OUR YEAR IN
OCEAN IMPACT
sustainable ocean alliance
2023 ocean impact report

a letter from our ceo

This past year marked major milestones for Sustainable Ocean Alliance (SOA) on our ocean impact investing journey. In 2023, SOA deployed the most it ever has in a single year - $1.08M in grants and investments, and another $694K through its affiliate venture capital fund, Seabird Ventures. This two-pronged approach helped startups face increasing fundraising challenges. 

In 2023, higher interest rates, and political uncertainty surrounding the future of U.S. climate policies, saw the climate venture market hit a 30% drop. Despite persistent obstacles, SOA is proud to have deployed $4.66M to visionary founders and grantees since 2018.

We were honored to launch the Ecopreneur Network (EN) and introduce its inaugural 2023 class. In deepening our commitment to visionary ocean-health-startup founders, we pioneered an entirely new model of support for the entire sector. This leap ushered in a new era of for-profit ocean innovation. Gone is the age of costly, time-bound accelerators. Our founders now receive lifetime venture support. 

The mentorship and funding we’ve poured into the sector have advanced equity for ocean advocates of all ages, genders, geographies, and backgrounds. The proof is in the results: the average age of SOA grantees is 28; half of all EN startups are female-founded or led, and 56% of all grant initiatives to date have been female-led; in 2023 specifically, $676K in investments and grants went directly to developing countries, and Indigenous people led 16% of grant-funded initiatives.

Measured against 30+ scientific metrics, the collective efforts of our investees and grantees have decreased pollution, reduced bycatch, and mitigated greenhouse gasses more so than in any previous year SOA has recorded. That's possible thanks to SOA's supporters who fueled our unprecedented 2023 impact.

I know our founders and grantees will continue building on the foundation laid this past year. And 10 years after its founding, SOA is doubling down on our commitment to fueling their evolution, while ushering in new initiatives over this next decade.

Signature of Daniela Fernandez

Daniela V. Fernandez

Founder and CEO,
Sustainable Ocean Alliance

SOA IMPACT
TO DATE

SOA differentiates itself in the ocean impact space by being able to rapidly provide nimble, friendly capital to a diverse global community of ocean-focused people and organizations.

We added over 100 ocean solutions in 2023, bringing the total to 376 (56 companies and 320 grants) across 83 countries since 2018. Of the 130+ solutions who contributed data to the 2023 report, SOA and our affiliate venture capital fund Seabird Ventures have supported them to-date with over $4M in grants and investments, enabling the creation of blue jobs and stimulating blue economies in critical ecosystems.

Data are from the time of first investment in 2018 and first grant in 2020.

376

solutions SUPPORTED

$2.69M

deployed in grants & investment BY SOA

$1.97M

DEPLOYED BY SEABIRD VENTURES

$460M

total investment capital raised by startups

$1.25M

DEPLOYED TO DEVELOPING COUNTRIES

800+

blue jobs CREATED & 83 COUNTRIES IMPACTED

2023 impact

ACROSS 5 AREAS OF OCEAN HEALTH


SOA takes a unique approach to solving key ocean challenges by deploying capital through a combination of grants to grassroots orgs and leaders as well as investments in for-profit startups. This strategy has led to SOA supporting a diverse community of people driving ocean solutions and measuring a range of metrics and magnitudes. 

For this report, SOA collected self-reported data from companies and grantees active in 2023. We analyze and aggregate data guided by a methodology informed by scientists, investors, startups, and ocean experts. We classify data by five critical ‘areas’ of impact that relate to UN SDG and Ocean Decade 2030 targets, and map to our goal to decarbonize, detoxify, regenerate, and replenish, the planet.

This report represents the work of hundreds of people dedicated to restoring ocean health and we are indebted to them as the driving force behind SOA.



Craig Dudenhoeffer
Chief Impact & Investments Officer
Co-founder, Ocean Solutions Accelerator

Taylor Garrett
Associate Director of Grants & Impact

DONATE TO SOA

1. Greenhouse Gas reduction: Blue Carbon & CO2e Removal or Avoidance

2023 IMPACT: 28,212 Tonnes of CO2 Avoided or Removed | 16 Countries

Decarbonization was a focus of our 2023 grantmaking and investments strategy. As a result of increased capital deployed as well as scaling by previously supported solutions, the amount of carbon dioxide removed and avoided increased significantly as compared to 2022. An estimated 14,039 tonnes was sequestered by blue carbon ecosystems (mangrove, seagrass, marsh, kelp) and 9,253 tonnes was avoided, primarily through more efficient and sustainable material production. According to the EPA, the average passenger vehicle emits 4.6 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year, so these reductions are roughly equivalent to taking over 6,000 cars off the road for a year.

CLICK tO SEE CASE STUDIES

SOLUTION SPOTLIGHTs: BLUE CARBON

Seawater Solutions creates and implements natural carbon solutions in the form of transitioning degraded farms into wetlands in Ghana, sequestering 14,000 tonnes, restoring 600 hectares of coastline, and providing 4,000 tonnes of sustainable blue food through aquaculture.

CarbonEthics (PT Iklim Muda Sentosa) has been a grantee of SOA since 2020 for community-based restoration of mangrove and seagrass. In 2023, they sequestered an estimated 4,919 tonnes of CO2, were active in 10 new hectares of mangrove forest, and trained 44 farmers on alternative livelihoods and the benefits of mangrove forestry.

2. POLLUTION reduction: Circular Use, Waste Removal, or Avoidance

2023 IMPACT: 17,981 Tonnes of Solid Pollution Avoided or Removed and 4,000 Tonnes Upcycled  | 26 Countries

Detoxifying our planet requires removing waste and avoiding creating even more through efficient use and re-use, as well as maintaining ecosystems that naturally filter and remove waste. In 2023, SOA solutions removed 12,400 tonnes of pollution, primarily in India, Indonesia, Kenya, Colombia, Ghana, Guatemala, and the United States. Over 5,000 tonnes of waste was avoided, mostly by startups implementing alternative solutions for product, packaging, and fishing gear. In addition to mitigating solid waste, over 150,000 cubic meters (60 Olympic swimming pools) of water wasn’t polluted by toxic brine or agricultural runoff thanks to solutions leveraging bio and technical remediation. 

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SOLUTION SPOTLIGHTs: circular economies

Dispatch Goods completed a Lifecycle Analysis (LCA) in 2023 that estimated their reusable takeout products avoided 466 tonnes of CO2 by avoiding 960 metric tons of plastic. Glass Half Full avoided 816 tonnes of glass waste by recycling glass in the New Orleans area and upcycling it into sand to restore 82 square meters of local marsh/coastline.  

rePurpose Global continues to scale the magnitude and rigor of their impact data, removing over 1,170 tonnes of waste while impacting the livelihoods of 1,768 waste pickers across 5 countries. Marulho removed over a tonne of fishing waste in Brazil, creating 17 jobs and providing $14,000 for the local economy in Angra dos Reis, Brazil. 

3. ECOSYSTEMS AND SPECIES: PRESERVATION & RESTORATION

2023 IMPACT: 227 Hectares of Coastal Ecosystems Restored | 19 Countries

Regenerating ecosystems is a broad category, but in terms of 2023 SOA solutions it predominantly means seeding and monitoring mangroves, seagrass, kelp, marsh/estuaries, and reefs. In 2023, 60% of all area restored was mangrove forest, and over 35,000 mangroves were planted. Over 10,000 corals were planted across the Bahamas, Indonesia, Madagascar, Tanzania, Brazil, and Timor-Leste, and 736 hectares of coastal ecosystems were monitored for ongoing restoration progress. The average New York City block is two hectares, meaning a relatively small group of organizations restored over 100 city blocks in a year.

CLICK TO SEE CASE STUDIES

SOLUTION SPOTLIGHTs: coastal restoration

Coral Vita restored 7,000 square meters of coral reef by outplanting 6,204 coral fragments and monitoring the growth of these as well as the 5,813 fragments they outplanted in 2022. Startup Korai in Madagascar and community-based organization Komunitas Sinara Kaimana in Indonesia each outplanted over 1,000 corals in close partnership with local communities and indigenous people.

In Tanzania, Ambakofi planted over 10,000 mangroves and trained community members on certified restoration techniques and SOA Tanzania restored over 120 hectares of mangrove and 50 hectares of seagrass. Light for Nature planted nearly 5,000 mangroves in Cameroon. CarbonEthics planted over 13,000 mangroves in Indonesia, and individuals planted a further 2,000 in the Philippines, Colombia, and Ecuador.

4. blue foods: fisheries, aquaculture & seafood alternatives

2023 IMPACT: 4,203 Tonnes of Blue Food Generated and 215 Tonnes of Catch Avoided | 16 Countries

Replenishing our fisheries requires improving monitoring and fishing practices, expanding biodynamic aquaculture and mariculture, and implementing more sustainable alternatives to environmentally taxing foods and agricultural processes. Exploring the impact of kelp as a sustainable food source and carbon sink was a focus of 2023 grantmaking, and included: grants to three farms in Alaska and British Columbia; researching kelp and potential farming impacts in Ireland and Namibia; and using AI to estimate its biomass in Canada and the Philippines. Over 200 square kilometers of fisheries were monitored by advanced technologies meant to improve efficiency and reduce waste, and 405 vessels were using new tech to make fishing more sustainable.

CLICK TO SEE CASE STUDIES

SOLUTION SPOTLIGHTs: BLUE FOODS & FISHERIES

Noble Ocean Farms builds local food sovereignty on traditional Ayak land in Alaska through their regenerative kelp farm, which grew by two hectares in 2023 and provided enough kelp to feed 3,000 people through local distribution and school lunches. West Coast Kelp constructed a kelp seed nursery that restored a former kelp habitat with 400 new plants and supplied 5 farms, enabling the growth of an estimated 165 tonnes of kelp, while also training indigenous youth on kelp farming.

Blue Ocean Gear estimated 181 tonnes of bycatch was avoided through the use of their smart buoy products, which spent over 25,000 cumulative days on the water in 2023. Ittinsect (new to the Ecopreneur Network in 2023) avoids both waste and wild catch through their aquaculture feed made with sustainable ingredients like macroalgae and insects.

5. OCEAN DATA, LITERACY & RESEARCH

2023 IMPACT: 1.9M Hours of Data Collection, 139 Reports Published, 12,325 People Trained, 136,566 People Engaged by Grant Initiatives | 36 Countries

This impact area pertains to equipping decision-makers and the next generation of ocean advocates with accurate data, as well as providing education, opportunities, and exposure to people that need it most. Many of the recipients are students and young grassroots leaders (average age of 26) working on small but locally impactful initiatives. Advocating for a moratorium on deep sea mining was a focus in 2023, and grants supported activation in 14 countries and helped increase the number of signatures on SOA’s joint petition for a moratorium to over 300,000.

CLICK TO SEE CASE STUDIES

SOLUTION SPOTLIGHTs: data + grassroots action

OnDeck uses artificial intelligence to make fisheries monitoring much more efficient. In 2023, they completed a pilot in Costa Rica, deploying their tech on tuna-fishing vessels that covered 200 km2, raising nearly $2M and participating in Canada’s most competitive incubator program. Coastal Carbon AI took steps toward commercializing their AI-enabled remote sensing tech that will make kelp farming more efficient, completing pilots with two farms totaling 8 hectares in 2023.

SOA Hubs: Hubs are groups of volunteers organized by locality or university, supported by SOA through our regional representatives. In 2023, 34 Hubs in 25 countries received over $70k in grant support—44% of these initiatives were led by a Person of Color, and 12% took place in Small Island Developing States. The primary impact of most of these grants can be measured in relation to increasing youth capacity and community engagement.

2023 GRANTS & INVESTMENTS

In 2023, SOA awarded 98 grants and invested in 12 companies—operating across a combined 61 countries—in addition to welcoming 11 new companies to the Ecopreneur Network. The average SOA grant  was $5,930, and average investment amount was $71.8K by SOA and $138.8K by Seabird Ventures.

Of all capital deployed, 38% supported operations in Developing Countries and $302K was invested in companies that joined the Ecopreneur Network in 2023.

SOA funded more grants and investments in 2023 than any previous year.

98

GRANTS AWARDED

2023 grants & investments by impact area

12

COMPANIES INVESTED IN

OUR SOLUTIONS
PORTFOLIO

IMPACT CATEGORIES

SOLUTION YEAR

TYPE

REGION

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Startup

United States of America

Region

North America
Startup
2023

Ecosystems and Species: Preservation & Restoration

Chris Oakes

2023

Reefgen

Seagrass and coral habitats are rapidly declining worldwide. Reefgen has developed multiple robotic nearshore restoration platforms to plant coral and seagrasses, with the ability to develop the required 30x-75x productivity- rate enhancements over manual planting necessary for humankind to meet the challenge of restoring our coastal life support ecosystems.

Learn More

Startup

Italy

Region

Europe
Startup
2023

Blue Foods: Fisheries, Aquaculture, & Seafood Alternatives

Alessandro Romano

2023

Ittinsect

Ittinsect is a biotech startup that developed a sustainable alternative protein ingredient, both from the environmental and economic standpoint. Ittinsect produces high performance feed ingredients through the biotechnological treatment of novel raw ingredients including insects, microalgae and agricultural by-products, in line with the circular economy principles. A fish raised with Ittinsect-based feeds has a healthier digestion and improved growth performance at no extra cost for the fish farmer. With Ittinsect, there is no longer need to catch fish from the marine environment as nutrition for farmed fish.

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Startup

United Kingdom

Region

Europe
Startup
2023

Pollution Reduction: Circular Use, Waste Removal or Avoidance

Carlo Fedeli, Thibaut Monfort Micheo

2023

FlexSea

FlexSea develops novel seaweed derived biomaterials to replace single use plastics in various verticals. Their truly home-compostable materials are derived from naturally occurring seaweed biopolymers from widely cultivated red seaweed strains.

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Startup

Cambodia

Region

Asia
Startup
2023

Pollution Reduction: Circular Use, Waste Removal or Avoidance

Barak Ekshtein

2023

TONTOTON

TONTOTON is an environmental impact program focused on collecting and treating mismanaged, hard-to-recycle plastic in highly polluted coastal villages of Cambodia. Their mission is to reduce plastic leakage through plastic action financing while promoting waste segregation in households and businesses and collecting mismanaged plastic on the ocean-bound. TONTOTON operates its material recovery facility for sorting and processing plastic into building materials and plastic boards. The boards are used to build classrooms and house repairs in disadvantaged communities.

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Startup

Belgium, Spain, France, Portugal, Germany, Italy

Region

Europe
Startup
2023

Ecosystems and Species: Preservation & Restoration

Sayri Arteaga Michaux

2023

uWare Robotics

uWare Robotics is taking the aerial drone revolution underwater to protect our oceans and secure our future. uWare is a European dual-use startup that builds autonomous underwater solutions so that any blue industry can have the data necessary for sustainable operations.  Port activities and offshore renewable energy are crucial to our sustainable future. They are skyrocketing and need underwater data to manage their activities and protect their assets. Yet, current solutions for underwater data are cumbersome, dangerous and expensive.  uWare’s end-to-end solution of fully autonomous underwater drones and accompanying AI-based data processing makes underwater data safe, efficient and affordable.  A vision that is backed by first customers such as Fraunhofer Smart Ocean technologies, the Oceanographic Institutes of Spain and Portugal, Marine Inspection companies Créocean and Seaviews as well as defense consortia in critical infrastructure inspection. uWare has also been welcomed into prestigious blue economy networks such as the Sustainable Ocean Alliance Ecopreneurs and the EU BlueInvest program. 

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Startup

Switzerland

Region

Europe
Startup
2023

Ecosystems and Species: Preservation & Restoration

Benjamin Li, Florence Tremblay Otis, David Lunsford, Florence Cuttat

2023

Stream Ocean

Stream Ocean's mission is to help anyone working in the ocean to monitor their impact on marine biodiversity.

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Startup

United States of America

Region

North America
Startup
2023

Greenhouse Gas Reduction: Blue Carbon & CO2e Removal or Avoidance

Marcelino Alvarez

2023

Photon Marine

Photon Marine is developing the world’s most powerful and intelligent electric outboard motor system and fleet management software, tailored to commercial boat fleets in tourism, transportation, and mariculture industries. Their solution is a drop-in electric outboard motor system that replaces traditional ICE motors on both new and existing vessels without compromising on performance or reliability. Their system is backed by a fleet management software, which includes industry leading features such as intelligent energy management, predictive maintenance, and smart routing to facilitate the transition from gas to electric.

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Startup

Japan, United States of America, Canada, Norway, New Zealand

Region

Europe
Startup
2023

Blue Foods: Fisheries, Aquaculture, & Seafood Alternatives

Perry Bevin, Brian Takeda

2023

Urchinomics

Urchinomics helps restore kelp forests by paying divers to remove overgrazing sea urchins from urchin barrens, ranching the urchins in proprietary land-based aquaculture systems, and converting the urchins from an ecological nuisance into premium seafood that are sold to high end distributors and restaurants globally.

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Startup

Canada, Singapore, United Kingdom

Region

Europe
Startup
2023

Blue Foods: Fisheries, Aquaculture, & Seafood Alternatives

Luke Young

2023

Alora Innovations Inc.

Alora, formerly known as Agrisea, was built to solve world hunger by evolving sustainable food systems through ocean agriculture. They have developed a way to grow crops in high salt conditions such as salt soils or coastal ocean waters.

Learn More