Bloomberg Philanthropies Commits $53 Million to Save the Oceans

January Jones Oceana Underwater 2011
Tim Calver

January Jones Oceana

"We hope that [Bloomberg] will stay personally involved. We anticipate that he will," Oceana CEO Andrew Sharpless told The Hollywood Reporter about the five-year grant.

Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s throwing his philanthropic weight behind saving the oceans and the decimation of fish species worldwide. His charity, Bloomberg Philanthropies, has committed $53 million dollars over the next five years to reform fisheries and increase sustainable populations through the Vibrant Oceans Initiative, a partnership between three groups, Oceana, Rare and EKO Asset Management.

“It’s a big day for the oceans and for Oceana. We’re so happy about it,” Oceana CEO Andrew Sharpless tells The Hollywood Reporter. “This is the first ocean grant that the philanthropy has made.”

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Bloomberg isn’t the first big name to team up with Oceana, the international advocacy organization which works to protect and restore the world's oceans. How I Met Your Mother's Cobie Smulders and Parks and Recreation's Rashida Jones have traveled with the organization to Belize to learn about protecting the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef. Miranda Cosgrove (Despicable Me) will soon launch a public service announcement in partnership with Oceana about protecting dolphins.

“We hope that [Bloomberg] will stay personally involved. We anticipate that he will," says Sharpless, author of The Perfect Protein: The Fish Lover's Guide to Saving the Oceans and Feeding the World. Oceana's board includes entertainment world names Ted Danson, Sam Waterston and manager Keith Addis

Bloomberg Philanthropies' grant, which is the largest philanthropic commitment to international fisheries management reform to date, will go toward boosting fish populations in Brazil, the Philippines and Chile.

“We’ve been talking to them over the course of the last two years, approximately, as they examined what was happening with the oceans and what the opportunity would be to improve ocean abundance,” Sharpless says.

Said Bloomberg in a statement: “At Bloomberg Philanthropies, we look for opportunities to address unmet needs with proven solutions that improve the greatest number of lives. While billions of people depend on fish for food or income, only 13% of the world’s fisheries are safe from being over-fished, presenting serious environmental and public health challenges."

“If we will stop overfishing and allow fish to rebuild their spawning populations, in a five or ten-year period you can see a lot more fish in the sea,” Sharpless said. “Fish come back in most cases -- they come back if you give them a little bit of help. It's not like waiting 100 years for the rainforest to grow back. If you do the right thing, you'll see a lot more fish in the sea.”