MSC Ocean Stewardship Fund halfway to USD 10 million goal

Published on
December 20, 2022
A school of fish swimming in blue ocean water.

The Marine Stewardship Council’s (MSC) Ocean Stewardship Fund is halfway to its goal of USD 10 million (EUR 9.4 million) in funding to support sustainable fishing globally.

The MSC launched the fund in 2018, with the funding going to small-scale fisheries that need assistance to overcome obstacles to becoming sustainable. The fund has awarded around USD 4.4 million (EUR 4.1 million) in grants, with USD 854,000 (EUR 804,000) distributed in 2022 to projects that safeguard marine biodiversity, including research.

The original funding came from a 5 percent annual royalty taken from MSC-certified product sales, but in 2021, MSC began accepting third-party funding. This change was supported by Clarmondial, an environmental investment company that allowed the MSC to double the money available to the fund.

“The Ocean Stewardship Fund is helping to accelerate vital progress in understanding of and commitments to sustainable fishing. Grants awarded so far range from research into new technologies that reduce the impacts of fishing on wildlife, through to projects to rebuild fish stocks, to community programs to assess and identify opportunities for improvement," MSC Chief Executive Rupert Howes said.  

Over half the grants awarded so far have been focused on supporting developing economies and fisheries in countries such as Indonesia, Mexico, and India. In November 2022, the Ocean Stewardship Fund allocated funds supporting small-scale Portuguese fisheries.

Major third-party funders include the MAVA Fondation Pour La Nature, the Walton Family Foundation, and the Hans Wilsdorf Foundation. These funders have given USD 791,000 (EUR 745,000) for projects in West Africa and the Mediterranean, USD 1 million (EUR 942,000) for a loan guarantee facility for certified or working towards the MSC’s standard certification fisheries, and a USD 1.05 million (EUR 989,000) of unrestricted funding.

"We are extremely grateful for the generous contributions made by the MAVA Foundation, Walton Family Foundation, and Hans Wilsdorf Foundation who share our vision of healthy oceans teaming with life and seafood supplies safeguarded for this and future generations," Howes said. "By scaling up the Ocean Stewardship Fund we hope to accelerate progress in sustainable fishing, supporting greater collaboration and understanding between the fishing industry, governments, scientists, and conservationists, for the benefit of us all."

The Global Environment Facility, globally the largest funder for biodiversity protection, nature restoration, pollution reduction, and climate change response in developing countries, added USD 100,000 (EUR 100,000) to the Fund via the UN’s FAO for a climate change project already awarded USD 243,000 (EUR 229,000).

MSC continues to call for funders to achieve the USD 10 million (EUR 9.4 million) milestone ultimately to secure the future of a healthy ocean.

Photo courtesy of the Marine Stewardship Council

Contributing editor reporting from Hawaii, U.S.A.

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