Oceana, the largest international organization focused solely on ocean conservation, has received a $3 million grant from the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation for its work to protect marine species such as sharks and threatened habitats in the Pacific and Arctic Oceans.
“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,” DiCaprio said in a press release. “It’s my hope that this grant will help Oceana continue the tremendous work that they do daily on behalf of our oceans.”
Distributed over the course of three years, DiCaprio’s donation will aid the organization’s work—from Chile to Alaska—to preserve important ecosystems and marine habitats. It will also help support Oceana’s campaign to ban drift gillnets off California’s coast, in order to protect marine animals such as dolphins, whales, and turtles from being caught and killed as “bycatch.”
According to Oceana, gillnets indiscriminately catch and kill large numbers of non-targeted marine animals including sperm whales, gray whales, dolphins, sharks, sea turtles, elephants 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,” Oceana’s CEO Andrew Sharpless said in a statement. “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 healthier oceans that can feed over a billion people a healthy seafood meal each day. We will need this resource as the human population continues to grow.”