Earth Journalism Network offers grants for journalists to report on fisheries in the Caribbean

I recently attended a webinar organized by the Earth Journalism Network (EJN) on a topic that I needed to understand more deeply, because it truly is critical for the future health of our Caribbean Sea, and the much-touted “Blue Economy” in the Caribbean. The discussion coincided with World Oceans Day (June 7). Like many thorny environmental issues, it is complex – but cannot be ignored, as it threatens lives, livelihoods, and our ecosystems.

This is the question of Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated fishing (described with the acronym “IUU”) that is rampant in the region and across the globe and also impacts our region. What causes it – and why is it getting so bad that it has to be addressed through the World Trade Organization (WTO)? Well, at the heart of the issue is the government subsidies that allow huge fishing fleets to travel half way round the globe to (literally) steal fish in foreign seas. This article by a third-generation angler points to some of the culprits (a number of countries are involved) and also tries to suggest solutions. It seems to me these will be long-term and fraught with challenges, but we’ve got to start somewhere.

China is…not simply failing to control their fishermen, they’re promoting overfishing and spending an astronomical sum of money to make it happen. In fact, in 2018, they spent $7.2 billion to support the crime of overfishing. This country alone makes up 21% of the entire world’s subsidies.

This country and many others are fishing at biologically unsustainable levels. Take the Pacific bluefin tuna for example. This species alone has seen a 97% drop in population. 

The Ocean’s Silent Killer: Breaking Down Overfishing by Coty Perry. Published by Inter Press Service.
Argentinian coast guard footage of a vessel said to be the Lu Yan Yuan Yu 010 from China, which was sunk by Argentina’s coast guard. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images

The photo above is from back in 2016…but the problem continues around Argentine waters in 2021, with hundreds of fishing vessels, more than half of them Chinese, “going dark” to avoid detection through their Automatic Identification Systems.

An empty sea would spell disaster for us humans. Currently, people’s livelihoods in communities from India to Jamaica and everywhere in between are being threatened. Action is needed!

Now, EJN is offering reporting grants to Caribbean journalists to support the production of in-depth stories that will call attention to fisheries subsidies issues, both at a large and small scale. Please see full details below.

The deadline is July 13, 2021 and late applications will not be considered!

Overview: Every year, governments around the world spend US$22 billion on subsidies for the fishing industry –disbursing funds for gear, operating costs, upgrades, construction projects and more. As fishing vessels become more efficient and technologically advanced with the help of these subsidies, they catch increasingly large numbers of fish – more fish than the ocean can replenish. 

The Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that a third of fish stocks are currently fished at unsustainable levels. This not only affects the biodiversity of the ocean, but also has an outsize impact on small-scale fishers in coastal and island communities who rely on their fish catch to support their families.  

Many international organizations have recognized the role marine subsidies have played in the current overfishing crisis facing the world’s oceans, including the World Trade Organization, which is currently undergoing talks to develop an international agreement on subsidy reform.  

Our past work on these issues has focused specifically on India, where $277 million in subsidies is provided annually but is often not distributed equitably between large-scale, mechanized vessels and small-scale subsistence ones. Grantees produced many stories investigating possible subsidy reform policies, conservation plans, equity issues and more in coastal India.  

Now, to call attention to fisheries subsidies issues more globally, we are offering small grants with funding from The Pew Charitable Trusts to support journalists around the world in reporting on the effects of marine subsidies and the potential solutions.  

Industrial trawlers have drastically affected fish stocks and marine life, and also pose an existential threat to traditional fishing communities. Photograph: Pierre Gleizes/Greenpeace

Story themes 

We welcome any story ideas on fisheries subsidies, including their links to overfishing and the depletion of fish stocks, their impact on small-scale fishers and livelihoods in coastal communities, the potential policy solutions governments could implement and more. 

Proposals that focus on topics or stories that have not been widely covered are preferred. Issues that have already received a lot of media coverage or don’t provide unique angles to environmental challenges are less likely to be selected. 

Eligibility 

Applicants can be from any country in the world, and a few grants will be given out to journalists working on fisheries subsidies issues globally, but preference will be given to journalists reporting from the regions that are the key focus of this project. They are: India, the Caribbean, West Africa, Southern Africa and Japan. 

For the purposes of this grant opportunity, we are accepting applications in English, French, Spanish and Portuguese. We have selected these languages because of our staff capacity and these languages’ ability to be machine translated effectively. Applications written in a language other than these will not be considered. Applicants should either have a working understanding of English or have a translator available to assist with communication with Internews staff.  

Applications are open to journalists working in any medium (online, print, television, radio) and other expert media practitioners with investigative reporting experience and a history of covering environmental issues. We encourage applications from freelance reporters and staff from all types of media organizations – international, national, local and community-based. 

We are seeking to support both early-career and senior journalists with many years of reporting experience. We’ll accept both individual and group applications, but for the latter we ask that the application is made in the name of one lead applicant who will receive the grant on the group’s behalf, if awarded. 

Story approach & format 

We expect to award 20 grants with an average budget of around $1,000, depending on the proposal and needs outlined in the budget submission. We will consider larger grant amounts for stories using innovative or investigative approaches that may be more costly and time-consuming. But smaller grant requests for stories that are still compelling will have an advantage. 

We plan to issue grants in late July, with the expectation that all stories will be published by the end of October at the very latest. Applicants should consider this timeline when drafting their workplan. 

All applicants are required to provide a detailed budget with justification for the amount requested using the template provided below. We have not set a specific amount for each grant because we are asking you to consider what you’ll need to do this type of reporting. We do ask that the budgets be reasonable and account for costs necessary for reporting, such as travel and accommodation. We expect that stories will be produced with equipment applicants already have access to (including cameras, drones, lighting, tripods, etc.) and will not consider budgets that heavily focus on procuring new supplies or devote a large amount to applicants’ salaries. 

We encourage reporters to follow best practices for COVID-19 when out in the field so you do not endanger yourself or the people you’re interviewing. If needed, you should include any COVID-related costs, such as tests or personal protective equipment, in your budget.  

Stories can be produced in any language. However, applicants who intend to write or produce stories in their local language need to also include an English translation. Please include the cost for translation in the budget, if necessary. 

Those who are awarded grants are free to publish or broadcast their stories first in their affiliated media as long as EJN and the grant funder, The Pew Charitable Trusts, are also given rights to edit, publish, broadcast and distribute them freely. Freelance reporters should demonstrate a plan for publication or broadcast, and all applicants are encouraged to provide a letter of interest from their editor. 

Judging criteria 

Applicants should consider the following points when devising their story proposals. 

·       Relevance: Does the proposal meet the criteria and objectives of the call? Why does this story matter and to whom? Is the main idea, context and overall value to the target audience clearly defined? 

·       Angle: If the story has been covered, does your proposal bring new insights to the topic or offer a fresh angle? 

·       Impact: Does the proposal have a compelling narrative or investigative element that will inform and engage, draw attention, trigger debate and urge action? 

·       Innovative storytelling: The use of creative approaches, multimedia and data visualisation will be considered a plus. 

Application process 

  1. Click the ‘Apply now’ button at the top of the EJN page. 
  2. If you have an existing account, you’ll need to log in. If not, you must register for an account by clicking “Join the Network” on the top right of the page. 
  3. If you start the application and want to come back and complete it later, you can click ‘Save Draft.’ To return to the draft, you’ll need to go back to the opportunity and click ‘Apply now’ again to finalise the application. 
  4. Applications should provide a detailed budget with justification for the amount requested. Download the budget template now by clicking on this link. We expect that proposals will largely reflect what equipment the applicant already has access to (including cameras, drones, lighting, tripods, etc.) and will not consider budgets that heavily focus on procuring new supplies. We will consider some costs for the reporters’ salary, particularly if the applicant is a freelancer, but this should be a small portion of the total budget. Please include the cost for translation, if necessary. Please also note on your budget form if you are receiving funding from any other donors for the story. 
  5. You must submit two samples of stories or links to relevant work. You’ll be asked to upload these once you start the application process so please get them ready beforehand. 

If you encounter difficulties with submitting your application or have questions about the grants, please email info.ejn@internews.org. Do not contact any other Internews email regarding this opportunity, as we will not receive it.  

Applications submitted after the deadline will not be considered. 


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