About Oceana

Oceana’s Mission – Biodiverse and Productive Oceans

Oceana’s mission is to protect and restore the world’s oceans. We work to ensure that the oceans are biodiverse, resilient and able to feed the billion people worldwide who depend on seafood for their sustenance. We launch targeted, science-based policy campaigns in the select number of countries that control most of the world’s wild catch. Our approach works – Oceana wins concrete victories for the oceans that increase their productivity and protect their biodiversity. Oceana is the world’s largest international organization focused solely on ocean conservation and has offices in North America, Europe, Chile, and Belize.

The Problems Our Oceans Face

The oceans cover 71 percent of the globe and provide an essential source of protein for nearly half the people of the world and jobs for over 200 million people. They power local economies throughout the world, provide recreation for millions of people, and generate tourism that is important to the economy of many coastal nations. They play a fundamental role in controlling the global climate. The health of the oceans is therefore directly tied to the health of our planet, our food, and our economic security.

The U.N. Food and Agricultural Organization reports that 80 percent of seafood species are overexploited, fully exploited or recovering from depletion. This has consequences not just for the people who rely on the ocean for animal protein; marine predators like dolphins are also at risk when they can’t find enough food to eat.

Risking a Critical Food Source When We Need It the Most

The Earth will be home to 9 billion people by 2050, and we are risking the healthiest, cheapest and most potentially sustainable source of protein by mismanaging our wild seafood. A billion people already depend upon fish for their primary source of animal protein, many of them in the world’s poorest countries.

We can put the right policy measures in place, turn around depleted and fisheries and provide needed food for a hungry world while also preserving the biodiversity of ocean ecosystems. It is possible to feed nearly 700 million people a daily seafood meal in 2050 if we take the necessary actions to save our wild fish stocks. The oceans are an invaluable resource for humankind – one that we can’t afford to squander, especially as our planet becomes increasingly crowded and hungry.

Oceana’s History and Approach to Achieving Practical Solutions

Oceana was founded in 2001 by a group of leading foundations – including Marisla Foundation (then Homeland Foundation), Sandler Foundation, Oak Foundation, and The Pew Charitable Trusts – concerned that, though the oceans constitute 71 percent of the earth’s surface, an extremely small percentage of environmental funding was directed toward ocean conservation.

Recognizing that the bleak outlook for the world’s oceans required more concerted and proactive initiatives, Oceana was created with the goal of weaving together science, law, advocacy, grassroots organizing, and media/communications to bring about policy changes that address the most urgent problems confronting the earth’s marine environment.

Many of the most serious threats to the oceans can be addressed with solutions that already exist. Sustainable fishing follows a clear policy pattern: establish science-based quotas, protect habitat and reduce bycatch.

We know this method works. It has already seen success in replenishing numerous seafood species, from rockfish on the U.S. East Coast to jack mackerel in Chile to cod in Norway’s North Sea.

Our approach is to develop targeted campaigns that are designed to achieve clear, identifiable policy changes and ‘in the water’ results, usually within three to five years. To move us toward our multi-year goals, we set annual goals, taking advantage of any political opportunities or openings. We commit only to goals that we believe we have a reasonable chance of achieving within the year, and we endeavor to apply available resources prudently in order to be the most effective. In just a decade, Oceana has won dozens of targeted policy victories around the world to stop overfishing, limit bycatch and protect habitat.  

We accomplish our goals by using all five skill sets at our disposal: science, law, advocacy, grassroots organizing, and media/communications, to bring about policy changes that address the most urgent problems confronting the marine environment. Our staff includes marine scientists with years of expertise studying marine issues, working alongside our highly experienced legal team, seasoned advocacy team, media and communication professionals, and others.

We believe in the importance of science in identifying problems and solutions. To ensure that our work is scientifically based and warranted, a large portion of our campaign staff is scientifically trained, we have well-established connections with ocean scientists around the world, and Dr. Daniel Pauly, one of the world’s preeminent marine biologists, sits on our Board of Directors.