Innovation Fund

Our Innovation Fund supports research that is a strategic priority for the MSC, and is part of our Ocean Stewardship Fund.

In 2021, the MSC awarded £100,000 of the Ocean Stewardship Fund to support global efforts to identify and improve best practice approaches for at-sea monitoring, ensuring fishery observers around the world can carry out their work safely.

Projects awarded include:

This year's theme contributes to global efforts to identify best practice approaches and improvements, ensuring fishery observers around the world can carry out their work safely.

Why has the MSC chosen this theme?

The collection of high-quality data on fishing activities, which has been recorded at-sea, is a key part of effective fishery management.

Data on fishing activity is provided by fishers on vessels as well as independent sources, such as third-party human observers and electronic monitoring systems. Both sources of data are essential in enabling fishery managers to assess factors such as catch, fishing effort or activity, the health of the target species and the fishery's environmental impact.

Fishing vessels can be dangerous workplaces and observers may find themselves in unsafe conditions with limited options for rescue or medical support. They may also come into conflict with the crew and are at risk of bribery, intimidation and harassment.

The MSC wants to see better and safer working practices for at-sea observers, who play a vital role in legal and sustainable fisheries management.

What grants are available?

£100,000 was available from the Innovation Fund this year, with individual grants of up to £60,000 being awarded.

Projects could have involved a wide range of activities including:

  • Research into dynamics of observer-crew relationships
  • Identification of best practice such as monitoring protocols that reduce conflict between observer and crew
  • Increasing affordability of technologies such as cameras and sensors that can reduce reliance on at-sea observers
  • IT and digital infrastructure including automation of data review
  • Integrating different monitoring systems effectively (interoperability)
  • Standards for e-monitoring systems and methods
  • Innovative processes to enhance observer voice

Who can apply?

The fund is open to expressions of interest from external organisations, including academic institutions, independent researchers, NGOs or fisheries around the world. Submissions by organisations must be made by a named individual who will be responsible for that project.

Employees, trustees, agents, current contractors and relatives of employees or trustees of the MSC are ineligible.

Applicants must be able to accept our Innovation Fund Grant Agreement and Ocean Stewardship Fund Privacy Policy below.


How to apply

The Innovation Fund is now closed, next year’s theme will be announced as applications open in October 2021.

Sign up to receive email updates for when the fund reopens.


MSC Ocean Stewardship Fund - Privacy Policy
Date of issue: 15 September 2020

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Ocean Stewardship Fund

The Ocean Stewardship Fund aims to increase the number of sustainable fisheries around the world.

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At-sea monitoring and surveillance

The collection of high-quality data on fishing activities, which has been recorded at sea, is a key part of effective fishery management.

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