The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) is accepting applications for its Science and Research Fund provides grants of up to £50,000 to support research projects that help MSC certified fisheries uphold best practice in sustainability and maintain certification.
In 2023, they particularly welcome projects focusing on bycatch reduction. Priority will be given to projects that aim to develop low-cost solutions and which have strong match funding in place.
Preference will also be given to projects that have the potential to benefit multiple fisheries and the wider ocean community.
- To address research in the MSC’s annual priority research areas. For the 2022/23 funding round, the priority research area is:
- Bycatch Reduction
- Bycatch is a global fisheries challenge that requires all ocean stakeholders to work together to develop effective reduction strategies. Bycatch, or unwanted catch, includes undersized or surplus individuals for which fisheries do not have quota; endangered, threatened and protected species; and unwanted “non-target” species. Globally, it is estimated that 9.1 million tonnes (10.1%) of annual catches) are discarded, and at least 20 million individuals of endangered, threatened and protected species interact with fisheries.1
- Fishing activity with unwanted catch can be deemed sustainable as long as affected fish populations remain healthy. MSC certified fisheries must provide evidence they are not significantly impacting marine species and are actively minimising unwanted catch.
- The SRF is prioritising research projects this year that will help fisheries close conditions related to unwanted catch. This might include researching gear modifications, spatial closures, impact assessments or new research programs.
- Priority will be given to projects that aim to develop low-cost solutions and which have strong match funding in place.
- To deliver research essential for fisheries to maintain best practice and MSC certification, including projects focusing on conducting research needed to close conditions.
- To address barriers to maintaining certification.
- To fund research that has the potential to benefit a range of fisheries and circumstances.
- Up to £50,000 per project.
- The priority for funding in 2022/23 is projects focusing on bycatch reduction.
- Projects must be no longer than two years in duration and can include a range of activities, such as:
- Addressing gaps in information requirements that could prevent recertification.
- Completing a study or implementing a data collection program to provide information needed enabling the fishery to be recertified. This could, for example, be implementing a data collection protocol.
- Developing and testing tools to support fisheries to address barriers to maintaining certification.
What does the SRF cover?
- Up to £50,000 is available to support project costs, which can include (but are not restricted to):
- The cost of hiring a consultant to undertake all or part of the project.
- Costs involved with data collection.
- The cost of implementing a new assessment tool.
- Costs involved with holding a meeting or workshop such as travel, catering and venue hire.
- Hire or purchase of essential equipment.
- Essential fixed asset costs (up to £2,500 of the total grant request to cover essential assets such as a computer, software, fishing gear etc.).
- MSC’s Indirect Cost Recovery Rate for SRF grants is 5%; up to 5% of SRF grants can be recovered by grantees to support their overhead costs.
- The SRF is open to submissions from academic institutions, independent researchers and MSC certified fisheries. There must be a named individual responsible for the project.
- Applicants can only submit one application for consideration and must not have received SRF funding within the last three years before the time of application.
- All submissions must be applicable to an MSC certified fishery or fisheries. The status of any certified fishery can be confirmed on the MSC’s Track a Fishery database.
- Applicants are encouraged to explore whether their institution has any existing collaborations with MSC certified fisheries that might benefit from project support within the remit of SRF.
- While a fishery must be performing at a high level to be certified, there is often room for improvement on specific areas. These are referred to as conditions that the fishery must resolve in order to maintain their MSC certification and/or achieve best sustainability practice. These improvements are often only possible through carrying out essential scientific research.
- Projects must also have the potential to benefit multiple fisheries or find solutions that could be replicated by other fisheries leading to wider impacts.
- MSC employees, trustees, agents, current contractors, and relatives of employees or trustees are ineligible.
Applications will be assessed on
- The proposed activities and relevance to the Science and Research Fund aims
- Feasibility of the project outcomes and key performance indicators
- The potential of proposals to benefit multiple fisheries and the wider ocean community
- Qualifications and track record of the project team
- Enthusiasm for external project communications
- Evidence of matched or additional funding.
For more information, visit https://www.msc.org/for-business/fisheries/funding/science-and-research-fund