The $5 million California Fisheries Fund will support fishermen, buyers and distributors that are working to build an ecologically sustainable fisheries industry that maintains both fish populations and fishing communities.
"Without the California Fisheries Fund, these fishing businesses probably wouldn't get loans, and without loans, the entire seafood supply chain, starting with the fishermen, can't make the necessary investments to make fishing more sustainable," said Michael DeLapa, manager of the CFF. "We expect these loans to be paid back because we're confident about the growing market for environmentally-friendly fish and the new value created by management innovations."
At the event at Google's campus, the EDF unveiled the first three loans under the program. The recipients have been picked in keeping with the CFF's mission to provide much-needed capital to fishermen and businesses whose experimental methods of sustainable fishing cause additional problems with lining up funding.
One of the first loans, in the amount of $25,000, goes to the Morro Bay Fish Company in the form of a working capital line of credit; the CFF will also give the firm a 5-year, $100,000 loan to remodel its freezer, purchase a delivery truck and build a hoist on its dock. The company will use the funding to continue its work in buying, delivering and marketing fish caught sustainably by local fishermen in the central California coast.
The Fisheries Fund is also providing a $150,000 line of credit to Central Coast Seafood, also based in central California in the town of Atascadero. The company will use the funds to invest in its inventory of black cod and promoting the fish at markets. Black cod is one of the species of fish whose quotas are on the rise because of the health and abundance of the fish's stocks.
"Our business model depends on maintaining a reliable supply of fresh fish caught in ways that maintain healthy fish populations," said Giovanni Comin, owner of Central Coast Seafood. "Our California Fisheries Fund loan will make it a lot easier to deliver sustainable seafood to markets worldwide."
Overfishing and water pollution are among the leading causes of declining fish stocks around the world, and while some corners are promoting aquaculture fish-farming operations as a solution to the issue, many fish farms result in high levels of pollution from concentrating fish waste and the need for antibiotics to keep the fish healthy in tight quarters.
Among the companies that have committed to supporting sustainable fishing industries are Google, whose cafeteria purchases seafood from Central Coast Seafood, as well as Wal-Mart, which set a 100 percent sustainable fish target in 2006, and Whole Foods, which raised its standards for farmed seafood in September 2008.
Fish photos CC-licensed by Flickr users laszlo-photo and Brajeshwar.