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Marine Stewardship Council funds ocean projects to drive progress in sustainable fishing

April 22, 2021

Grants totaling USD $906,000 including support for fishery observer safety and bycatch improvements have been awarded 

WASHINGTON, D.C., April 22, 2021 -  Twenty fisheries and research projects around the world, including 4 in the United States, will receive up to USD $ 83,500 each from the Marine Stewardship Council’s (MSC) Ocean Stewardship Fund - a fund dedicated to enabling and supporting sustainable fishing around the world.   

The awards include grants to the RSPB (Royal Society for the Protection of Birds), WWF India, and the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) as well as to fisheries in the Americas, Europe, Asia, and Australia. Nearly a quarter of the funding has been awarded in support of fisheries in the Global South.   

Research into fishery observer safety is a special focus this year given the critical role observers can play in providing the data and evidence required to demonstrate fisheries are operating responsibly. An Ocean Stewardship Fund grant will support US company Saltwater Inc. – a company that trains and deploys fishery observers – in collaboration with the I.T. consulting firm Chordata, LLC, to create 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.  

Three other grants will fund research aimed at reducing bycatch – a major cause of ocean biodiversity depletion – while other projects focus on fisheries’ harvest strategies and improvements in bait fisheries.   

US awardees also include: 

  • Katharine Leigh at the University of California Santa Barbara Bren School of Environmental Science & Management, who will develop a model to predict the survival of blue swimming crabs in Indonesian fisheries in response to climate change.
  • Alaska Seafood Cooperative and Alaska Fisheries Development Foundation, who will receive funds for recertification assistance.  

The Fund also supports fisheries that are in the early stages of improving their management practices. Six of the grants, totaling nearly a quarter of the funding (USD $219,414) are supporting fishery improvement projects in the Global South, including the deep-sea shrimp trawl fishery in Kerala, India, and the blue swimmer crab fisheries, squid fisheries, and snapper and grouper fisheries in Indonesia. 

The Marine Stewardship Council’s US Program Director, Eric Critchlow, said:  

“It is incredibly rewarding to see such important work being done to improve fisheries sustainability and make jobs in the industry safer for all. The MSC is proud to support these efforts through the Ocean Stewardship Fund and we look forward to seeing how these projects will continue to benefit a more sustainable seafood industry and encourage improvements on the water. Congratulations to all of the 2021 Ocean Stewardship Fund awardees!” 

Since 2019, the Ocean Stewardship Fund has awarded 35 grants totaling USD $1.8 million, and the MSC hopes the impact of those projects will contribute to the delivery of the UN Sustainable Development Goal 14, Life Below Water.  

For more information about the Ocean Stewardship Fund, including previous grant awards, please visit: www.msc.org/oceanstewardshipfund  
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