Large companies have started their own corporate sustainability programs. These might involve buying more sustainable materials, putting restrictions on building projects, or partnering with large organizations like the World Wildlife Fund. But not many of these programs really work at a grassroots level. That’s where Rare comes in.
The conservation non-profit brings conservation efforts to the places untouched by these corporate supply chains. For example, the organization’s latest project is an initiative called Fish Forever.
Fish Forever aims to help small-scale fishing operations in five countries — Belize, Brazil, Indonesia, Mozambique and the Philippines. These fishing businesses often only have one or two boats or fish directly from the coast. So for a large corporate program to find and work with them would be a huge undertaking.
But supporting these fishing operations is extremely important to the people in those areas. The small-scale, near-shore fishing businesses in these countries account for about half of all fish caught. And most of their fish is consumed domestically. But the fisheries are often unmanaged, overexploited, or otherwise in need of some assistance. So both the fishing businesses and the people in their communities are in need of help to maintain them.
John Mimikakis, who oversees oceans programs at Environmental Defense told The Guardian:
“That’s an environmental crisis and a humanitarian one because so many people depend on these small-scale fisheries for their nutrition and their livelihood.”
Fish Forever works by designating community fishing areas along particular stretches of coast, where local fishing operations get exclusive fishing rights. There are also typically marine reserves nearby, so that others cannot disrupt the marine life, giving fish a chance to recover and regenerate themselves. This means more fish for the independent fishing businesses to catch and provide to their communities. It also encourages locals to adopt water conservation practices because they know they will reap the benefits of doing so. Mimikakis said:
“The goal is to come up with a system that aligns human needs with environmental needs. We’ve seen time and time again that when you get the incentives right – when fishermen actually believe they will be able to catch fish tomorrow – they really do become strong stewards of the resource.”
So while clearly not a large-scale operation, Fish Forever is just one example of a program that was built with a foundation of sustainable practices. Where corporate sustainability programs try to make an existing company more environmentally friendly, this type of initiative was formed with those ideals from the get-go. And they might be able to sustain themselves and the environment more effectively in the long run.
Image: Fish Forever