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The Brighter 5: Five important non-profits looking to clean our oceans

[June 8, 2021: Josh Shavit]

In support of Oceans Day, The Brighter Side of News has compiled a list of five top non-profit organizations that support and advocate for the cleaning up of plastics and other waste products from Earth's oceans.

5. Bay of Life Foundation

Bay of Life Surf School and Ocean Literacy was started in 2011 by Showkath Jamal. While activities like cleaning beaches and saving marine life, including turtles, have now become popular, Showkath and his team have been doing it for over a decade.

Situated at the Kovalam beach, Chennai, Bay of Life Surf School aims to generate interest in sustainable ocean sports and activities. While the school comprises a major part of the organisation, it also carries out marine social causes, including beach and ocean clean-ups, through the Bay of Life Foundation.

Some of the major activities of the foundation include beach trash analysis, beach cleanup, and free surf lessons for people who clean up five kilos of trash from the beach. The team has removed over 24,000 kg of wastes from the ocean and the beaches.

4. Oceana

US-based Oceana is a non-profit organisation founded in 2001 by a group of leading companies, including the Rockefeller Foundation, focusing on ocean conservation.

Oceana does this by influencing specific policy on the national levels to restore the world’s oceans by conducting research and providing policy recommendations.

The organisation has also taken over other organisations like The Ocean Law Project by The Pew Charitable Trusts and the American Oceans Campaign by actor and environmentalist Ted Danson.

Some of the notable victories of its impactful projects include the rescue of the dusky sharks, creating a marine national park in Spain — the second-largest in the country.


3. The High Seas Alliance

The High Seas Alliance (HSA) is a coalition of over 40 NGOs and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). It aims to focus on conserving the ‘High Seas.’ High Seas is an open ocean that isn’t governed by any country.

The team works together and engages the public, the experts, and the decision-makers to support and strengthen the governance of the high seas.

Even though there are no binding terms and rules for the establishment of protected areas in the high seas, these regions are severely impacted by pollution.

The HSA works to create awareness about the same while also ensuring that effective conservation measures are taken to address these ocean conservation gaps.

2. The 5 Gyres Institute

Co-founded by husband-and-wife duo Marcus Eriksen and Anna Cummins, The 5 Gyres Institute is a non-profit organization that works for cutting plastics pollution through giving focus on primary research. The organisation says it fights against pollution through science, art, education, and adventure. As a result of their efforts, the organisations in 2015 could successfully help impose a ban on plastic microbeads used in skincare and cosmetic products in the United States.

Since 2009, the team has completed 19 expeditions, bringing more than 300 citizen scientists, corporate executives, brands, and celebrities to the gyres, lakes, and rivers to conduct firsthand research on plastic pollution. Through this research, 5 Gyres continuously engages diverse stakeholders in understanding the science to drive impact as well as conduct community outreach and citizen science to implement data-driven solutions. With over 1,800 Ambassadors in 66 countries, 5 Gyres supports and is supported by community members with information, tools, and connections to help drive local change to fight this global crisis.


1. The Ocean Cleanup

Founded in 2013 by Boyan Slat — an inventor-entrepreneur — The Ocean Cleanup is a non-profit based in The Netherlands.

The non-profit has been developing technology, similar to floating trash barriers, to extract plastic from the oceans and intercept it in rivers before it can reach it. It also conducts ocean-specific scientific research to understand the levels of plastic pollution in these water bodies.

In 2019, the organisation announced a new initiative called the Interceptor, which tackles this pollution problem closer to the source, preventing about 80 percent of the trash from rivers from entering the ocean.


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Other organizations to follow:

1. Oceanic Preservation Society: The Colorado-based Oceanic Preservation Society focuses on promoting marine conservation and environmentalism. Founded by photographer and diving enthusiast Louie Psihoyos in 2005, the organisation was received attention for making the award-winning documentary, “The Cove.” The documentary that created in 2009 was an eye-opener to the horrors of the annual Taiji dolphin hunt.

2. The Environmental Defense Fund: The US-based Environmental Defense Fund or EDF is known for its works in the area of global warming, ecosystem restoration and oceans. In addition to working with fishing communities to offer transitional and financial support, the organisation’s goals include the curbing of overfishing and also begin sustainable fishing models in several countries.

3. Natural Resources Defense Council: New York City-based Natural Resources Defense Council is a non-profit international environmental advocacy group works to protect the oceans from pollution and exploitation. The organisation supports the implementation of laws that help to save the marine life including allowing overfished species to rebound. In addition, the council takes necessary efforts to preserve ocean treasures, prevent destructive fishing practices and protect coastal communities from offshore drilling, among others.

4. Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution: The US-based Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution is a nonprofit research and higher education facility carrying out studies of all aspects of marine science and engineering. The institution, which houses scientists and engineers, works for resolving some of the significant problems currently being faced by our oceans. The organisation also involved in delivering unbiased information to help inform public policy, and also increasing awareness among people about the importance of protecting oceanic resources.

5. Bahamas Plastic Movement: Founded by Bahamas-native Kristal Ambrose, the Bahamas Plastic Movement’s goal is to make the region free of plastic debris using research, education, citizen science, and policy change. The mission of the movement is to build a community of education and activism around plastic pollution. Launched in 2014, the movement conducts plastic education campus encourages people to join the programme by adopting a beach etc.


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