November 2016 (10:2)

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Dear MEAM readers,

So the presidential election in the United States has us thinking…. The time scales at which ocean issues develop and can be addressed (e.g., sea level rise, ocean acidification, coral bleaching, loss of biodiversity) often stretch over decades – or centuries – whereas political cycles and management regimes often last for only a few years. How does the disconnect between the time scales of problem development and policy response affect your work? Are good projects abandoned or never even started? Have you found ways to keep working towards long-term solutions despite shifting governance and priorities? Do you have any suggestions for other conservation/management practitioners dealing with these issues?

We would like to hear your thoughts and experiences and include them (on the record or anonymously) in our next issue of MEAM. Please send contributions of any length to meam [at] openchannels.org by Friday, November 11, if you are willing to share your ideas with other ocean management and conservation practitioners.

Best wishes for your work,
Sarah Carr
MEAM Editor

Last month, MEAM covered impact investing – that is, investment in ventures or initiatives that have positive social or environmental results as well as financial returns – and its potential for helping ocean ecosystems and communities. In this issue of MEAM, we learn from two entrepreneurs, Kelly Wachowicz of Catch Invest and José Koechlin of Inkaterra, about specific ventures they believe can lead to healthier ocean ecosystems and communities as well as financial profits for investors.

  • Kelly Wachowicz is co-founder and principal of Catch Invest, a firm which partners and invests with fishermen to build a just and sustainable food economy. She can be reached at kwachowicz2 [at] gmail.com.
  • José Koechlin is founder and CEO of Inkaterra, a pioneering ecotourism and sustainable development company that is committed to scientific research and conservation and shares biodiversity and culture with the world through authentic travel experiences. He can be reached at jose.koechlin [at] inkaterra.com.

Fishing for impact investments: Promoting sustainable fisheries with private capital

MEAM: Can you give us some examples of how impact investing has helped to promote sustainable fisheries and improve fisher profitability?

Wachowicz: Much has been made about the potential for private capital and impact investors to play a role in transitioning fisheries to sustainable management. Yet very few checks have been cut, especially with respect to small-scale fisheries. There are four key barriers to prospective private investment right now, namely: a) the risks of inadequate fisheries governance, b) the risk of insufficient participation from fishers, c) the complexity of transaction structuring required to generate real cash flow, and d) a lack of project sponsors with a demonstrable record of success. Several promising developments may offer a way forward, however.

Investing in rights-based fisheries: Cape Cod Fisheries Trust

One great example is the Cape Cod Fisheries Trust (CCFT) which launched an innovative investment strategy aimed at protecting fisheries with strong rights-based management measures already in place through the New England Fishery Management Council (NEFMC) catch share program. CCFT was formed as an investment partner of the Cape Cod Commercial Fishermen’s Alliance, a membership organization advocating for the interests of small-boat fishermen in Massachusetts.

In 2008, CCFT raised a combination of grant funds, low-interest loans, and equity to acquire US$4.7 million of newly allocated fishing quota in the New England scallop fishery. It then began to lease its quota to fishermen at a 50% discount to market rates in exchange for participation in its programs, including community meetings, improved fishing practices, small-business management training, data collection projects, and general support for the newly implemented catch share system in that fishery.

This strategy, known as a community permit banking, supports ongoing management improvements by generating US$400,000 in cash flow that can be reinvested directly into the fishery and by staking the community with an economic asset whose value is tied to the long term health and productivity of the resource. The 100+ fishermen in CCFT’s program have become supporters and advocates of good management because they are able to realize the economic benefits derived from good management. CCFT’s scallop quota investment delivers ongoing conservation impacts, stabilizes 40 Cape Cod fishing businesses, and generates an annual 11% cash yield, not including significant asset appreciation that has accrued alongside the increasing health and stability of the fishery. Its strategy reduces risks to investors by engaging in a fishery that has a strong governance already in place through the NEFMC, by enlisting fishermen as partners through its socially innovative membership organization, and by establishing a track record of performance that supports ongoing replication in other catch share fisheries.

Investing in overexploited fisheries: Bloomberg Philanthropies Vibrant Oceans Investment Blueprints

Ocean advocates are eager to identify impact investing strategies that can support more challenged fisheries in need of transition to sustainability, not just protection. The Bloomberg Philanthropies Vibrant Oceans Investment Blueprints point to strategies for using private capital to fund fisheries management improvements in fisheries suffering greater degrees of overexploitation.

For example, the Merluza Strategy profiled in the Vibrant Oceans analysis proposes a US$17.5 million investment to fund a combination of fisheries management improvements, onshore infrastructure and processing, and quota acquisition in partnership with twelve fishing communities comprised of some 1,800 hake fishers in Chile. If successful, the strategy is projected to improve stock biomass by over 175%, pay fishers a 50% premium for their catch, and deliver an additional 136 million meals-to-market annually by its tenth year of operation, all while achieving a 16% base case financial return.

For this strategy to succeed, its sponsors need to use the promise of the investment to catalyze government funding and regulatory commitments to increase monitoring and enforcement and to structure the transaction in a way that creates meaningful financial incentives for hake fishermen to reduce fishing effort and participate in the various aspects of its programs.

MEAM: What needs to be done to create more initiatives like these and bring them to fruition?

Wachowicz: The implementation of such complex strategies is extremely challenging, requiring intense multi-stakeholder collaboration, and ones like the Merluza Strategy have not yet been tested with private capital backing. Indeed, investors may find it difficult to support the high-risk hake strategy without the support of a newly emerging actor on the fisheries reform seascape, the professional fisheries project developer. Armed with technical expertise, commercial knowledge, and local partnerships, high quality project developers can work to stitch together sufficient commitments from the relevant fisheries stakeholders. These commitments can significantly reduce the project execution risk for impact investors willing to more directly fund the cost of sustainable fisheries transitions.

Analogs for the project developer role exist in other real asset investing sectors such as real estate and infrastructure investing. In the fisheries space, a range of emerging and existing organizations might be well-suited to play the role of project developer, such as the highly qualified MRAG organization, the newly formed and ambitious Ocean Outcomes group, the globally active Blueyou Consulting, and others. These players can be good partners to NGOs and other fisheries advocates in ensuring comprehensive management improvements are designed and accurately budgeted for, and in making the necessary commercial linkages required to generate cash flow and financial returns.

MEAM: Is there anything else ocean advocates should be doing to increase the flow of private investment to support sustainable fisheries and fisheries communities?

Wachowicz: There is no special financial product needed to finance these opportunities – basic equity and debt will do just fine. Fisheries advocates should not focus too much on the money side of the equation. If you build it, the money will come. The challenge is to create attractive investment opportunities with fishermen as partners that deliver impact and financial results with enough risk mitigation to convince investors to open their checkbooks. To do so, reformers should work with project developers to reduce project risks, create transaction structures that enable capital to flow, and match projects with the right investors.

It also may be worth noting that not all fishery reform projects are likely to attract private investor interest. In fisheries where the cost of transition far exceeds even the long term cumulative commercial value of the catch or other economic activity related to recovery, or in fisheries where community subsistence is the primary goal for reformers, philanthropic or community resources are better suited as sources of funds. But research suggests that many fisheries can deliver positive financial return on investment (ROI) with improved management. The 2015 Ocean Prosperity Roadmap suggests that improved management can increase aggregate fishery profits by 168% - 315%. This should serve as a powerful signal to fishery stakeholders and impact investors alike to put private capital to good work.


“Conservation shouldn’t take money – it should make money”

MEAM: Can you tell us about the work Inkaterra is doing in Cabo Blanco (Peru)?

Koechlin: Since 2012, Inkaterra Association (ITA), Inkaterra’s NGO, has been working with the Cabo Blanco community and the Peruvian Ministry of the Environment on the creation of a marine reserve – the first marine reserve in Peru – and the potential application of zoning to restore and conserve the sea of Cabo Blanco. Seventy (70) percent of Peru’s fish diversity is found in the sea of Cabo Blanco, but sea life there currently suffers due to overexploitation. At the same time, ITA is working to develop a series of integrally-managed activities that would benefit local communities. One of these activities would be traditional sport fishing. In contrast with commercial fishing, sport fishing does not seek the massive capture of fish, rather, it involves finding the best specimens with regard to dimensions and weight.

The sea of Cabo Blanco boasts tremendous sportfish diversity – including black marlin, swordfish, and numerous tuna and sharks – due to the confluence of the cold Humboldt Current, warm El Niño waters, and the Cromwell undertow. During the 1950s and 1960s, Cabo Blanco was considered one of the most important sport fishing spots in the world. Cabo Blanco still holds two game fishing world records. In 1953, the all-tackle world record – a 1560 lb. black marlin, filmed by Warner Bros. for the movie The Old Man and the Sea – was landed by Alfred Glassell Jr. Four years later, the largest tuna ever caught, a 435 lb. bigeye tuna, was caught there. Numerous celebrities visited Cabo Blanco during the 1950s and 1960s, including Nobel Prize laureate Ernest Hemingway who went in search of marlin on board Alfred Glassell’s iconic fishing boat, ‘Miss Texas’. This watercraft has now been restored by ITA as a symbol for the recovery of the sea.

MEAM: What sort of environmental and community benefits will this work have?

Koechlin: With this project, ITA aims for the integrated and sustainable management of marine resources – including fishing and hydrocarbon extraction – and the restoration of the marine richness of the sea of Cabo Blanco. And with the recovery of the sea of Cabo Blanco, fish specimens of record-setting size and weight would be restored to the area and lead to the recovery of traditional sports fishing and Cabo Blanco’s international reputation. In addition to these industries, the marine reserve aims to develop other activities – sustainable fishing based on artisanal methods, ecotourism, and environmental education –to generate added value.

These activities offer economic alternatives for local communities. Local communities are already receiving training for careers in hospitality and eco-friendly activities such as marine life observation (especially humpback whales, green turtles, and pelagic birds), surfing, sport fishing, and artisanal fishing. ITA is also creating tourism infrastructure, such as bringing back running water service – lost during the 1983 El Niño phenomenon – which has a positive social impact. The construction of a new dock is currently in progress.

In addition, ITA is performing scientific research including reports on weather, sea conditions, and fish counts (dock reports to determine the volume of fishing and species caught daily) to assess the current situation of the Cabo Blanco ecosystem after decades of overexploitation of marine resources. This information is valuable for working with local populations on sustainable fishing initiatives including educating fishermen on proper techniques, commercial species, and substitute species during closed seasons.

MEAM: Do you have any suggestions for ocean advocates and entrepreneurs looking to do this same sort of work in other places?

Koechlin: The United Nations has declared 2017 the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development. Ecotourism can produce better results for communities than many extractive industries because it depends on conserving biodiversity and sustainable use of natural resources.

One of the reasons Inkaterra has been successful in its ecotourism work, such as in the Peruvian Andes and Amazon, is that it has gained public support at different levels. In Cabo Blanco, it first built rapport with the artisanal fishermen by organizing workshops on sustainable fishing techniques and fish management. ITA is also working on ‘Sea to Table’ traceability certification to guarantee good fishing practices and product quality, which will create added value for local fishermen. In addition, ancestral fishing techniques are being recovered to bring some of Cabo Blanco’s cultural values back to life.

Inkaterra has also established public-private alliances – with the Latin American Development Bank (CAF), Peru’s Ministry of Environment, the National Fund of Fishing Development (FONDEPES), El Alto Town Hall, the Association of Artisanal Fishermen, etc. – to support the sustainable use of natural resources with local, regional and national policies and systems. And the national and international media attention that Inkaterra has brought to the Cabo Blanco project has helped build support from the (Peruvian) government, the private sector, and the global sports fishing community.

By Tundi Agardy, Contributing Editor, MEAM. Email: tundiagardy [at] earthlink.net

People often have a strong reaction when I mention Australia in the context of marine management – they stop listening. Part of this may be because they think they have heard it all before – all those great lessons from the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park on how to do (and how not to do) planning and management have been told over and over again.

But don’t turn away – this is not about the Great Barrier Reef, but a state to the south that doesn't usually get much attention on the marine management front.

Holistic and cross-sectoral management to the south

I recently had the pleasure of traveling to Melbourne and around the state of Victoria, and I came away tremendously impressed by the way planners there are addressing the many facets of marine and coastal management. Their approach is not only holistic and cross-sectoral but also equitable and forward-thinking.

Just to mention a few features of Victoria’s management of its 2,000 kilometer coast: the Victoria Coastal Council works with Coastal and Regional Boards for multi-scale, multi-sectoral management; the 2014 Victoria Coastal Strategy strikes a balance between securing public lands and allowing sustainable private development; and some 1,200 voluntary Committees of Management (CoMs), which are in turn supported by community volunteer groups, manage 1,500 Crown Land reserves, many of which are coastal.

Now the state is building on its coastal planning foundation to extend its co-management out to sea. The draft Coastal and Marine Act (released August 2016 and available for consultation) is a masterpiece of environmental and social issue integration and includes mechanisms for involving communities and aboriginal groups in deciding the future, launching marine spatial planning, and initiating a climate change adaptation program. The Act also builds on the institutional arrangement in which the coastal zone is organized into “coastal compartments” to capture watershed linkages and create planning areas at a scale that maximizes local involvement and stewardship.

In addition, there is the potential for individual coastal compartments to band together to steer sustainable development – including reducing resource use and controlling urban/suburban/exurban sprawl – at larger-than-local scales. This flexible structure allows EBM to be practiced at different scales according to the nature of the management problem to be addressed.

Funding EBM in Victoria

And this brings me to what Victoria is doing on the investment side of things – where Victoria’s current activities and future plans get really exciting.  A whopping 96% of Victoria’s coastline is public land, managed by partnerships of state management authorities (DELWP - Department of Environment, Land, Water, and Planning - which delegates to Parks Victoria) and various local authorities, committees, and volunteers. CoMs in the coastal compartments are essentially self-funded, deriving revenues from leasing and licensing, as well as grants and awards. A large source of revenues for coastal CoMs comes from concessions such as caravan parks (which can generate millions of Australian dollars per year) and museum entrance fees. Additional funds come from donations and damage assessment compensation. This final revenue source will be strengthened under the new Coastal and Marine Act which will have a fee system based on risk.

These locally-generated revenues, alongside state-disbursed funds, pay for the participation of the public in planning, hands-on management, restoration, and evaluation of how environmental protection is succeeding. Victorian citizens work closely with state management authorities on public outreach and education, and volunteer-driven CoMs assume the everyday management of public areas, beaches, and nearshore waters. Citizens are even funded to actively restore degraded areas, remove invasive flora and fauna, control visitor use, and patrol protected land and sea areas. The citizenry is a perfect partner to Parks Victoria in co-management, and co-mingled public-private financing streams make the public’s participation viable and sustainable.

Editor's note: The goal of The EBM Toolbox is to promote awareness of tools for facilitating EBM and MSP processes. It is brought to you by the EBM Tools Network, a voluntary alliance of tool users, developers, and training providers.

An EBM Tool Network member recently asked the Network for hands-on activities, including games, for teaching students (or stakeholders, elected officials, etc.) about ecosystems services and EBM. Network members shared a variety of great resources ranging from sophisticated multi-player “serious games” for conservation and management professionals to simple activities involving a walk outside and group discussion. Some examples of great hands-on ecosystem services and EBM teaching tools include:

  • Tradeoff! developed by the Natural Capital Project is a series of mapping games that introduces concepts related to nature's benefits to people in a simple manner. In the coastal zone management version, players develop the coast of Belize, deciding where to fish, where to build, and what to conserve.

  • Buy, Sell, Trade! developed by IUCN and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development is a free role-playing game that demonstrates the multiple benefits of preserving ecosystems for the services that they provide. The game helps participants see the importance of internalizing ecosystem values that are commonly left out of the marketplace.

  • MSP Challenge Original developed by the Netherlands Ministry of Infrastructure & Environment, Rijkswaterstaat, and Signature games is a free computer, role-playing game where players represent businesses, environmental NGOs, policy analysts, or scientists to develop a spatial plan for a shared sea area. Facilitated simulation and board game versions of this game are also available.

  • The Basin Challenge developed by the CGIAR Challenge Program on Water and Food-Mekong is a free, one- or two-player computer game that gives participants the opportunity to experience some of the potential short and long-term benefits and costs associated with the development - including agricultural development, logging, tourism and hydropower - of a river basin.

  • Game of Floods developed by the County of Marin, California, is a free board game for public education on sea level rise adaptation, including traditional flood protection measures such as levees and seawalls; green infrastructure approaches; and policy/zoning changes. To play the game, 4-6 participants develop a vision for ‘Marin Island 2050,’ a hypothetical landscape that highlights the conditions that will be experienced in Marin in coming years with sea level rise and increased storm impacts.

  • A simple activity is to break participants up into groups and debate the value of an ecosystem good (e.g., trees just outside the classroom). Each group is assigned a type of value that they have to assess (e.g., direct use, indirect use, option, bequest, existence), determine the category of ecosystem service it fits in (e.g., provisioning, support, regulating, cultural), and find a way to assign a monetary value to it. For example, one group would be asked to assess the value of the timber, another the value of reduced energy costs of nearby buildings due to shade, and others to prioritize aesthetics or biodiversity. One group is told that the trees overlay an important indigenous burial ground or that the trees are an important cultural icon. After a discussion period, each group presents a “pitch” for why their ecosystem service that the trees provide is the most valuable. Prizes can be rewarded to the most convincing group.

Want to learn about other games? If you are interested in seeing the full compilations of games, activities, and resources that the Network came up with, please send an email to the EBM Tools Network Coordinator at ebmtools [at] natureserve.org.

Ask the Network: If you have a question about tools and resources for coastal and marine conservation and management that you would like to ask the EBM Tools Network, join their free discussion list at https://list.openchannels.org/mailman/listinfo/ebmtools_discuss and post your question to ebmtools_discuss [at] list.openchannels.org.

Editor’s Note: From the Archives calls attention to past MEAM articles whose perspectives and insight remain relevant.

In this opinion piece by Tundi Agardy, she discusses whether the public or private sector should bear the burden of proof for showing that maritime activities would not cause adverse impacts to the environment, economy, or society and how EBM affects this.