Tetra Tech is supporting the U.S. Agency for International Development Oceans and Fisheries Partnership (USAID Oceans) in a multinational effort to increase the sustainability of fishing in the Asia-Pacific region.

Seafood plays a critical role in global food security and trade, accounting for nearly one-fifth of the world’s protein intake. The waters of the Asia-Pacific region are home to the most biologically diverse and productive ocean ecosystems on Earth, providing food and income to more than 200 million people in the region alone. The United States imports more than 90 percent of its seafood from Southeast Asia. However, increasing levels of illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing poses a serious threat to fisheries’ sustainability in the region, negatively impacts local food security and community livelihoods, and degrades marine biodiversity.

In 2015 Secretary of State John Kerry announced the USAID Oceans activity as a multinational effort to combat IUU fishing practices in Southeast Asia by implementing electronic catch documentation and traceability (eCDT), strengthened fisheries management, and increased attention to human welfare and gender equity issues within the fisheries sector. The activity is implemented as a regional collaboration between USAID, the Southeast Asian Fisheries Development Center (SEAFDEC), the Coral Triangle Initiative on Coral Reefs, Fisheries, and Food Security (CTI-CFF), and ten member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) . Tetra Tech was selected by USAID to lead the implementation of this regional partnership, in support of the U.S. Presidential Task Force to Combat IUU Fishing and Seafood Fraud.

Tetra Tech works with a wide variety of public and private sector partners across Southeast Asia to design, test, and implement eCDT technologies and systems that are effective, easy-to-use, and financially sustainable.

The eCDT technologies enable the seafood industry, national fisheries and agencies, and importing countries to track seafood products in real time from their point-of-catch, through all stages of the fishery supply chain, to the retail market—from bait to plate.

USAID Oceans key accomplishments include:

  • Supporting the development of seven new and innovative eCDT technologies and systems, which tracked more than four million pounds of legal and sustainable seafood products within the seafood supply chain, representing a value of approximately $20 million
  • Developing and implementing sustainable fisheries management plans to support eCDT implementation, including the first known sub-regional sustainable fisheries management plan. These plans protect marine habitats totaling an area more than 1.5 times the size of the United States (more than 100 million hectares), help countries manage transboundary fish stocks, and protect seascapes from illegal fishing practices
  • Supporting the development of five legal instruments to promote gender equity and women’s empowerment in fisheries management. These instruments make it easier for women to register as fishers, incorporate gender considerations in existing fisheries policies, and build capacities of partner organizations to implement organizational gender policies
  • Leveraging more than $4 million by engaging with public and private sector partners, including U.S.-based seafood suppliers, such as Anova Food, LLC and Bumble Bee Seafood
  • Training more than 1,800 women and men from governmental and non-governmental stakeholder groups throughout Southeast Asia to use strategic tools in support of project objectives

The USAID Oceans’ work to improve natural resource management aligns with the USAID’s vision for a free, open, and secure Indo-Pacific region. The eCDT technologies developed and implemented under USAID Oceans are still active and collect data that enable fisheries managers and government regulators to make informed management and trade decisions, enforcement actions, and border and port inspections. As a result, fisheries management bodies are better equipped to set harvest control rules that ensure food security for the millions of people that depend on the industry. Robust eCDT systems backed by an ecosystem approach to fisheries management also increase transparency and make it easier for countries to comply with existing and future regulations on seafood traceability. In turn, public and private actors in the seafood industry can access domestic and international markets and meet the rising demand from consumers to know the origin of their seafood, including whether it was legally and sustainably caught and handled before it reached their plate. Finally, a well-managed, fully traceable, equitable, and transparent seafood supply chain strengthens maritime security and combats transnational crime by reducing incentives to bringing illegally sourced fish into supply chains and to market.