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.
“The ocean can be a powerful economic engine that promotes peace and prosperity for the planet and people, but only if managed sustainably and collaboratively. We have been working extensively with key partners over the past few years to design a breakthrough financial solution to channel capital into fisheries and scale improvement globally. The Fisheries Improvement Fund, under the management of Finance Earth, will ensure more sustainable financing for fishery transition, both industrial scale and small scale, through an efficient, equitable, and cost-effective model, contributing to overall ocean resilience and productivity.”Caroline Tippett, Vice President for Ocean Markets and Finance at WWF.
Our vision is that this Fund will revolutionize fisheries finance, driving game-changing environmental and social impact. The Fund at scale has the capacity to attract a wide range of capital providers from both public and private sources. It establishes a sustainable, equitable, and scalable revenue stream through a volume-based fee contributed by participating seafood companies, resulting in fisheries moving towards sustainability through Fishery Improvement Projects (FIPs). The Fund is being piloted through a pioneering first of its kind project, providing a replicable and scalable model that will serve as a blueprint for replication globally.
A Multi-stakeholder Collaboration:
The development and design of the concept has benefitted from the collaboration and expertise of a number of industry partners including major feed companies Cargill and Skretting, who have also agreed to participate in the Fund’s Pilot project, more details of which will be released in the near future. In addition, this initiative is supported by large-scale seafood buyers and philanthropic foundations including Mars, Incorporated, Costco Wholesale, Sodexo, and Walmart Foundation.
“At Mars, we are continually working to drive positive change for people, pets, and our planet. As part of this, we are always looking for more sustainable ways to source our raw materials to help protect vulnerable ecosystems and drive responsible practices. Mars and WWF have a long-standing partnership of more than a decade focused on driving improvements in seafood supply chains. Through this innovative blue finance mechanism, Mars is supporting the development of new models that can provide a consistent source of funding for global fisheries improvements, with a clear aim to positively impact our oceans,” says Paul Gardner, Chief Procurement Officer, Pet Nutrition.
“Mars has committed $1million in funding for Fishery Improvement Projects over five years, supporting the scaling up of credible projects beyond the pilot to create real change on the water. We believe this effort is critical to helping protect the long-term viability of our planet’s natural resources and the many people dependent on healthy fisheries for their livelihoods,” he adds.
For long-term WWF partners who have historically supported the transition to more sustainable seafood production globally and engaged in FIPs as a proven model to transition fisheries, this initiative serves as an innovative, efficient, and effective way to help scale fisheries improvement globally.
“At the heart of the initiative is the increasingly compelling case that sustainability and resource viability must be embedded in business models in order to transition to a regenerative future. This is what drove the Walmart Foundation to support WWF in working with Finance Earth to test an innovative financing model to aid fisheries in that transition,” comments Julie Gehrki, VP and COO of the Walmart Foundation.
Participating companies, such as Cargill and Skretting, will commit to a volume-based fee that enables the FIF to pay back upfront costs for the FIPs as well as create a long-term revenue stream. This innovation changes how long-term sustainability is funded, recognized as a cost of doing business, and embedded into the product costs. This model is essential to a company’s future sustainability and profitability and the best way to ensure scalable funding across all areas of business.
“At Cargill, we are excited to engage with WWF and Finance Earth on this innovative blue finance mechanism to scale fisheries improvement. We see a clear and compelling business case for companies to invest in the long-term viability of their marine ingredients used for aquaculture products, especially as aquaculture production continues to grow exponentially. The industry needs to work to support sourcing from more sustainable fisheries through active engagement. Improvement in fisheries will reduce supply chain volatility and mitigate supply chain risk while enhancing business value across the sector,” notes Helene Ziv-Douki, President of Aqua Nutrition business at Cargill.
“At Skretting, we have a strong focus on reducing the environmental and social impacts of our feed ingredients. Sustainability is non-negotiable for doing business and is essential for the industry’s future growth. Given the scale of the sustainability challenges facing the world, we think it is impossible to achieve progress in isolation. This initiative is a perfect example of how we can come together as an industry to help further drive global fishery reform in an equitable and scalable financial model,” says Jorge Diaz Salinas, Sustainability Manager at Skretting.
A Necessity for Scaling Fisheries Transition:
Many of the world’s fisheries are overfished and unsustainable. The health of the ecosystems on which they depend is in decline; over a third of global fish stocks are overexploited, and a further 60% are fished at their maximum limit. Despite these realities, seafood still holds much promise now and, in the future, if targeted investments are made toward their recovery. FIPs are a globally recognized, successful model that bring together multiple stakeholders in the supply chain to address these environmental challenges. There are now over 150 active FIPs worldwide, covering over 11% of the global commercial wild catch, as verified by FisheryProgress.org.
“At Costco, we are committed to and understand our role in creating more sustainable food systems. For years, we have partnered with WWF to support credible Fishery Improvement Projects that advance more responsible and sustainable fisheries worldwide. Through our engagement in FIPs we’ve seen how these projects drive positive change on the water. And we are thrilled to see different stakeholders coming together to support this innovative finance mechanism that will scale fisheries improvement, to help protect our natural resources and the people who depend on them,” said Tim Wahlquist, Global Director, Responsible Sourcing and Packaging, Costco Wholesale.
An Innovative Way to Finance Fisheries:
“Through our work, we noticed a lack of significant, long-term financing for fisheries improvement, which represents a barrier to scaling current efforts. It remains challenging to increase the pace and scale of change without addressing how those changes are funded. This new mechanism directly addresses this need by tackling the challenges associated with traditional funding and mainstreaming sustainability into private sector business models,” notes Stephanie Bradley, Director of Fisheries in Transition at WWF US.
Drawing on Finance Earth’s expertise in this field, the concept tests innovation in how to finance pressing on the ground conservation projects by creating a model that has the ability to blend different sources of capital together thereby increasing the overall availability of funding for fisheries recovery.
“At Finance Earth, we believe in advancing the improvement of global fisheries by providing innovative solutions. We are thrilled to have worked with WWF and prominent feed and buyer companies on this breakthrough initiative and be launching this new model to provide finance for fisheries improvements. At scale, this approach has the capacity to attract a range of investors from the public and private sector to support fishery improvement worldwide. This is a unique opportunity for all of us to protect our oceans and invest in a sustainable blue economy.”James Mansfield, Co-founder and Managing Director at Finance Earth
The Pilot project has secured a capital commitment to pay for the upfront costs of transition, through an innovative Program Related Investment (PRI) instrument. Testing the concept in the real world using these types of highly concessionary capital will create a blueprint for the Fisheries Improvement Fund to scale. Once proven, the Fund will be able to attract capital from a wider range of sources, reducing transaction costs and enabling funds to be deployed at speed and scale to target Fishery Improvement Projects.
“Innovation in how we finance solutions is critical if we are to find creative and collaborative ways to channel capital into the seascapes and coastal communities where it is most required. We believe that testing and proving innovative concepts in the real world, such as this, are critical to the establishment of a sustainable blue economy that provides social and economic benefits for current and future generations. It’s clear that the costs of transition are higher than the available capital from traditional sources and today we need new models that blend different sources of capital to fit the needs and the urgency of the challenges we face.”Lucy Holmes, Senior Director of Blue Finance at WWF US
Finance Earth is now seeking proposals from fisheries worldwide that may be interested in seeking funding through the new Fisheries Improvement Fund. The Fund is open to opportunities brought forward by any relevant stakeholder(s): including NGOs, local fishing groups, industry actors, off-take/trading companies, buyers/retailers, and local/national governments. The Fund can support both industrial and artisanal, small-scale fisheries, and is open to fisheries currently in a FIP or not yet in FIP. Please visit https://finance.earth/fif/ to learn more and submit a fishery for consideration.