GLOBAL - Oceana has been awarded a $3 million grant from the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation. The grant will aid efforts to protect threatened ocean habitat and keystone marine species in the Pacific and Arctic Oceans.
“Protecting our planet’s oceans and the marine species that call it home is one of the most pressing sustainability crises facing humanity today and a moral imperative that we must acknowledge,” Mr DiCaprio said.
“It is my hope that this grant will help Oceana continue the tremendous work that they do daily on behalf of our oceans.”
The Pacific and Arctic Oceans contain some of the most productive marine ecosystems in the world. From seamounts off of Chile to Alaska’s Aleutian Islands, protecting these ecosystems is critical if we want healthy oceans brimming with edible seafood.
“The net impact will be a much more abundant and biodiverse ocean that has many millions more sharks and critical and amazing marine animals,” said Oceana CEO Andrew Sharpless. “Wilder and more pristine ocean habitats and oceans can feed over a billion people—many of them hungry—a healthy seafood meal each day.”
Mr DiCaprio’s grant will also support Oceana’s work to advocate for responsible fishing measures, including the effort to ban drift gillnets in California. Fishermen use these mile-long nets to catch swordfish and thresher sharks. But gillnets also catch and kill large numbers of other marine animals, including sperm whales, gray whales, dolphins, sharks, sea turtles, elephant seals, and sea lions.
Oceana recently received hundreds of photos of animals caught and killed by this destructive gear, after filing a Freedom of Information Act request with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Spread over a three-year period, the $3 million from the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation is the first marine conservation grant made following the foundation’s 11th Hour Charity Auction hosted at Christie’s last year.
“We are incredibly grateful to our friends at Christie’s who made last year’s 11th Hour Auction for the foundation such a success, they made this grant to Oceana possible,” said Justin Winters, Executive Director of the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation.
“We are excited to support Oceana’s efforts to win real policy change and protection for vital habitats and species throughout the Pacific and Arctic Oceans.”
“Christie's is proud to support both the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation and Oceana in their fundamental work to make our planet a better place,” said Steven Murphy, Chief Executive Office of Christie’s. “It was an honor for Christie’s to host the Foundation’s 11th Hour Charity Auction and, as we were delighted with the result achieved, so we are thrilled that it could facilitate this grant to Oceana, funding such important endeavors to preserve our oceans.”
To learn more about the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation visit: www.leonardodicaprio.org.
TheFishSite News Desk