Marine Conservation

Protecting our ocean's ecosystems so local industries and communities can thrive

The Walton Family Foundation is committed to preserving marine biodiversity in four priority ecosystems around the world through projects that protect threatened species while ensuring that local industries and communities can thrive. We work with our grantees to establish protected areas for marine wildlife managed by the local stakeholders that understand them best.

Investment Strategies

To achieve our goal of ocean ecosystems that benefit people and nature alike, we pursue two core strategies.

1. Establishing Marine Management in Priority Geographies:
We work to establish environmentally-responsible and economically-viable management of key ocean ecosystems across the globe. In each of these areas, we pursue objectives tailored to that ecosystem and the communities that depend on it.

  • Bird’s Head Seascape (Indonesia)
    Our work in Indonesia focuses on establishing a network of marine protected areas in the Bird’s Head Seascape, one of the most diverse ecosystems in the world. Our goal is to designate up to 30% of these areas as protected marine reserves where no fishing is allowed, which will help restore the extraordinary variety of ocean life in the region. To achieve this goal, we work with the government, local communities and fishing industry to ensure that the seascape is managed in a sustainable and economically-beneficial way for the long term.
  • Eastern Tropical Pacific Seascape (Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador and Panama)
    Along the Pacific coast of Central and South America, we seek to establish local financing, management and governance for a large network of protected areas for a broad range of marine life. We are also working to improve the prosperity and sustainability of the region’s fisheries by creating economic incentives for catching, buying and selling fish in an environmentally-responsible way.
  • Gulf of California
    In the Gulf of California, we are working with local governments and other stakeholders to establish long-term strategies for marine resource management. These strategies include setting up protected areas for marine life as well as working with the region’s fisheries to develop fishing practices that are environmentally sustainable and economically beneficial.
  • Gulf of Mexico
    We have made a long-term commitment to the restoration of the Gulf region to ensure that its economy, environment and communities can thrive now and for generations to come. Learn more >

2. Creating Economic Incentives for Ocean Sustainability: 
Conservation initiatives are most likely to succeed when they take economic viability into account. Around the world, we support efforts to create economic incentives for protecting threatened fish populations. This means working with local fishermen to give them an economic stake in preserving the fish populations they depend on and ensuring that their livelihood can be passed on to the next generation. It also means working with seafood retailers and consumers to make sure that there is a market demand for sustainably-caught fish.

See a full list of our marine conservation grantees >


The foundation measures grantee progress by utilizing a number of ecological, social and economic indicators. We track on-the-ground progress using a variety of qualitative and quantitative metrics including:

  • Population trends for critical species in target geographies;
  • Economic success of fisheries participating in sustainability programs;
  • Jobs created by conservation initiatives; and
  • Improvements in standard of living and food security for local communities.
Grantee Spotlight
Protecting our Seafood Supply with FishChoice

The global demand for seafood has strained fish populations and threatened commercial fisheries, but is helping protect our fish supply. 

Learn more