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.

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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

Spain

Region

Europe
Startup
2023

Greenhouse Gas Reduction: Blue Carbon & CO2e Removal or Avoidance

José Miguel Bermúdez Miquel, Cristina Aleixendri

2023

Bound4Blue

Bound4Blue has developed a foldable and autonomous wingsail system to be integrated onto a wide range of vessels. The system has been conceived as a complementary propulsion system, which produces effective thrust from existing winds, reducing the main engine power required and, therefore, delivering fuel consumption and pollutant emissions reductions of up to 40%.

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Startup

France

Region

Europe
Startup
2023

Blue Foods: Fisheries, Aquaculture, & Seafood Alternatives

Jérémie Cognard

2023

Agriloops

Agriloops develops aquaponic systems to reinvent aquaculture to produce eco-responsible and healthy food products. The company develops innovative aquaponic production units in salt water to facilitate sustainable agricultural production, enabling the production of natural and fresh shrimps and vegetables.

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Grant

Panama

Region

Central America
Grant
2023

Deep Sea Mining

Emilie McGlone

2023

SOA Youth for SDGs

Aligned with the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development, Peace Boat US organized a program to enhance the knowledge and skills of youth leaders from various parts of the world who are actively involved in promoting sustainability in their communities. The program aimed to provide these leaders with comprehensive insights into marine science and climate action on a global level through capacity building, citizen science programs, network building, and educational experiences onboard the Peace Boat and during port visits. Four representatives from SOA participated in the program and made valuable contributions by delivering presentations on deep sea mining, facilitating workshops, and collaborating with other participants throughout the program. They sailed from Panama to Guatemala and ended in Mexico and held both on the ship and off ship talks, workshops and activities.

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Grant

Argentina

Region

South America
Grant
2023

Deep Sea Mining

Martina Alvarez

2023

Argentina DSM Campaign

Through SOA Argentina, Martina Alvarez raised awareness and advocated for Argentina to say no to deep-sea mining. Alongside fellow SOA Youth Leaders, Martina helped present 22,000+ signatures to Argentina state delegates at the International Seabed Authority.

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Grant

Mexico

Region

North America
Grant
2023

Deep Sea Mining

Valeria Dení Magaña García

2023

Mexico DSM Campaign

Valeria, leader of SOA Mexico Hub, coordinated a social media campaign to raise awareness and activate youth in support of a moratorium on deep sea mining.

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Grant

Peru

Region

South America
Grant
2023

Deep Sea Mining

Stefanie Torres

2023

Peru DSM Campaign

The SOA Peru campaign on deep-sea mining aimed to position Peru in favor of a moratorium on deep-sea mining. It emphasized Peru's non-membership in the UNCLOS and highlighted that the Minister of Environment committed at Our Ocean 2023 to evaluate Peru's stance. Throughout the campaign, signature collection via Change.org, social media activations, and participation in events such as fairs were conducted. Additionally, an awareness video featuring public figures, influencers, and actors garnered over 46.9 thousand views. One of the final political actions involved consulting the position of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs through the Congress of Peru, resulting in the procurement of a formal response document establishing Peru's stance in favor of a moratorium.

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Grant

Australia

Region

Oceania
Grant
2023

Deep Sea Mining

Heidi Dumesich

2023

Podcast episode on DSM: Reforming the Deep Sea

Life on Planet A, a sustainability podcast by Heidi Dumesich developed an episode with the objective of uncovering the lesser-known narratives of the International Seabed Authority (ISA), the global entity responsible for regulating deep sea mining. The episode offers an in-depth exploration of deep sea mining and the intricate negotiations that encompass it, featuring guest speaker Emily Tewes from SOA. It highlights the compelling accounts of nations advocating for a moratorium on deep sea mining.

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Grant

Portugal

Region

Europe
Grant
2023

Deep Sea Mining

Gonçalo Carvalho

2023

DSM Workshop in Azores

Gonçalo Carvalho, the Executive Coordinator of Sciaena, an NGO dedicated to promoting a sustainable marine environment, conducted a workshop on deep sea mining in Azores, Portugal.

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Grant

United States of America

Region

North America
Grant
2023

Ecosystems and Species: Preservation & Restoration

Cameron Moore

2023

Climate Conversations

Passionate about promoting gender equality in the seafood sector, Cameron Moore contributes to a range of programming at the nonprofit Seafood and Gender Equality (SAGE) with an intersectional and holistic approach. Recognizing the interconnected nature of climate change, white supremacy, colonialism, and capitalism, Cameron believes it is essential to address these fundamental issues in conservation conversations. Through this fellowship, they intend to produce an engaging video series that complements SAGE's upcoming podcast, focusing on Cameron's personal "What the Heck Moments" in challenging and reshaping outdated thinking within the seafood industry. The video series will explore how climate change has exacerbated conditions that perpetuate the unequal distribution of social capital, and how this plays out specifically for minorities (non-white, cis-, het-) in fisheries and aquaculture communities in the Gulf of Mexico and northeast coast of the US.

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