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Press Release

Walton Family Foundation Outlines Seafood Markets Strategy

Foundation approach leverages 20 years of sustainable seafood movement successes

SEATTLE, Wash. – This week, during SeaWeb’s Seafood Summit, the Walton Family Foundation (WFF) outlined its five-year strategy for building sustainable seafood markets, building upon 20 years of success across the sustainable seafood movement. 

The seafood markets initiative is part of the foundation’s 2016-2020 ocean strategy that takes a systems approach—working on both the supply and demand side—to promote sustainability in five core countries: Indonesia, Peru, Chile, Mexico and the United States. This systems approach includes:

  • Empowering fishermen and local communities through rights-based management approaches that provide them with secure tenure rights; 
  • Making science-based decisions about annual catch limits, habitat protection and timelines for rebuilding fish stocks;
  • Building capacity for fishermen, governments and civil society; 
  • Reforming public policies to create positive incentives that encourage responsible fishing; and
  • Harnessing the market for sustainable seafood to build demand for healthy fisheries practices. 

In the U.S., WFF aims to protect the gains of the sustainable seafood movement’s first two decades, while Mexico, Peru, Chile and Indonesia represent countries that are among the most important to sustainable seafood’s future. 

In an effort to complement the work other foundations are already leading along the seafood supply chain, the WFF seafood markets strategy focuses on creating sustainability incentives to increase demand where it matters most – in the U.S., Japan and Spain. As importers of nearly two-thirds of the world’s globally traded seafood products, these three countries buy more than $3.66 billion a year in seafood exports from Mexico, Peru, Chile and Indonesia. WFF’s approach aims to encourage the seafood industry to make investments—of money, time, staffing and brainpower—that raise incomes and improve the quality of life for individual fishermen and fishing communities in the four target countries.

“The sustainable seafood movement has made remarkable progress over the past 20 years. With nearly 300 certified fisheries and almost every major retailer in the U.S., Canada and Northern Europe committed to sourcing sustainable seafood, sustainability is quite simply an integral part of running a modern seafood business,” shared Teresa Ish, who leads the seafood markets initiative at the Walton Family Foundation. “This strategy builds upon that momentum with a focus on incentivizing change in the countries that need it most.”

The WFF strategy leverages the buying power of major seafood importers and engages the supply chain in building support for sustainable fisheries practices. WFF is investing $36.6 million through the end of 2020 to support these initiatives as part of its larger strategy to end overfishing, improve ocean health and preserve coastal livelihoods.

“Across our ocean-related strategies, the seafood markets strategy aims to meet each country where it is,” said Barry Gold, environment program director. “By collaborating with NGOs, industry and our funding partners to advance sustainable fishing practices, we can promote a healthy ocean environment while also building strong local economies.” 

The foundation outlined its approach during SeaWeb’s Seafood Summit, where businesses, industry groups, ocean advocates and philanthropies come together to collaborate, connect and create a global marketplace that is environmentally, socially and economically sustainable.

For the past three decades, the Walton Family Foundation has invested in conservation solutions that make economic sense. The foundation is focused on tackling one of the major threats to our oceans – overfishing – by identifying sustainable, locally-managed solutions that lead to more sustainable fisheries and more vibrant communities. By empowering local fishermen and communities, setting fishing quotas based on reliable science, and harnessing the market to incentivize sustainable seafood, the foundation is working to bring together conservation groups, businesses and communities to restore the health of oceans for the long term.