(LONDON – July 10, 2014) A new report released today shows that restoring fisheries around the world can produce substantial financial returns while delivering enormous benefits to the oceans, fisheries and the billions of people who depend on them for food and livelihood.
Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) developed the report, Towards Investment in Sustainable Fisheries: A Framework for Financing the Transition, with The Prince of Wales’ International Sustainability Unit (ISU) and in collaboration with 50in10, a cross-sector network of organizations working to ensure that 50 percent of the world’s fish are caught under sustainable management in 10 years. The report combines knowledge from top finance and oceans experts, outlining a new paradigm for investment in fishing communities in which investors provide capital to fishermen and other fishing-dependent businesses to transition to sustainability and are repaid thanks to the increasing value and productivity of a well-managed fishery.
At a gathering of world oceans leaders and investors in London today hosted by the Prince of Wales, representatives from EDF, ISU and 50in10 presented the report and participated in discussions on ways to finance a transition to a sustainable blue economy.
“Oceans are the single most important resource in human history,” said EDF President Fred Krupp, who attended the gathering. “We have an opportunity to restore our oceans to abundance by putting new tools in place to spur public and private investment in fishing communities and sustainable fisheries. We must bring these tools to scale around the globe so that we can transform our oceans into a sustainable, enduring resource – one that provides more fish in the sea, more food on the plate, and more economic prosperity.”
Overfishing is one of the most urgent problems threatening the ocean today and is the single leading cause of depleted fisheries worldwide. It impacts 3 billion people around the globe who depend on seafood as an important source of protein and millions who depend on healthy fisheries for their livelihood.
“Ineffective fisheries management has led to declining fish populations and declining value for fishermen and communities, but there is potential for change,” said Kate Bonzon, Senior Director, Solutions, EDF Oceans program and lead author of the report. “The World Bank estimates that $50B dollars’ worth of additional value could be derived from the world’s fisheries each year, if they were sustainably managed.”
The new framework identifies the need for government, philanthropic and private investors to work together to give fishermen, communities and small businesses the support needed to transition to better management. It provides tools for aligning and leveraging public, private and philanthropic investments. Major features include:
· Strategies that help ensure fisheries are well managed and structured to be profitable — similar to the basics of good management investors look for in a company.
· Recommendations for how to build the financial case and transform fisheries into investable propositions.
· Approaches to structuring investments that combine private, public and philanthropic dollars for maximum impact.
All of these strategies are designed to provide fishermen and other fishing-dependent businesses with more stable, profitable and sustainable businesses. The framework does not encourage investors to ‘buy up fisheries,’ but rather encourages them to invest in those who harvest the fish and other associated businesses as they transition to new management. Better fisheries management improves their economic prospects, providing important returns for fishermen and other businesses, while also allowing a return for investors.
There are fisheries around the world proving that this approach can work. In Mexico, under new more sustainable management, some fishermen are earning 30 percent more per pound for their catch. In the United States, whether on the West Coast or in the Gulf of Mexico, smart management is rebuilding once depleted fisheries, and in the Gulf it has increased the value of the red snapper fishery 150 percent. Fishermen in Belize are now participating in the enforcement of their fisheries laws and have reduced fishing violations by 60 percent.
“We know how to manage fisheries for the conservation of fish and the livelihoods of fishermen. What we need to do better, is work with government officials and fishing communities to transition fisheries from a sink of public resource with diminishing returns to a sustainable and growing economic sector that benefits their society,” said Miguel Angel Jorge, Managing Director of 50in10.
“We hope this report can begin to galvanize and channel public, private and philanthropic investment at the scale and pace needed to rebuild the world’s fisheries and avoid widespread collapse,” said Krupp. “EDF calls on governments to establish policies that support sustainable, profitable fisheries and on private investors to invest in sustainably managed fisheries.”
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Environmental Defense Fund (edf.org), a leading national nonprofit organization, creates transformational solutions to the most serious environmental problems. EDF links science, economics, law and innovative private-sector partnerships. Connect with us on EDF Voices, Twitter and Facebook.
50in10 is a worldwide cross-sector collaboration to restore fisheries and sustain the communities that depend on them. Working together, partners test, improve, and disseminate promising tools and approaches to help fisheries become the sustainability success story of the 21st century, creating more food, better livelihoods, more prosperous businesses, and healthier oceans.