Funding Challenge

Small-scale and developing-world fisheries in different parts of the world receive funding from the Marine Stewardship Council Global Sustainability Fund

This article is by Angela McQueen (angela.mcqueen@msc.org), Southern Africa Communications and Office Manager, Marine Stewardship Council, South Africa

For many small-scale and developing-world fisheries, achieving the high standard required for Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification can be a significant challenge. Recognizing this challenge, two years ago (in March 2014), the MSC Board proposed the need for an official fund to support critical fisheries science and to assist small-scale/developing-world fisheries seeking to eventually become certified. The Global Fisheries Sustainability Fund (GFSF) was launched in July 2015 with an initial £400,000, split over two years.

On 11 July 2016, the first batch of recipients was announced for the MSC’s maiden GFSF. Blue Ventures, Anchud Mudcrab Productivity Committee, WWF Japan, Masyarakat Dan Perikanan Indonesia Foundation, WWF Guianas, and WWF Coral Triangle Program have received a total of £212,500. Thirty-three applications were received in total, out of which six were chosen.

These six organizations will deliver critical scientific research addressing information, technology and management gaps as appropriate to small-scale fisheries and build capacity of personnel to assist small-scale and developing-world fisheries. These projects, in the end, help strengthen knowledge and build capacity for fisheries aiming to achieve sustainability.

The winning projects particularly fit in with the objective of the fund which is  to deliver critical scientific research that address information, technology and management gaps and barriers that fisheries encounter in achieving the MSC standard.

WWF Coral Triangle Program Seafood products harvested from commercial fisheries are consumed all over the globe, providing the world’s prime source of quality proteins. Developing-world fisheries continue to be an important source of seafood for markets across the world.

Although these fisheries are vital to food security and economic development, many are not managed sustainably. Data deficiency, lack of management structures and a lack of resources mean that most developing-world fisheries need to improve significantly to meet international sustainability criteria and benefit from the growing market for sustainable seafood. A key constraint to amplifying fishery improvement efforts in these fisheries remains the cost of developing Fishery Improvement Projects (FIPs) benchmarked against the MSC.

Local experts

The WWF Coral Triangle Program will use its grant for a capacity-building programme to train in-country experts so they can carry out FIP assessments and MSC pre-assessments in Vietnam and Indonesia. This will address a growing need to increase the number of local experts in the Asia region who are experienced in applying the MSC standard and therefore able to support fisheries interested in using the FIP as a route towards certification.

Masyarakat Dan Perikanan Indonesia Foundation (MDPI) Indonesia is one of the leading producers of wild capture fish and is the biggest tuna-producing country in the world. Yet, like in many developing-world fisheries, the country has challenges in trying to move its fishing sector to become more sustainable. As a big tuna exporter, Indonesia’s tuna supply chains need to improve in order to be considered sustainable and transparent.

MDPI was founded in July 2013 with a focus on small-scale artisanal fisheries. Together with its partners Asosiasi Pole and Line dan Handline Indonesia (AP2HI), UNIDO Indonesia and the International Pole and Line Foundation, MDPI will use funding from the GFSF to prepare a risk assessment of tuna supply chains in Indonesia which will provide much-needed information on supply chain structure in that region. The aim will be to gather much-needed information and recommendations on how to achieve compliant Chain of Custody approaches within that sector and in the region.

WWF Guianas will apply data-limited assessment and management methodologies to the Suriname coastal artisanal fishery. Suriname is located in the northeastern part of South America, facing the Atlantic in the north and bordering Brazil in the south. It is part of the Guianas, with Guyana on its western border and French-Guiana on the east. Most of the country is covered by tropical rainforest, harbouring a great diversity of flora and fauna.

Fishing is an important economic activity in Suriname. The Surinamese fishing sector is estimated to directly employ nearly 10,000 people and generate some 40, 000 tonnes of wild captured fish and shrimp annually. The artisanal fleet is the most important fishing sector in Suriname, accounting for 60 to 70 per cent of the landings, generating most of the employment and delivering fresh fish to the local market.

There are many signs that the coastal artisanal fishing fleet in Suriname is overfishing target species, yet there is no scientific data on the stock status of the exploited species.

WWF Guianas will, therefore, use its grant award to apply data-limited assessment and management methodologies to the Suriname coastal artisanal fishery, and will contribute to the MSC’s wider initiative that will allow data-limited fisheries to demonstrate that their sustainability meets the MSC requirements.

The Anchud mud crab fishery will use its grant to understand the likely barriers to certification of this artisanal fishery, in a region which has many such fisheries. It aims to build awareness of MSC requirements among stakeholders and undertake a gap analysis of the fishery.

WWF Japan will implement an FIP of enhanced Manila clam fishery in the Yellow Sea Ecoregion (YSE), which could lead to major environmental benefits in the globally important mudflats as well as sustainable Manila clam production and consumption. One of WWF Japan’s focal projects is conserving the YSE, surrounded by China and the Korean Peninsula.

Local people in China, Korea and Japan highly depend on seafood from the YSE. In China, bivalves targeted by coastal fishers in the YSE are a staple for local people. Manila clam, in particular, sustains the lives of a large number of people living not only in China but also in neighbouring countries. Thus it is a key contributor to regional food security.

Environmental benefits

Successful implementation of the project could lead to major environmental benefits in the globally important mudflats as well as sustainable Manila clam production and consumption.

Blue Ventures will implement FIP activities in the Madagascar octopus fishery, and explore application of data-limited assessment and management methods to these types of fisheries.

Octopus fishing is an economic lifeline to around 80,000 small-scale fishers, over half of whom are women. Madagascar’s fishing economy is critical for the livelihoods and food security for over 250,000 people. Blue Ventures works in places where the ocean is vital to local cultures and economies, and are committed to protecting marine biodiversity in ways that benefit coastal people. The grant will contribute to efforts to improve management in the octopus fishery, and its preparation for certification. 

The applications period for 2017-18 will be announced later this year (2016). The fund is open to academic institutions, independent researchers, fishers, governments and non-governmental organizations. The MSC would like to encourage contributions from other organizations to enhance the overall scale and reach of the fund. 

Any queries regarding the fund can be emailed to GFSF@msc.org

For more

Marine Stewardship Council

MSC Global Fisheries Sustainability Fund