SPPA Post Doctoral Fellow Laurenne Schiller and Professor Graeme Auld along with co-authors Megan Bailey, Hekia Bodwitch and Hussain Sinan published “Evaluating the roles and reach of philanthropic foundations in sustainability efforts for tuna” in Conservation Science and Practice, Volume 5, Issue 5, May 2023.
Tuna fisheries provide over 5 million tonnes of seafood annually to the global market but have historically raised conservation concerns due to weak management measures and impacts on non-target wildlife. The focus of the first environmental awareness campaigns in seafood focused on dolphin bycatch in tuna fisheries in the 1980s. Since then, the sustainable seafood movement has evolved considerably, with philanthropic foundations playing a key role as agenda-setters and funders of work carried out by non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Here, we used tuna as a case study and investigated how three US foundations and associated NGOs have affected tuna fisheries reform through two primary pathways: advocacy for improved fishery management at intergovernmental meetings, and engagement with fishing companies in fishery improvement projects (FIPs). We found a total of USD 28.65 million was allocated to tuna-related work from 2013 to 2021. While each foundation had different funding profiles, 65% of all grant funds were directed to two key priority areas: market leverage and RFMO advocacy. Further, almost 60% of all funding was allocated to only three NGOs, all of which are central actors at RFMO meetings, and which are collectively engaged in over 85% of all tuna FIPs (by volume). We reflect on how this concentrated funding relates to the overarching sustainable seafood agenda of these foundations and provide recommendations to ensure financial support and objectives remain transparent and do not perpetuate inequities between tuna fishing countries. Read full online article