Data Tool Glossary

This tool employs a few key terms in exploring progress towards sustainability:

Certified and rated. The Marine Stewardship Council, the Aquaculture Stewardship Council, Global Seafood Alliance, and Fair Trade USA operate third-party certification programs for fished and farmed seafood. A certification validates that the product has been produced/sourced sustainably and complies with the relevant social and chain of custody standards. Seafood Watch rates the sustainability of the most common seafood items on the North American market to provide information on a full spectrum of low to high performance. Best Choice (green) products are well-managed and caught or farmed responsibly. Good Alternative (yellow) are sourced from fisheries or farms where there are concerns with how they’re caught, farmed or managed. Avoid (red) products are overfished, lack strong management, or are caught or farmed in ways that harm other marine life or the environment. Sustainable Fisheries Partnership also rates seafood – its Seafood Metrics System enables seafood buyers to measure their progress in sustainable sourcing.

FAO Area. Established by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, FAO “major fishing areas facilitate data comparison and statistical cooperation among natural regions. Of the 27 major fishing areas, eight cover inland waters and 19 cover marine waters of the Atlantic, Indian, Pacific and Southern Oceans with their adjacent seas. The data tool employs the shorthand FAO Area.

Fishery improvement project (FIP) and aquaculture improvement project (AIP). A FIP brings industry, NGOs, governments, and other stakeholders together to assess the sustainability challenges facing wild capture fisheries, help make an improvement plan, and implement that plan. FIPs may be comprehensive or basic. For more information, see the Conservation Alliance for Seafood Solutions’ Guidelines for Supporting Fishery Improvement Projects. AIPs adapt a conceptually similar approach as FIPs, but focus on improving sustainability in aquaculture operations. For more information, see the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership’s AIPs introduction.

NEI. An abbreviation for “not elsewhere included” or “not elsewhere indicated,” NEI is widely used in national and international trade and production data, including by the FAO, to allow for the grouping of unspecified species in official accounts. Applications of the term vary widely, from examples like “Bigeyes nei,” which refers to a genus (Priacanthus) that contains 12 species, to much broader categories like “Marine fishes nei” that could include hundreds of species. The huge volume of seafood reported as NEI is a real impediment to understanding the environmental performance of seafood production worldwide. Improving the quality of catch data to reduce reliance on NEI categories is a critical first step toward understanding its performance. The 2022 data tool update introduced a new Data Deficient (nei) Species Groups category, which includes four exceptionally large nei species groupings: marine fishes nei, freshwater fishes nei, aquatic invertebrates nei, and aquatic plants nei.

Illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing. IUU fishing is fishing that occurs in waters that are not under the jurisdiction of a management authority or do not comply with applicable management policies. IUU fishing accounts for millions of tons of seafood and billions of dollars in trade every year. It is a major threat to sustainability, because IUU fishing often employs gear and practices banned due to their environmental consequences, and sometimes involve forced labor and other human rights violations. For more information, see the FAO’s introduction.

Regional fisheries management organization. RFMOs are membership organizations that bring national governments together to manage fisheries extending beyond the territorial waters of any one nation. The authorities and responsibilities of the world’s 17 RFMOs vary, based on the terms of the international treaties that establish them. But in addition to making management decisions, most collect fisheries statistics, assess resources, and monitor fishing activities. An RFMO’s management decisions are binding on the RFMO’s member governments.

Social responsibility. The economic and social wellbeing of fishing and farming communities is linked to the success of their harvests. We use social responsibility to describe efforts to protect and promote the lives, livelihoods, rights, and health of those communities. For more information, see the Collaboration’s Framework for Social Responsibility in the Seafood Sector.

Supply chain roundtable. Supply chain roundtables bring companies (processors, importers, and others) in a seafood sector together to promote improvements throughout their supply chains. Supply chain roundtables invest in and support FIPs and AIPs, monitor their progress, and hold them accountable. Supply chain roundtables also facilitate new improvement projects where needed. For more information, see the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership’s blog post.

Target 75 Initiative. Sustainable Fisheries Partnership’s Target 75 Initiative aims to ensure that 75 percent or more of world seafood production in key sectors is either sustainable or making regular, verifiable improvements. The initiative aims to mobilize improvements in as much of the world’s production, as quickly as possible by working with industry partners. Existing partners need to continue with their current improvement work, while new partners are encouraged to come on board, especially where there may be key sustainability gaps in the seafood industry worldwide.