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MSC scales up fund to help end overfishing

The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) has today announced an ambitious goal to mobilise US$100 million to help safeguard the ocean and sustainable seafood supplies over the next decade. The announcement marks a significant expansion of the MSC’s Ocean Stewardship Fund which aims to end overfishing.

Philanthropic organisations, businesses and governments are encouraged to contribute to the fund, which has already delivered more than 100 grants, including almost 40 in emerging economies.  These funds assist a wide range of fisheries and invest in research and innovation to improve fishing practices on the water.   

Beneficiaries have included Indonesian fishers adapting to the impacts of climate change on blue swimming crabs, South African fisheries reducing bird bycatch, and artisanal fishers in the Mediterranean trialling new technology to protect stingrays. A new project to assess the risks of climate change for wild-capture fisheries and help them to adapt in the future has also received funding.  

The challenge facing the ocean is enormous. Consumption of seafood is rising rapidly whilst over a third of global fish stocks are being exploited at unsustainable levels. The pressures of feeding a burgeoning global population, combined with the detrimental effects of climate change demands stronger, urgent action, hence the scale-up of the Ocean Stewardship Fund. 

The MSC is a world-leader in knowledge and expertise of sustainable fishing. It has 25 years of experience of promoting and delivering progress globally, with over 600 fisheries engaged in its certification programme. Since 2018 the not for profit has committed to allocate 5% of the income it generates from licensing the use of the MSC ecolabel on sales of sustainable seafood to the Ocean Stewardship Fund. The fund opened to third-party donations in 2022.  

Rupert Howes, Chief Executive of the MSC, said: “In the five years since its creation, the Ocean Stewardship Fund has supported an impressive range of projects, including many innovative collaborations between fisheries and scientists.  We are extremely grateful to our funders, partners and supporters who share our vision of a healthy thriving ocean. If we want to enjoy seafood today and into the future, we need to respond to the scale of the challenges facing the ocean. By mobilising US$100 million over ten years, we can support many more communities and businesses around the world which are reliant on the ocean for food, security and livelihoods.”  

The MSC has already received generous philanthropic donations for the fund from the MAVA Foundation and Hans Wilsdorf Foundation, as well as from the Walton Family Foundation for a loan guarantee facility. Expanding the Ocean Stewardship Fund, in collaboration with environmental investment advisory firm Clarmondial, will enable the MSC to help more fisheries, particularly small-scale producers and those in emerging economies to realise the benefits of sustainable fishing.