Gateway's Ted Waitt Backs Marine Protected Areas

Ted Waitt, the founder of Gateway, has a soft spot for the world's oceans. He's been working hard on ocean conservation since retiring from his computer hardware company in 2005. The Waitt Foundation has awarded more than $11 million toward worldwide ocean conservation efforts since 2009, with a particular emphasis on supporting and enlarging marine protected areas (MPAs). Waitt's recent MPA work includes establishing two new MPAs off of Argentina and expanding the Cabrera National Park off of Spain.

Marine protected areas are an important conservation tool that helps manage parts of the ocean. MPAs can regulate fishing, establish permitting systems, and prevent destructive practices. These practices lead to more fish, healthier ecosystems, and better habitats. Waitt believes in the importance and effectiveness of MPAs and has invested part of his fortune into furthering their use. (See IP's profile of Ted Waitt.)

In 2013, the Wildlife Conservation Society helped create two new MPAs on Argentina's Patagonia coastline with the help of funding from the Waitt Foundation. The Isla Pingüino Coastal Marine Park and the Makenke Coastal Marine Park will help protect sea lions, penguins, dolphins, and other marine and coastal species.

The Waitt Foundation also has played an important role in helping Oceana expand the Cabrera National Park off of Spain to protect rich seagrass beds and coral reefs in the region. Part of the Cabrera Archipelago, to the south of the island Majorca, the park is located in the autonomous community of the Balearic Islands. In expanding the Cabrera National Park, Oceana hopes to ban bottom trawling to protect a seabed filled with interesting marine life. The MPA expansion is expected to help whales, dolphins, corals, and even carnivorous sponges endemic to the area.

The Waitt Foundation focuses solely on ocean conservation and explicitly names MPAs as one of its focus areas. Ted Waitt has been called one of America's 50 top most generous philanthropists, so grantees in the ocean conservation field should keep an eye on this tech billionaire. According to the Waitt Foundation, efforts focusing on fisheries, collaborations with partners, and raising public awareness of ocean issues are eligible for grants. Applications can be made online.