Marine body to bolster activities

The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), a charity set up by WWF and Unilever, will embark on a huge expansion of its trading and fundraising activities over the next five years in Northern Europe, the US and Australia.

The international charity, which has offices in Sydney and Seattle, plans to raise £10 million over the next three years through its first formal fundraising campaign, targeting corporate and high-value donors.

It also plans to grow income by getting more restaurants, retailers and food chains around the world to put its MSC brand, the only international eco-label for sustainable fishing, on their products.

The charity received funding of £500,000 for the first two years of its existence, but since 1999 it has had to survive on its own through a mixture of trading income, corporate donations and income from charitable trusts.

The new fundraising campaign is branded Sea into the Future, and aims to make the marine stewardship agenda more accessible, said Georgina Bassford, international development director.

"Like other charities, we want to be on a stable financial footing,

she said. "But talking about marine stewardship of the oceans can get a bit heavy and long-winded. Sea into the Future is designed to be more digestible to people not involved in the seafood business."

More than 70 per cent of its funding comes from the US, explained Bassford, and the charity wants to increase the amount of donations it gets from the UK and Northern Europe.

MSC has commissioned consultants to carry out research into which high-value donors to target. Many of these donors will be in senior positions in companies, said Bassford, and MSC hopes that as well as being convinced to give on a personal level, they may open doors to corporate fundraising partnerships.

"We've identified people who might have an interest in the sustainability of the sea - people who eat seafood or people who dive, for example,

she said.

In the long term, the organisation expects its brand to grow in value as more and more products carry its logo, which is currently on 80 products in 10 countries.

The aim is for logo licensing, consultancy services and merchandise to cover core costs and keep the charity self-sufficient, said chief executive Brendan May.

"The aim is to make conservation more profitable and to provide incentives for companies to change. Our logo is our strongest weapon and, in the long term, it will allow the charity not just to survive but to grow,

said May.

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