The Wyss Foundation Provides $10 Million Grant to Help Restore Productivity and Health of the World’s Fisheries

Washington, D.C. — Today, October 21, 2014, Oceana announced that the Wyss Foundation will, over the next five years, provide up to $10 million in matching funds to help rebuild fisheries in Peru and Canada by supporting science-based policies that aim to both improve fishing and restore health to the world’s oceans.

Peru and Canada are two of the most important and productive fishing nations in the world. Peru has historically been the world’s largest fishing nation by weight of landed catch. Canada is the 16th largest fishing nation and has the potential to provide 50 percent more fish on a sustainable basis than is currently provided.  Together, these two countries account for close to 14 percent of all the wild ocean fish landed by weight.

“The Wyss Foundation’s commitment will literally help to save the oceans and feed the world,” said Oceana chief executive officer Andy Sharpless. “Peru and Canada are two enormous fishing nations where science-based improvements to fishery policy can both greatly increase the amount of the fish landed worldwide and restore health to the oceans. We applaud the Wyss Foundation’s vision, courage, and leadership on this issue, and we thank them for their support.”

Through the Wyss Foundation grant, Oceana will support scientists and policy experts in Canada and Peru who are working toward three outcomes that are proven to recover fisheries around the world: catch limits based on scientific advice, reduction of bycatch (the incidental catch of non-targeted animals) and protection of important marine habitat.

“After decades of declines among the world’s fisheries, new science and smarter policies have proven that the productivity and health of our oceans can in fact be restored,” said philanthropist Hansjörg Wyss, who founded the Wyss Foundation in 1998.  “With innovative management strategies, more and more fishing communities are rebuilding fish stocks, sustaining a way of life for future generations, and restoring the ocean’s ability to feed the world.  We are proud to support these efforts for the countless economic, health, and environmental benefits that come when we help return life to our planet’s oceans.”

The Wyss Foundation, which has long supported locally-driven efforts to conserve public lands in the American West, is making its first major investment in ocean conservation with this grant.  The grant for Canada will be matched by commitments from seven other funders.

Canada and Peru are among the 30 countries that control more than 90 percent of the world’s wild fish catch. By supporting locally-developed, science-based policy reforms within these countries, it is possible to restore the global oceans in a short amount of time.

Nearly one billion people currently do not have enough to eat. The demand for food is projected to increase 70 percent by 2050 as the population grows to an expected nine billion. An often-overlooked solution to this problem is our oceans. A fully productive ocean could provide one nutritious meal a day for 700 million people, or 13 to 15 percent of the animal protein produced on the entire planet. Moreover, wild-caught ocean fish uses no land, needs negligible amounts of water, is the lowest cost per pound to obtain compared to other animal proteins, and provides many human health benefits.

Unfortunately, ocean productivity has drastically declined due to overfishing, destructive fishing practices, marine habitat loss and pollution. If action is not taken now, wild seafood may be unable to play its essential role as a major food source for a hungry planet. The good news is that restoring wild fisheries is achievable, and there are many examples of fish rebounding under science-based management. Recovery of fisheries will have benefits to global food production and biodiversity of the oceans.

Earlier this year, Bloomberg Philanthropies committed $53 million to Oceana, Rare, and EKO Asset Management, as part of its Vibrant Oceans Initiative, to support rebuilding fish populations and improve food security in Brazil, the Philippines, and Chile — all countries that are also on the top-30 list.

With the addition of the Wyss grant, Oceana will now be campaigning in countries that control close to 40% of the wild fish caught in our oceans.

LandWhitner Chase