Major U.S. Fish Importer Joins the Nature Conservancy in Landmark Agreement to Help Save World’s Largest Snapper Fishery
Netuno USA, the largest U.S. importer of snapper from Indonesia, agrees to a minimum trading that avoids pre-reproductive-age fish, improving global seafood sustainability. Importer joins a growing number of seafood companies who are taking critical steps to save one of world’s most vulnerable fisheries.
(February 7, 2019) — Netuno USA, a Florida-based seafood company and the
largest U.S. importer of frozen snapper
and grouper, is taking new action to protect this lucrative but vulnerable
fishery from collapse in a landmark agreement with The Nature Conservancy
(TNC), the world’s largest conservation group.
In the agreement, signed Thursday by Netuno and TNC representatives
in Miami, Netuno has committed not to buy immature snapper and grouper from
Indonesia, the world’s largest supplier of these in-demand fish species that
are sold in supermarkets and served in restaurants throughout the world. With
business operations that span the fish supply chain — from catch to grocery
aisle — Netuno is the first full supply-line company to sign the TNC pact.
While bigger may be better with some types of fish,
demand for smaller, immature snapper has been driven primarily by the American
market, which has a growing appetite for consumer-ready, pan-sized fillets. But
market preference for these immature fish may impair the long-term
sustainability snapper/grouper fishery. Avoiding the purchase of immature fish,
on the other hand, ensures that each fish can contribute to the reproductive
cycle at least once, and can encourage Indonesian fishers and processors to
shift focus to larger fish.
Netuno joins Honolulu-based Norpac
Fisheries Export, which already signed onto the minimum trading size commitment
too. If widely adopted by
other seafood exporters purchasing snapper and grouper from Indonesia, TNC’s
sustainability campaign could help to prevent a collapse of this sprawling,
deepwater fishery, where over-targeting of pre-reproductive age fish that
cannot spawn has led to significant declines in the population of snapper and
In addition to agreeing to buy and trade only fish larger
than the average size of first maturity, Netuno will also share data on purchased
catch, such as origin, species, and size—information that is critical to fully
assessing the health of the snapper/grouper fishery.
If we are to secure the future of this important fishery,
the industry needs to make a collective commitment to reform, and that starts
with shifting our buying focus to larger, reproductive-age fish that have
already contributed to the overall population,” said Andre Brugger,
Sustainability, Compliance and QA Manager from Netuno USA. “We know this
commitment requires effort and accountability, but by joining The Nature
Conservancy, we hope to encourage our industry colleagues to follow suit. Come
on in. The water’s fine.”
Snapper and grouper are highly prized fish species in the
$130 billion global seafood trade: the retail value of Indonesia’s
snapper/grouper fishery alone is estimated at $500 million. Recent Indonesian
government assessments of the snapper/grouper fishery—where an estimated 8,600
fishing vessels, from motorized canoes to large ships, catch about 78,000
metric tons annually—indicate that it is largely either fully exploited or
TNC, which has worked to improve the health of the
Indonesian snapper/grouper fishery since 2014, is part of a growing stakeholder
coalition that includes government, industry, and civil society seeking to
address overfishing issues. Through the SNAPPER (Supporting Nature and People –
Partnership for Enduring Resources) Project, TNC is collaborating on a
data-driven, transparent, and adaptive management system that also ensures
prosperity and well-being of the fishing communities and businesses that depend
Collaboration with local fishers in Indonesia is key to
this initiative, said Peter Mous, TNC’s Director of Fisheries for Asia Pacific.
“After working closely for years with more than 250 fishers across Indonesia,
it is important that buyers around the world support these fishing communities
as they make real change here on the water,” Mous said. “We look forward to
engaging with other companies interested in making a commitment to the
sustainability of this fishery as Norpac and Netuno did. Together, we can
create a tipping point toward healthy and profitable fisheries.”
To assess the health of the snapper/grouper fishery, TNC
is working with fishers on a comprehensive data collection program.
Participants have a position tracker on board and photograph each fish they
catch, with the images later analyzed for location of catch as well as species
and size composition. These data are forwarded in real time to the Indonesia
Agency for Marine Fisheries Research, where they are analyzed to inform
management of this important fishery. As of January 2019, over 1 million
individual observations have been recorded, vastly improving the data available
and reducing the time and cost of sharing this critical data.
The SNAPPER program is supported by USAID, Walton Family
Foundation, and The David and Lucile Packard Foundation, among other partners.