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Oceana: Nonprofit Spotlight

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the ocean holds around 97 percent of our planet’s water. It’s the life force that supports all of the Earth’s flora, fauna, and nearly 8 billion people. Protecting it is imperative, a key component of ensuring a safe planet long-term.

Per a 2019 United Nations report covered in The New York Times, climate change is “heating the oceans and altering their chemistry so dramatically that it is threatening seafood supplies, fueling cyclones and floods and posing profound risks to the hundreds of millions of people living along the coasts.”

With this in mind, we’re glad to shine a light on a nonprofit doing important work to protect the planet’s largest and most vital resource (with a fitting name to boot): Oceana.

What is Oceana?

Oceana is a nonprofit “exclusively to protect and restore the oceans on a global scale.” With offices around the globe, the organization is “dedicated to achieving measurable change by conducting specific, science based policy campaigns with fixed deadlines and articulated goals.” Oceana also works on preserving marine habitats, stopping overfishing, and ending plastic pollution of the ocean.

Oceana History

Oceana’s founding was a cumulative, collaborative effort of several major foundations: the Pew Charitable Trusts, Oak Foundation, Marisla Foundation, Sandler Foundation, and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund. These groups commissioned a study in 1999 that “discovered less than 0.5 percent of resources spent by environmental nonprofit groups in the United States went to ocean advocacy.”

To address this gap, the respective leaders of these organizations united and founded Oceana, an international organization focused solely on protecting the oceans. Additional groups folded into Oceana in subsequent years to support the nonprofit’s efforts, including the Ocean Law Project to serve as “the legal arm” of the organization (both were kicked off by Pew Charitable Trusts) in 2001, and actor-environmentalist Ted Danson’s American Oceans Campaign in 2002. 

Oceana: Nonprofit Spotlight Image 1
Oceana’s Board of Directors

How Oceana Gives Back

Save the Oceans, Feed the World

This campaign focuses on restoring biodiversity of fish to create a sustainable long-term source of protein, working in collaboration with countries that “control the world’s fish catch.” The goal of the campaign is to “increase the global fish catch by up to 15 percent from current levels… rebuild ocean biodiversity and abundance and be able to feed a billion people a healthy seafood meal each day.” 

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Save Oceans, Feed The World

Responsible Fishing

In order to facilitate the process of restoring biodiversity and enabling a sustainable seafood source for the future, Oceana is also working on implementing overfishing limits through work with policy makers. Beneficial overfishing reforms have already developed in Chile, and Oceana is actively working with European countries to “increase European fish populations by as much at 40 percent and become a net exporter of seafood one day.”

Ending Single-Use Plastics

Another component of Oceana’s ongoing work is eliminating plastic pollution from the ocean. Plastic pollution from land to sea, which the nonprofit estimates at 17.6 billion pounds every year, negatively affects the ocean ecosystems and directly harms marine life. It entanges turtles or is eaten by fish after breaking into other pollutant-attracting pieces. Oceana “campaigns in eight countries and the European Union to achieve meaningful reductions in ocean plastic pollution by reducing the production and use of throwaway plastics.”

Impact and Future Plans for Oceana

Oceana has been making waves in their ocean protection efforts. Since the organization was founded, “Oceana has won more than 225 victories and protected nearly 4 million square miles of ocean.” Some of their more recent achievements include: 

  • Pausing offshore drilling projects in the United States
  • Protecting deep-sea coral areas in the Gulf of Mexico
  • Stopping seismic airgun blasting in Atlantic Ocean, a method of searching for oil reserves that consistently harms marine life
  • Making fisheries data in Brazil public information
  • Phasing out single-use plastic in Belize

In addition, Oceana has ongoing efforts in protecting endangered marine wildlife species and promoting renewable energy and the elimination of fossil fuels.

How to Support Oceana

Oceana encourages its supporters to engage in myriad ways.

Through organizations like Oceana and our shared efforts, we can protect the oceans and extend a safer planet for generations to come.

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