© Camila Ruan


Maintaining the health of the oceans is critical for the future of people and the planet. Yet, our oceans are suffering from the compounding threats of overfishing, pollution and climate change.


In the Environment Programme, our marine strategy for 2016 to 2020 takes a solutions-based approach to reversing this trend and to improving oceans’ health. It focuses on three key sectors: industrial fishing, small-scale fisheries and plastics pollution. We support organisations based in Europe, the Arctic, East Asia and Africa.


Our strategy builds on past successes and sets in motion cutting-edge initiatives that: promote sustainable development; contribute to the integrity of marine ecosystems; and enhance the wellbeing of coastal and indigenous communities.




Our mission

Oak Foundation commits its resources to address issues of global, social and environmental concern, particularly those that have a major impact on the lives of the disadvantaged. With offices in Europe, Africa, India and North America, we make grants to organisations in approximately 40 countries worldwide.

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©2018 Oak Foundation.
All rights reserved.


Privacy Policy, Security Protocols and Terms of Use.


©2018 Oak Foundation.
All rights reserved.


1. Industrial fisheries

Addressing the depletion of the world’s fish stocks and the loss of fishing livelihoods lies at the heart of our investments in fisheries management. Making large-scale, industrial fishing environmentally sustainable will ease pressure on developing countries, revitalise coastal fisheries and enhance the wellbeing of local communities.


A cornerstone of our industrial fisheries work is the elimination of illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing by distant fleets in developing country waters. Doing so requires documenting and disclosing these incursions as well as on stronger regulations in both industrialised fishing countries and developing countries, particularly West Africa, whose waters are being exhausted. Significant efforts, in partnership with civil society, will be made to help strengthen international fishing regulations in East Asian countries.


Eliminating overfishing also requires ecologically sustainable fisheries policies. Much can be done by supporting compliance of the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy, especially in the areas of sustainable fishing levels, human rights, equity and impact on the environment.


2. Small-scale fisheries

Coastal regions and marine resources are under threat from poor management, industrial fishing, excessive development and climate change. Small scale fisheries are the ocean’s largest employer, a source of food security and a way of life for millions of coastal communities and indigenous people globally.


We support organisations that: (1) raise the visibility of small-scale fisheries on the global development agenda; (2) ensure governance reform for small-scale fisheries is adequately funded; create a global network of small-scale fisheries leaders and empower them to undertake reforms; and (4)  improve governance reform of small-scale fisheries in at least three priority locations.


We pay particular attention to the social dimension of coastal resources because the involvement of local communities in managing their own resources is key to the success of small-scale fisheries.


You can download the summary of our strategy here.


3. Plastic waste

Between 4 and 12 million metric tonnes of plastic waste finds its way into the oceans every year (to put it into perspective, an elephant weighs one metric tonne!). This waste, if washed ashore, would cover every inch of the world’s coastline.


We believe a forceful response to cleaning up our oceans by 2025 can reduce these numbers by nearly a third. Research is an essential component of that response but most advances will come from shifting mindsets that consider it acceptable to dump plastic into the ocean. We are therefore working with businesses, non-governmental groups and other funders to find solutions.


Civil society is particularly well placed to raise awareness around waste and exert pressure on authorities to regulate the most harmful plastic varieties, making the development of robust non-governmental organisations and campaigns an essential pillar of our strategy.


The export of hazardous plastics to developing countries requires urgent reversal, and these countries also need support to modernise their own plastics collection and recycling methods. All this will require vigorous advocacy, especially with industrial producers of unrecoverable plastics.


By drastically reducing the leakage of plastic debris into the ocean, the health and integrity of marine ecosystems will be reinforced and, it is hoped, restored.