U.S. and Chinese seafood industry groups, fishermen and sustainable seafood groups joined forces to launch the Fujian Zhangzhou Red Swimming Crab Fisheries Improvement Project (FIP).

Led by the National Fisheries Institute (NFI) Red Crab Council, McLean, Va.; China Aquatic Products Processing and Marketing Alliance (CAPPMA), China; Zhangzhou Aquatic Products Processing and Marketing Association (ZAPPMA), China; and Ocean Outcomes (O2), China, FIP is said to be the first project of its kind in China to address the sustainability challenges of the region’s red swimming crab fisheries.

“Crab from these fisheries are imported by our member companies and sold across the globe, so pre-competitive sustainability projects, such as this FIP, are a way to ensure our Chinese partners, NFI members and consumers have continued access to healthy red swimming crab resources,” says John Connelly, NFI president.

“That the leading industry associations from the world’s top two seafood countries have adopted a formal roadmap for transitioning the fishery to sustainable management with Chinese government support for the work is big news,” says Songlin Wang, China program director of Ocean Outcomes.

The FIP will be guided by a 5-year improvement work plan designed to establish bycatch monitoring protocols and to move the fishery toward a science-based catch management strategy, such as utilizing a minimum harvestable crab size and protecting egg-bearing females.

A portion of the FIP’s pot fleet will also be the focus of the Fujian government’s national fisheries management reform pilot, where government funding will be invested in important management measures within the development of a comprehensive harvest strategy.

“It’s a perfect opportunity to leverage government support, international and local expertise, fishery and community engagement efforts and conservation investments to test innovative improvement models to scale up the sustainability of Chinese fisheries and seafood industry, starting with our RSC fishery,” says Dr. He Cui, president of CAPPMA.

“The crabs and sea have generously provided us with food and jobs, but we haven’t done enough to protect them,” adds Zhenkui Chen, president of ZAPPMA President Mr. Zhenkui Chen.