International ocean conservation organization Oceana has announced a three-year, $3 million grant from the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation in support of its efforts to protect threatened ocean habitat and marine species and advocate for responsible fishing methods.
The grant funds, which were raised during an auction hosted by Christie's last year, will support Oceana's efforts to preserve ecologically important ocean areas, from the south of Chile to the north of Alaska, as well as an advocacy campaign to ban the use of drift gillnets off the California coast. Typically a mile long in diameter, gillnets targeting swordfish and thresher sharks indiscriminately catch and kill large numbers of "bycatch" species, including sperm whales, gray whales, dolphins, other sharks, sea turtles, elephant seals, and sea lions.
"The foundation and Leo's support for campaigns like our efforts to ban the drift gillnets in California will help Oceana win more protections for countless sharks and other marine animals and for ocean habitats in the Pacific and Arctic — which include some of the most productive ocean places in the world," said Oceana CEO Andy Sharpless. "The net impact will be a much more abundant and biodiverse ocean that has many millions more sharks and critical and amazing marine animals, wilder and more pristine ocean habitats, and oceans that can feed over a billion people — many of them hungry — a healthy seafood meal each day."
"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," said DiCaprio. "It's my hope that this grant will help Oceana continue the tremendous work that they do daily on behalf of our oceans."