MSC grants awarded to boost fisheries management efforts

Global efforts to improve the management of fisheries through efficient collection and utilization of high-quality data have received a boost with a GBP 650,000 (USD 907,834 EUR 753,562) grant from the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC).

The MSC grant, channeled via the Ocean Stewardship Fund, will help strengthen the at-sea fishery observer safety initiative, reduce unwanted bycatch, and improve fisheries’ harvest strategies and the sustainability of bait fishing, according to a statement by the Council.

The grant will benefit at least 20 fisheries, and a few research projects around the world, each receiving up to GBP 60,000 (USD 83,264, EUR 68,904) from the Ocean Stewardship Fund. Those funds will support a number of initiatives, including one offering additional support for data capture activities happening at sea that have far-reaching impacts on overall seafood production, contributing to the delivery of the UN Sustainable Development Goal 14, Life Below Water.

Some of the beneficiaries of the grant include the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds; WWF India; the Environmental Defense Fund; and fisheries in the Americas, Europe, Asia, and Australia.

MSC said it is putting special focus on research into fishery observer safety, “given the critical role observers can play in providing the data and evidence required to demonstrate fisheries are operating responsibly.”

Part of the Ocean Stewardship Fund grant will be allocated to Saltwater Inc. to finance the training and deployment of fishery observers, in partnership with information technology firm Chordata, LLC. The I.T. company is supporting the creation of a “one-touch” communications platform.

“This will enable fishery observers to safely communicate with their home office, or alert emergency services to unsafe working conditions,” MSC said.

At least three other grants will fund research aimed at reducing bycatch, a major cause of ocean biodiversity depletion. Other project will focus on fisheries’ harvest strategies and improvements in bait fisheries, MSC said.

There are six other projects totaling GBP 157,724 (USD 220,288, EUR 182,854) that will boost fishery improvement projects in the global south, including the deep-sea shrimp trawl fishery in Kerala, India, and blue swimming crab, squid, and snapper and grouper fisheries in Indonesia.

“The knowledge generated by these projects will inform the sector more widely and we hope, will catalyze and lead to further adoption and scaling of solutions beyond the immediate beneficiaries of the grants,” MSC Chief Executive Rupert Howes said.

Last year, the MSC’s grant supported three projects in South Africa, including support for a project implemented by BirdLife South Africa and the South African hake trawl fleet that utilizes new ways to reduce seabird bycatch.

The 2020 grant also went into strengthened WWF South Africa’s harvesting of wild mussels and its rope-grown mussel fishery.  

Photo courtesy of the Marine Stewardship Council


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