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National Fish and Wildlife Foundation announces new grants for sustainable fisheries

Courtesy of Rachel Strader

The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) today announced the first round of grant awards from its Fisheries Innovation Fund, a program launched in 2010 to support sustainable fisheries in the U.S. The 18 new projects will engage fishermen around the country in the design and implementation of effective catch-share fisheries. 

With the goal of rebuilding depleted stocks and sustainably managing the nation's fisheries, the Fisheries Innovation Fund fosters new approaches to making catch-shares work for fishermen. "Helping fishermen take the lead in creating more sustainable fisheries and protecting their jobs is one of the most important conservation investments we can make at this time," said Jeff Trandahl, NFWF's executive director. "The Fisheries Innovation Fund supports new ideas, new technologies and new management strategies that are tailored to meet the needs of each region's marine ecosystem and the coastal communities that rely on them." 

Eric Schwaab, NOAA's Assistant Administrator for Fisheries, expressed his support for the diversity of the projects selected. He also noted that U.S. fishermen have been responsible for some of the most progressive innovations in fisheries management and science. "The number of projects exploring new technologies and methods to help refine, improve, and expand existing programs is testament to the entrepreneurial spirit of our nation's fishermen and their commitment to sustainable fisheries." 

Catch-share management systems dedicate a specific area or percentage of a fishery's total allowable catch to individuals, communities or associations. Studies have shown that they can help restore the economic and ecological health of overfished fisheries. In addition to helping achieve sustainability of fish populations, catch-share managed fisheries reduce the accidental bycatch of marine fish and wildlife. 

Seventeen of the 18 grants announced today, which represent more than $2.25 million in funding, come from NFWF's Fisheries Innovation Fund, which is supported by NOAA, the Walton Family Foundation, and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation. An additional project in the Gulf of Mexico is supported by a $200,000 grant from NFWF's Recovered Oil Fund for Wildlife. Most awards will be matched by additional contributions by the grantees. 

Complete project descriptions and award information are available at www.nfwf.org/FIF2011.