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Ocean Conservancy

The Ocean Conservancy
File:Ocean Conservancy logo.png
Predecessor Bill Kardash, Tom Grooms, Roger McManus, Vice Admiral Roger Rufe (USCG Retired)
Established Template:If empty
Type non-profit organization environmental organization
Focus Arctic, Aquaculture, Marine conservation activism, Trash-Free Seas, Gulf Restoration an Fisheries, Marine Protected Area, Coast and Marine Spatial Planning
  • Washington, D.C., United States
Origins The Center for Environmental Education
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900,000+ volunteers & members[1]
Slogan "Start a sea change"
Formerly called
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Ocean Conservancy (founded as The Delta Corporation) is a nonprofit environmental advocacy group based in Washington, D.C., United States. The organization helps formulate ocean policy at the federal and state government levels based on peer reviewed science.


Ocean Conservancy was founded in 1972 as the Delta Corporation to promote healthy and diverse ocean ecosystems, and to oppose practices that threaten oceanic and human life.[2]

Through several program areas,[3] Ocean Conservancy advocates for protecting of special marine habitats, restoring sustainable fisheries, reducing the human impact on ocean ecosystems and managing U.S. ocean resources.[4]

Ocean Conservancy efforts are guided by a 17-member volunteer board of directors.[5]

Previous names

  • Delta Corporation (1972 to mid-1970s)
  • Center for Environmental Education (mid-1970s to 1989)[6]
  • Center for Marine Conservation (1989–2001)[7]
  • Ocean Conservancy (2001–2008)[8]


Ocean Conservancy was founded in 1972, with goals to promote healthy and diverse ocean ecosystems, and to oppose practices that threaten oceanic and human life. The Conservancy's list of priorities include "Restore Sustainable American Fisheries," "Protect Wildlife From Human Impacts," "Conserve Special Ocean Places," and "Reform Government for Better Ocean Stewardship."[9] It started with goals to promote healthy and safe ocean ecosystems and to help prevent things that threaten oceanic and human life. The conservancy's main concern was to restore sustainable American fisheries and protect wildlife from human impact.

Ocean Conservancy is one of the few of the organizations that help protect wildlife in the ocean.

Fund allocation

Ocean Conservancy is a tax-exempt not-for-profit organization.[10] It meets the Better Business Bureau's 20 Standards for Charity Accountability.[10]

The organization's allocation of funds for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2010 lists 68% of funds for program services, 20% for funding raising, and 12% for administration.[11]


The following are six examples of past and current program areas that have defined the scope of Ocean Conservancy’s efforts:


Ocean Conservancy advocates for a time-out on expanding industrial uses in the Arctic to gather more comprehensive science and then develop a comprehensive plan to protect this fragile place.[12]

Trash Free Seas

In addition to hosting the International Coastal Cleanup every year, Ocean Conservancy partners with industry, government, nonprofits and academia to develop ocean trash solutions,[13] such as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

Gulf Restoration and Fisheries

The organization advocates for science-based restoration plans that will end overfishing and create sustainable and productive fisheries.[14]

Marine Protected Areas

Ocean Conservancy works to preserve the ocean’s most extraordinary places for future generations to enjoy.[15]

Coastal and Marine Spatial Planning

Ocean Conservancy advocates for ocean health through the implementation of smart planning and legislative reform that will ensure the durability of the process.[16]


The organization analyzes the environmental risks of ocean fish farming and advocates for a national regulatory framework and standards for safe aquaculture practices.[17]



After a four-year advocacy effort, Ocean Conservancy helped enact a Congressional rewrite of the Magnuson–Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act in 1996,[18] which changed the way fisheries are managed. It remains the nation’s primary fisheries law.[19]

Prior to 1996 the law contained no provisions to stop overfishing or require the rebuilding of fish stocks.[20] There was no prohibition of bycatch, when fish and animals are caught unintentionally by fishing gear or nets targeting specific species. Nor was there a directive to protect fish habitat. Ocean Conservancy lobbied successfully to close these loopholes and establish more sustainable fishing practices.[20]

International Coastal Cleanup

Upset with litter on Texas beaches, Ocean Conservancy staff member Linda Maraniss helped launch the Texas Coastal Cleanup in 1986.[21] By 1989, the cleanup event had spread globally to become the International Coastal Cleanup.[22] According to the American Recycler magazine, it is the world’s largest all-volunteer event for the ocean.[23] Events are held around every major body of water in the world including streams, rivers, and lakes. Almost 600,000 volunteers have cleaned 9 millions of pounds of trash from thousands of miles of coastline and waterways, tallying every item found.[24]

Ocean Conservancy’s annual reports on the Cleanup with location-by-location, state-by-state and country-by-country data have informed national legislation and inspired countless new volunteers to join the event year after year.[25]

Marine mammals

Ocean Conservancy aims to protect marine mammals and their habitat. In 1979, the organization established the Seal Rescue Fund (SRF) to protect marine mammals from commercial exploitation.[26] Its efforts to ban whaling resulted in the International Whaling Commission adopting an international moratorium on commercial whaling in 1982.[26] In 1984, Ocean Conservancy led efforts against U.S.-sanctioned fur seal hunt by blocking renewal of the North Pacific Fur Seal Treaty in the Pribilof Islands, as well as efforts to protect dolphins from the tuna industry.[27] Ocean Conservancy was also a key player in the creation of the dolphin-safe tuna-labeling program.[28]

Sea turtles

Ocean Conservancy’s effort for sea turtles, which resulted in the requirement for turtle excluder devices (TEDs) in shrimp trawl gear, saves thousands of turtles each year.[29] Ocean Conservancy’s Sea Turtle Rescue Fund appealed directly to shrimpers to voluntarily address the problem of sea turtles drowning in their nets.[29]

Ocean Conservancy played a major role in derailing proposals to reopen international trade in sea turtle products and in ending Japanese imports of Hawksbill sea turtle shells.[30]

Ocean Conservancy campaigned to regulate beachfront lighting and secure funding for the Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge in Florida played a significant role in protecting sea turtle nesting sites.

Coral reef protection and Marine Sanctuaries programs

Ocean Conservancy helped establish four of the first six U.S. marine sanctuaries—Channel Islands, Gulf of the Farallones, Gray's Reef, and Looe Key.[31] By the early 1990s, Ocean Conservancy was the lead non-governmental organization winning the designation of 10 of the 13 sanctuaries. Ocean Conservancy helped establish several sanctuaries, including those in the Florida Keys and Stellwagen Bank. Under the Carter administration, Ocean Conservancy fought to prohibit oil and gas drilling in two proposed sanctuaries in California. In 1981, the Reagan administration tried to block the oil-drilling ban, but failed, largely due to the efforts of an Ocean Conservancy-led coalition. Along with other partners, Ocean Conservancy fought to save the program in the 1980s when it was nearly eliminated.

Ocean Conservancy is attempting to halt current and future coral reef damage in two key ways: through changing policy and by building resiliency.[32] The coral are very sensitive to changes in water temperature and quality caused by global warming, and many times these changes result in disease and death of the reef. The Ocean Conservancy informs the public of the problems plaguing reefs as well as other marine ecosystems through their website and a magazine that they publish. They also have a staff of senior scientists and policy experts who travel to Capitol Hill to share their expertise and to urge policymakers to encourage the implementation of policies regarding the mitigation, adaptation, and alternatives to damaging activities such as the use of carbon-based fuels.[33]

To help build resiliency for the reefs, marine protected areas(MPAs), sometimes called “undersea Yosemites,” have been designated through policies encouraged by Ocean Conservancy. These MPAs are areas where endangered marine species can be placed so that they can continue undisturbed by human activities, allowing the individuals to thrive and their population to rebound in numbers. Within the areas of the MPAs, reefs are protected from sediment, trash, and pollution resulting from human activity. They are also “no take” zones, meaning that humans are not allowed to extract any resources out of these areas – including fish, oil, gas, or minerals. This can help restore the resiliency of many reefs, as there is evidence that when undisturbed coral reefs can recover on their own. The Ocean Conservancy’s plans for promoting reef protection therefore include a comprehensive plan incorporating three goals: encouraging the establishment of more (and more protective) MPAs, improving reef management, and calling for immediate action to mitigate the ecological effects of global warming.[34]

The aftermath of the BP oil spill in 2010 produced a significant amount of damage to the coral reef systems present throughout the Gulf of Mexico. In response to the damage, Ocean Conservancy developed a Gulf Restoration Program, led by senior conservation biologists and ecologists to try to help reverse the damage. Through this program, scientists were able to discover “deep sea” coral damage that was initially overlooked in the original projections of the costs of restoration. These deep sea corals have been in some cases developing for thousands of years, implying that they have a very slow growth rate and are especially vulnerable to disturbances such as oil spills. Taking this damage into account, the Gulf Restoration Program pressed for more compensation from the liable parties (the oil company as well as the rig company) and the government to offset the additional costs of restoration. The program funds monitoring of the damages as well as gulf restoration efforts. The organization projects that full restoration of the Gulf to its former state will require decades of work.[35]


Board of Directors

Mr. Curtis Bohlen
Washington, DC
Dr. David C. Aldrich
Vice Chair
Vienna, VA
Mr. Patrick B. Purcell
Pacific Palisades, CA
Mr. Steven Moore
Los Altos Hills, CA
Mr. Thomas H. Allen
Portland, ME and Washington, DC
Ms. Laura Burton Capps
Washington, DC
Mr. Philippe Cousteau
Washington, DC
Ms. Nicole Luskey
Englewood, CO
Ms. Cecily Majerus
Berkeley, CA
Mr. Will Martin
Nashville, TN
Mr. Edward M. Miller
Charlottesville, VA
Ms. Dane Nichols
Watch Hill, RI and Washington, DC
Dr. Michael K. Orbach
Beaufort, NC
Dr. Stephen Palumbi
Pacific Grove, CA
Dr. Enric Sala
Washington, DC
Mr. David Zaches
Monterey, CA

See also

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  1. ^ "The Ocean Conservancy". Charitywire. 
  2. ^ “Arctic”
  3. ^ “A Resolution for Gulf Restoration: An Open Letter to President Obama and the Five Gulf State Governors ”
  4. ^ "Marine Conservation Organizations". MarineBio. 
  5. ^ “Better Business Bureau Review”, October 2010
  6. ^ "The International Coastal Cleanup". Scientific Advisory Council: Members. American Cetacean Society. 
  7. ^ "Name change certificate of amendment" (PDF). Government of the District of Columbia. Retrieved 25 June 2005. 
  8. ^ "Who We Are". Ocean Conservancy. 
  9. ^ The Ocean Conservancy: What We Do
  10. ^ a b "Ocean Conservancy". Better Business Bureau. 
  11. ^ "Audited Financial Statements: Ocean Conservancy, Inc.". ARGY, WILTSE & Robinson, P.C. Retrieved 30 June 2010. 
  12. ^ "A ‘Science-Based Policy’ on Arctic Ocean Oil Drilling in the United States". The Arctic Institute. Retrieved 30 January 2012. 
  13. ^ "International Coastal Cleanup". Englewood Sun. 15 September 2011. 
  14. ^ "Gaines, Richard "Tierney, others step up push for fishing reforms". Gloucester Times. 10 April 2012. 
  15. ^ "Two Cape Neddick teens honored for volunteerism". SeacoastOnline. 12 February 2012. 
  16. ^ "Securing a U.S. framework for Marine Spatial Planning Grant". Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation. 
  17. ^ "Grant Recipient 2009:Ocean Conservancy". Wait Foundation. 
  18. ^ [A New Course For America’s Fish and Fishermen: A Review of the Magnuson Stevens Reauthorization Act of 2006 and the Challenges Ahead.” Marine Fish Conservation Network (MFCN) Website. MFCN. September 2007. Web. Pg. 3. November 2, 2010 Sustainable Development 16, Dec. 2008]
  19. ^ [ 16 U.S.C. §§ 1801-1884]
  20. ^ a b [“Implementing Annual Catch Limits: A Blueprint for Ending Overfishing in U.S. Fisheries.” Marine Fish Conservation Network (MFCN) Website. MFCN, April 2009. Web. Pg. 3. November 2, 2010]
  21. ^ “Coastal Cleanups With Kids”, Narragansett Bay Journal, Winter 2011
  22. ^ [1]
  23. ^ “Data shows types of trash in ocean and waterways” American Recycler, May 2012
  24. ^ “International Coastal Cleanup Day 2011 Collects 9 Million Pounds Of Garbage” Huffington Post, March 27, 2012
  25. ^ “Environmental Management” Volusia County
  26. ^ a b Federal Register Vol. 50, No. 241 December 16, 1985
  27. ^ [ "North Pacific Fur Seal Treaty of 1911". National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.]
  28. ^ “The fairy tale of US “dolphin safe” labelling: False claims, unintended consequences” Robertson, Mark J, Bridges Trade BioRes Review, Volume 6 Number 1, May 2012
  29. ^ a b [ Lee, Scott (1999) (PDF). Ancient Sea Turtles: Stranded in a Modern World. USA: Sea Turtle Restoration Project.]
  30. ^ [ Anne B. Meylan and Marydele Donnelly, “Status Justification for Listing the Hawksbill Turtle as Critically Endangered on the 1996 IUCN Red List of Threatened Animals,” Chelonian Conservation and Biology, April 1999, vol. 3, no. 2, p. 203]
  31. ^ [2]
  32. ^ “Politicians, scientists, environmental groups comment on BP oil spill anniversary” Schleifstein, Mark, The Times-Picayune April 23, 2012
  33. ^ [ “Oceans in peril World's seas face myriad threats” Daytona Beach Daily Journal, June 8, 2009]
  34. ^ “Everglades Offers Model for Massive Gulf Restoration, Says Senior Obama Admin Official ” QUINLAN, PAUL NYT June 17, 2010
  35. ^ [3]
  36. ^ "Green giants get time with NOAA". Gloucester Times. Retrieved 23 September 2011. 
  37. ^ "Coalition offers vision for gulf restoration". Retrieved 20 March 2015. 
  38. ^ "Walton Family Foundation gives millions to ocean privatization efforts". AlterNet. Retrieved 17 August 2011. 

External links