Happy Ocean Month!
Mark J. Spalding, President of The Ocean Foundation
The Ocean Foundation community is far flung. Its members include advisors and advocates, field managers and philanthropists, students, teachers, and others in diverse fields. Never have we all gathered in one place, yet we are connected by an affection for the ocean, a commitment to improving its health, and a willingness to share what we know to help others make good decisions. In turn, good decisions help make the most of the limited financial resources that support ocean conservation.
Over the course of the past few days, I was reminded of how important that ocean investment advice can be. An individual who appeared to have a valid project to restore a reef on a Caribbean island approached one of our partners. Because we’ve supported projects in the same area, the partner turned to us to find out more about the individual and the project. In turn, I reached out to the members of our community best suited to provide scientific advice about a project on a reef in the Caribbean.
The help was freely given and instantaneous for which I am grateful. Even more grateful for our due diligence is our partner. Within a very short time, it became clear that this was not a good match. We learned that the photos on the website were not real—in fact, they were of a different project in a wholly different location. We learned that the individual had neither permits nor permission to work on any reef on the island, and, in fact, had been in trouble with the Ministry of Environment before. While our partner remains eager to support viable, valid reef restoration and protection efforts in the Caribbean, this project is clearly a bad investment.
This is just one example of the help we provide with both internal expertise and our broader network’s willingness to share what they know as well. We share a common goal of ensuring that the investments in ocean health are the best they can be—whether the question is scientific, legal, or financial in its origin. The resources that enable us to share our in-house expertise derive from our Ocean Leadership Fund, but the community’s human resources are as important, and they are priceless. June 1 was “say something nice” day—but my gratitude for those who work so hard on behalf of the coasts and ocean emerges every day.