Fishing for recognition: Understanding the use of NGO guidelines in fishery improvement projects

L. K. Deighan, L. D. Jenkins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


This study examines the use of non-governmental organization (NGO) guidelines in a fishery improvement project (FIP) in the Gulf of Mexico reef fish fishery. FIPs recently emerged as a way to assist fisheries in reaching environmental sustainability. The Conservation Alliance for Seafood Solutions, a group of NGOs dedicated to seafood sustainability, created a set of guidelines for FIPs. These guidelines outline the process necessary for FIPs to receive market recognition as moving towards sustainability. Interviews with stakeholders and FIP documents were analyzed to understand how these guidelines are utilized in practice and how this helps fisheries progress toward sustainability. The guidelines focus on sustainability as defined by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification standard, though certification is not required. Though informants were interested in market benefits, none currently desired MSC certification. Informants were partially motivated by the potential to increase their power in the fishery management process. These motivations, in combination with a clear process to identify, address, and monitor improvement needs, aid progress toward sustainability. In addition, insufficient stakeholder identification and interaction has failed to ease tension among FIP stakeholders with a history of conflict over the fishery's management. However, this does not seem to hinder progress. Lastly, though many FIPs are led by NGOs, NGO participation is not required by the guidelines. Key informants identified NGO participation as helpful for providing knowledge, connecting them to other organizations, monitoring progress, and adding legitimacy to their work. Based on these results, recommendations for improvement and future research needs are identified.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)476-485
Number of pages10
JournalMarine Policy
StatePublished - Jan 1 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Fisheries
  • Fishery improvement project
  • Marine stewardship council
  • Sustainable fisheries
  • Sustainable seafood

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aquatic Science
  • General Environmental Science
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law
  • Law


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