In February 2009, WWF funded an MSC pre-assessment of the Bahamian lobster fishery (Panulirus argus) to assess the performance of the fishery in terms of the Marine Stewardship Council’s (MSC) principles and criteria for sustainable fishing (the ‘MSC Standard’). A scoping document was subsequently produced to highlight areas of key concern within the fishery and provide recommendations and suggestions how the fishery may overcome these issues to reach the MSC Standard.
A stakeholder workshop was held in May 2009 to raise awareness of the Fishery Improvement Project (FIP) and to discuss the main issues and concerns raised in the pre-assessment report and scoping document. A FIP project flyer was also produced at this time to provide further outreach and education of the project to all stakeholders.
Following the initial FIP stakeholder workshop a follow-up meeting was held in October 2009 to develop a draft FIP Action Plan. This provided an opportunity for all stakeholders to contribute what they perceived as the main threats to the fishery and what action needs to be taken. The FIP Action Plan was completed in June 2010 and used as the basis to develop a series of project proposals to address key aspects in the Plan.
In April 2011, the first FIP review meeting was held at the Retreat Gardens, headquarters of the Bahamas National Trust (BNT), Nassau. This provided an opportunity for all stakeholders to participate in a review of the FIP Action Plan and learn about what progress had been made over the past 12 months. This process was been repeated between 2012 and 2015 to review the outcomes of both ongoing and completed projects. Additional technical contributions included an analysis of bycatch in the lobster traps and working with the Royal Bahamas Defence Force to develop an IUU risk assessment. Further updates, including the stock assessment where conducted by an extenal consultant in 2016 and peer reviewed before entering MSC full assessment in 2017. The fishery was awarded MSC certification in August 2018.