Selected tag(s): California Fisheries Fund

CFF Advances Sustainability Vision of Local Morro Bay Community

[Hear more about CFF from fishermen]

Yesterday, the New York Times featured a story about the new Morro Bay Community Quota Fund. With the help of a loan from EDF’s California Fisheries Fund (CFF), the Quota Fund was able to acquire fishing quota and five fishing permits from The Nature Conservancy (TNC), which the Quota Fund will lease to local fishermen to support a sustainable local fishing industry. Here at CFF we are excited to be involved in California’s first community purchase of fishing quota, contributing to the groundfish fishery’s continued environmental stewardship.

Several years ago, TNC bought these fishing permits and boats from fishermen who were interested in leaving the trawling business. TNC then leased trawl permits to fishermen who agreed to use non-trawl or low-impact trawl gear to catch the same fish with less habitat impact. This effort combined with EDF’s role in helping to get catch shares implemented for the rest of the West Coast groundfish trawl fleet has aided the fishery in bouncing back. In fact, the fishery was recently certified as sustainable and recognized by the Marine Stewardship Council as “the most diverse, complex fishery ever to enter assessment against MSC standard anywhere in the world.” Read More »

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New Video Series: California Fisheries Fund Helps Finance Sustainable Fishing

When we launched the California Fisheries Fund in 2008, it was unique and untested: a public-private partnership with the mission to make capital available to a growing sustainable commercial fishing industry.  Since then, we’ve provided more than $2.5 million in loans to fishermen, fish buyers, processors and distributors enabling them to transition to or continue more sustainable fishing business practices. Many people and institutions have reached out to ask questions about our experience and story. Some organizations are considering establishing similar funds and they’ve asked for advice on how to get started.

In response to those and a growing number of requests, we’ve developed several resources that describe our experience establishing and managing the CFF: Read More »

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California Fisheries Fund Grants Loans to Local Dungeness Fishermen

Dan Durbin

Dan Durbin standing next to his boat the Golden Girl

It’s the height of the much loved Dungeness crab season and the California Fisheries Fund (CFF) lent a helping hand to two Half Moon Bay, California fishermen just in time for them to participate in the fishing season.

Donald Marshall, a former plumber and HVAC technician, recently received a $90,000 loan from the CFF which helped him to buy a crab permit for his boat, the F/V Janet E. Donald, who has fished since the age of 5, fulfilled his life-long passion when he became a full-time fisherman three years ago. Don, the CFF’s fourteenth borrower, sells directly off the dock in Half Moon Bay at Pillar Point Harbor.

Dan Durbin, a former recreational fisherman and local business owner from San Jose, is also living his dream. With the help of a $154,000 loan, Dan purchased his first commercial fishing boat, the F/V Golden Girl, along with permits to fish for crab and salmon. Read More »

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EDF on the Radio: The California Fisheries Fund Helps West Coast Fishermen

CFF Director, Phoebe Higgins with Steve Fitz, a loan recipient

Last week, Phoebe Higgins, Director of our California Fisheries Fund, appeared on the John Young KUIC Hometown Morning show to discuss the productive work the fund is doing to help West Coast fishermen finance their transition to more sustainable fishing practices, improve the profitability of their fishing businesses and provide seafood consumers with the fresh and sustainably caught fish that they love.

Phoebe also discussed with John a new sustainable management program that is helping fishermen on the West Coast grow their fishing operations as well as allowing fish populations to rebound.  The Fund coupled with the Pacific Groundfish catch share program, is helping to maintain and grow California’s highly-valued ocean economy —worth $43 billion and contributing more than 474,000 jobs to the state. Fishermen have more time to fish carefully which improves their safety and dramatically reduces the amount of bycatch and discarded fish. In turn, fishermen are able to bring in higher quality fish to seafood consumers and market their fish at higher prices.

Listen to Phoebe discuss the California Fisheries Fund project and catch share programs on the show and see how one fisherman is benefitting from his loan.

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California Fisheries Fund Partners with Bank for Exciting New Loan

CFF California Fisheries Fund (Logo)The California Fisheries Fund, a project of Environmental Defense Fund, kicked off 2011 by issuing its sixth and largest loan since the revolving loan fund was launched in 2008 to invest in sustainable fishing businesses on the West Coast.

The loan was made possible by a unique business partnership with San Francisco-based New Resource Bank. CFF and New Resource Bank partnered to extend a $3 million loan to Wild Planet Foods, a sustainable seafood company in McKinleyville, California. Read what the San Francisco Business Times had to say about the California Fisheries Fund: 

“The loans can be used to finance all kinds of improvements that foster sustainability. Some of those include upgrades in fishing gear that let fishermen catch more of the fish they’re targeting and less of the fish they’re not, and dockside infrastructure like chillers that would allow fishermen to keep and sell products locally as opposed to trucking it to other markets.”

The partnership between the California Fisheries Fund, New Resource Bank and Wild Planet represents a growing trend where for-profits and non-profits share many of the same values and an interest in mission-driven outcomes. In this case, all three organizations are driven by a mission of promoting and supporting environmental sustainability, with two of them—CFF and Wild Planet—specifically focused on sustainable fisheries.

Now the CFF is expanding its loan program outside of California to the entire West Coast. Just this week, the California Fisheries Fund closed its first loan in Washington state.  To learn more about the California Fisheries Fund, please visit:

Press release:

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Want to Help California's Economy? Eat a Lobster.

Next time you’re lucky enough to crack open a lobster, consider this: you may be doing your part to stimulate California’s economy.

Lobster fishing in California takes place from October to March in Southern California— from Point Conception around Santa Barbara to the Mexican border. Business has been solid in recent years: 728,000 pounds of lobster were landed in the 2008-09 season by the state’s 200-plus commercial lobster fishermen.  Sales to local markets, as well as Asia, generated about $8 million in economic activity.

But looming threats exist to lobstermen's livelihoods. As The San Diego Union Tribune recently reported, “In coming months, state officials plan to expand a set of marine reserves under the Marine Life Protection Act that likely will shut down vast tracts of coastline to lobster fishing, including a prime spot off the coast of La Jolla, that will take away about 20 percent of the state’s lobster catch.”

Protected areas are critical to the state’s fisheries, as they allow species to survive and thrive.  In many cases, these protected areas increase the amount of seafood that can eventually be harvested along the coast.  At the same time, these protected areas and changing rules mean that fisheries have to update the way that they manage themselves.  Scientific monitoring of species and new management techniques are needed to allow both fishermen and the environment to thrive.  But then questions arise over how to fund the new science and management reforms in a fragile economy.

This is where the creativity of the lobstermen comes in:

California’s government is cash-strapped and the Department of Fish and Game (DFG), while prioritizing the lobster fishery, doesn’t have the money to advance management reforms.  Lobstermen have stepped up with a unique approach that starts to build funding for improvements.   They’ve asked the state to form a private-public partnership to create rules that will protect lobster populations while improving the economies of California’s coastal fishing communities.

The California Lobster and Trap Fishermen’s Association, environmentalists and Assemblywoman Lori Saldaña (D-San Diego) have teamed up to propose an annual $300 fee on holders of the state’s 204 lobster fishing permits. This annual fee amounts to about 14 lobsters per fisherman (give or take).  Resulting revenues would go directly into a fund to make improvements to the fisheries that fishermen and DFG prioritize.  The legislation – AB 408 – has passed the Assembly and is awaiting Senate action.

Lobster fishermen are hoping their offer to fund a piece of what’s needed for better science and management will attract money from other sources such as the state Ocean Protection Council and the California Fisheries Fund (CFF), a philanthropic revolving-loan fund that lends money to fishing communities to improve fishing sustainability. Since CFF makes loans, not grants, it requires borrowers to prove an income stream, which is just what the $300 annual fee would help create.

As we’ve argued in EDF’s California Dream 2.0 blog, California can lead the way with new approaches to protect the environment while growing our economy.  AB 408 is such a ‘win-win’ idea, empowering lobstermen to improve the marine environment while improving their industry’s bottom line.  Lobstermen won’t be able to fund the necessary improvements alone, but their willingness to put skin in the game will encourage other funders to see this industry offer for what it is: a sustainable way to manage its lobster fishery, help fishing communities thrive and protect the ocean.

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