NMA Grant Opportunities

There has never been a more crucial time for a wider understanding, by a broad public, of the oceans and the threats they face. Often the key to increasing awareness is to encourage smaller projects managed by individuals, community groups, schools, or other conservation charities. The immediate effects at grass roots level can be enormous. Such projects, however worthy, often face challenges in raising the small amounts of finance needed to make them a success. National Aquarium Limited, a sister charity to the National Marine Aquarium, makes small grants available for interesting projects that will make a difference. These projects may be science-based but could equally be based around arts or drama – indeed, the more innovative the better, as long as they make a contribution to raising awareness of the marine environment. Grants awarded so far have been in the region of £1,200-£5,000 and it is likely that future awards will be of similar amounts. Applications will be screened by the National Marine Aquarium for compliance with the criteria set out in the grant guidelines before passing to the Trustee Board for consideration. Before the Trustee Board meet, there is a strict deadline of 3 weeks prior to Trustees meetings for applications to be received.

2019 Priority Themes

This year we are specifically looking for UK based projects that link to VR & digital technologies. We are also interested to receive applications that strive to connect people with seagrass habitats around the world.

We also have some news regarding grants from outside of the UK.

International Grants – the next 3 years

Over the years we have administered a wide variety of grants for ‘conservation through engagement’ projects both in the UK and overseas.

Following a full review of our funding model and an investigation into other remotely funded community based conservation projects across the globe, we have decided to try a new approach for funding international projects for the next three years (2018 to 2021).

We have chosen three organisations, that we have experience of working with already, to focus more support upon and we see this new relationship as working in the following way:

  • Over the next three year period we invite the chosen three to apply for a grant/grants to the total value of £10,000 per organisation.
  • An application can be made for a single project that spans the three year period or applications for multiple projects will be accepted.
  • The model will be reviewed in 2021, but still expect the organisations to consider the longevity of projects after 2021.
  • Projects must still have ‘conservation through engagement’ at their heart and the criteria for judging this will not change.  We would still look for projects that involve local people.
  • We would reserve the right to decide that the projects presented are not the right fit for NMA Grants and therefore not agree to providing the funding.

Watch this space for further announcements regarding who the organisations are and the projects we will be funding.

Future Funding

Our application process is currently closed. Please watch this space for updates about themes and topics for the next round of funding.

For further information contact Liz Cole on email: [email protected]

Previous Grant Examples

National Aquarium Ltd is a charity which gives small grants to organisations or individuals that operate projects to further the goals of the National Marine Aquarium. We support projects which enable individuals and communities to enjoy the seas, learn about our seas and, ultimately, develop active caring attitudes and behaviours.
Projects can be research-based, conservation-focussed, educational or community events – the unifying theme is Conservation through Engagement. Approved project areas include:

Sustainable Seas Mozambique

Location: International
Date Awarded: 2016
Grant Awarded: £2,790

A project which elects six community ambassadors from two communities along the Inhambee coastline in Mozambique.  They will be trained in marine biodiversity education, information about international legislation and the mutually beneficial outputs of alternative sustainable fishing methods to increase fish stocks

Community Conservation of Sea Turtles in Cape Coast

Location: International
Date Awarded: 2016
Grant Awarded: £3,250

Working closely with coastal communities to conduct sea turtle conservation programs in schools & communities.  Establishing a sea turtle volunteer group to undertake patrols and reduce poaching whilst increasing knowledge of fisherman of proper handling and releasing of turtle by-catch.

Galapagos Bullhead Sharks – Rediscovering a Forgotten Species

Location: International
Date Awarded: 2016
Grant Awarded: £5,000

A project which aims to enhance the understanding of the species’ habitat and it’s vulnerability to external factors such as incidental bycatch due to illegal fishing and non-selective fishing practices and increased levels of tourism.  The project  adopts a citizen science approach and brings together local communities, visitors and scientists to increase knowledge and understanding  of the species and conservation research.  A web-based photo-identification database will be developed, allowing mark-capture techniques to be employed to estimate the total number of sharks inhabiting the Galapagos waters

Leaper: A Fish Tale

Location: National
Date Awarded: 2015
Grant Awarded: £4000


A new play for children,  written by a critically-acclaimed children’s puppetry company, highlights the importance of river and marine eco-systems around the UK against destructive fishing methods and plastics pollution. The project aims to gently encourage change by the delivery of performances in theatres, schools and aquariums throughout the UK


Students For Our Coasts: Today & Forever Ghana

Location: International
Date Awarded: 2015
Grant Awarded: £5,000

The project is based in Muni-Pomadxe Ramar, one of five coastal protected wetlands in Ghana and aims to engender student collective action for the successful protection and management of marine ecosystems and their associated creatures.

The Reef-World Foundation to Strengthen the Conservation, Sustainability and Wise Management of Coral Reefs and Associated Coastal Ecosystems in SE Asia.

Location: International
Date Awarded: 2015
Grant Awarded: £3,700

To develop an on-line toolkit to engage a network of dive operators, local communities and government authorities to support sustainable marine recreational activities.


Location: Local
Date Awarded: 2014
Grant Awarded: £4575


This project will provide a series of art installations and workshops, focusing directly on the jellyfish species and the impacts of marine pollution in the Hampshire and Sussex area. The theme of ‘jellytastic’ demonstrate jelly fish and marine pollution, in particular plastic waste such as drink bottles. It will involve schools, students and any type of sea user to learn about the impacts on our sea.

Photographer and Artist: Trudi Lloyd Williams

Waste to Waves

Location: Regional
Date Awarded: 2014
Grant Awarded: £1100


This project focused on supporting the exhibition of ‘Respect’- a fully recycled plastic bottle boat, made by the Cornish Primary School children at the National Maritime Museum Cornwall (NMMC) in Falmouth for 10 weeks. Talks are currently going on in regards to displaying the boat at the University of Plymouth. This project helped raise awareness among a wide audience, informing about the environmental damages caused by waste in particular marine plastic, which needlessly kills millions of sea creatures each year. This project also supported the organisation of a sell-out Ocean Plastic conference at the NMMC, moderated by Paul Cox, which brought together over 100 local and national stakeholders keen to find ways of addressing this serious environmental issue. As a result of this project a group comprising Cornwall Council, SITA, Clean Cornwall, Keep Britain Tidy, Cory, Fishing for Litter, Cornwall Wildlife Trust, National Trust, Surfers Against Sewage, University of Exeter, Falmouth Marine School and various beach cleaning groups have begun a programme to regularly meet to come up with new ways to tackle marine little for this region.

It was suggested by Paul Cox to spend the remainder of the £1,100 received- on a new TV screen to show a loop of films to go alongside a new marine plastic display in the Aquarium in the new year. (This idea has not yet been agreed). The following pictures show the plastic bottle boat, ‘Respect’, out sailing and on a display in the main hall of the National Maritime Museum Cornwall.

Professor Richard Thompson, a top leading expert on marine plastics from the University of Plymouth, giving the keynote speech at the Ocean Plastics Conference supported by the Aquarium.

Hammerheads, Japan - Assessing the structure and habitat use of a novel aggregation

Location: International
Date Awarded: 2014
Grant Awarded: £3600


This involved the process of understanding the form, function and structures of the aggregations of Hammerhead Sharks, in order to establish how to protect them successfully. The team created outreach and engagement events of the local communities to highlight the dangers they are facing.

Marine Wildlife Champions Network - Devon Wildlife Trust

Location: Local
Date Awarded: 2014
Grant Awarded: £4000 / year (for initial 2 years)

Following up from the 2013 pilot scheme- this project intends to build up a network within local schools to encourage children to take positive actions in preserving marine habitats and species. This project will work alongside schools to carry out tasks such as reducing plastic waste and minimising pollution in order to inspire them to become champions!

Ecoteer - Engaging the local villagers and tourists of the Perhential Islands in a Sea Turtle identification Project

Location: International
Date Awarded: 2014
Grant Awarded: £5000


Located in Malaysia, this project will begin in February 2015. It will provide teaching for research; taking suitable photographs (non- invasively) and using software to establish a photo database. This project will also aim to teach and engage tourists as well as the local community to learn to snorkel. By involving snorkel boatmen, it will directly educate and raise awareness about sea turtle conservation.

The Fish-Hearted Bride – Effervescence

Date Awarded: 2014
Grant Awarded: £2500


The Fish-Hearted Bride was a unique community engagement project that linked looked after children and children in care to marine ecology issues which resulted in a large-scale performance for the public.

The application was successful because it put young people and children aged 8 – 20 at the heart of a creative process in which they learnt about the sea and created a performance piece which allowed them to engage with the facilities and marine life of the aquarium.

The play itself engaged with marine ecology and ecological issues and was specifically geared towards the KS2, 3 and 4 curriculums.

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