Oceans 5 is an international funders collaborative that supports projects and campaigns to eliminate overfishing and to establish more marine protected areas (MPAs) towards the goal of protecting 30% of the oceans by 2030. Oceans 5’s mission is to provide tangible and lasting benefits to the world’s oceans and to the communities that rely upon them. Since its inception, the initiative has disbursed millions of dollars in funding to 33 projects across all five oceans and has been successful both in shifting global policy around the governance of oceans and developing new marine reserves.
Recently Oceans 5 work has led to improved seafood traceability in the United States and the initiation of formal international negotiations to conserve high seas biodiversity through an implementing agreement to the Law of the Sea. Their grant to the Global Oceans Commission created new high-level voices for conservation. Commissioners have spoken on behalf of several Oceans 5 priorities including illegal fishing, Antarctic MPAs and high seas protection, and this important work will continue in partnership with Virgin’s Oceans Unite program.
In the African region, Oceans 5 was instrumental in the creation of the second largest marine reserve in the Indian Ocean following the historic Seychelles debt-for-nature swap, which forgave a significant portion of the country’s debt in exchange for an expansive chain of marine protected areas in one of the most biodiverse marine habitats on Earth.
In the South Pacific, as a result of an Oceans 5 grant supporting community consultation in the Cook Islands, an existing marine reserve was doubled from a 1.1million square kilometer area in the southern portion of its exclusive economic zone (EEZ) to the entire 2.2 million square kilometers.
In Latin America, the completion of a new radar facility in Cocos Island, Costa Rica, has fostered great interest and collaboration among many government institutions, resulting in a more than 50/50 investment match by the Costa Rican government to date. And in Nicaragua, an MPA proposal in San Juan del Sur now has significant community and political support and designation seems likely by the end of 2017.
In North America, Oceans 5 supports an initiative working alongside the Inuit communities to create a network of marine reserves between Canada and Greenland in Canada’s Northwest Passage, home to thousands of Inuit living in ancient communities who have rich spiritual connections to the land and sea. The Oceans 5 grant supports the Northwest Passage Arctic Marine Habitat Initiative in the creation of a network of marine protected areas from the Beaufort Sea to Baffin Bay. These areas were identified by Inuit to sustain the Arctic fish, bird and mammals upon which they rely. This innovative project will help shape the century ahead, as melting sea ice opens this once ice-locked region into a productive economic area.