Investing in sustainable fisheries to support thriving oceans and communities
Although billions of dollars of investment go into fisheries every year, very little is directed to making fishing more sustainable. More often than not, sustainability is neither the driver nor the intended outcome of those investment dollars. This means we are currently missing a major opportunity to solve global overfishing and food security problems, which require better aligned investments from a variety of capital providers.
Evidence from around the world shows that despite overfishing, climate change and other threats, declining fish populations can recover quickly with proper management. Peer-reviewed science suggests that compared to today, estimated future global outcomes include a $14 billion USD increase in profits, 25 billion additional servings of seafood and 217 million more metric tons of fish in the sea—nearly a third more fish than exist today— if we can meet the imperative of the Paris Climate Accord and ensure global temperatures don’t rise beyond 2 degrees Celsius.
We believe that by framing the sustainable fisheries investments opportunity in terms of risk-adjusted returns, we can attract new and more sustainable private capital to support the transition to sustainable fisheries globally.
Harnessing the economic power of the marketplace to protect the environment is at the very core of EDF’s pragmatic approach and is vital to delivering on our ambitious goal of recovering the world’s wild fisheries in our lifetimes. EDF is employing our expertise in fisheries management design, science and economics to address systemic fisheries challenges such as overfishing, insufficient scientific data and the lack of secure access rights.
The Principles for Investment in Sustainable Wild-Caught Fisheries are a voluntary framework intended to provide more certainty, transparency and accountability for critical investment decisions in fisheries.
They are designed to get more capital into the system in a way to protects human rights, ensures environmental progress and leads to better outcomes for communities who depend on our oceans.
A report by EDF and Duke University’s Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions outlines how to meet the enormous financial challenge of recovering global fisheries by blending philanthropic, public and private capital.
Each of these entities has a unique role to play to bring more fish, food and prosperity to billions who depend on the ocean, and each can realize the social, environmental and financial returns that matter to them.
EDF teamed up with Credit Suisse’s Virtual Volunteering program to design a highly customizable, Excel-based decision tool that identifies and catalogs risk factors unique to fisheries and helps analysts understand the potential impact of those risks.
We hope this tool helps investors identify opportunities for sustainable fisheries investment projects, lowers the barrier for financial institutions making wild fisheries investments and catalyzes a wave of investment in thriving, profitable oceans and fishing communities.
A pioneering report by EDF and The Prince of Wales's International Sustainability Unit (ISU) provides a framework for developing fishery transition projects that attract and leverage global capital—finding that sustainable and profitable fisheries are most likely to share three key elements: secure tenure, sustainable catch limits and effective monitoring and enforcement.
The paper is meant as a resource for investors, nonprofits, fishermen and other fishery stakeholders to discuss the policies, tools and financing needed to make our oceans healthier and more productive for future generations.
The California Fisheries Fund (CFF), launched in 2008, is a revolving loan fund aimed at supporting the transition to more stable and profitable fisheries on the U.S. West Coast. EDF created the fund because we found, particularly in California, that fishermen’s lack of access to ready capital was a significant impediment to reforming failing fisheries.
CFF has lent out nearly $4.8 million over nine years, helping young fishermen enter the industry, supporting new community quota banks and lending to a diverse fishing fleet.