History

Oceana was established in 2001 by a group of leading foundations — The Pew Charitable Trusts, Oak Foundation, Marisla Foundation (formerly Homeland Foundation), the Turner Foundation and Rockefeller Brothers Fund.

In 1999, these foundations commissioned a study and discovered that less than ½ of one percent of all resources spent by environmental nonprofit groups in the United States went to ocean advocacy – an appalling statistic. No organization was working exclusively to fight ocean threats on a global scale.

To fill the gap, our founders created Oceana: an international organization focused solely on oceans, dedicated to achieving measurable change by conducting specific, fact-based campaigns with fixed deadlines and articulated goals.

The Ocean Law Project—also initiated by The Pew Charitable Trusts—was absorbed into Oceana in 2001 as Oceana’s legal arm. In 2002, Oceana merged with American Oceans Campaign, founded by actor/environmentalist Ted Danson, to more effectively address our common mission of protecting and restoring the world’s oceans. Danson remains a committed and active member of Oceana’s Board of Directors.