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NOAA/NMFS Seafood Import Monitoring Program (SIMP) in effect

By | News, Version 2017

Through the Seafood Import Monitoring Program (SIMP), NOAA/NMFS have identified seafood species most “at-risk” for IUU fishing and fraud, and have developed an electronic traceability program to track these “priority” species from point of harvest to entry into U.S. commerce. The final rule became effective on January 9, 2017, with a compliance date of January 1, 2018 for most priority species.

More recently, NOAA/NMFS proposed a voluntary Commerce Trusted Trader Program (CTTP). The CTTP is intended to lessen the administrative burden of SIMP for companies willing to undergo third party traceability audits. Companies that are already certified for MSC Chain of Custody or similar certification may find these audits to be the simplest way to comply with the SIMP. MRAG Americas is ASI accredited and therefore qualified to provide CTTP auditing services. We are monitoring the progress of the proposed rule. Check back here for updates and/or contact us for more details on how we can help you.

MRAG part of team recently awarded the USAID Water and Development IDIQ

By | Current Projects, Featured Projects, Project

USAID has selected ECODIT as one of six firms recently awarded the Water and Development IDIQ (WADI), a framework contract with a combined ceiling of $1 billion over five years. MRAG Americas joined the ECODIT team to provide capability for activities regarding fishery science and management. WADI serves as the central contracting mechanism in support of the Agency’s Water and Development Strategy, providing USAID offices and missions with access to a wide range of services to support sustainable water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) for improved health, and to advance water resource management for enhanced food security.

WADI encompasses several cross-cutting services that can be applied to a combination of technical interventions related to water and sanitation under the following broad categories: water resources management; WASH; agriculture and food security; coastal management; environment; economic growth and energy; democracy and governance; innovation, research and monitoring and evaluation (M&E); knowledge management (KM), cooperation and coordination; and engineering services and commodity / equipment procurement and installation. Task Orders (TOs) predominantly in the M&E and KM service areas are reserved for small business IDIQ holders like ECODIT, while any TOs less than $3 million will be first competed among the small businesses. USAID may also directly place TOs with a small business to provide the services set aside for small businesses, or if other fair opportunity exceptions apply.

Alaska Groundfish Fishery Re-assessment – Announcement of Site Visit

By | Featured Projects

Site Visit Scheduled – Re-certification and 4th annual surveillance: The assessment team will meet in Seattle from the 27th to the 30th of May. The purpose of these meetings is for a fishery assessment and stakeholder consultation to receive information from fishery representatives, government management agencies, non-governmental organizations, and other interested stakeholders. Access the full announcement: MRAG Notification – Alaska Groundfish Site Visit Announcement

MRAG Americas to Conduct Ongoing Third Party Review of ISSF ProActive Vessel Register

By | Current Projects, Featured Projects

The ISSF ProActive Vessel Register (PVR) is an innovative and effective way for vessel owners to highlight meaningful sustainability efforts. The database verifies the positive steps vessels take in order to improve responsible practices in tuna fishing.

MRAG Americas Inc. will serve as independent auditor of the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation’s (ISSF) ProActive Vessel Register (PVR), a newly launched database that is designed to help identify vessels adopting best-in-class, responsible tuna fishing practices.

The PVR will identify which of more than 25 ISSF Commitments each vessel has adopted, including implementing strategies to increase supply chain transparency, providing complete catch data to management bodies and continuing education in best practices that reduce fishing’s impact on the greater marine environment. MRAG will monitor vessels on the PVR for compliance by performing on-site reviews and audits, as well as conducting regular reviews of public documents and databases. This validation process also includes real-time data submitted via iPads and other mobile applications. Auditors will receive notification when vessels keep a specific commitment, such as when a skipper completes training or submits data to the scientific bodies of a Regional Fisheries Management Organization (RFMO).

Measuring the Effects of Catch Shares

By | Current Projects, Featured Projects

Client: Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation





Project Overview: The Measuring the Effects of Catch Shares project provides objective, scientifically sound information to answer key questions about effects of two U.S. catch share programs on fishermen, fish stocks, fishing businesses, and fishing communities. The five-year project uses a collaborative approach involving the private sector, university scientists, and government agencies. The project team gathers and rigorously analyzes the best available data on economic, social, ecological, and administrative conditions and trends, comparing years before and during the catch share programs.

Beginning in spring 2013 and continuing regularly thereafter, we will report data for a range of indicators that will be useful to anyone with an interest in these catch share programs. The Measuring the Effects of Catch Shares project does not advocate for or against catch shares. Instead, it provides reliable, neutral information on trends and effects that people can use to answer their own questions or inform their own decisions about catch shares.

Project Team: MRAG Americas is working with a group of experts from academic institutions and private organizations. This team was selected through an open call for letters of interest based on their knowledge, experience, and novel approaches to analyzing the effects of catch share programs using an indicator-based approach.

Catch Shares in New England: Key Questions and Lessons Learned from Existing Programs

By | Featured Projects

Client: Meridian Institute

The report, Catch Shares in New England: Key Questions and Lessons Learned from Existing Programs, was a collaborative effort produced by MRAG Americas and Meridian Institute. Meridian Institute is a non-profit organization devoted to bringing collaborative decision making tools to society’s most challenging problems. The report includes an analysis of key issues and questions related to catch shares in New England and case studies of existing catch shares programs in the United States and internationally from which lessons for New England can be drawn. It is intended to contribute to the body of information decision makers and stakeholders will consider when deciding whether catch shares are appropriate for particular New England fisheries, and if so, what design elements and lessons learned might be drawn from existing programs.

To download the report, visit our publications page.

Science Tools to Implement EBM in Massachusetts

By | Featured Projects

Client: Massachusetts Ocean Partnership

MRAG Americas has worked in close contact with MA Ocean Partnership staff and contractors in the development of a report in which we provide a framework for implementing ecosystem based management (EBM) and suggest a range of science information tools and their appropriate application to the decision making process. This report provided context and guidance during the development of Massachusetts’s Ocean Management Plan Science Framework. Science tools to implement EBM can be broadly classified as modeling tools, decision analysis tools, and indicators. Additionally, we recommend particular tools for use at various stages of the EBM Implementation process, customizing our recommendations to the amount and type of data that we know are available to the State of MA. Our recommendations are further broken down into short-term and long-term in order to give them priority.

For more information on the Massachusetts Ocean Management Plan visit the MA Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs.

To download the report, visit our publications page.

Setting Annual Catch Limits for US Fisheries

By | Featured Projects

Client: Lenfest Ocean Program

In the summer of 2007, MRAG Americas coordinated working groups aimed at identifying best practices in fisheries management, developing a standardized process for setting annual catch limits (ACLs) that can apply to all US federally managed fisheries as mandated by the Magnuson-Stevens Reauthorization Act. The Expert Working Group developed a straightforward process for establishing catch limits and accountability measures, which included setting a sufficiently precautionary measure to ensure that overfishing does not occur. The report from the first working group, “Setting annual catch limits for US fisheries,” determined that scientists need to assess each population’s vulnerability to overfishing in order to set sustainable and effective catch limits.

Following the report’s recommendations, methods were developed for conducting vulnerability assessments, which included calculations of productivity and susceptibility scores for fish stocks and over 150 federally managed species scores were produced. In January 2009, MRAG Americas convened a second working group of domestic and international fisheries experts and managers to refine the methodology and incorporate recommendations from the National Marine Fisheries Service. The results of these efforts are being considered by Regional Fishery Management Councils Science and Statistical Committees as they develop Allowable Biological Catch (ABC) control rules for setting ACLs.

The reports from this work are availble on our publications page.