‘Coastal 500’ named The Earthshot Prize finalist

Leaders commit to protecting and restoring coastal ecosystems

Coastal 500, a global network of mayors and local leaders committed to healthy, prosperous, and thriving coastal communities, is one of the 15 finalists for The Earthshot Prize 2023. This is a prestigious global environmental award initiated by Prince William that celebrates and champions innovators focused on solving our most pressing global climate challenges.

Rocky Sanchez Tirona, the woman behind Coastal 500, secures a spot as one of the 15 finalists for The Earthshot Prize 2023.

The Coastal 500, which Rare helped launch in 2021, is among three finalists in the “Revive Our Oceans” category. The winners will be announced in Singapore on Nov. 7, 2023.

The Coastal 500, along with the 14 other Earthshot finalists, were chosen from more than 1,100 nominees. Each of the finalists will be in the running to receive one of five £1 million prizes.

Mayors from the Philippines are writing their signatures in support of healthy and sustainable fishing communities.

Currently, the Coastal 500 consists of more than 160 mayors or their equivalent from communities in Brazil, Guatemala, Honduras, Indonesia, Micronesia, Mozambique, Palau, and the Philippines. These leaders represent communities adjacent to coastal waters, which are high in biodiversity and critical habitats, but are under enormous pressure from climate change, overfishing, pollution, and other human activity.

The Coastal 500 leaders commit to protecting and restoring coastal ecosystems to safeguard ocean biodiversity, which improves the livelihoods and food security for half a billion people worldwide, while curbing climate change.

'Healthy oceans are vital to securing livelihoods, ensuring food security and slowing the effects of climate change.'

Since its inception, the Coastal 500 network has been a global leader in influencing stakeholders within the fisheries sector to ensure positive shifts in public opinion, political will, and government policies impacting coastal ocean waters and coastal communities. It has also served as a valuable platform for peer-to-peer learning, technical and network support, and advocacy development for coastal leaders from all over the world.

"Healthy oceans are vital to securing livelihoods, ensuring food security and slowing the effects of climate change,” said Rocky Sanchez Tirona, managing director of Rare’s Fish Forever program. “Rare nominated the Coastal 500 for the Earthshot Prize because we know the best way to restore and protect our ocean is to give the communities closest to them the tools, resources, and rights to care for them. The members of the Coastal 500 are inspiring their fellow local leaders to commit to thriving coastal communities through ocean protection and turning local action into global impact.”

Local leaders reported an 80% increase in sustainable, community-managed fish catches in Coastal 500-represented areas.

"The concept of the Coastal 500 is rooted in Rare’s belief that locally-led solutions achieve the greatest impact for people and nature,” said Brett Jenks, CEO of Rare. “We are thrilled to see the spotlight shine on these local leaders and the communities they serve in hopes that it inspires even greater support for locally-led conservation. We are grateful to the Earthshot Prize Council for recognizing the value of local leadership in tackling our planet’s greatest environmental challenges.”

The principal aspect to the Coastal 500 is the “Participant Pledge,” where members publicly commit to take specific actions to build healthy, prosperous, and thriving coastal communities through activities focused on: Promoting responsible fisher behaviors; advocating for the rights of local fishers to access local waters; encouraging participation in fisheries management; endorsing no-take reserves; investing in community-based fisheries management; and sharing lessons and experiences with other local leaders from around the world.

Coastal 500 is actively restoring ocean habitats and promoting global coastal protection.

Rare, through its Fish Forever program, is the main facilitator of the Coastal 500. It works to empower coastal communities to sustainably manage coastal resources and prevent overfishing. The program has engaged over 1,700 communities across eight countries and is helping place over 5.5-million hectares of ocean water under sustainable management.