoming more and more reliant on FisheryProgress to inform their seafood sourcing decisions. Ultimately, FisheryProgress is helping to build the fishery improvement project space – FIPs are now held publicly accountable for their work, and buyers are becoming more confident in supporting improving fisheries.

How well does this nominee and his or her work demonstrate the qualities of the category?  

Fishery improvement projects (FIPs) are generally complex and filled with challenges – one of which is communicating progress in a reliable, consistent way. Communicating various stages of FIPs can be difficult since no two FIPs are the same. Prior to FisheryProgress, FIP details were highly technical, presented in any number of formats, and housed on several websites. FisheryProgress has provided an innovative platform that not only presents information in a clean, streamlined way – it also adds a much needed review process for FIP data. Not only is FIP data now easier to understand and compare, it is also far more credible and rigorous than it was in the past. FIPs are now required to report on their progress every 6 months, and all data is reviewed by FishChoice staff with support from a Technical Oversight Committee. FisheryProgress is not just a platform – the team has also been diligent in providing countless trainings, webinars and 1:1 phone calls with companies and NGOs alike to make sure that users fully understand why/how to use the website. A user-friendly website – plus hands-on support – means that many companies now rely on FisheryProgress for making FIP sourcing decisions.

Along with demonstrating technical innovation, FisheryProgress has also shown innovative and highly successful collaboration across the seafood movement. Rarely has there been an effort where NGOs come together and agree on a single tool or resource, but FisheryProgress has been an exception. All Conservation Alliance organizations use FisheryProgress with their business partners and push their FIPs to report on the platform. This means that businesses have confidence that FisheryProgress is the ONE place they can trust for information about FIP progress.

In what ways has this nominee positively affected, or mitigated negative impacts of, the seafood industry?

Only 12% of the world’s fisheries are certified as sustainable. Many, many more fisheries are striving for sustainability and are making incremental improvements toward their goals. Without the stamp of certification, it has been hard for companies to know if a fishery is a FIP “on paper” or actually making real progress towards sustainability on the water. FisheryProgress makes FIP progress information transparent and publicly available, and companies can now invest in/source from FIPs with much lower risk. FisheryProgress’ public and verified reporting process is helping hold FIP managers accountable for completing their action plans, and motivating progress towards their end goals (certification or otherwise). In FisheryProgress’ first year, two FIPs moved into MSC full assessment, two have moved from basic to comprehensive and three from prospective FIPs to fully functioning FIPs. By taking highly complex elements of a fishery improvement project and presenting them in an easy to follow dashboard that is consistent from one FIP to the next, FisheryProgress is helping to build industry comfort in sourcing from, and participating in, these critical projects. The more industry invests in fisheries improvement, the more we are collectively moving the needle of seafood sustainability.

In what way do you feel this nominee’s story could inspire others and communicate successes achieved in sustainable seafood?

FisheryProgress now has 89 FIPs on the site, approximately two-thirds of all FIPs globally, with more joining each month. Many companies are now demanding that the FIPs that they source from report on FisheryProgress – so that they have a publically verified place to track a FIP’s status and progress. Increasingly, companies are referencing FisheryProgress in their sourcing policies, during their sales meetings and in buyer round tables – it is becoming an industry-standard tool. At the Boston Seafood Show, it is common to see a FisheryProgress FIP profile being visually displayed and discussed at industry meetings, since it is a clear and easy way to visually show what’s happening within a FIP. Uptake is beginning to happen in a viral way – more FIPs are coming to FisheryProgress to report progress, and more companies are becoming registered, repeat users of the site. FisheryProgress is an inspiring example of technology and collaboration done right – leading to increased industry engagement in fisheries improvement.

How would the work serve as a replicable model for others who want to have a similar impact?  

FisheryProgress itself does not need to be replicated, instead it needs to continue to expand its visibility and global reach. All FIPs around the world should be reporting their work on FisheryProgress (to date, the site holds about 70% of the worlds’ FIPs), and awareness and use of the site expanded to seafood buyers from Asia, Latin America and beyond. FisheryProgress needs more partners from these regions to help build awareness and use.

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