Global Ocean Legacy

Protecting and preserving Earth’s most important and unspoiled marine ecosystems…

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The Chagos anemonefish is found only in the Chagos Archipelago. Located in the central Indian Ocean 1,000 miles south of India, the isolated Chagos Archipelago is a chain of more than 50 islands with a remarkable diversity of 220 coral species and 750 species of fish. Photo Credit: Alasdair Harris, Blue Ventures Conservation

Grant Recipient:  Pew Invironment Group
Project Support:  Global Ocean Legacy
Term:  2010 - 2015

For over two decades the Pew Environment Group has been working to address one of the seminal challenges of our time: saving the natural environment in order to protect the rich array of life it supports. Their aim is to strengthen environmental policies and practices in ways that produce significant and measurable protection for terrestrial and marine systems worldwide.

With less than one half of one percent of the world’s oceans safe from exploitation, one of Pew’s central efforts has been the establishment of marine reserves. Global Ocean Legacy, a project of the Pew Environment Group and its partners, is a global leader in advocating for the protection and conservation of some of the Earth’s most important and unspoiled marine ecosystems. Global Ocean Legacy’s singular focus is the establishment of very large, highly protected “no-take” marine reserves. And since 2005 it has helped secure the full protection of almost one million square kilometers of the world’s most spectacular seascapes, including more than half of the highly protected no-take marine reserves in the world.

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Hawksbill turtle on seaward reef of Diego Garcia, Chagos Archipelago. At least 76 species listed in the IUCN's Red List of Endangered Species are found in the waters surrounding the Chagos Islands, such as Hawksbill and green turtles, bigeye tuna, thresher and blue sharks ~ Photo: Anne and Charles Sheppard

Its work with national and local governments and locally-based conservation organizations, led to the designation of the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument in Hawaii, the Marianas Trench Marine National Monument in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (US), and the Chagos Marine Reserve (UK) in the Indian Ocean—currently, the largest no-take marine reserve in the world.

Inspired by this success and determined to protect more of the world’s special places, Global Ocean Legacy has grown significantly over the last few years, Staffed by more than two dozen talented and dedicated conservation professionals, the project has offices around the world, including in the United States, United Kingdom, France, New Zealand, Australia, Bermuda, Chile, and Easter Island.

Currently Global Ocean Legacy is working to achieve the designation of large no-take marine reserves in the Coral Sea (Australia), the Kermadec Islands (New Zealand), Easter Island (Chile), Bermuda (UK), the Pitcairn Islands (UK), and South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands.

Designations of these reserves would constitute the creation of the world’s first generation of great marine parks.  They would also provide ocean-scale ecosystem benefits and help conserve our global marine heritage.

Partners supporting Global Ocean Legacy include the Oak Foundation, the Robertson Foundation, the Sandler Foundation, The Pew Charitable Trusts, Lyda Hill and the Waitt Foundation, with additional support from The Tubney Charitable Trust.

Global Ocean Legacy Work


Commercial fishing around the Chagos Archipelago ended on October 31, 2010, making it the largest no-take marine reserve in the world. An estimated 60,000 sharks, an equivalent number of rays and potentially countless other species have been caught legally as by-catch in commercial fisheries each year in the Chagos, something that will be prevented as a result of the fishing ban.


Pew Environment Group Managing Director Josh Reichert discusses President George W. Bush’s designation in January, 2009 of three areas as marine national monuments. Within the areas now protected from energy extraction and commercial fishing is the Mariana trench, the deepest spot on earth.

Pew Charitable Trusts

In more than five decades as a private foundation, The Pew Charitable Trusts honed an approach to social investing that emphasizes measurable results.  Initiatives in culture, education, the environment, health and human services, public policy, and religion have been among the institution’s major areas of emphasis.

In order to better carry out its core mission of serving the public interest, Pew changed its legal structure and began operating as an independent public charity in 2004.  This new status expands Pew’s ability to mobilize resources and empowers the organization to capitalize on new types of ventures and collaborations in its three broad areas of focus: (1) Informing the public on key issues and trends through independent, highly credible research and polling; (2) Advancing policy solutions on important issues facing the American public; and (3) Supporting the arts, heritage, health and well-being of our diverse citizenry and civic life, with particular emphasis on Philadelphia.

Resources/Media

pew-logo.jpgGlobal Ocean Legacy Website
Pew Environment Group Website