Roughly 70% of our planet’s surface is ocean, yet it remains less explored than the surface of Mars.
Mysterious and vast, the ocean is the lifeblood of the Earth—regulating our climate, driving weather patterns, and providing livelihoods for countless communities. Despite this critical role, the oceans are under constant threat of pollution, waste, rising sea temperatures, and destructive fishing practices. The ocean sustains our life on Earth; protecting it protects us all.
We need to stop viewing the ocean as a dumping ground and a place with limitless resources. Our ocean is being abused, disrespected and is under attack. Our ocean is calling for help.
Goldman Prize Winners awarded for Oceans & Coasts
In collaboration with local fishing cooperatives and Turkish authorities, Zafer Kizilkaya expanded Turkey’s network of marine protected areas (MPAs) along 310 miles of the Mediterranean coast. The newly designated areas were approved by the Turkish government in August 2020 and include an expansion of the MPA network by 135 square miles (350 sq. km) of no trawling/no purse seine, and an additional 27 square miles (70 sq. km) of no fishing zones. Turkey’s marine ecosystem has been severely degraded by overfishing, illegal fishing, tourism development, and the effects of climate change—and these protected areas help mitigate these challenges.
Conservationist Jacqueline Evans led a five-year grassroots campaign to protect the Cook Islands’ stunning marine biodiversity. Because of her tireless and persistent organizing, in July 2017, the Cook Islands enacted new legislation—Marae Moana—to sustainably manage and conserve all 763,000 square miles of the country’s ocean territory, including the designation of marine protected areas (MPAs) 50 nautical miles around the islands, protecting 125,000 square miles of ocean from large-scale commercial fishing and seabed mining. This is the first Prize for the Cook Islands.
A tireless defender of the oceans and marine life, Claire Nouvian led a focused, data-driven advocacy campaign against the destructive fishing practice of deep-sea bottom trawling, successfully pressuring French supermarket giant and fleet owner Intermarché to change its fishing practices. Her coalition of advocates ultimately secured French support for a ban on deep-sea bottom trawling that led to an EU-wide ban.
Luis Jorge Rivera Herrera helped lead a successful campaign to establish a nature reserve in Puerto Rico’s Northeast Ecological Corridor—an important nesting ground for the endangered leatherback sea turtle—and protect the island’s natural heritage from harmful development.
In a country plagued by extreme poverty and political instability, Jean Wiener led community efforts to establish Haiti’s first marine protected areas by empowering Haitians to see the long-term value in sustainably managing fisheries and mangrove forests.
Howard Wood spearheaded a campaign that established the first community-developed Marine Protected Area in Scotland, giving citizens a voice in a debate that has been dominated by the commercial fishing industry.
Partners in Oceans & Coasts
The Goldman Prize is honored to partner with a variety of environmental organizations around the world, each of them united in the goal of protecting our planet. From our nominating partners to global organizations to grassroots NGOs led by Prize winners, they are all essential parts of the environmental community.