As we celebrate World Ocean Day, we reflect on the great victories of this year to conserve our ocean. But there is much more work to be done. The ocean needs our continued commitment as it produces half of our oxygen and is a massive carbon sink, helping sustain life on earth and regulate our climate. In fact, phytoplankton, microscopic marine bacteria, silently play a vital role in producing approximately 75% of the oxygen we breathe.

In June of 2022, Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry made an important announcement of a $6 billion U.S. commitment to ocean health at the Our Ocean Conference 2023 in Panama. This fund will significantly bolster sustainable fisheries, blue economies, Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), and maritime security.

Oceans 5, a leading marine funders collaborative of which The Moore Charitable Foundation (MCF) is a member, has grantees working regularly on safeguarding the ocean. In fact, Oceans 5 sponsored a new study proving that MPAs promote biodiversity and benefit fishing and food security.

In March, MCF and its Panama affiliate, the Islas Secas Foundation, joined the Connect to Protect Eastern Tropical Pacific Coalition, which pledges $118.5 million for ocean conservation efforts through a public-private partnership. MCF and Islas Secas Foundation continue to champion scientific research and technology in ocean conservation, supporting the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute and Global Fishing Watch, among others, who are doing the critical work to preserve the ocean.

We also celebrate novel ways to drive ocean conservation. In the Bahamas, the newly launched Bahamas Mangrove Alliance is helping the island nation to prioritize mangrove restoration and incentivize a blue economy. The Shark Conservation Fund (SCF), supported by MCF, launched its 10-year, $100 million Shark Biodiversity Initiative, which will ensure the 30 X 30 initiative will have a bigger biodiversity impact if sharks are protected. As an “umbrella species,” protecting sharks ensures the protection of all species within their habitat. This past year also saw the final passage of the U.S. Shark Fin Sales Elimination Act into law.

The health of our ocean is intertwined with the health of the planet and of our collective future, requiring us to move forward with urgency and commitment. We must continue our efforts to combat illegal fishing, protect endangered species, and encourage sustainable practices globally. We must keep plastic and trash from flowing from in-land creeks to rivers to the ocean gyre. On World Ocean Day, we celebrate our progress and brace for the challenges ahead, dedicated to creating a healthier, resilient ocean for generations to come.