Marine Stewardship Council Doubles Funding to Safeguard Our Oceans

The world’s leading sustainable seafood ecolabel, the MSC, has increased its Ocean Stewardship Fund to close to £2 million by redirecting a proportion of funds from the sale of products with the blue fish label into research and projects aimed at ending overfishing.

With world leaders convening this week in Oslo for Our Oceans 2019, the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) is increasing its commitment to global action to end overfishing. Its Ocean Stewardship Fund, announced at last year’s Our Oceans summit, will receive an additional 5% of annual royalties earned from the sale of MSC labelled products. This ongoing commitment increases the Fund’s value by around £950,000 per year in addition to the £1 million seed funding announced in 2018. 

The Fund is now open to applications for research and work that will accelerate and maintain progress in sustainable fishing around the world, particularly in the Global South.

The MSC’s Chief Executive, Rupert Howes, said: “Healthy oceans are essential to the environment, economies and communities. We’ve seen incredible progress in sustainable fishing, particularly in the Northern hemisphere. Yet the rate of overfishing continues to increase at an alarming rate, particularly in the Global South.   

“We urgently need to accelerate action and drive change at scale. The MSC is committed to doing more to empower scientists, fisheries, businesses and governments in a collective effort to safeguard oceans and seafood supplies. That’s why we’re going beyond the commitments made last year. Funds from the sale of every product sold with the blue MSC label will now go directly into projects and research to safeguard oceans for future generations.”

Taking action on overfishing is one of the key topics on the agenda for Our Ocean 2019. In 2018 the United Nations estimated that a third of the world’s fish stocks have now been exploited beyond sustainable limits – up from a tenth in 1974.

The fund is open for applications to support fisheries that are either on their journey to become sustainable or maintaining their sustainable practices. The fund will also be available for innovative scientific research to help improve sustainable fishing practices. Applications to the Fund must be submitted by 15 December 2019. 

Committed to the cause

The Ocean Stewardship Fund is part of the MSC’s wider commitment to engage fisheries responsible for 20% of the world’s wild caught seafood in the MSC program by the end of 2020 and 30% by 2030 in line with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 14 (SDG14), Life Below Water.

Through the Ocean Stewardship Fund, the MSC aims to support:

  1. Fisheries transitioning towards sustainability, particularly small-scale fisheries and those in the Global South. In its first year, the Transition Assistance Fund will support the fisheries in Indonesia, Mexico and South Africa which are already participating in the MSC-run Fish For Good program aimed at helping fisheries develop sustainable practices and engaged in MSC’s pilot program for fisheries in transition to MSC certification.

  2. Fisheries that are conducting research to meet best practice. The Science and Research Fund will award grants to research projects that will benefit fisheries in the MSC program. For the 2019-2020 funding round the MSC will particularly welcome projects that focus on ghost gear or endangered, threatened and protected (ETP) species.

  3. Fisheries who have maintained MSC certification for at least 10 years and are making long term commitments to sustainability. The Recertification Assistance Fund will contribute to the cost of recertification.