As representatives from the seafood industry and conservation community convene in Hong Kong for the SeaWeb International Seafood Summit, three leading funders—the Walton Family Foundation, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation and the Skoll Foundation—announced a combined $10.85 million investment in the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) through September 2015, with the goal of continuing to build the global market for sustainable seafood. The multi-year grants demonstrate a continuing commitment to MSC's certification and ecolabeling program, to preserve the livelihoods of fishermen while restoring depleted fish populations and a healthy marine environment.
A global program with a presence in all the world's oceans, MSC has engaged scientists, seafood industry members, conservation organizations and other experts from around the world to reach consensus on a global fishery sustainability standard and a worldwide traceability standard for sustainable seafood. MSC continues to consult widely in maintaining and operating these rigorous, science-based and transparent certification standards for sustainable fishing and traceability that allow seafood buyers to know at a glance that their fish was caught by a certified sustainable fishery. As a result, there is growing demand worldwide for seafood that is certified as sustainably caught.
"MSC's certification program for wild fish incorporates all the elements of credible certification," said Lisa Monzón, marine fisheries program officer for the David and Lucile Packard Foundation. "We value MSC's commitment to continuous improvement, transparency, and stakeholder involvement and look forward to seeing the program grow even stronger."
Over the past several years, major seafood buyer support for the MSC has grown substantially and the number of fisheries applying to be assessed against the MSC standard has skyrocketed. Today, more than 16,000 products in 86 countries bear the MSC logo, 32 times the 500 labeled products in 2007, the year MSC embarked on its recently completed five-year Strategic Plan. There are currently 287 fisheries either certified or in assessment, 13 times the total in 2007. A recent report by Marine Resources Assessment Group documented measurable improvements in virtually all fisheries certified by the MSC.
"MSC is building a demonstrable track record of impact on the environment and global seafood markets," said Edwin Ou, Portfolio Principal of the Skoll Foundation. "We are proud to help them gain even more momentum, by supporting their ongoing development of a transformational but inclusive innovation that lets fisheries and other key ecosystem stakeholders around the world change the game and, crucially, start to restore species in decline."
MSC's seafood certification program allows businesses to play a direct and active role in improving global fisheries. The program works to engage multiple stakeholders from the conservation field, seafood industry and regulatory bodies. MSC also focuses on transparency and effectiveness by setting measurable performance targets, receiving independent, third-party verification and working with diverse sectors to improve and update the program.
"It is critical to protect and restore dwindling fish populations around the world. It is equally important to ensure that the fishermen and seafood retailers who depend on those fish can continue to thrive," said Scott Burns, Director of the Environment Program at the Walton Family Foundation. "MSC has established itself as the world leader in driving progress toward healthier fisheries and fishing communities."
Through the support of these three leading foundations, MSC plans to further establish its role in the sustainable seafood marketplace. It aims to solidify buyer commitments, continue to expand the availability of MSC-labeled seafood in retail stores worldwide, increase support from the food service industry and meet the growing demand associated with the rapid acceleration in fisheries applying for assessment. The funding will also enable the MSC to continue to strengthen its methodology for assessing fisheries and measure the impact of its program on the environmental performance of certified fisheries.
"MSC is extremely grateful for the long term and continued support of the Packard, Walton Family and Skoll Foundations who share our vision of healthy and productive marine eco-systems where seafood supplies are safeguarded for this and future generations," said Rupert Howes, Chief Executive Officer of the Marine Stewardship Council. "This combined announcement of renewed multi-year and multi-million dollar funding commitments from three of the world's leading foundations could not have come at a better time. The growing demand for credible, third-party certified and fully traceable sustainable seafood choices is rewarding both existing best practice and, critically, driving real change in the way our oceans are fished. This renewed and extremely generous level of funding will further help the MSC and our many partners to build on the success and progress we are delivering together to preserve the critical natural capital of our oceans and the livelihoods that depend upon harvesting our oceans sustainably."
About the Walton Family Foundation
The Walton Family Foundation promotes environmental solutions that make economic sense for communities and their natural resources. The foundation works to achieve change that lasts by creating new and unexpected partnerships and bringing conservation, business and community interests to the same table to build long-term solutions to big problems.
A majority of the foundation's environment grants are made to organizations and programs that pursue lasting conservation solutions for oceans and rivers while also recognizing the role these waters play in the livelihoods of those who live and work nearby.
During 2011, the foundation invested more than $500 million in domestic and international projects that addressed significant social and environmental issues, and sought to create exciting new opportunities. The foundation continues to implement and expand grant making to fund a positive difference in many diverse communities – and in the lives of the people who call them home. For more information, visit waltonfamilyfoundation.org.
About the David and Lucile Packard Foundation
The David and Lucile Packard Foundation is a private family foundation created in 1964 by David Packard (1912–1996), cofounder of the Hewlett-Packard Company, and Lucile Salter Packard (1914–1987). The Foundation provides grants to nonprofit organizations in the following program areas: Conservation and Science; Population and Reproductive Health; Children, Families and Communities; and Local Grantmaking. The Foundation makes national and international grants and also has a special focus on the Northern California counties of San Benito, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz and Monterey. Foundation grantmaking includes support for a wide variety of activities including direct services, research and policy development and public information and education.
The Foundation does not make grants intended to influence legislation or support candidates for political office. Foundation grant awards totaled $247 million in 2011. The Foundation expects grantmaking awards of up to $252 million in 2012. For more information, visit packard.org.
About the Skoll Foundation
Jeff Skoll created The Skoll Foundation in 1999 to pursue his vision of a sustainable world of peace and prosperity. Led by CEO Sally Osberg since 2001, its mission is to drive large scale change by investing in, connecting and celebrating social entrepreneurs and the innovators who help them solve the world's most pressing problems. By identifying the people and programs already creating positive change, Skoll Foundation empowers them to extend their reach, deepen their impact and fundamentally improve society.
Over the past 12 years, the Foundation has awarded more than $315 million, including investments in 91 social entrepreneurs and 74 organizations on five continents. In addition to grant-making, the Foundation funds a $20 million+ portfolio of program-related and mission-aligned investments. Skoll also operates the annual Skoll World Forum, the premier conference on social entrepreneurship, and shares the stories of social entrepreneurs through partnerships with leading film and broadcast organizations including the PBS NewsHour and the Sundance Institute, to drive awareness of social entrepreneurship and its potential to address the critical issues of our time. For more information, visit skollfoundation.org.