The global fishing industry provides food to 3.1 billion people, generates $150 billion in income, and employs 57 million people.
All of that is at risk, however, if current trends like climate change, pollution, and overfishing continue unchecked.
Bloomberg Philanthropies wants to keep the oceans healthy and is announcing $86 million in grants this week for countries that closely depend on marine life.
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Through its campaign “Vibrant Oceans,” the nonprofit will be working with 10 countries, including the US, Fiji, Indonesia, Peru, and Chile. This latest effort is building on the campaign’s launch in 2014, when $53 million was disbursed to three countries. Both the Philippines and Chile were selected for both rounds.
“Our work on oceans has shown that, when a combination of national advocacy and local leadership is backed by data, we can make great progress improving the health of our oceans and improving lives around the world,” she added.
The first phase of Vibrant Oceans sought to promote evidence-based conservation practices and restore endangered fisheries.
The second phase will build on that work and expand to cover improving transparency in the global fishing industry and protecting coral reefs from going extinct.
Over the past several years, marine heat waves caused by climate change have exposed coral reefs around the world to extreme bleaching events, forcing the coral to expel nutrient-giving symbiotic organisms and turn bone white. By 2050, more than 90% of coral could die.
Coral reefs are also harmed by a variety of other factors including pollution and massive trawling nets from commercial fishing vessels.
Bloomberg will be working with coral-adjacent countries to reduce coastal pollution and call on governments to restrict the use of trawling nets, according to the Guardian.
“Climate change is the long-term threat to ocean health, so we are focusing on building reef resilience by examining two near-term threats – destructive fishing practices and pollution,” Melissa Wright, oceans program lead at Bloomberg Philanthropies, told the Guardian.
“We will be working with small-scale fishermen and conservation groups to create marine protected areas in the region,” she said. “We’ll also seek to prevent pollution from coal plants along the coast to prevent them dumping hot water and pollution onto the reefs.”
The nonprofit plans to collect seeds from 50 coral areas so that the most-damaged reefs in the world can be repopulated, according to the Guardian.
Further, partner organizations will be working with small-scale fisherman to improve practices, mobilize for greater protection, and employ sophisticated fishing technology that can reduce overfishing.
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Marine conservation has taken on greater urgency in recent years as the full scope of the threats facing the oceans has become more apparent.
Globally, around 7% of the world’s oceans are protected in some way from fishing, tourism, extractive industries, and more. The Union of Concerned Scientists believes that 30% of the world’s oceans should be protected by 2030 if ocean ecosystems are to survive in the decades in ahead.
When pressures are removed from marine areas, the life within quickly rebounds, Bloomberg Philanthropies found. The three countries first targeted by Vibrant Oceans saw a 390% increase in biomass after protections were enacted.