ROC Grants Program

Small grants for big ocean conservation opportunities…


Rapid Ocean Conservation (ROC) Grants Program
a project of the Waitt Foundation

The Rapid Ocean Conservation (ROC) Grants Program provides small grants with a quick turnaround time for solutions to emerging conservation issues. This complements the Waitt Foundation’s existing major grants program and is responsive to conservation opportunities, supports higher-risk ideas at a low financial cost, and engages with small, local NGOs domestically and abroad.

Granting/Funding Cycle

The 2014 funding cycle is now closed to new applications.  The program will begin accepting new applications on January 1, 2015.

ROC Grant Program Focus

Grants will fund projects related to the WF mission of supporting sustainable fishing and marine protected areas (MPAs). This includes sub-themes of:

Scientific Research. Includes natural science or social science projects. For example, collecting baseline data before coastal development or MPA establishment, or studying fishery effects of a natural (e.g. tsunami) or man-made (e.g. oil spill) disaster. As appropriate (e.g., if AUVs/ROVs are involved), project execution could be organized in collaboration with WI.

Policy. Includes opportunistic projects around unique public policy windows, such as preparation of policy analysis and support of experts’ efforts to inform decision makers on upcoming government actions. For example, a cost-benefit analysis of proposed fishing regulations, or travel expenses for a delegation of scientists to educate elected officials.

Management. Includes enforcement and infrastructure support. For example, stop-gap funding to increase enforcement capacity in light of a sudden uptick in illegal dynamite fishing, or training personnel to enforce new regulations about to go into effect.

Communications. Includes raising public awareness and engaging stakeholders, including advertizing by a 501(c)3 group around a public policy moment. For example, a PR blitz (e.g. billboards or radio adds) to educate the public in advance of a vote on an ocean conservation measure, or training local people to become citizen scientists or enforcement tipsters.


The Black Fish Foundation, Mediterranean Driftnet Campaign: Inspecting the mesh size of a fishing net in the Tunisian port of Mahares


Proposals for grants up to $10,000 will be reviewed on a rolling basis. Proposals up to $20,000 will be considered, but granted highly infrequently. Project funds will be distributed with in 2 weeks of funding decisions. More rapid turnaround is possible for highly urgent projects.

Evaluation Criteria

- Funding Urgency: how quickly the project needs to begin for maximum effectiveness
- Conservation Impact: magnitude of ecological, socioeconomic, and policy benefit
- Scale of Impact: geographic area and likeliness of applicability/replication elsewhere
- Feasibility of Implementation: based on socioeconomic and political context
- Organizational Capacity: adequacy of staff size and expertise to execute project


Project must support sustainable fishing and/or MPAs as elaborated in the program focus section.

Applicants need not hold advanced degrees, but must demonstrate a commensurate level of experience and expertise with respect to the proposed project.

Applicants must have and maintain legitimate affiliation with an academic institution or NGO for the duration of the grant project.

ROC grants should constitute the sole or primary source of funding for the proposed project, not serve as complementary funding for larger, more costly projects.

Spending of grant funds must commence within 1 month of granting, and be completed within 6.

Funds cannot be used for event sponsorships (e.g. conferences, workshops).


For the first time, older ships are not sold for scrap but are used to create a point of interest for those who wish to explore the depths of the sea. An environmental study of the area and change the eco system of the Gulf is being conducted by the Albanian Center for Marine Research

Application Process

First, please review our grantee requirements.

All applicants must submit a project specific budget for how the Waitt Foundation funds would be used, therefore, please be prepared to attach your budget during the online submission (sample budget).  Applications without a budget will not be considered.

We require all grant applications to be submitted via our website. The Waitt Foundation does not accept proposals by e-mail, mail or fax.  To submit an application online, click here. Please note that this application is part of a larger two stage system, however, ROC grants applicants are only required to complete the first stage.

Proposal Review Process

Proposals are reviewed on a rolling basis.

Program Manager


Dominique Rissolo, Ph.D.
Senior Program Officer
Director, Small Grants Programs

Dr. Dominique Rissolo is an archaeologist with field experience in the United States and Latin America. He received his Ph.D. and M.A. in anthropology, with an emphasis in archaeology, from the University of California, Riverside, and received his B.A. in anthropology, with a minor in geological sciences, from San Diego State University. Prior to joining the Waitt Institute, Dominique taught anthropology and archaeology at San Diego State University where he is currently an adjunct professor.


Recent ROC Grant Awards

Albanian Center for Marine Research
Principal Investigators: Derek Smith
Project: Protecting Ksamil Bay: Fostering Marine Conservation and Sustainable Tourism on the ‘Albanian Riveria’

Biosphere Foundation
Principal Investigator: Dr. Phillip Dustan
Project: Caribbean Coral Reef through Time: 1972-2013

Black Fish Foundation
Principal Investigator: Wietse van der Werf
Project: Mediterranean Driftnet Campaign

Cuba Marine Research & Conservation
Principal Investigator: Dr. Daria Siciliano
Project: Testing Biotic Resistance to the Caribbean Lionfish Invasion in Southern Cuba

Environmental Law Alliance Worldwide
Principal Investigator: Jennifer Gleason
Project: Urgent Creation of Haiti’s First MPA in Caracol Bay

Fauna & Flora International
Principal Investigator: Sophie Benbow
Project: Urgently Needed Evidence to Support Enforcement of Marine Area Under Protection in Maio, Cape Verde

Fundenic SOS
Principal Investigator: Ivan Ramirez, MSc
Blast Fishing Awareness and Quick Response Program for the South Pacific Coast of Nicaragua

James Beard Foundation
Project: Chefs Boot Camp for Policy and Change

Living Oceans Society
Principal Investigator: Kim Wright
Project: Protection for British Columbia’s Marine Environment through Indigenous People’s and Community Conserved Territories and Areas

Mote Marine Laboratory
Principal Investigator: Dr. Nicholas Whitney
Project: Fine-scale Behavior and Post-release Recovery in Great White Sharks

Scripps Institution for Oceanography
Principal Investigators: Dr. Brad Erisman / Chris Neighbors
Project: Kia Over There, a documentary highlighting environmental issues facing the Fijian fishing village

University of Maine School of Marine Sciences
Principal Investigator: Dr. Robert Steneck
Project: A Community Based, Co-management No-take Reserve and Demonstration Project for Antigua’s Coral Reefs

University of the West Indies
Principal Investigator: Dr. Suzanne E. Palmer
Project: Rapid Assessment of Marine Ecosystems in the Portland Bight Protected Area of Jamaica to Inform Proposed Development Plans

Washington State University, Vancouver
Principal Investigator: Cori Kane
Project: Rapid Assessment of Ka’ohe Bay, Hawaii before MPA Implementation

Cori Kane, Ph.D. Student at Washington State University, conducting a comprehensive ecological assessment of Ka'ohe Bay, Hawaii to provide a pre-MPA baseline for managers to assess the effectiveness of MPA protections.