Pacific Life Foundation awards grants to reduce bycatch and improve fishing processes

Published on
September 11, 2017

Four nonprofit groups devoted to marine conservation and ocean preservation causes will receive a total of USD 2 million (EUR 1.7 million) in grants from the Pacific Life Foundation to help them fund various environmental endeavors.

Two organizations will receive funding to help them reduce the amount of bycatch taken in during fishing seasons. The World Wildlife Fund will use its grant award to help develop and push emerging technologies, including lights designed for use with gillnets. WWF leaders plan to work with both fisheries and officials to promote technology they believe can save marine life.

“Ensuring our marine ecosystems are healthy and resilient is the core of ocean conservation,” WWF Vice President of Ocean Policy Michele Kuruc said. Kuruc added the WWF also looks forward to pushing for policy changes that lead to protecting marine life.

In addition to helping Oceana persuade American fisheries to utilize science-based management measures, the grant funding will also help the organization restore the populations of small fish that are part of the food chain for larger fish, marine mammals, and birds. Funds will also be used to prevent bottom trawling in a 100,000-square-mile area off the West Coast.

“With these funds, Oceana will work to win victories for our oceans, campaign for policies that will protect whales, dolphins, sharks, and turtles from entanglement in fishing gear and promote responsible fishing in the United States,” Oceana CEO Andy Sharpless said.

The Nature Conservancy plans to use its grant money to help develop a real-time ocean information system in California. The organization will also focus on the development of decision making tools for ocean managers and the fishing industry.

“The Pacific Life Foundation funding will directly support our programs in California's fisheries as we invest in technology, innovative gear, and fishing practices that protect marine life such as whales and sea turtles while creating more resilient fisheries,” said Michael Bell, director of the California Coastal and Marine Program at The Nature Conservancy.

In addition, Ocean Conservancy will use its share of the funding to promote ocean trash awareness, cleanup and protection. Among its effort in that endeavor will be to recruit one million volunteers for Coastal Cleanup Day.

The funding will be split evenly among the four groups, with the foundation distributing the USD 500,000 (EUR 417,000) over a five-year period starting later this year.

The awards continue a commitment the foundation has toward oceanic conservation causes. Over the past 25 years, it has awarded more than USD 14 million (EUR 11.7 million) in grants for marine initiatives.

“We feel it’s critical to support these agencies in their work to protect ocean health and marine mammal life,” Pacific Life Foundation President Tennyson Oyler said.

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