Environment: Marine Conservation Strategy

The Oak Foundation

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Grant amount: More than US $25,000

Deadline: Rolling

Applicant type: Organizations

Funding uses: Education / Outreach, Research, Project / Program

Location of project: Anywhere in the world

Location of residency: Africa, Europe, Eastern Asia, Canada, Finland Show all

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About this funder:



Environment Program: Marine Conservation Strategy

Maintaining the health of the oceans is critical for the future of people and the planet. Yet, our oceans are suffering from the compounding threats of overfishing, pollution and climate change.

In the Environment Programme, our marine strategy for 2016 to 2020 takes a solutions-based approach to reversing this trend and to improving oceans’ health. It focuses on three key sectors: industrial fishing, small-scale fisheries and plastics pollution. 

Our strategy builds on past successes and sets in motion cutting-edge initiatives that: promote sustainable development; contribute to the integrity of marine ecosystems; and enhance the wellbeing of coastal and indigenous communities.

Industrial fisheries

Addressing the depletion of the world’s fish stocks and the loss of fishing livelihoods lies at the heart of our investments in fisheries management. Making large-scale, industrial fishing environmentally sustainable will ease pressure on developing countries, revitalise coastal fisheries and enhance the wellbeing of local communities.  

A cornerstone of our industrial fisheries work is the elimination of illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing by distant fleets in developing country waters. Doing so requires documenting and disclosing these incursions as well as on stronger regulations in both industrialised fishing countries and developing countries, particularly West Africa, whose waters are being exhausted. Significant efforts, in partnership with civil society, will be made to help strengthen international fishing regulations in East Asian countries.

Eliminating overfishing also requires ecologically sustainable fisheries policies. Much can be done by supporting compliance of the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy, especially in the areas of sustainable fishing levels, human rights, equity and impact on the environment.

Small-scale fisheries

Small-scale fisheries represent a marine resource of global significance. Millions of coastal and indigenous people around the world depend on small-scale fishing to meet their food security, cultural and economic needs. Yet this livelihood is under threat from poor fisheries management, large-scale resource development pressures and industrial fishing.

These threats are particularly critical in the Arctic and North Pacific, where four million inhabitants are largely dependent on wild fish and marine mammal resources. People in this region have to cope with the compounding effects of globalisation and climate change, as well as with regulatory structures that don't meet the demands of a warming world.

Communities dependant on small-scale fisheries are also facing similar challenges. We support organisations that reduce the magnitude of large-scale industrial development of the oceans by promoting the international agreements that protect the environment and sustainable livelihoods, as well as improving the management and regulations of fishing and shipping.

Key to the success of small-scale fisheries is the involvement of local communities in their own resource management. Therefore, we pay particular attention to the social dimension of coastal resources.

Plastic waste

Between 4 and 12 million metric tonnes of plastic waste finds its way into the oceans every year (to put it into perspective, an elephant weighs one metric tonne!). This waste, if washed ashore, would cover every inch of the world’s coastline.

We believe a forceful response to cleaning up our oceans by 2025 can reduce these numbers by nearly a third. Research is an essential component of that response but most advances will come from shifting mindsets that consider it acceptable to dump plastic into the ocean. We are therefore working with businesses, non-governmental groups and other funders to find solutions.

Civil society is particularly well placed to raise awareness around waste and exert pressure on authorities to regulate the most harmful plastic varieties, making the development of robust non-governmental organisations and campaigns an essential pillar of our strategy.

The export of hazardous plastics to developing countries requires urgent reversal, and these countries also need support to modernise their own plastics collection and recycling methods. All this will require vigorous advocacy, especially with industrial producers of unrecoverable plastics.

By drastically reducing the leakage of plastic debris into the ocean, the health and integrity of marine ecosystems will be reinforced and, it is hoped, restored.

Funding Principles

We are committed to:

  • addressing root causes;
  • Supporting realistic and solutions-based strategies and objectives;
  • putting in place the enabling conditions required for an influential and diverse civil society;
  • working through others, particularly NGOs;
  • working in partnership with grantees and other foundations;
  • leveraging resources, taking risks and catalysing broad-scale change; and
  • taking a longer-term approach

You can learn more about this opportunity by visiting the funder's website.


  • We support organisations based in Europe, the Arctic, East Asia and Africa.


  • We do not provide support to individuals, and do not provide funding for scholarships or tuition assistance for undergraduate or postgraduate studies.
  • We also do not fund religious organisations for religious purposes or election campaigns. 
  • Except in special circumstances, we generally do not provide programme grants under USD 25,000.