Summit Series is raising $500K for a marine protected area 3X the size of Manhattan

Summit Series is raising $500K for a marine protected area 3X the size of Manhattan

While most conferences end with a pile of business cards and a dried out feeling from drinking too much coffee on not enough sleep, Summit Series is not that type of conference.

Adventure journalist and now Chief Reconnaissance Officer Thayer Walker, along with his 20 entrepreneurial jet-setting colleagues of the Summit Series, host events described as a party of smart people in interesting places.

Last year, they hosted the Summit at Sea [story here] with 1,000 attendees including Sir Richard Branson, Peter Diamandis (X Prize Foundation), Jared Cohen (Google), Peter Thiel (The Founders Fund), Russell Simmons, Blake Mycoskie (Tom’s Shoes), social media blogger Gary V and artist Peter Tunney. The Summit focused on saving our oceans, a cause near to Sir Branson’s heart after launching Virgin Oceanic last year. Attendees collaborated with leading scientists, explorers, and conservationists to understand and address the challenges facing our current oceanic ecosystem.

The conference attendees were asked a simple question: “What is one thing that you, your company, or your industry can do to protect the ocean?”

One attendee had a particularly innovative response. Kristofor Lofgren, founder of Bamboo Sushi, the country’s first sustainable sushi restaurant, presented the idea to use revenue from his restaurant to help create marine protected areas where fish could find sanctuary and reproduce. After the conference, Summit Series got a call from Kristofor. He had a $250,000 check and a plan: “Let’s create a marine protected area together.”

Walker tells me that just twenty miles from where their ship anchored at Summit at Sea there’s a sanctuary that needs help. He says the 70 square mile South Berry Island Marine reserves is one of the most ecologically diverse areas in the Bahamas and was named a marine protected area (MPA) a decade ago. While this particular MPA has been declared a no-take zone, meaning there is no fishing of any kind allowed, it’s a sanctuary only in name. There’s no infrastructure, not a single enforcement, officer, and no protection. That’s where the funding will go. In a must-read Scuttlefish interview with Brian Lam, Walker says the money will go to The Nature Conservancy, a non-profit managing the project.

The Nature Conservancy needs $500,000 to get the park running. Thanks to Kristofor, Bamboo Sushi and others, they’ve raised more than $400,000. Author Tim Ferriss has already offered a $25,000 match and Zappo’s Tony Hsieh said that he will also match every dollar up to $25,000.

Now, Summit Series is turning to Crowdrise to help crowdfund the last $100,000. They’ve raised $80,000 out of their goal. They have only $20,000 left and with Tony Hsieh matching dollar for dollar, they really only have $10,000 to go.

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To learn more about why we need to protect our world’s oceans, watch this talk below from last year’s Summit Series with M. Sanjayan, a lead scientist for The Nature Conservancy:

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