Pre-financing sustainable fishing projects

Small-scale fishers are. In fact, the fishery resources of the Mediterranean Sea are the most heavily exploited in the world, with 75% of fish stocks affected by overfishing.

The traditional fishing methods used by such fishers put them at a disadvantage compared to their industrial competitors, but also make them more flexible. This gives them a crucial role in promoting, adopting and speeding up the development of sustainable fishing in the Mediterranean.

To become key players in transforming Mediterranean fishing, small-scale fishers need access to public funds to support their work.

At the European level, a fresh cycle of funds has been made available by the European Maritime, Fisheries and Aquaculture Fund (EMFAF, formerly EMFF) to support sustainable, innovative and competitive fishing. Artisanal fishers, however, are underrepresented among the fund’s beneficiaries.

In the period 2014–2020, small-scale fishers received only 3% of funding designated for Mediterranean fishing fleets, despite representing 83% of active fishing vessels there.

Besides being complex and time-consuming, applying to EMFAF for a grant to fund a sustainable fishing project requires a small-scale fisher to advance the project funding themselves before they receive the grant. Small-scale fishers generally lack the capital necessary to initiate the project, struggle to access bank loans to pre-finance it, and need technical support to navigate the grant application process.

Unsure of whether they can satisfy EMFAF’s grant eligibility criteria, small-scale fishers simply don’t apply.

Our solutions

Demonstrated interest

Fishers want to adopt sustainable methods

Numerous small-scale fishers have projects in mind that could reduce their negative impact on marine habitats. In 2021, in partnership with the WWF Mediterranean Marine Initiative (MMI), and with support from the MAVA Foundation, BlueSeeds invited fishers to submit expressions of interest for support in submitting an application for European funding.

In total, 111 fishers from Croatia, France, Greece, Italy, Slovenia and Spain responded!

Meeting all their requests would have required a sum three times higher than that set aside for this first project, which was primarily intended to gauge interest for such support.


Financial and technical assistance for fishers

In 2022, BlueSeeds and the WWFMMI created a pre-financing mechanism with two arms: financial and technical.

BlueMove is a fund providing ethical banks with the financial guarantee they need to issue low-interest microcredits to fishers, who use the loan to start up a project (while awaiting approval for EU funding). Once the EU grant has been received and the loan reimbursed by the fisher, BlueMove recovers its guarantor capacity and can be used to pre-finance other sustainable fishing projects.

Furthermore, BlueMove pays for technical advisers who support the fishers in submitting their grant application and in implementing the sustainable fishing project in compliance with EMFAF criteria.

Sustainable fishing

Types of sustainable fishing project funded by BlueMove

Beyond seeking to improve their working conditions and save energy, the majority of the fishers’ project proposals involved adopting environmentally sound fishing methods.

Their proposals included using more selective fishing nets, less polluting engines, less energy-greedy conservation equipment, and refrigerated vehicles to enable direct sales and reduce the amount of time spent at sea releasing CO2; as well as the purchase of non-toxic maintenance products.

Here are some related projects...

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