Oceana in the Canyon

One of my favorite things about working in conservation is the interconnectedness and collaboration between and among so many diverse groups and people. After all, we’re all in this for one reason—to protect the world we love.

That’s why I was so honored when Oceana, an organization I’ve long admired for their global ocean advocacy, asked to hold their 2020 COVID-19-safe fundraiser at our new headquarters. The request came from Michael and Tricia Berns—incredible philanthropists and conservationists and supporters of Oceana and Laguna Canyon Foundation. After hearing the details, of course, we said YES.

Rather than their traditional annual gala, which was out of the question given COVID-19, Oceana pivoted to a series of small dinners at select homes on one beautiful summer evening. Emceed live via Zoom by Ted Danson and Sam Waterston, the evening featured a special performance by Sting, who sang the 2020 anthem Don’t Stand So Close to Me, and a guest appearance by Leonardo DiCaprio, environmental advocate and Oceana supporter. At our lovely headquarters in the Canyon, ten socially-distanced guests sat outdoors at their own tables of two, and enjoyed an epic sunset celebration of all Oceana has accomplished this year alone.

Some highlights from their year include:

  • An agreement with the government of Belize to minimize the damage from gillnets, thus protecting the world’s second largest barrier reef.
  • The modernization of Brazil’s catch reporting in their industrial fishing operations, allowing for transparent data on Brazil’s fisheries.
  • The end of new polluting salmon farms in Patagonian Chile.
  • A ban on Styrofoam food containers in New York.
  • Hard limits protecting whales, sea turtles and dolphins from the California-based swordfish drift gillnet fishery.
  • Belizean phase out of single-use plastics and Styrofoam.
Hallie Jones and Jon Barber

Is it any wonder that I’ve decided I want to be just like Oceana CEO Andrew Sharpless when I grow up? Oceana’s science-based global advocacy for our oceans makes an incredible difference, and we at Laguna Canyon Foundation were so honored to be a part of celebrating their wonderful achievements at our new home in the wilderness we love so much.




Event photos by Jon Barber; whale photo by Cameron Davis