Philanthropists fund innovative fisheries tech projects, Call for applicants

Former CEO of Google and other philanthropists call for grant applicants for new fisheries projects. Deadline May 20.

by | March 31, 2022

Filed Under Environment

Primary focus: data collection, bycatch reduction, improved monitoring

Tuesday, March 29, 2022


SAN FRANCISCO—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 organization announced today. The effort is
also being funded by two anonymous philanthropic groups.

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 involve politics, human
behavior, and information deficits,” said Mark Schrope, director of Schmidt Marine Technology
Partners. “But we believe that some of these challenges can and should be addressed through
improved technologies.”

New tools can improve sustainability


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.”

Priority for projects in earliest stage of development


In recent years, there has been a rise in ocean technology investors. But whether 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 advance to 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 fund 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.


Projects wanted that can be applied in multiple regions

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.

Primary focus of projects includes:


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 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.


Rather than outline specific projects, Schmidt Marine’s goal is to connect with groups already
working in these areas or on technologies that might be repurposed as solutions to fisheries
problems. Members of an advisory panel and additional outside experts will review proposals.


The ideas that will rank highest will be market-based solutions that are impressively creative
but also economically viable, reflecting a clear understanding of the barriers to, and
opportunities for, wide voluntary adoption.

Details about how to apply for the new funding initiative are available at schmidtmarine.org.

Initial applications are due by May 20, 2022. Applications are welcome from any country.
Recipients of the funding will be announced in November 2022.

For additional information please email media@schmidtmarine.org.

About Schmidt Marine Technology Partners
Schmidt Marine Technology Partners was established in 2015 as a program of The Schmidt
Family Foundation to support scientists, engineers and entrepreneurs in developing technologies
that restore ocean health. The Schmidt Family Foundation was established in 2006 by Eric and
Wendy Schmidt to restore a balanced relationship between people and planet by partnering
communities around the world in working for renewable energy, resilient food systems, healthy
oceans and the protection of human rights. Eric Schmidt is the former CEO of Google.

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Tagged as: grants

About Laine

Laine Welch has covered the Alaska fish beat for print and radio since 1988. She also has worked “behind the counter” at retail and wholesale seafood companies in Kodiak and on Cape Cod.

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