Give back to the sea
What you take for free

‘The underwater world is still a unique and wonderful place. It offers the visitor adventure and excitement, but if we continue to destroy this precious gift, marine life as we know it will cease to exist. A farmer reaps what he or she sows, a fisherman just reaps. Marine animals are free for the taking; the ocean a garbage tip for the world. Unless we change our destructive ways one day there will be nothing left to take, just a poisonous polluted sea.’

– Valerie Taylor AM

Swim 4A Fish is a CollaborOCEANS initiative for World Ocean Day, operating in conjunction with Youth Ocean Carnival. The program invites communities to host their own events, where a group of passionate people come together to raise funds for a particular endangered species or marine area. 


Replenish our oceans
Support High Marine Protection Areas
Preserve Marine Biodiversity


The Swim 4A Fish program is a homegrown initiative responding to the critical need for ocean action. With the UN Sustainable Development goals firmly in sight for 2030, now is the time to make a difference on both a community and global level.

Individuals, schools, swim clubs, sports teams and community groups are mobilised to do their part for the protection of endangered marine species by swimming at their local beach or pool to raise funds for a specific conservation project. If you don’t fancy swimming, feel free to sail, kayak or surf 4A fish on World Ocean Day! By acting together, we can make a difference for the future of our precious blue planet.

Established in 2021, Swim 4A Fish is growing rapidly, with a goal for countless community events to be hosted across Australia on June 8th in 2023.

Swim 4A fish is committed to doing the right thing by our own local environment, as well as participating in global outreach programs.


Don’t just raise funds, raise your hand to get out in the natural environment and make a change on World Ocean Day. The HELP OUT component of Swim 4A Fish is about how every little bit counts. When we combine our efforts, we can truly make a difference for the natural environment. Every recycled coffee cup counts, every purchase of sustainably sourced fish, every time you fill a reusable water bottle.

As well as joining in the swimming events on World Ocean Day, participants are invited to band with their community for mini activations that make a tangible impact to the local coastal environment.

This can include anything from a community clean up effort on the beach, to finding homegrown sustainable solutions to our excess plastic waste issue, to improving your school’s recycling habits.

How it works?
    1. Sign up with your local school, club or community group
    2. Fundraise in the lead up to World Ocean Day
      (In schools, $5 per child participating in the swim)
      On World Ocean Day
    3. JUMP IN: On June 8th, host a Swim 4A Fish event.
    4. HELP OUT: lend your hands to community Mini Actions

By acting together, we can make a difference for the future of the blue planet.

2021 Swim at Manly Beach NSW

Established in 2021 by Timothy Johnston, the first Swim 4A Fish event was a great success. The inaugural swim was a world-first at Manly Beach in Sydney, Australia. Twenty volunteers from the ‘Bold and the Beautiful’ swim club organised an event to raise funds for the Australian Leopard Shark Recovery Program, a world-first with Conservation International.



Swimmers are asked to Register HERE for the Swim 4A Fish Fundraiser for Conservation International in Timor-Leste.

Read more about the Timor-Leste Fish & Reef Recovery program for 2022/2023, giving you an understanding of the incredible biodiversity of Atauro reef.

We are asking participants to swim for $5, $10 or $500 to help raise $50,000 for Conservation International’s important work in Atauro reef. Please register your interest HERE so we can track your goodwill for marine life. If you would like to go on the swimmers virtual wall – please let us know in your form so we can see your name, how far you swam, and how much you raised. Happy Swimming!


As one of the youngest nations on Earth, becoming a sovereign state in May 2002, Timor-Leste faces major development challenges. Yet with this comes a unique opportunity to forge an innovative and sustainable development pathway based on nature. Conservation International’s work in Timor-Leste began in 2009 and we remain the only international NGO to focus wholly on conservation and environmental issues there. We established our Timor-Leste office in 2012 with a focus on helping the Government of Timor-Leste establish a national protected area network to support sustainable livelihoods for the Timorese people.

Eighty percent of the population still depends on subsistence farming and fishing for survival as their only source of income and yet despite this fundamental dependence on nature, less than 0.02% of national spending is directed to protecting and managing the environment. This funding allocation does not necessarily reflect poor understanding of the importance of nature to people, but rather, it is a reflection of other pressing needs such as for healthcare, education, and infrastructure.

Atauro Island

Atauro Island is located 22 nautical miles north of Dili and, in recent marine surveys, was found to contain an average reef fish count of 253 individual species per dive site — a global record. Atauro is also one of the few sites, globally, where migrating cetaceans (aquatic mammals) form into ‘superpods’ as they use the channel between Atauro and the mainland as a “superhighway” for annual migrations. Despite its ecological riches, roughly 40% of the island’s 12,000 residents live below the poverty line with limited access to income-generation. Fishing and farming are key sources of food security and income, while forests provide firewood for cooking.

CI began working on Atauro Island in 2015. Since then we have worked to help establish voluntary Community Conservation Groups (CCGs) on Atauro. These CCGs have been central to the drive to create a system of community-managed marine protected areas (MPAs) around the island. Rule around access to the MPAs is controlled by the community collectively, utilising the Timorese tradition of Tara Bandu (traditional no-take zones) and patrolled by the CCG volunteers. Fish have space to replenish their stocks, and fishers can collect the stock that overflow from the MPA with minimal effort. As the communities have witnessed the return of healthy fish stocks, they have come to realise the benefits of actively protecting and managing their natural assets. In 2018 the CCGs also began patrolling beaches to protect the nests of critically endangered hawksbill and vulnerable olive ridley turtles from pigs and dogs, and talking with other villages about the importance of turtles, both in terms of intrinsic biodiversity values but also specifically as a potential tourist attraction. In 2019, Atauro’s 12 protected areas were united through the creation of Timor Leste’s first national MPA network.

Pre-Covid, Atauro was building a reputation with nature-based tourists, who came primarily to enjoy world-class diving in the near shore coastal MPAs. To access the MPAs, dive operators paid the CCGs who, in turn, protect and manage the MPAs. We know this system works, and there is potential for tourism to play a much greater role in supporting sustainable livelihoods for Atauro residents in the future.

Covid and need for interim support

Both the success of the MPAs and the long term turtle protection hinge on tourism. MPA entry feed paid by divers should ideally be paying for the management of the MPAs and – ecotourism packages should be supporting the community patrols of the turtle nesting beaches. However since the start of Covid, Atauro’s hotels and beaches have been deserted by international tourists, who were expected to bring this revenue.

We fully expect that tourism will return to Atauro – but the community need interim support to keep their efforts going whilst they wait. Funds contributed through Swim for a Fish will go to helping the islanders keep their natural resources well managed, patrolling their MPAs and fencing turtle nests from predators.They would also like to start some standardized data collection on the species and the numbers of hatchlings, and this funding can also support this work to start. And they’ll look forward to welcoming you to Atauro to share the riches of their beautiful island when international travel resumes.