A healthy ocean is vital to addressing the triple planetary crisis of global warming, pollution, and biodiversity loss. The ocean plays an essential role in climate regulation: it absorbs carbon dioxide and heat, and the life within produces half the oxygen we breathe. More than 3 billion people around the world—mainly in the Global South—rely on fish as the primary source of protein in their diet, while fisheries, aquaculture and post-harvest work provide employment and income for a significant percentage of the world’s population.
Climate change, overfishing, biodiversity loss, and pollution pose existential threats to marine species and ecosystems. Further pressures come from increasing levels of human activity such as renewable energy generation, aquaculture, and shipping—and emerging threats loom from potential industries like deep-sea mining and marine geoengineering. Despite covering 70% of the Earth’s surface, less than 8% of the ocean remains protected, and less than 3% is fully protected from any human activity whatsoever.
Dedicated reporting and engagement are required to bring these issues to broader news agendas and public attention—and drive real change. Inspired by the model of collaborative, cross-border environmental journalism pioneered by the Pulitzer Center’s rainforest initiatives, the Ocean Reporting Network (ORN) launched in May 2023. The ORN will establish a collaborative ecosystem of journalists around the world, supporting at least eight full-time Fellows who will systematically probe the drivers of the degradation of our marine environment across a range of topics, stories and formats. Learn more about our 2023 ORN Fellows.
In addition to the ORN, the Pulitzer Center’s Ocean initiative also supports individual stories through a number of additional grant opportunities. Through these schemes, we intend to develop a global cohort of journalists dedicated to surfacing vital and underreported ocean and fisheries stories. We seek to support enterprising freelance and staff journalists who come with ambitious reporting projects that will yield high-quality, in-depth journalism.
Connected Coastlines Grants | A nationwide initiative, Connected Coastlines has built a consortium of newsrooms and independent journalists who are reporting on climate change issues from every coastline in the mainland U.S..
Deep Dives: Ocean and Fisheries Reporting Grants | A new reporting grant launched in 2023, Deep Dives is primarily focused on ocean health and fisheries, but open to wider reporting proposals on climate impacts, pollution and biodiversity loss. In addition, the Pulitzer Center would like to encourage more applications on lesser-reported topics, including deep-sea mining, shipping, aquaculture and more.