Blue Pioneers Accelerator Program Provides Funding for Marine Conservation Projects

March 22, 2021

Two projects on sustainable aquaculture and ocean youth outreach are awarded a total of $50,000 through a participatory grantmaking process.

SANTA CRUZ, CA—The Blue Pioneers Accelerator Program (BPP Accelerator) has awarded grants to two marine conservation projects through its 2020 BPP Accelerator grant.

The Triple-Impact Sea Cucumber Aquaculture team won $37,000 to undertake a viability assessment of community-centric sea cucumber aquaculture farming in the Bahamas. This assessment seeks to uncover the most sustainable marine resource management techniques that enhance the biodiversity of the Marine Protected Areas and enable strong governance and profitable livelihoods in local fishing communities.

“Starting from this project, we hope to scale community-centric sea cucumber aquaculture throughout the world to bring fishing communities to participate in the global Blue Economy while protecting thousands of hectares of threatened Marine Protected Areas,” says Timothy Klückow, the technical director at Full Circle Aquaculture. Full Circle Aquaculture is a social enterprise that works to make marine protection profitable for coastal fishing communities.

© Tim Kluckow 2018. Sea cucumbers are one of the few high-value fishery resources accessible to women foot fishers.

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The Ocean Changemaker Showcase team was awarded $13,000 to produce multimedia content featuring the Blue Pioneers and their projects for social media and for a dedicated exhibition at the Youth Panel of the United Nations Biodiversity Convention in Kunming, China, this fall.

“We hope that highlighting the Blue Pioneers and sharing their stories on such a high-profile UN event can inspire more youth and changemakers to join the movement to protect our oceans,” said project lead Songqiao Yao, the Founder and CEO of WildBound, an organization based in China that educates the next generation of earth citizens through education, advocacy, and public communication.

The BPP Accelerator is an intensive leadership development program designed to expand emergent leaders’ capacity to solve complex ocean conservation problems. The program aims to equip the pioneers with skills in system and strategic thinking, collaborative problem solving, and rapid solution development.

The 24 members of the 2020 cohort organized themselves into four teams to compete for the accelerator grants. The winning projects were selected through a peer-review process. The other competing teams work on the Marine Turtle Responder Network and the Traditional Ecological Knowledge in Small Scale Fisheries.

“The grant is not only an important opportunity for the pioneers to collaborate and bring their ideas to action, but also an exciting experiment for us to shift power and resources toward participatory grantmaking through its peer-review process,” said Shiyu Rachel Wang, assistant director of the program.

Initiated by the David and Lucile Packard Foundation and Paradise Foundation, the Blue Pioneers Accelerator Program has trained 75 innovators, entrepreneurs, and NGO leaders worldwide with a geographic focus on the Asia-Pacific region.

“We hope to grow the Blue Pioneers, as well as the network of collaborative learning and innovative problem solving, around the world, because we envision the central role of human talents and human capacities in tackling the global ocean challenges,” said Yuwei Shi, academic director of the program.

Please contact us at or follow us on Twitter @BPP_Accelerator if you are interested in engaging with the program.