BACKGROUNDER – Association of Seafood Producers-Atlantic Groundfish Council Fisheries Improvement Project

Fishery Improvement Projects
When a fish population is not at a level where it can be certified as sustainable by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), Fishery Improvement Projects (FIPs) provide a clear workplan that leads to the development and implementation of a more sustainable fishery. In some cases, this work may include achieving better population assessment models or developing transparent harvest control rules for setting the Total Allowable Catch, tested to achieve the desired outcomes of rebuilding. In other situations, improvement in gear or the protection of sensitive benthic areas may be addressed.

ASP-AGC Northern Cod (2J3KL) Fishery Improvement Project (FIP)
In 2015, the Association of Seafood Producers (ASP) and the Atlantic Groundfish Council (AGC) embarked on a multi-year, multi-million-dollar FIP for Northern Cod in NAFO divisions 2J,3K and 3L. In addition to usual preparations to meet MSC requirements, the FIP is committed to a science-based research program to help improve the scientific assessment and sustainable management of this iconic stock complex.

The FIP achieved tangible results in its very first year and continues to produce deliverables 
Alternative Stock Assessment Tools– To address concerns in 2015, utilizing experts in the field of fish stock assessment, the FIP delivered an alternative stock assessment model to verify results of the then candidate stock assessment model (NCAM). This included a cutting-edge, closed-loop simulation model to enable testing of the effectiveness of candidate harvest control rules under varying scenarios of natural productivity.

Genetic Research Project – Phase 1 of the Research Plan included funding of analytical support to a collaboration of academics studying the genetic structure of the Northern Cod stock complex in 2016. It demonstrated little genetic differentiation in cod collected in 2J, 3K and 3L during the winter months.

Northern Cod Acoustic Tracking (NCAT) Project – See separate backgrounder.