John West Conservation Projects
In 2012 we established The John West Conservation Program – a series of WWF marine conservation projects aimed at creating more responsibly sourced seafood, sustainable fisheries and improve the social and economic well-being of fishing communities.
This program is part of Our Oceans Forever and our partnership with WWF, seeking to improve the sustainability our seafood supply chain.
By choosing John West you’re helping to support Pacific Island conservation projects, working to provide coastal communities access to a secure source of food and income, while protecting reefs and local resources for the future, helping to ensure we have healthy oceans forever.
We are currently supporting several projects, in partnership with WWF. These include:
Pacific Island Conservation Project
In partnership with WWF, the John West Pacific Islands Conservation Project supports community-based fishing and micro-financing projects in Ghizo in the Solomon Islands and Madang in Papua New Guinea. The goal is to protect over-exploited reef ecosystems, create food security, boost local economies, and to diversity income streams for the community so they are not soley reliant on fishing. This will also provide greater business opportunities for local women.
These Pacific Island communities rely heavily on the ocean as their primary source of both protein and income. With overfishing occurring, the reefs and reef fish are under enormous pressure and fast growing populations are also putting increasing demands on overfished reefs.
WWF, together with the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, is working with these communities to deploy small floating rafts anchored to the seafloor and close to shore, to attract different types of fish and move fishing away from the reef. Fishers can then quickly and easily catch enough fish to feed their families, with extra to sell at the markets and at the same time, reduce environmental damage to fragile reef areas.
The John West Pacific Islands Conservation Project also co-funds a scheme to help local people (especially women) develop the skills and capacity to establish small businesses that can take advantage of catching more fish and trading the surplus. To date, the progress of this scheme has been a great success with over 300 women, from seven community zones, participating in financial literacy training. As of November 2014, over 600 women have saved more than SBD 129,000.
John West is continuing its support of this project in partnership with WWF and the Australian Government to:
- support and build the capacity, expansion and sustainability of the micro-financing schemes in both Ghizo and Madang;
- support target communities in exploring commercial opportunities from the increased volumes of higher value fish;
- explore business opportunities, especially for women, from the micro-savings and revolving loan funds;
- maintain the ongoing fisheries and socio-economic monitoring programs; and
- continuing to develop, build capacity and apply rafter-related community-based fisheries co-management strategies.
- Together, John West Australia, WWF and the Australian Government are working to protect reefs and local resources for the future, while ensuring the coastal communities of today can access a secure source of food and income.
Maldives Conservation Project
Supporting responsibly sourced tuna from the Maldives
Through our partnership with WWF, John West Australia has invested in the scientific development of a new tuna stock assessment modelling system, which will help the Maldives pole and line Skipjack tuna fishery maintain its MSC certification and increase the availability of sustainable tuna.
To date, this project has seen the fishery maintain MSC certification for skipjack (Katsuwonus pelamis), the most important species economically. Yellowfin (Thunnus albacares) is poised to follow.
As part of the John West Conservation Program, we are supporting the training and sampling activities of three two-person teams, deployed at several ports in the Maldives archipelago.
The activities of these teams will improve data-collection across the Maldives tuna fishery, which is important because accurate and timely information on tuna catches underpins the effective management of tuna stocks in the Indian Ocean.
Indonesian Conservation Project
Aimed at developing sustainable baitfish fisheries in several regions within Indonesia.
Supporting sustainable baitfish practices for Pole and Line fishing
John West Australia is working together with the International Pole and Line Federation (IPNLF) and WWF on an Indonesian Pole and Line project. The aim of this project is to develop sustainable baitfish fisheries in several regions within Indonesia that support pole and line tuna fishing operations and human consumption requirements.
Pole and line tuna fisheries around the globe rely predominantly on wild caught baitfish species in order to operate. The sustainability of baitfish harvests has been a critical issue to address for many pole and line fisheries.
Fortunately, the majority of baitfish species found globally, including in Indonesia, have biological characteristics (such as high fecundity, high productivity, rapid growth, short lifespans), which make them relatively resilient to fishing pressure. However these species, if not well managed, can be adversely affected by fishing activities and are highly sensitive to environmental conditions.
The project will assist several baitfish fisheries on the path towards MSC certification and will include, but is not limited to, developing best practice guidelines and related procedures, and an economic feasibility study of baitfish culture operations within the region.
Tuna By-catch Reduction through Smart Gear (International Competition)
Encouraging innovation to reduce fisheries by-catch
At John West, we realise improving fishing gear is a key step in reducing by-catch (‘by-catch’ is the unintended capture of non-target fish species). Modifying fishing gear can increase the chances of escape for non-target species or, better yet, reduce their capture in the first place. Some of the best by-catch solutions to date have come from fishers themselves and simple, inexpensive innovations already operate effectively in many fisheries.
WWF’s International Smart Gear competition encourages innovative ideas with practical applications for fishing “smarter”. As tuna is a major commodity as well as a core product for John West, this year we offered a special prize for by-catch reduction ideas specific to tuna fisheries.
We are delighted to announce that the winner of the John West Special Tuna Prize for 2014 was the “SeaBird Saver”, developed by Marine Biologist Ernst Schrijver. The SeaBird Saver is a bird-deterrent which uses an innovative laser system and optional acoustic stimulus to actively deter birds from flying into zones around fishing operations which could be dangerous to them. In reducing bird by-catch and fatalities, the SeaBird Saver also improves the catch for fishermen.
See the SeaBird Saver in action