Better management and less spoilage
The fund will help fishing communities:
- adopt better management
- use higher quality refrigeration
- improve processing
- acquire better boats
- cut down on waste and spoilage (because global losses from fishing mismanagement are estimated to have cost more than USD 2 trillion over the last 30 years).
“The beauty of fisheries as opposed to forests is that you already have a business that works,” says Simon Dent, lead manager of the Althelia Ocean Fund. “We’re trying to make it work better and scale up fisheries cooperatives to make sure they protect their resources.”
Ocean fishing is extremely important to many societies:
- More than one billion people depend on fish for their primary source of protein
- The global fishing industry is worth about USD 260 billion a year.
- More than 350 million jobs are linked to the ocean through fishing and other marine industries
- 90 percent of people whose livelihoods depend on fishing are in developing countries
- More than 85 percent of the world's fisheries are in need of strict management plans to restore stocks
“There is a serious need to address the declining state of the world’s oceans,” Noroeste’s Ferguson says. “It is a terrible situation.”
The EIB, one of the first investors in Althelia’s Sustainable Ocean Fund, hopes to become a pioneer in economically viable ways to protect the seas.
“If we don’t do more to protect the ocean, this is going to lead to many new environmental problems,” says Martin Berg, an EIB senior investment officer who visited El Manglito to understand its plight. “One of the main problems in many places around the world is overfishing, and we’re trying to find ways to stop this and to help rebuild stocks.”
Bumpy road to recovery in El Manglito
In El Manglito, when clam supplies became dangerously low, residents started fishing in illegal areas farther away in the Gulf of California, spearfishing at night or harvesting from protected zones to make a living. Other residents turned to drugs and crime to survive. Many residents turned on each other because of fishing disputes, and few of them worked together. The streets filled with garbage.
“The fishermen were treating this bay like an ATM and eventually they ran out,” Ferguson says.
As its fortunes were hitting bottom around 2012, El Manglito residents started working with Noroeste to learn how to turn things around.
The result was a “miracle,” Ferguson says. “The shellfish population went from nearly zero to the point where it is at more than four million today.”
Carving out a better future
With help from Noroeste, community members worked together to
patrol the shores and enforce a strict moratorium on fishing. Noroeste paid fishermen minimum salaries so they could survive without collecting clams. The community formed a company called Achamar to modernize the processing, packaging, marketing and distribution of pen shell products for when the fishing could start again.