Flourishing Oceans01 Mar 2023

Panama meeting highlights Minderoo Foundation A$180 million commitment to the ocean

Minderoo Foundation has pledged more than A$180 million to address ocean health and sustainability, it announced at the 2023 Our Ocean Conference in Panama.

The Cocos (Keeling) Islands, where a marine protected area has been established. Photo Credit: Colby James.

The announcement comes as governments, the private sector and civil society met in Panama City to take measurable and concrete actions to address the serious threats facing the world’s ocean.

Through its Flourishing Oceans initiative, Minderoo Foundation has made 10 commitments aligned to the conference themes of a sustainable blue economy, sustainable fisheries, marine pollution, climate change and marine protected areas.

Minderoo Foundation’s commitments include: building momentum for environmental DNA (eDNA)-based fisheries monitoring, lifting standards for flag state regulation to ensure sustainable and responsible distant water fishing operations, developing the Global Fishing Index, catalysing ocean conservation through the Blue Nature Alliance, and expanding our knowledge of the oceans including the deep sea.

The Foundation is also investing in the Indian Ocean Connect research program, creating world-leading research infrastructure, closing the ocean finance gap and tackling plastic waste.

The key goal of the Flourishing Oceans initiative is to return the oceans to a flourishing state by ending overfishing, ensuring 30 per cent of the ocean is protected, eliminating plastic pollution, supporting the sustainable use of ocean resources and supporting world-class research and innovation.

Minderoo Foundation’s Director of Flourishing Oceans, Dr Tony Worby, said the pledges demonstrate Minderoo’s long-term commitment to restore the health of the oceans and provide ongoing support for the communities that depend on it for food and a thriving economy.

“This is a critical time for the ocean and for the many people who rely on it for their food and economic security,” Dr Worby said.

“Our commitment announced at the 2023 Our Ocean Conference is just the beginning of our journey to ensure the ocean is returned to a flourishing state.

“At Minderoo Foundation, we are dedicated to developing global solutions to protect the most ecologically sensitive parts of the ocean, and ensure all ocean resources are managed sustainably for the benefit of future generations,” Dr Worby said.

Minderoo Foundation’s commitments announced at the Our Ocean Conference in 2023

  1. Lifting the standards of flag state responsibility to ensure sustainable and responsible distant water fishing operations (A$5 million)
    Ineffective flag state control remains one of the key issues allowing illicit activity at sea to continue. A ship flying a flag of convenience means the owner has registered the vessel in a country other than their own and operates under its laws. For a ship owner, the advantage of this arrangement includes fewer regulations, lower employment requirements, cheaper registration fees and lower or no taxes. Minderoo Foundation, in collaboration with partners and institutions, has developed a program to support flag state reform to clarify flag state responsibilities, provide guidelines, and improve oversight. The goal is to ensure all vessels operate sustainably and responsibly.
  2. The Global Fishing Index – An independent assessment of progress towards SDG target 14.4 (A$15 million)
    The Global Fishing Index (GFI) is an assessment of the state of global marine fisheries aimed at measuring a country’s capacity to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goal target to end overfishing. The GFI reports on global fish stocks and the capacity of country-level governance systems to ensure sustainable fisheries by addressing the limited information about the state of fish stocks and overfishing reports. The first GFI was released in November 2021 and will be repeated regularly to track progress and help decision makers identify solutions to improve sustainable fisheries outcomes.
  3. Catalyse ocean conservation of 18 million square kilometres to safeguard global ocean biodiversity – Blue Nature Alliance (A$35 million)
    The Blue Nature Alliance (BNA) is a collaboration of five organisations including Minderoo Foundation. It aims to conserve 30 per cent of the global ocean and enhance resilience to climate change and human wellbeing. With each partner committing US$25 million, BNA supports advocacy, governance, science, and financial sustainability through the legal establishment and upgrade of ocean conservation areas.
  4. Deep-Sea Research (A$8.6 million)
    Minderoo Foundation is working to increase our understanding of the deep sea, which is crucial to protect the species, habitats, and ecosystems within it. The Foundation has established the Minderoo-UWA Deep-Sea Research Centre and committed funds to other institutions to develop a deep-sea science course. Additionally, it supports a call for a moratorium on deep-sea mining until our understanding of the impacts on deep-sea species and ecosystems is known.
  5. Minderoo Foundation Exmouth Research Laboratory (A$55 million)
    Minderoo Foundation has built the Minderoo Exmouth Research Laboratory on the doorstep of the World Heritage listed Ningaloo Reef off Western Australia to study the biodiversity of the Indian Ocean, the least understood ocean. The state-of-the-art facility includes an environment-controlled laboratory and is dedicated to attracting leading marine scientists to study ocean health and resilience.
  6. Indian Ocean Connect (A$2.8 million)
    Minderoo Foundation is researching the Indian Ocean to improve the understanding of marine protected areas. The research spans the Western Australian coastline, including two World Heritage Sites and the newly established marine protected area around the Cocos (Keeling) Islands, to understand heat tolerance, biodiversity and ecological changes in coral reefs and fish stocks using genomics-based metrics, eDNA and local and international partnerships to gather data for improved management.
  7. Scaling solutions to plastic waste in Indonesia (A$7 million)
    Minderoo Foundation plans to partner with Delterra, a global environmental non-profit, to eliminate the harmful effects of plastic and develop circular economy markets for plastics in the global south. With the aim of investing A$7 million over three years, Minderoo will help to further expand Delterra’s successful Rethinking Recycling program in Southern Bali, aiming to demonstrate a scalable solution. The goal is to create a replicable model to tackle plastic waste in other countries, with the potential to attract investment from development banks and other investors.
  8. Minderoo Foundation commits to closing the ocean finance gap and growing the blue economy (A$18 million)
    One of the challenges of ocean finance is that the management and protection of the ocean is significantly underfunded and requires at least $175 billion annually to achieve all UN Sustainability Development Goal targets, yet major sources of funding average only $1.3 billion per year. Minderoo is addressing this issue by investing an initial tranche of A$18 million to develop an ocean finance and blue economy strategy, with the goal of realigning the global economy with ocean health and closing the ocean finance gap.
  9. OceanOmics – Applying eDNA for marine conservation (A$30 million to date, with significant future commitments made)
    Minderoo Foundation’s OceanOmics program aims to arrest the rapid decline of ocean biodiversity through cutting-edge technology. The program uses marine genomics and artificial intelligence to study environmental DNA and generate high-quality ocean-scale data. By developing and deploying these technologies Minderoo will characterise and monitor marine wildlife at a pace and level of precision that traditional survey methods cannot achieve.
  10. Building Momentum for a global roll out of eDNA-based fisheries monitoring (A$4.8 million)
    The United Nations’ efforts to end overfishing and achieve its Sustainable Development Goals face a challenge in accurately and cost-effectively measuring the population status of marine species on a global scale. This project aims to remove that barrier by using eDNA-based monitoring approaches, building the infrastructure, promoting the approach across the Indo-Pacific region, and providing support for partner country fisheries agencies to pilot eDNA monitoring.
Minderoo Foundation
by Minderoo Foundation

Established by Andrew and Nicola Forrest in 2001, we are a modern philanthropic organisation seeking to break down barriers, innovate and drive positive, lasting change. Minderoo Foundation is proudly Australian, with key initiatives spanning from ocean research and ending slavery, to collaboration in cancer and community projects.

5 minute read
Share this article
Other Stories