San Francisco, CA, September 19, 2023 – WildAid’s global marine program has been selected as one of the 15 Finalists for the 2023 Earthshot Prize, a distinguished global environmental award that celebrates and champions innovators focused on solving our most pressing global climate challenges. With 20 years of on-the-water experience, WildAid is a proven leader in safeguarding marine protected areas (MPAs), coastal fisheries, and vital habitats from critical threats, including illegal fishing and over-exploitation. WildAid empowers partners and local communities in 16 countries to develop and implement comprehensive, cost-effective enforcement solutions that protect and strengthen the ocean, allowing fisheries, marine wildlife, coral reefs, blue carbon habitats, and coastal communities to thrive.
“Joining the impressive group of 2023 Earthshot Prize finalists is a tremendous honor and one that recognizes the essential role and impact that WildAild’s global enforcement work is having on protecting marine wildlife and strengthening and supporting sustainable fisheries in more than 95 priority marine sites around the globe,” said Meaghan Brosnan, WildAid’s Chief Operating Officer, and Retired Commander in the U.S. Coast Guard.
Filling A Critical Ocean Protection Gap
New MPA designations have quadrupled over the past ten years — jumping from roughly 6 million km2 to over 28 million km2 of global ocean area covered. Yet illegal fishing is widespread and highly lucrative, feeding a $23 billion annual black market for illegally caught fish. When MPAs and coastal fisheries are well protected, they have nearly three times more wildlife and four times more fish within their boundaries, dramatically increasing their resilience to climate change. However, nearly 60% of global MPAs are not well protected.
Dr. Ellen Pikitch, Executive Director of the Institute for Ocean Conservation Science at Stony Brook University added, “MPAs and sustainable fisheries can rejuvenate marine wildlife and ecosystems, provide jobs, and feed billions of people worldwide – but only if they are managed properly. WildAid can make the difference between a well-enforced MPA and a park that is just lines on a map.”
Patricia Leon, Re:wild & Bezos Earth Fund Program Manager for the Eastern Tropical Pacific, noted that “WildAid’s unique model and deep expertise in marine enforcement fills a critical need for marine conservation, ensuring that local partners have capacity needed to put conservation policy into action. We are proud to partner with WildAid and excited to see its approach being adopted in more protected areas across the globe.”
Emily Owen, WildAid’s Marine Program Director, added, “WildAid collaborates with local leaders to strengthen monitoring and surveillance, meet conservation goals, and provide lasting benefits for communities. With support from The Earthshot Prize, we will expand WildAid’s work to 250 priority marine areas to protect vulnerable wildlife, critical habitats like coral reefs and mangrove forests, and coastal livelihoods.”
WildAid’s impact stories represent a wide range of marine areas and challenges, including:
- The Eastern Tropical Pacific Seascape, where WildAid is helping lead a coalition of NGOs supporting enforcement agencies from Ecuador, Costa Rica, Colombia, and Panama. These four nations committed to aligning a network of marine reserves to protect a massive, new ‘swim-way’ for marine wildlife in the region, protecting endangered migratory species, such as sharks, whales, turtles, and manta rays, as they migrate between their waters.
- The Bahamas, where nearly a third of all fish caught in its waters is illegal. The Marine Action Partnership is organizing efforts to better respond to illegal fishing in the Bahamas. Bahamian fishers now credit the dedicated, coordinated work of the Partnership for the revitalization of fish stocks they have witnessed in recent years.
- Ecuador’s mangrove forests, where fishing communities have management authority over their traditional fishing grounds and now have the necessary enforcement tools and training. The mangrove forests these fishers safeguard have experienced almost no deforestation, whereas unprotected regions have lost 10% or more.
- Tanzania, where partner Mwambao Coastal Community Network Tanzania (MCCN) works with a network of communities to manage their coastal resources and protect Pemba Channel’s marine wildlife. The training program, first designed and implemented in collaboration with MCCN, is now being executed independently by MCCN and its local enforcement partners, and community members trained through this collaboration have now conducted thousands of inspections.
- Protecting Leatherback Sea Turtles – In Coastal Ecuador, community leaders and park rangers work together to protect sea turtle nests. As a testament to the impact of this work, 69 leatherback sea turtle hatchlings were born and safely released to the sea in January 2021, marking the first leatherback hatching event in Ecuador in nearly 40 years.
WildAid inspires change and empowers the world to protect wildlife and vital habitats from critical threats, including illegal wildlife trafficking, climate change and illegal fishing. WildAid delivers impact at scale in two distinct ways: 1) creating innovative communications campaigns that inspire millions of people in China, Southeast Asia, Africa, and the U.S. to protect endangered wildlife and reduce climate impacts, and 2) strengthening effective ocean enforcement of priority marine areas, including marine protected areas, coastal fisheries, coral reefs, and blue carbon habitats with government, NGO and community partners in 16 countries around the globe.
About The Earthshot Prize:
Founded by Prince William and incubated in the The Royal Foundation in 2020 for a year before becoming an independent platform/organization, The Earthshot Prize is a global environmental prize and platform designed to discover, accelerate and scale ground-breaking solutions to repair and regenerate the planet. Inspired by President John F. Kennedy’s Moonshot, which united millions of people around the goal of reaching the moon, The Earthshot Prize aims to catalyze an Earthshot challenge to urgently encourage and scale innovative solutions that can help put the world firmly on a trajectory towards a stable climate, where communities, oceans and biodiversity thrive in harmony by 2030. The five challenges are: Protect and Restore Nature; Clean Our Air; Revive Our Oceans; Build a Waste-Free World; and Fix Our Climate.
The Prize aims to turn the current pessimism surrounding environmental issues into optimism by championing inspiring leadership and helping to scale incredible cutting-edge solutions. It will discover 50 winners over 10 years with the power to repair the planet. More than an award, The Earthshot Prize works in partnership with a Global Alliance of Partners to support the scaling of the solutions discovered and selected each year.
The Global Alliance Founding Partners are a group of leading global organizations and philanthropists, which act as strategic funding partners to the Prize, including Aga Khan Development Network, Bezos Earth Fund, Bloomberg Philanthropies, Breakthrough Energy Foundation, Coleman Family Ventures, DP World in partnership with Dubai EXPO 2020, Eleven Eleven Foundation, Holch Povlsen Foundation, Jack Ma Foundation, Law Family Charitable Foundation, Legado Para A Juventude, Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth, Marc and Lynne Benioff, Paul G. Allen Family Foundation, Rob Walton Foundation, Sandy and Paul Edgerley and Standard Chartered Bank.
Global Alliance Partners are non-profit environment and sustainable development organizations that bring expertise, global reach and serve as nominating organizations each year. For full list see website: Global Alliance – Earthshot Prize.
Global Alliance Members are some of the world’s largest and most influential companies and brands that will support The Earthshot Prize, implement ambitious changes within their businesses and accelerate the advancement of the solutions of Prize Finalists and Winners. They are: Arup, Bloomberg L.P., Deloitte, Herbert Smith Freehills, Hitachi, Ingka Group (IKEA), Microsoft, The Multichoice Group, Natura &Co, Safaricom, Salesforce, Unilever, Vodacom Group and Walmart.
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WildAid is a non-profit organization with a mission to protect wildlife from illegal trade and other imminent threats. While most wildlife conservation groups focus on protecting animals from poaching, WildAid primarily works to reduce global consumption of wildlife products such as elephant ivory, rhino horn and shark fin soup. With an unrivaled portfolio of celebrity ambassadors and a global network of media partners, WildAid leverages more than $308 million in annual pro-bono media support with a simple message: When the Buying Stops, the Killing Can Too.
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