Fish Banks

Fish Banks


The oceans provide hundreds of millions of jobs and hundreds of billions of dollars to the world economy, in addition to invaluable and irreplaceable functions such as oxygen production, climate regulation, carbon sequestration and as a source of food. However, climate change, overfishing and pollution are devastating the oceans at an unprecedented rate, at the current global consumption rates of fish, depleting ocean life at a planetary scale, diminishing the ability of the ocean to provide the above essential ecosystem functions, and causing job and economic losses globally. If current  global consumption rates of fish continue, global fisheries are projected to collapse by 2050.

YGL Response

The Fish Banks initiative works to create a new business model for ocean conservation, through self-sustaining marine reserves that pay for themselves, restore fish stocks, create jobs, and turn a profit. The general fish banks business model has been developed.

Key Accomplishments

Major contribution to the Global Redesign Initiative Report. Was able to increase the amount of protected oceans. The Fish Banks idea was featured recently in the “Harvard Business Review’s list of Audacious Ideas for Solving the World’s Problems” where YGL Enric Sala, co-founder of this initiative, shared that “when areas ofthe ocean are left to recover from over fishing, the results are impressive. The number of marine species in fish banks increases by 21%, on average, and the fish grow to be 28% bigger, according to data on 124 reserves in 29 countries. The amount of fish per hectare increases 166%, on average, and fish biomass keeps rising for more than 25 years. There are spillover effects, too. Because of the higher biomass and higher reproduction rates inside a fish bank, adjacent areas often get rejuvenated.”

Next Milestones

- Development of financial risk and economic models pointing to the benefits of marine protected areas
- Doubling of the marine protected area of Costa Rica
- Commitment from Mediterranean political and business leaders to help protect at least 10% of the Mediterranean – Monaco leader summit, February 13-14
- Commitments from Seychelles and Kiribati to expand protection in their waters
- Commitments from additional countries towards 20% by 2020
- Roll out of a new business model, developed in 2011, which allows local communities to develop and run their own fish banks – with private investment or public-private partnerships.

- In the fall of 2012, the fish banks model will be submitted for publication in peer-reviewed and popular publications, followed by a media outreach campaign to be replicated and localized. Despite not having been publicized internationally yet, the concept has already attracted a great deal of attention, and the Fish Banks task force is helping to start implementation to scale for impact in the Philippines (in collaboration with two Global Shapers), Timor Leste, and Turkey.


Enric Sala and Kristin Rechberger

More Information – Harvard Business Review, January 2012 – Forbes, February 2012


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