This is part 1 of a 4-part series intended to invite conversations in advance of our planned end market demand analysis for groundfish in California. The larger goal is to provide quantified end market data to inform profitable value chain investments that will positively impact harvesters, local communities and the ocean. Read more
“What do you do?”
The big picture, easily digestible, non-jargon answer: We’re trying to figure out how to make it possible for impact investors to work with fishermen to continue catching fish from our oceans, make money doing so, and still have enough fish for future generations.
The buzzword, jargon answer: We’re using value chain based analysis to determine constraints preventing impact capital from flowing to triple-bottom line SMEs in fisheries.
After that question has been settled with a degree of satisfaction, the natural follow-up question is, “Yes, but WHAT do you do?”
The big picture, simple answer: We use readily available data to give us an idea of how big a fishery is in terms of volume and value and what the important markets are for the fishery. This way we can figure out the most important parts of the fishery and focus our efforts there.
The more in-depth answer: We use readily available data to characterize the value chain flows, and we use interviews, scientific papers, and previously published reports to identify opportunities and constraints within the value chain.
Not often asked directly, is the question of “Why?” Why are you doing this? Why is it important?
Millions of people rely on fish as their primary source of protein, and billions more benefit from having fish in their diet. A healthy ocean is a great asset to all of us.
We also think it’s a great challenge. How do you quantify risk for a resource you can’t see and where the capriciousness of weather dictates when you can and can’t fish? The multitude of stakeholders adds another layer of challenge: harvesters, processors, distributors, retailers, restaurants, consumers, multiple levels of government plus the local communities, NGOs, and more. Considering the nature of fisheries and the plethora of stakeholders, it’s no wonder that this sector can be overwhelming for financial institutions to explore.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, we want to see fisheries investments done well. No one benefits from short-sighted projects that may do more harm than good. If the fishery isn’t properly managed, improving the logistics of the supply chain will just lead to overfishing. We know that ensuring appropriate management safeguards are implemented is one of the keys to sustainable fisheries.
Building off our analysis in New England, Mexico and Indonesia, we sought to understand the value chain dynamics impacting ground fish harvesters in California.
Unlike many of the fisheries we’ve reviewed, the West Coast groundfish fishery in California is a management success. Of the 90 plus species managed by the Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery Management Plan, the management council currently considers only five overfished, and classifies each of these species as “rebuilding.” In 2014, the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certified 13 trawl-caught species and the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program rated 21 trawl caught species “Green, Best Choice” or “Yellow, Good Alternative.” This is a significant change from 2000 when the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) declared the fishery a national disaster.
Despite this significant ecological progress, fishing and conservation communities continue to share concern about the long-term economic sustainability of the fishery, particularly as the fishermen continue to bear management costs that have increased over the past 5 years. Our assessment identified a number of operational inefficiencies in the value chain that are hurdles to increasing the market value of seafood from this fishery; as long as the product is undervalued, the fisherman will struggle economically.
Wilderness Markets invites eligible market research firms to respond to a Request for Proposals (RFP) intended to develop and improve end market research of the recovered West Coast ground fish fishery in California. The ultimate goal of the research is to improve the economic value of products from this fishery.
With a specific focus on the California ITQ ground fish fishery, the selected firm will be expected to identify and quantify the current key channels of distribution for fishery products by species, and provide insight and recommendations into optimum channels of distribution based on product and species. The nature of this market means that primary research is anticipated.
This research is intended to provide current and new market participants, as well as potential investors, with the needed quantifiable data related to opportunities in the groundfish market in order to make sound investment decisions.
Firms are requested to submit their proposals, detailing their technical approach, timeline and budget based on the RFP by December 18, 2015. Following a selection process, the successful firm is expected to present results by the middle of April 2016.
This work is being developed and implemented with the support of the David and Lucile Packard Foundation.
Participation in this RFP does not constitute an agreement or award, nor does it obligate the organizers to award a contract or to engage any party. The organizers reserve the right to change, modify or cancel this RFP at any time prior to a contract award.
Download the RFP
West Coast Groundfish Regional Market Demand and Opportunities
West Coast Groundfish Regional Market Demand and Opportunities explores the market demand for U.S. West Coast groundfish in Oregon, Washington, and California. We examine how much whitefish West Coast commercial buyers purchase; what potential there is to sell sustainable, U.S. West Coast groundfish in these regional markets; and how fishermen can increase the price per pound that they receive for their fish.
Learn more about our findings: Executive Summary, Wilderness Markets & Changing Tastes, West Coast Groundfish Regional Market Demand and Opportunities