Our WorkInitiatives Oceans and Fisheries

Oceans and Fisheries

Exploring innovations and partnerships to bring over-exploited marine fisheries – and the millions of livelihoods that depend on them – back to life.


Fish supply the main animal protein for more than 1 billion people and jobs for an estimated 260 million people around the world. Yet, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization, 87 percent of global marine fisheries are over- or fully-exploited.

As the demand for seafood increases, overfishing and destructive fishing practices continue to disrupt marine food webs, severely compromising the underlying natural productivity and resilience of marine ecosystems. And if current trends continue, most fisheries risk collapse, putting millions of livelihoods at stake and exacerbating the social, economic, and health challenges faced by many coastal and island nations.

Fortunately, research consistently shows that when fishing pressure is reduced to sustainable levels, most fish species are able to fully rebound. And once fisheries are restored and sustainably managed, greater economic value can be generated. But there is no time to waste.

Our Strategy

The Rockefeller Foundation’s Oceans & Fisheries initiative, launched in development in 2013, aims to increase the health and productivity of local fisheries by decreasing unsustainable fishing pressures in a way that puts the needs of poor and vulnerable people at the center of innovative, equitable solutions.

Our interventions are focused on creating and scaling solutions that recognize the full value of marine ecosystems. This includes:

  • Catalyzing market-based partnerships in non-industrial fisheries
  • Boosting near-term benefits and reducing the costs of sustainable management
  • Expanding livelihood options for fishing communities

Ultimately, our goal is to develop, test, and scale new business models to end dangerous overfishing in non-industrial fisheries, prevent further ecosystem damage, and enhance the socioeconomic, nutritional and environmental benefits that small-scale fisheries can provide.

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