The nation’s first sustainable fishing loan has been established with the launch of a $US 5 million revolving fund, named the Californian Fishers Fund (CFF), which aims to build environmentally sensitive and stable fisheries across the state by supporting communities engaged in constructive projects.
Fishermen and related businesses can apply for a loan for activities which work towards the fund’s goals to promote conservation and community benefits. The first three projects supported by the loan collectively support an integrated fish-to-consumer supply chain that extends from fishermen to the seafood-distributor.
The first projects to benefit are based in Morro Bay, where fishing communities have already made significant improvements to create environmentally friendly fishing enterprises. In 2005, a project to buyout fishing vessels and permits in this area resulted in protecting over three million acres of valuable ocean habitat, and a group of Morro Bay fisherman switched from trawling to using more selective and environmentally-friendly methods, including hook-and-line.
Banks have largely been unwilling to extend loans to California’s fishermen, as the industry has been unprofitable or marginally profitable for the past decades. Further, businesses which use alternative techniques in order to protect the environment are considered even more risky by lenders, and the CFF will provide some of the capital needed by such projects.
‘With a rising demand for safe, healthy and environmentally-friendly seafood, it is vital that we support our local fishermen and businesses that have the ability to bring these fish to market,’ said California Natural Resources Secretary Mike Chrisman. ‘By providing an infusion of capital… the California Fisheries Fund helps coastal communities profit from sustainable fishing, including marketing their product and implementing important management innovations such as ‘catch shares.’