The ability of marine ecosystems and species to capture carbon ("blue carbon") is essential to climate change adaptation and mitigation. Mangroves and salt marshes, for example, remove carbon 10 times faster (and store five times more of it) per acre than tropical forests. SOA supports coastal communities in sustainably managing these vital ecosystems.
Grantee Photo: Carbon Ethics (Indonesia)
Fish provide 3.3 billion people with 20% of their animal protein—and up to 10% of people worldwide rely on fishing for their livelihood. Supporting fisheries science, policy, and innovation will allow fish and fishing communities to adapt and survive climate change.
Grantee Photo: Ocean Purpose Project (Singapore)
Ecosystem & Species Conservation
Deep sea and shallow coral ecosystems support oceanic food webs and as they cycle and store key nutrients and minerals. But the average annual increase of 1.5°C will destroy 70-90% of all coral reefs.
Grantee Photo: Cape Eleuthera Institute (Bahamas)
Education & Research
40% of humans live within 100km of the ocean. The world needs as many people as possible to connect to the ocean, understand it, and protect it using the latest tools and science.
Grantee Photo: Dive into Marine Science (Gambia)
Waste Reduction & Circularity
Each year, 418 billion pounds of plastic ends up in our ocean. Cleanups are critical, but systemic change requires behavior shifts that reduce plastic use—and eventually, production.
Grantee Photo: Ailars David (SOA Tanzania)
Grants Impact To-Date
160,354 kg pollution removed
4,505 tonnes C02 sequestered
204,722 people participating directly
Sailing from France to California to document and promote local solutions to regenerate marine ecosystems, focusing on Blue Carbon and CO2 emissions avoidance.
Ahead of the voyage, this project will be using social media platforms and partnerships to create educational material to raise awareness around Blue Carbon. Ten percent of all funds received will go towards the restoration of coastal habitats with local partners that are visited throughout the journey.
Leader: Louise-Oceane Delion, 27
Gazi Bay, Kenya
Mikoko Pamoja was the first community-led project to protect and restore mangroves through the sale of carbon credits totaling 2,000 tonnes annually.
Mikoko Pamoja plants 4,000 mangrove seedlings (Sonneratia Alba) annually, which capture carbon and serve as a carbon credit. Changes to the sites from human development and climate change have made it so that typical mangrove planting no longer works. SOA grants support them in piloting the Riley Encasement Technique, an innovative replanting method, in a bid to rehabilitate mangroves in the denuded high energy intertidal areas of Gazi bay. And instead of encasing seedlings in plastic they use clay pots.
The carbon through storage and avoided deforestation totals 2,000 tonnes annually, as certified by ACES.
Carbon Ethics researches and restores coastal ecosystems through planting of mangroves and seagrass, sequestering over 2.5 tonnes of metric carbon.
Additionally, 50 people will be trained in sustainable bee keeping, with the aim of empowering them to generate revenue from the sale of honey and related goods, and 130kg of trash will be removed from Msimbazi River.
Fisheries & Aquaculture
Ecological Restoration in the Yangtze Estuary
The natural coastline of the Yangtze Estuary has been seriously degraded, which has caused great damage to the important fishery habitat and affected the function of the ecological barrier in the Yangtze Estuary.
In view of the aggravation of erosion of salt marshes in the Yangtze Estuary caused by global climate change and human activities, we plan to propose ecological restoration measures to maintain the habitat diversity of estuarine wetlands, so as to provide support for sustainable fishery output.
Leader: Sikai Wang, 35
IUU Fishing Solutions Hackathon
SOA Ecuador is organizing a virtual hackathon for the oceans (#HackathonPorElOceano). This national contest seeks to bring university students together in search of the two best solutions to unsustainable/IUU fishing.
Participants will receive mentoring by marine science experts and professionals along the way. Projects have the opportunity to be selected and certified by the esteemed design thinking firm, Design for Change.
Leader: Janice Márquez de la Plata Molina, 27
Pollution Remediation & Aquaculture
Pasir Ris, Singapore
OPP installs lines of mussels around floating fishing farms (“kelongs”) to remediate the effects of algal blooms caused by pollution. They are piloting creating a bioplastic from seaweed.
Watch their video
Ecosystem & Species Restoration
Kiabu Reef Restoration
25 year old Dennis and his team work with managers of the Anambas Islands Marine Tourism Park, a new management area made up of five small islands, to develop their regional marine management plan.
Their goal is to: 1. Re-establish fish habitat and help to restore fish populations by providing artificial reefs of 40 coral spiders; 2. Increase the percentage of coral cover by transplanting 500 corals at restoration sites, and 3. Become a model of community-based conservation activities on small islands in Anambas.
Ocean Leader Jeremy Raguain (27), in partnership with YPAC and SOA’s Campaign Against Deep Seabed Mining, produced a documentary interviewing experts in the Seychelles about what the deep sea is and why it’s essential to understand and conserve it via a moratorium on mining.
Coral Lok Tech
Shelby Thomas is the 25 year old founder of Ocean Rescue Alliance, and organization dedicated to developing modules upon which corals can be “outplanted” to restore coral reefs and serve as critical breakwaters to prevent coastal erosion and flooding.
With SOA support, they’ve constructed and tested 3 different structure types outfitted with 250 coral receivers, and have deployed 1200 Coral Lok Bases, outplanting 6,000 coral.
Waste Reduction & Circularity
Mymizu (“mizu” is water in Japanese) provides a free water refill platform that connects people to 200,000+ locations globally where they can refill their water bottle, instead of buying bottled water.
A large part of Mymizu's mission is education on the oceans & the plastic problem; they carry out workshops and awareness-raising activities at schools, universities & events (70+ times in the past 7 months to 5000+ people), as well as create digital content (e.g. infographics/videos) to engage people on social channels.
With SOA funds, they have developed fun, educational materials for Mymizu volunteers and community members to carry out their own workshops across Japan, enabling them to reach significantly more people through localized and volunteer-led workshops (both online and/or in-person).
Gambian youth removed 12 tonnes of trash along River Gambia (Barra to Kartong) and raised awareness (especially among those who travel on the river ferry) about the effects of riverine and marine pollution through radio programs and surveys.
Gambia Ocean Heroes is a service-learning project under the GREAT Institute created in 2018. Apart from clean up activities, the GOH supports local communities and organizations to take the lead in efforts towards promoting ocean health and reducing plastic pollution. Since 2018, GOH has collected 350 tonnes of trash along The Gambia’s coastline and is excited to expand this effort to rivers.
Saathi provides compostable menstrual products for women to reduce the estimated 113,000 tonnes of menstrual product waste generated annually in India. They conduct workshops, produce content like blogs and videos, and distribute free pads to raise awareness and use.
All blogs produced with support from this microgrant:
1. Banning single use plastic in India
2. Plastic in menstrual products
Read more about Saathi here.
Education & Capacity Building
Project TransforMar works with youth and low income students to provide online marine biology classes and take them on scuba-diving excursions to bring the ocean to life for them. They are also producing a documentary.
Check out their website.
La Academia is a Spanish language ocean literacy course created and led by the youth of SOA Peru. Over 20 countries were represented by the 225 students and 30 expert lecturers that participated across 3, 8-week seminars.
SOA Ghana leader Gideon Sarpong has trained 15 eco-journalists annually for the past two years, helping to shine a spotlight on illegal fishing and marine waste in Ghana's waters.
This project seeks to leverage data and storytelling tools to spotlight the challenge of marine pollution and its dangers to society. The project also deploys a digital campaign involving use of short videos and infographics to educate residents across West Africa on the dangers of marine pollution, and improve practices of waste management.
Read more about their project and read a recent article here.
More articles on plastic waste and marine pollution,
Reproductive Ecology of Manta Rays
Nusa Penida Island, Indonesia
This project collects data on Manta Rays in The Nusa Penida Marine Protected Area (MPA), and couples this information with individual sightings data to understand their population demographics and dynamics.
The information garnered from this study will provide data on manta ray life-history parameters and lend insights into whether sites repeatedly used by smaller individuals can be considered nurseries for this species, which is an understudied aspect of manta ray ecology. Information from this study will inform tourism management within the MPA.
Check out their website.
Microplastic Collection & Analysis
Nerja and Almuñécar, Spain/ Cork, Ireland
This project carries out clean up activities and monitoring of litter and microplastics in the Sanguino River and streams near a protected coastline located in Maro-Cerro Gordo Cliffs Natural Area (Nerja and Almuñécar, Spain).
Previous monitoring work by the organization associated with this grant (Hombre y Territorio) has identified heavily polluted sites due to intensive agriculture.
Primary activities include cleanup and litter characterization, analysis of water samples for microplastics by infrared spectroscopy (FTIR), training citizen scientists to maintain fieldwork, and communicating project impact with local policymakers and stakeholders.
Sawfish Project Indonesia
Sawfish Project Indonesia is an interdisciplinary project that seeks to provide data about sawfish to local and national governments to implement legal protections for them.
The project will conduct scientific research using Environmental DNA (E-DNA) and fisheries surveys to investigate the problem of sawfish bycatch, which is one of the major factors leading to the decline of sawfish populations in Merauke, Indonesia. Sawfish Project Indonesia ultimately aims to enhance the capacity of indigenous people in Merauke to continue the important work of sawfish conservation locally. This project will perform an incubator workshop to teach the youth of Merauke about sawfish conservation.