Deadline: May 20, 2022
Application is open for the $3.5 Million Global Fisheries Tech Initiative by Schmidt Marine. Tens of millions of jobs around the world are dependent on fisheries, and healthy fisheries are critical to the health of the world’s ocean and food security. “Fisheries challenges are often complex, and many of the greatest threats to the world’s fisheries are challenges of politics, human behavior, and information deficits,” said Mark Schrope, Schmidt Marine’s director, “But we believe that some of these challenges can and should be addressed through improved technologies.” Fishing, fisheries science, and fisheries conservation are rife with conflict, controversy, and complications. But fisheries can become more sustainable with new and improved tools, ranging from new types of fishing gear or gear improvements to new methods of gathering fisheries-related data, to the application of existing tools in new ways. “Ocean technology is at a critical point. While in many ways ocean health is declining rapidly, current technological capabilities make it possible to envision—to a greater extent than ever before—new ways to enable substantial improvements,” said Schrope, “And there are numerous success stories that we can celebrate and learn from.”
While the initiative does not have a specific regional focus, Schmidt Marine is seeking technologies that have the potential to enable improvements in multiple regions, especially areas where management and monitoring resources are most limited. Selected projects will reflect a strong understanding of the political structures of target deployment regions. They should be well-grounded in both the realities of fishing and fisheries science and management and in the case of new gear or gear improvements, should offer benefits to fishermen that make adoption feasible. The initiative also encourages applications from individuals and groups who do not typically work on ocean issues, such as companies with technologies for other applications that offer potential in fisheries. University researchers, non-profit organizations, and for-profit companies, including commercial fishing groups, are all eligible to apply.
Though other ideas will be considered, the primary focus will be on:
- New or improved methods and tools for fisheries data collection, especially those enabling fisheries stock assessments. Of particular interest are technologies that offer the potential for low-cost, reliable, and efficient deployment even in remote areas.
- Creative methods and new collaborations to substantially expand capabilities for analyzing fisheries data sets to increase the sustainability of fisheries through reduction of overfishing, prevention of illegal fishing, or creation of premium sustainable markets.
- Fishing gear or gear modifications that reduce bycatch, derelict gear, and/or habitat destruction, or that increase fishermen’s safety or the survival rates of discarded catch. Such technologies should offer benefits to fishermen or other characteristics that open plausible paths for adoption.
- Tools that enable improved fishing ground and protected area monitoring to prevent situations where good players are penalized and illegal players profit.
Schmidt Marine Technology Partners will offer up to $3.5 million in funding annually to entrepreneurs and others developing new technologies that increase the sustainability of fisheries around the world. The effort is also being funded by two anonymous philanthropic groups.
In recent years, there has been a rise in ocean technology investors. But, whether in a university, non-profit, or for-profit, technology developers need considerable early-stage support to develop their concepts so that they reach the investment stage or otherwise make their technology widely available. This initiative will provide that initial support.
The massive scope of the work needed to improve the state of the world’s fisheries suggests that numerous new ideas and companies will need to develop and expand in the coming years. Schmidt Marine will commit $2 million in new funding for fisheries technologies per year, and its partners will contribute up to an additional $1.5 million.
Schmidt Marine funds groups at a variety of stages, but prioritizes support to projects in the earliest stages of development when funding is most difficult to obtain. Schmidt Marine traditionally commits to funding a project for several years until it has reached financial stability through traditional investment or contracts and sales. Individual grants typically range from $100,000 to $500,000 per year, and to date, the program has funded more than 60 technologies focused on ocean health.