MoFo Impact Team Advises on Innovative Fisheries’ Conservation Transaction

Innovative FisheriesThe MoFo Impact Team recently advised the Martha’s Vineyard Fishermen’s Preservation Trust, a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt entity (MVFPT), with respect to a sustainable fisheries impact investment. With key guidance from the MoFo Impact Team on investment structure and mission preservation and assistance from Catch Together, a nonprofit program of Trust for Conservation Innovation focused on empowering and increasing investment into local fishing communities, MVFPT closed on three separate program-related investment loans from non-profit investors focused on environmental conservation, enabling MVFPT to acquire a scallop permit and quota for nearly a million dollars.

MVFPT was formed in 2011 as a non-profit organization with the mission of preserving Martha’s Vineyard’s cultural fishing heritage and local economy, along with increasing control over local natural resource management. In recent years, local fishermen in Martha’s Vineyard have faced increased barriers to entry in their industry and barriers to access the local fishing grounds in New England. These barriers come in the form of well-meaning regulation of overfishing, but have the practical effect of pricing out many small or individual fishing operations due to the high costs of purchasing fishing permits or leasing fishing quotas from existing permit holders.

MVFPT aims to build a “permit bank” and acquire a diversified set of local fisheries permits and quota that will then be leased at subsidized rates to local fisherman – particularly those who agree to adopt sustainable fishing practices that seek to end overfishing and reduce adverse habitat impacts. The acquisition of the scallop permit and quota is a key step in expanding MVFPT’s permit bank and helping it fulfill its mission of preserving Martha’s Vineyard’s local environment and economy.

The MVFPT transaction builds on the MoFo Impact Team’s substantial experience with fisheries’ conservation work. Recently, MoFo attorneys assisted the California Fisheries Fund (CFF) by negotiating loans offered by CFF to small fishing businesses and advising on issues relating to the California Finance Lenders Law. CFF is a nonprofit organization (and a program of the Environmental Defense Fund) that lends money to small fishing businesses to achieve environmental conservation, improved profitability for the industry, and stability for port communities.

Over the past several years, MoFo has also supported local fishing communities in California and Alaska and worked on several other fisheries’ conservation matters, including matters of the Community Fishing Association of San Francisco, the Community Fishing Association of Bodega Bay, the San Francisco Crab Boat Owners Association, The Nature Conservancy, and the State of Alaska.