Sustainable finance is critical to scaling the transition towards more sustainable fisheries. New sustainable, efficient, equitable, and cost-effective models are needed to lead the way towards the establishment of a sustainable blue economy. To respond to this need, World Wildlife Fund (WWF), in partnership with Finance Earth (FE) and through a multi-stakeholder collaboration, designed and launched a new financing mechanism aimed at fishery transition. Finance Earth, a leading impact investment advisory and fund manager with a track record in break-through social and environmental financing models, will establish and manage this new mechanism – the Fisheries Improvement Fund (FIF). The ambition is to catalyze more than $100 million in investment in fisheries improvement by 2030. This model, designed in collaboration with leading industry players, will unlock new pathways to fund global fisheries recovery at a scale that can match the size of the challenge.
Future-Proofing Tuna Production
Tunas are among the most commercially valuable fish on the planet caught by small scale and industrial fishers. They support people across the globe not only by enriching coastal communities with jobs, but also by providing an affordable source of protein and nutrients for consumption. But many of the world’s valuable tuna species face several urgent yet common threats, such as: overfishing, inadequate monitoring of fishing activities, mortality of non-tuna species (e.g., sharks, turtles, seabirds) from bycatch, and illegal fishing. While progress has been made over the past decade, among the seven principal tuna species, 61.3% of the stocks were estimated to be fished at biologically sustainable levels in 2023.
As the methods of catching tuna have advanced over the years, the conservation and management of tuna has not evolved as quickly. Market demand for tuna remains high, and there are many factors that need to be addressed.
To protect the future of these apex predators that underpin the ecosystems and economies of which they are a part, WWF is working with companies to source tuna responsibly, understand the origin of their products, and obtain market-based support to augment WWF’s global advocacy priorities.
WHAT WWF IS DOING
Addressing Conservation at Scale
Conserving the world’s tuna populations, and protecting the species that swim alongside them, requires addressing the greatest strain on populations – overfishing. WWF has adopted a combination of economic incentive-based tools and policy reforms that engages industry at several points in the value chain to drive change, advocates for improved management with governments and regional management bodies, partners with stakeholders to build technical capacity in developing countries, and supports innovation to cost effectively address conservation at scale.
Improving Fishing Practices
While we are still using Fishery Improvement Projects (FIPs) to advance fishery performance of tuna fisheries to meet the requirements of the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) standard, we are also collaborating with the other NGOs to establish guidance for improvements. These include aligned guidance on responsible use of fish aggregating devices, improved at-sea transshipment, and improved data and transparency.
Increasing the Volume of Certified Product
WWF has spent the last decade helping to organize the tuna industry around a set of common objectives to improve conservation and management with an initial goal of meeting the MSC standard. Our progress to date includes creating a framework for change that can now be used to expand and scale efforts. Through work on the Global FIP Alliance for Sustainable Tuna (G-FAST) project, WWF supported improvements among 170 major tuna purse seiners representing 20% of global tuna catch.
Several of our past WWF supported tuna Fishery Improvement Projects are now in full assessment for the MSC standard or MSC certified.
In 2023, nearly 49% of global tuna catch for the four major market species of tuna is MSC certified or in full MSC assessment.