Fisheries Innovation Fund 2017 Request for Proposals

Pre-Proposal Due Date:   Thursday, May 25, 2017  by 11:59 PM  Eastern Time
Full Proposal Due Date:   Monday, July 31, 2017  by 11:59 PM  Eastern Time


The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) will award grants to foster innovation and support effective participation of fishermen and fishing communities in the implementation of sustainable fisheries in the U.S. We anticipate awarding approximately $650,000 through this solicitation.
The program seeks to support fishermen and communities as they work to meet the sustainable fisheries goals of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Reauthorization Act of 2006, including provisions to help: 1) rebuild overfished stocks, 2) sustain fishermen, communities, and vibrant working waterfronts, 3) promote safety, fishery conservation and management and 4) promote community and economic benefits.

Successful proposals will develop and carry out innovative approaches that:

  1. Promote full utilization of Annual Catch Limits and minimize bycatch of overfished species and/or endangered, threatened and candidate species;
  2. Support improvements to recreational fisheries conservation and management;
  3. Develop and implement market, research, training or strategic planning measures to build capacity and improve sustainability of U.S. fishing businesses and communities;
  4. Improve the quality, quantity and timeliness of fisheries-dependent data used for science, management and fishermen’s business purposes. This priority is expected to be addressed through a separate RFP under the Electronic Monitoring and Reporting Grant Program.
The Fisheries Innovation Fund was created through a partnership with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), with additional support from the Walton Family Foundation.


The Fisheries Innovation Fund is a national program and will consider proposals for innovations in all U.S. fisheries, both commercial and recreational. Projects aimed at implementing proven innovations at-scale will be given priority if they occur within four fisheries:  1) New England groundfish fishery, 2) West Coast groundfish fishery, 3) Gulf of Mexico Reef Fish fishery and 4) Gulf of Alaska groundfish fisheries.


Proposals submitted to the Fisheries Innovation Fund should address one or more of the program priorities listed below. In addressing these priorities, projects may seek to either: 1) develop or pilot innovative ideas or 2) implement a proven innovation at-scale.
Competitive proposals will implement proven innovations that are positioned to impact a significant portion of the fleet and/or multiple fishing communities. When applicable, such proposals will focus on the diffusion, adoption and application of innovative strategies. All proposals should address the conservation benefits of the project, which will likely refer to the sustainable use and/or recovery of the target fishery/ies. Monitoring change over time will be a key aspect to project proposals.
1. Innovations in Bycatch Reduction:
  • Develop bycatch reduction initiatives that enhance opportunities for fishermen to fully utilize annual catch limits. This may include innovative, collaborative approaches such as bycatch hotspot mapping or risk pooling, which allow fishermen to continue to harvest while reducing impacts on protected, overfished and non-target species and their habitats.
    Proposals to develop and implement strategies to reduce bycatch through gear innovations should consider applying to the NOAA Bycatch Reduction Engineering Program.
2.  Innovations in Recreational Fisheries:
  • Improve monitoring and assessment strategies that are consistent with the priorities and complement research projects of the NOAA Fisheries Marine Recreational Information Program including, but not limited to, innovative dockside surveying methods and other mechanisms to help improve the quality and efficiency of gathering data.
  • Address current needs identified by the recreational sector through the NOAA Fisheries National Saltwater Recreational Fisheries Policy Implementation Plan including, but not limited to:  Development of needed innovations in science and management; studies that quantify recreational release mortality rates and the effects of conservation-based methods to reduce release mortality; empowering anglers as resource stewards; and management approaches that may better support recreational fisheries. The Regional Recreational Fisheries Implementation Plans may also be utilized in identifying specific regional needs.
  • Expand the uptake and adoption of best management practices in recreational fisheries. Such projects will seek to effect the social and cultural components of broad-level utilization and acceptance of conservation-oriented tools, techniques, and behaviors among anglers.
3. Innovations in Capacity Building:
  • Build the capacity of individual fishermen and/or sectors to improve the sustainability, economic viability, and efficiency of fishing businesses and communities. This may include assisting fishermen to generate more diverse, consistent, and stable incomes over the short and long term; requests for support to access technical assistance; and requests for business planning expertise.
  • Support implementation of innovations that help retain access to fisheries resources by fishermen in local communities.  This may include the establishment of Regional Fishing Associations (as defined by the Magnuson Act), community trusts, community fishing associations or permit or quota banks.
  • Develop community sustainability plans and business plans that support the financial stability of communities. This may include building capacity for communities to organize the sharing of information among fishermen, fishing communities, scientists and others.
  • Develop viable processes to promote inter-generational fishery access and entry level access into the fishery. This may include building capacity for next generation fishermen to participate in the fishery management process.
  • Facilitate market innovations, such as differentiated product and forward contracting marketplaces. This may include projects that diversify revenue, create value-added products or develop new markets for underutilized species.
  • Develop strategies to improve seafood traceability within the supply chain in order to expand market opportunities.
Electronic Monitoring and Reporting:
Through the first four years of the Fisheries Innovation Fund, a wide range of projects focused on testing and piloting different aspects of electronic monitoring and reporting in fisheries across the U.S. In 2017, as in 2015 and 2016, projects focusing on electronic monitoring and reporting should apply under the separate Electronic Monitoring and Reporting Grant Program, which will prioritize funding for implementation of regional-scale electronic monitoring and reporting strategies. Projects developing or piloting electronic monitoring and reporting technologies may be eligible for funding if they demonstrate a high likelihood of effectively addressing current management or science needs. Questions should be directed to the Program Manager, Melanie Sturm (


To better gauge progress on individual grants and to ensure greater consistency of project data provided by multiple grants, the Fisheries Innovation Fund has a list of metrics in Easygrants for grantees to choose from for reporting. We ask that applicants select only the most relevant metrics from this list for their project (all possible program metrics are shown in the table below). If you do not believe an applicable metric has been provided, please contact Melanie Sturm ( to discuss acceptable alternatives.
Example Project Activity Recommended Metric Additional Guidance
Example project activities are given for demonstration purposes only and are not meant to be inclusive of all activities that could be associated with a given metric. Metrics available in the Easygrant full proposal application. Please review the additional guidance carefully to determine if a given metric is appropriate for your project.
Maximize fishing opportunities Fishing Season - # of days Number of days open to fishing within the regular season
Implement market or operational innovations to increase profit of fishing businesses Change in Economic Benefits - % profitability Percent of revenue represented by profit (profit/total revenue)
Generate outreach or educational materials Outreach/Education/Technical Assistance - # people reached Number of people reached by outreach, training, or technical assistance activities.
Provide incentives and/or information to support bycatch reduction (or other behavioral changes) Outreach/Education/Technical Assistance - # people with changed behavior Number of people demonstrating a minimum threshold of behavior change. This metric should only be chosen if the project has clear methods to define and measure behavior change.
Promote job creation via the development of new fishing businesses and/or support for new entrants Economic Benefits - # of jobs created Number of jobs created as a direct result of the project
Build institutional capacity to support full-time employment Building Institutional Capacity - # of FTE with sufficient training Number of staff or full-time equivalents with sufficient training and skills to engage in conservation activities. Examples of institutions may include fishing associations, permit banks, community-based fishing businesses, or non-profits.
Participants agree to, and comply with, an incentive agreement (e.g. fishing association, permit bank, bycatch avoidance network, cooperative, etc.) Participants complying with their incentive agreement - # participants in compliance Number of participants complying with an incentive agreement developed through the project
Implement innovative tool to assist participants in decision-making (e.g. tools to support traceability, bycatch reduction, quota management, information sharing, business planning, marketing, etc.) Tool development for decision-making - # tools developed Number of tools developed or implemented through the project
Develop community sustainability plan Management or Governance Planning - # plans developed Number of plans developed with input from multiple stakeholders. Examples of types of plans may include community sustainability plans, business plans, etc.
Implement bycatch avoidance and/or reduction strategy Reduction in bycatch - # of individuals saved Number of tons of fish saved through bycatch reduction strategies
Implement program to provide accurate monitoring data for catch reporting, supply chain traceability, bycatch reporting, etc. Monitoring - # monitoring programs Number of monitoring programs to be implemented or established
Implement program to provide accurate monitoring data for catch reporting, supply chain traceability, bycatch reporting, etc. Monitoring - # vessels in monitoring program Number of vessels directly engaged in monitoring program(s)
Implement strategies to effectively trace seafood through the supply chain Monitoring – tons traced through supply chain Number of tons of seafood traced through the supply chain
Develop innovations to increase harvest efficiency within fishing businesses Fishing effort – Catch per unit effort Catch per unit of fishing effort


Eligible and Ineligible Entities
  • Eligible applicants include non-profit 501(c) organizations, state government agencies, local governments, municipal governments, Indian tribes, educational institutions, businesses, and international organizations.
  • Ineligible applicants include U.S. Federal government agencies and unincorporated individuals.

Ineligible Uses of Grant Funds

  • NFWF funds and matching contributions may not be used to support political advocacy, fundraising, lobbying, litigation, terrorist activities or Foreign Corrupt Practices Act violations.
  • NFWF funds may not be used to support ongoing efforts to comply with legal requirements, including permit conditions, mitigation and settlement agreements. However, grant funds may be used to support projects that enhance or improve upon existing baseline compliance efforts.


The Fisheries Innovation Fund will award approximately $650,000 in grants for the 2017 funding cycle. The majority of awards under this program will fall in the range of $50,000 to $200,000, although upper or lower limits to award size are not specified. Matching contributions (both cash and in-kind) must equal or exceed a rate of 0.5:1 (50% of the award amount). Grant proposals with higher match rates may be more competitive. Applicants will be prompted to include information on other sources of funding for the project in the application section entitled “Matching Contributions.” Project periods may run for up to two years.


All proposals will be screened for relevance, accuracy, completeness, and compliance with NFWF and funding source policies. Proposals will then be evaluated based on the extent to which they meet the following criteria.
Program Goals and Priorities – Project contributes to the Program’s overall conservation goals, and has specific, quantifiable performance metrics to evaluate project success. Project addresses one or more of the program priorities outlined in the Request for Proposals.
Technical Merit – Project is technically sound and feasible, and the proposal sets forth a clear, logical, and achievable work plan and timeline. Project engages appropriate technical experts throughout project planning, design, and implementation.
Transferability – Project has potential and plan to transfer lessons learned to other communities and/or to be integrated into government programs and policies.
Communication – Project includes a detailed plan to communicate information about the project to appropriate audiences.
Funding Need – The project establishes a clear need for the funds being requested, and demonstrates that activities would not move forward absent funding.
Conservation Plan and Context – The project advances an existing conservation plan or strategy.
Monitoring – The project includes a plan for monitoring progress during and after the proposed project period to track project success and adaptively address new challenges and opportunities as they arise.
Long-term Sustainability – The project will be maintained to ensure benefits are achieved and sustained over time. This should include how future funding will be secured to implement necessary long-term monitoring and maintenance activities.
Past Success – Applicant has a proven track record of success in implementing conservation practices with specific, measurable results.
Partnership – An appropriate partnership exists to implement the project and the project is supported by a strong local partnership that leverages additional funds and will sustain it after the life of the grant. Identify proposed partners, if known (including potential or contemplated subawards to third party subrecipients of the applicant), the roles they will play in implementing the project, and how this project will build new or enhance existing partnerships.  (Note: a project partner is any local community, non-profit organization, tribe, and/or local, state and federal government agency that contributes to the project in a substantial way and is closely involved in the completion of the project.)
Match – Matching contributions (both cash and in-kind) must equal or exceed a rate of 0.5:1 (50% of the award amount). Grant proposals with higher match rates may be more competitive.


Budget – Costs are allowable, reasonable and budgeted in accordance with NFWF’s Budget Instructions cost categories.  Federally-funded projects must be in compliance with OMB Uniform Guidance as applicable (OMB Uniform Guidance).
Procurement – If the applicant chooses to specifically identify proposed Contractor(s) for Services, an award by NFWF to the applicant does not necessarily constitute NFWF’s express written authorization for the applicant to procure such specific services noncompetitively.  When procuring goods and services, NFWF recipients must follow documented procurement procedures which reflect applicable laws and regulations. 
Publicity and Acknowledgement of Support – Award recipients will be required to grant NFWF the right and authority to publicize the project and NFWF’s financial support for the grant in press releases, publications and other public communications.  Recipients may also be asked by NFWF to provide high-resolution (minimum 300 dpi) photographs depicting the project.
Receiving Award Funds – Award payments are primarily reimbursable.  Projects may request funds for reimbursement at any time after completing a signed agreement with NFWF.  A request of an advance of funds must be due to an imminent need of expenditure and must detail how the funds will be used and provide justification and a timeline for expected disbursement of these funds.
Compliance Requirements – Projects selected may be subject to requirements under the National Environmental Policy Act, Endangered Species Act (state and federal), and National Historic Preservation Act.  As may be applicable, successful applicants may be required to comply with additional Federal, state or local requirements and obtain all necessary permits and clearances.
Federal Funding – The availability of federal funds estimated in this solicitation is contingent upon the federal appropriations process. Funding decisions will be made based on level of funding and timing of when it is received by NFWF.


Dates of activities are subject to change.  Please check the Program page of the NFWF website for the most current dates and ​information, including a link to the webinar(Fisheries Innovation Fund). 
Applicant Webinar May 9, 3-4pm, Eastern
Pre-Proposal Due Date May 25, 11:59pm, Eastern
Invitations for Full Proposals Sent June 29
Full Proposal Due Date ​July 31, 11:59pm, Eastern
Review Period September 1 – November 10
Awards Announced    By November 17


All application materials must be submitted online through National Fish and Wildlife
Foundation’s Easygrants system.
  1. Go to to register in our Easygrants online system.  New users to the system will be prompted to register before starting the application (if you already are a registered user, use your existing login).  Enter your applicant information.
  2. Once on your homepage, click the “Apply for Funding” button and select this RFP’s “Funding Opportunity” from the list of options.
  3. Follow the instructions in Easygrants to complete your application.  Once an application has been started, it may be saved and returned to at a later time for completion and submission.


A PDF version of this RFP can be downloaded here.
A Tip Sheet is available for quick reference while you are working through your application. This document can be downloaded here.
Additional information to support the application process can be accessed on the NFWF website’s “Applicant Information” page (
For more information or questions about this RFP, please contact:
Melanie Sturm
(202) 595-2438

For issues or assistance with our online Easygrants system, please contact:
Easygrants Helpdesk
Voicemail:  202-595-2497
Hours:  9:00 am to 5:00 pm ET, Monday-Friday.
Include:  your name, proposal ID #,  e-mail address,  phone number,  program you are applying to,  and a description of the issue.

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