Dear friends of the ocean and other members of The Ocean Foundation Community, 

I am pleased to present our Annual Report for Fiscal Year 2017 (1 July 2016 to 30 June 2017) – our 15th year!  

Highlighted in this report is our continued focus on increasing the global capacity to understand and address the challenge of ocean acidification (OA), potentially the biggest threat to ocean health and thus to all life on earth. Looking back at the year’s work, we can see how The Ocean Foundation has supported making progress on both the science to understand, and the policy to address, this threat.  Our team has provided workshops to train scientists in the science and monitoring of ocean acidification in the coastal waters of African nations, offered OA governance opportunities for US states, and added to the global OA conversation at the first-ever SDG 14 “Ocean Conference” at the United Nations in New York in June 2017. 


We are also making the case for dynamic boundary and species management in an era of rapid change.  From our work to protect migratory pathways for whales, to our leading the drafting of the Sargasso Sea Stewardship Plan, and through our partnerships and hosting of the High Seas Alliance, we are building the case for this proactive, predictive framework to be included in the Biodiversity Beyond National Jurisdictions, a new UN legal instrument under negotiation. 

Our Seagrass Grow program (and its blue carbon calculator for offsets to our community’s travel and other activities) continues to provide funds for restoration of seagrass meadows.  And, we continue to support the growth of ocean-friendly businesses through our work to help define the new Blue Economy, and to foster and expand the dialogue about the seafood sustainability through our SeaWeb Seafood Summit and Seafood Champion Awards program.  More than 530 attendees joined the June Seafood Summit in Seattle, and we are planning for even more at the 2018 Seafood Summit in Barcelona next June. 

Our community sees the threats and embraces solutions that honor the needs of the ocean and the life within, knowing that a healthy ocean supports the economic, social, and environmental well-being of human communities, and, in fact, all life on earth. The managers of our 50 hosted projects, and our many grantees all work to implement solutions based on sound scientific principles and smart strategies. Our donors seek out ways to support the best projects in the most effective ways, tailored to the community, regional, or global need to be addressed.  

It would be great if I were writing this in the context of certainty for the continued improvement of the human relationship with the ocean and with the continued growth in understanding of the urgency of helping island nations and coastal communities do their best to manage ocean resources sustainably even as storms grow more intense. The scientific journals and the daily news share headlines alike showcase the consequences of not addressing greenhouse gas emissions, limiting single use plastics, and imperfect enforcement that allows the decline or even loss of species such as the Vaquita porpoise. Solutions depend on strong collaboration based on the broad array of well-founded scientific recommendations and well-tested strategies for governance and management of human activities. 

Over and again, from American fisheries to whale populations to surfers and beachgoers, science-based policy has moved the needle forward towards ocean health. It is past time for our community to help everyone remember just how important it is.  Hence, in FY17 we ramped up our Marine Science is Real campaign to stand for science, for those who devote themselves to research and to teaching science, and for the continued emphasis on using the best science we have to implement solutions to the problems human activities have created in the ocean. 

The ocean provides our oxygen, tempers our climate, and provides hundreds of millions of people with food, jobs, and life. Half the world’s population lives within 100 kilometers of the coast. Ensuring the well-being of human communities and the life within our ocean means focusing on the greater good, the longer view, and the prevention of short-term economic gain that carries permanent harm to ocean health. It is a continuing battle. 

We haven’t won yet. And, we are not about to give up. Persistence, hard work, integrity, and passion are our community’s recipe for success.  With your continued support, we will make progress.

For the ocean,
Mark J. Spalding, President

Full Report | 990 | Financials