Check Out Rockefeller’s Ocean Grants – They’re Getting Bigger

The Rockefeller Foundation is a relative newcomer to the world of ocean and coastal grantmaking. In June 2012, the foundation began looking into the problem of declining ocean health and assembling a portfolio of grants. A year and a half later, the foundation has an Ocean & Fisheries program with a portfolio that’s growing – both in the number of its grantees and the size of its grants.

The Rockefeller Foundation (see IP’s profile) began making Oceans grants in 2012. These first exploratory grants (filed under “Oceans-Search” by the foundation) were initially in the range of $50,000-$150,000 in size. Recipients included the Wildlife Conservation Society, the University of East Anglia, the Conservation International Foundation, and The Nature Conservancy. The grants tended to focus on the relationship between marine conservation and poverty, having a human development focus. In this phase, Oceana also received a grant for $375,000 to develop partnerships for fisheries policy reform in Asia and Latin America.

Since then, the Rockefeller Foundation has solidified its Ocean & Fisheries program and has started giving out grants for much larger sums of money. Oceana was a big winner once again, receiving a $2 million grant towards the end of 2013. This grant will go toward two studies identifying policy and subsidy reform options to stop the global decline in fish stocks and help vulnerable small-scale fishers. Other big winners in 2013 include the Dalberg Global Development Advisors and the University of Rhode Island. Dalberg received over $890,000 to develop strategies for smallholder fisheries. The University of Rhode Island received over $550,000 for its Coastal Resources Center to coordinate lessons learned from Foundation grantees on the over-exploitation of fisher resources.

The Rockefeller Foundation’s Ocean & Fisheries program is currently focusing on ecosystem-based management for local fisheries, preventing further ecosystem damage while preserving the livelihoods of fishers, and creating solutions that recognize the full value of marine environments. However, the program is still new and just kicking off. What the foundation learns in 2014 will likely affect future grantmaking – this is certainly a program to keep an eye on.