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Investing for Sustainable Global Fisheries

The earth’s oceans have been a source of sustenance and wonder to humankind since the dawn of time, supporting coastal populations for millennia and perhaps even playing a role in human evolutionary development. To this day, our reliance on marine resources remains profound. Seafood currently provides 17 percent of daily animal protein consumed globally, yet fish stocks worldwide are imperiled, threatening marine ecosystems, global food security, and the economic livelihoods of millions of fishers. In fact, only 8.5 percent of global landings are in fisheries certified as sustainable, while 40 percent of fisheries are considered to be overexploited or collapsed. Impact investors can play a role in saving these fisheries.

Research suggests that impact-focused investors have approximately $5.6 billion in capital to deploy over the next five years and have the means to dramatically reshape the world’s “blue economy.” To better channel the flow of this capital to the need and opportunity of restoring global fisheries, Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Vibrant Oceans Initiative and The Rockefeller Foundation supported Encourage Capital (Encourage) to undertake research and publish this report, Investing for Sustainable Global Fisheries, which includes six Investment Blueprints, each intended to serve as a roadmap for the growing number of investors, entrepreneurs, and fishery stakeholders seeking to attract and deploy private capital to scale and accelerate fisheries reform. Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Vibrant Oceans Initiative simultaneously funded Oceana and Rare to implement policy and community stewardship programs, respectively, in Chile, Brazil, and the Philippines as part of a strategy to simultaneously reform industrial and small-scale fisheries and attract capital to catalyze and sustain these efforts. Encourage Capital’s Investment Blueprints are designed to create a roadmap for private capital to further accelerate and scale success in each Vibrant Oceans country.

This publication is an Executive Summary of Investing for Sustainable Global Fisheries. This summary provides a brief overview of the work that was undertaken, a description of each Investment Blueprint, and some of the critical findings from the work. At the heart of each Investment Blueprint lies a proposed set of fishery management improvements and profitable investments that seek to have positive ecological and social impacts. On the ecological side, the goals are to maintain or restore fish stocks, reduce bycatch of nontarget species, and protect and restore marine habitat. On the social side, the goals are to improve fisher livelihoods, empower local communities, and contribute to local and regional food security. We hope that this summary—and, the full report—offer practical and useful strategies for all stakeholders in the blue economy, including investors, entrepreneurs, NGOs, governments, and fishers. If these strategies prove successful in delivering financial and impact returns, we believe they could unlock larger pools of private capital for marine conservation to protect marine fisheries as a source of food, income, and inspiration for generations to come.