Letter from Tim Lycke

When I was a kid growing up in South Florida, I was always on the water and fishing almost every day. Not just fishing but catching. Fish of all species were abundant. This was even true a bunch of years later when I began almost 40 years in the fish business. But today, as we know, is a totally different story. All fish stocks are severely depleted. Many are on life support. The simple fact is fisheries are fast disappearing. Without action, the fish for both commercial and recreational fishermen will vanish. Two things we know for sure this is a problem worldwide and it is, thankfully, reversible. Action taken today will yield positive results tomorrow. I am proud to announce that myself, my partner and all the IncredibleFish family have made a firm commitment to do everything necessary to preserve fishing as we know it for generations to come.

"The IncredibleFish family has made a firm commitment to do everything necessary to preserve fishing as we know it for generations to come."

Tim Lycke President, IncredibleFish

To this end, IncredibleFish has teamed up with CeDePesca, a Latin American NGO (Non Governmental Organization). We have two FIPs (Fishery Improvement Projects) in progress, one in Guatemala focused on Mahi and the other in Panama focused on Grouper and Snapper. I have just returned from Guatemala where we are finalizing an agreement and budget. It is wholly transparent, open to anyone interested and will be in place shortly. It was a long road.

Planning for this began in December 2012 and was initiated by an SFP (Sustainable Fisheries Partnership) sponsored Latin American Mahi Roundtable with representatives from IncredibleFish, Tasty Seafood and CeDePesca. IncredibleFish and Tasty Seafood invited all their suppliers to participate. By February/March 2013 responding to the interest shown, CeDePesca started the preparation of a gap analysis against MSC standards which included visits to the Port of San Jose and meetings with DIPESCA (management agency) to get more information from fishermen and suppliers. In June, CeDePesca participated at FENAPESCA plenary meeting to approve the 2013-2015 work plan. In September, the first version of the gap analysis and work plan was provided for review. Later in November the first version of the FIP was ready for public comment, but delayed because of funding.

At this point in time circumstances and awareness have improved. We are progressing much more rapidly. In December 2013, at long last, there were drafts of various MOUs (Memorandum of Understanding) between CEMA, CeDePesca and the various fish companies covering research, data collection and participation in FIP activities.

Now with 2014 ahead of us, at the SFP Forum in Las Vegas, IncredibleFish along with CeDePesca announced and invited participation in the Guatemalan FIP.

On February 27th we had a significant meeting in Guatemala to discuss an MOU based on the GAP analysis and work plan already developed for the Guatemalan FIP. Attending were fishermen, exporters, CeDePesca, Fish Guys, IncredibleFish, Sea Delight and Southern Fisheries. Committed but not in attendance because of scheduling was Carl Salamone of Wegman’s, Carl has motivated me and many others. Needless to say he is a big supporter of the Fishery Improvement Projects. The meeting was very moving and couldn’t have been any more positive. We were all pretty much in agreement and all of us understood how important this project is to the industry as a whole and Guatemala, in particular.

We will finalize the Guatemalan FIP in Boston where we will make public the commitments, budget and analysis. All are invited to participate.

While in Guatemala my visits with the local fishermen clearly showed me the need and the benefits for this project going forward for all involved.

As this letter demonstrates myself, my partner and The IncredibleFish family are fully committed to sustainability and FIPs as a means to achieve this goal. We would like as many of you as possible to join in this effort. It is not an easy task. We not only need commitment, but we also need financial support.

Our efforts to establish the FIP for Grouper and Snapper in Panama are underway but it is a big project requiring more time and effort. Just getting people together to talk was an extraordinary accomplishment. But we did it and we now have an agreement to be executed, and budget in place. We also need more support along with the means to finance it.

Panama, like many other countries clearly needs FIPs to protect and sustain its fisheries. Years of mismanagement and inappropriate fishing methods have taken their toll. (Fish traps, gill nets, sizing the harvest and illegal gear are just parts of the problem). I am very concerned about the fishing methods, lack of information and the sustainability of the resources in this particular country. In the meantime we will work diligently to make changes by moving forward with the Fishery Improvement Project. As a start, we will stop buying any and all net fish and stop buying fish that don’t meet a 12 inch requirement for sizing. We will also look very closely at long lining methods and boycott any that are detrimental to the fishery. I want to ask and challenge you to do the same; it’s our responsibility as providers to the industry and the world.

If you would like to talk about the Fishery Improvement Projects or Sustainable Fisheries, please drop me an email. In the meantime, stop and think about the products you’re buying and do your part to protect them, it’s your job...

Regards,

Timothy S. Lycke
President, Incredible Fish