Challenge Grant: be part of our success!

We have a chance to make marine conservation history
but there is one contribution missing...yours!

Time is running out. Donate today and the Waitt Foundation will
match your donation dollar for dollar!

Give green to save blue!

Photo: Brian Skerry

On the Tide

News Release October 5, 2015
Marine Conservation Institute Applauds New Marine Protected Areas Announced at Our Oceans Conference Today

SEATTLE — Today, at the Our Oceans Conference in Valparaiso, Chile, several counties announced new commitments ... » read more

Blog October 2, 2015
A Decade of Creating Large Marine Protected Areas

Across the United States, over 10% of our land has been set aside to protect ... » read more

Blog September 24, 2015
Four ocean animals you probably didn’t know needed protection:

The ocean is a great wilderness that is largely unexplored. Home to some of the ... » read more

Blog September 16, 2015
Is the “Marine Protected Area” label creating the illusion of marine biodiversity conservation?

Marine biologists Mark Costello and Bill Ballantine from Leigh Marine Laboratory in New Zealand recently ... » read more

Blog September 11, 2015
Will President Obama establish the first marine monument in the Atlantic Ocean? We are working on it.

Just eighty miles off the coast of Maine lies the last, best example of what ... » read more

President Obama Addresses Our Oceans Conference about issues at the heart of Marine Conservation Institute's work.

Missing flash plugin. Download here.


View our 2014 Annual Report


More emphasis is needed on better marine protected area design, durable management and compliance to ensure that marine protected areas achieve their desired conservation value. It is a complex undertaking, but one that needs to happen.
Dr. Graham J. Edgar
Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, University of Tasmania
Marine-protected areas are clearly a positive trend, a reflection of the growing awareness of governments across the globe that the oceans and their bounty are not limitless or indestructible.
The New York Times
Editorial Board (February 15, 2014)
Well-enforced no-take marine reserves universally increase diversity, size, abundance, and biomass of fish inside their boundaries, which makes them very attractive to tourism. The Global Ocean Refuge System will help the world create more of these no-take marine reserves.
Dr. Enric Sala
Explorer-in-Residence, National Geographic Society
Governments and scientists need to work together to better design, maintain, improve and protect ‘protected areas.’
The New York Times
Editorial Board (February 15, 2014)
The Global Ocean Refuge System is critical to saving the biodiversity of our oceans. It makes so much sense, we all should have thought of it a long time ago.
Dr. Sylvia Earle
Renowned Ocean Conservationist
GLORES is the most exciting marine conservation initiative I’ve seen in a while! I think we urgently need something that can be an alternative to a simple rating of conservation success based on the number of square kilometers their MPAs cover.
Dr. Rodolphe Devillers
Memorial University of Newfoundland
The creation of a marine-protected area is only the start of an effective conservation effort, not the end.
The New York Times
Editorial Board (February 15, 2014)

President Lance Morgan Describes Marine Conservation Institute’s Important Work…

Missing flash plugin. Download here.

Our Conservation Priorities for 2015

Protecting wild ocean places, for us and future generations

  • Global Ocean Refuge System

    The Global Ocean Refuge System (GLORES) is our strategic priority in 2015. It is our long-term, science-based, collaborative and international effort designed to catalyze strong protection for at least 20% of the ecosystems in each marine biogeographic region of the world’s oceans by 2030 ― enough to safeguard all marine species from extinction. Most of our programs tie-in some way to GLORES.

    Strategic priority

    » Click to learn more
  • Science-Based Criteria for Global Ocean Refuges

    We continue to work on the scientific criteria for the Global Ocean Refuge System. There are many complex interacting factors to evaluate including which marine areas to protect, what constitutes strong protection and how to effectively manage and enforce these areas. We are collaborating with other marine scientists and conservation organizations to complete the criteria and plan to start testing them on select marine areas in 2015.

    Strategic priority
    Scientific support for protecting places in the sea

    » Click to learn more
  • Partner Support for the Global Ocean Refuge System

    Partner support is critical to the success of the Global Ocean Refuge System. We have already generated strong partner momentum for the initiative. In 2015, we are continuing our work to build partner and donor support from several different sectors including: marine scientists, conservation organizations, corporations, the travel and tourism industry, foundations and more.

    Strategic priority
    Partnering with business to advance ocean conservation

    » Click to learn more
  • Hawaiian Monk Seal Interactions Report

    We are completing the first comprehensive report on human-monk seal interactions that identifies the human activities negatively affecting the critically endangered Hawaiian monk seal. The report is being used to identify and mitigate harmful interactions with fishermen, scuba divers, beachgoers and more. In 2015, we will continue to work on implementing the report’s recommendations to meet the conservation needs of the seal, while also educating key decision-makers on the conservation status of the United States’ most endangered seal.

    Advocating for effective protection

    » Click to learn more
  • Stopping Pirate Fishing

    Pirate fishing, known more formally as Illegal, Unregulated and Unreported (IUU) fishing, is occurring around the globe. Fishing boats operating outside the bounds of agreed upon management are sucking up ocean life in places off limits to fishing or in amounts that are unsustainable and not allowed. Well-documented studies estimate that this international crime accounts for about 1 out of every 5 fish caught, at least 10-23 billion dollars per year. We have been fighting to pass US legislation for 3 years to enhance the US laws against this crime. In 2015, we will push the US Congress to take stronger action.

    Scientific support for protecting places in the sea
    Advocating for effective protection

    » Click to learn more
  • Sustainable Seafood and Ocean Education

    Now in the 6th year of our partnership with Holland America Line and Seabourn, we work to ensure that sustainably caught seafood is highlighted onboard to guests.  We also are working with Holland America Line to educate their guests about the marine protected areas they visit on their voyages.

    Partnering with business to advance ocean conservation

    » Click to learn more

    The MPAtlas team is making excellent enhancements to, our interactive resource to learn more about marine protected areas around the world.  In 2015, we will be upgrading the website and expanding our collaboration with conservation organizations, adding new information layers to the map for various uses and conducting additional research. MPAtlas is a strong foundation piece for the Global Ocean Refuge System.

    Scientific support for protecting places in the sea

  • SeaStates Reports – Tracking Progress in Marine Conservation

    In July 2014, we released SeaStates US 2014, the second annual ranking of how well US states protect their coastal waters.  In November 2014, we released SeaStates G20 2014 which provides data on each of the G20 member countries’ protection levels.  Only 5 of the G20 countries (those with the world’s largest economies) protect more than 2% of their ocean areas in no take-reserves ― areas protected from fishing and other extractive uses such as oil and gas drilling. The reports provide strong data supporting the need for the Global Ocean Refuge System. We will continue to develop these reports annually.

    Advocating for effective protection

    » Click to learn more
  • Deep Sea Coral Habitat Modeling

    Our scientists spent five weeks exploring seafloor habitats found on the Louisville Ridge seamounts east of New Zealand in 2014, testing deep-sea coral predictive habitat models. The modeling techniques were developed by our team of scientists and our international colleagues to detect biologically important areas of the oceans that need protection. This work, continuing in 2015, will be important for the Global Ocean Refuge System.  We are also currently working on predictive habitat modeling projects in the Gulf of Mexico, Alaska and the high seas.

    Scientific support for protecting places in the sea

    » Click to learn more
  • Aleutian Islands Conservation

    The western Aleutian Islands, an area so remote that it is closer to Russia than the mainland of the US, hosts an incredible diversity of life above and below the ocean's surface. Steller sea lions, sea otters, millions of seabirds and cold water corals abound. But many of these populations are declining due to overfishing and destructive bottom trawling. We will be working on solutions to this systemic problem in 2015 and advocating conservation strategies that protect wildlife and native people from this slow and unnecessary decline in biodiversity.

    Scientific support for protecting places in the sea
    Advocating for effective protection

  • Local Solutions to Ocean Acidification

    We are helping to map out areas that could become new salt marsh habitat as sea level rises in Pacific and Grays Harbor counties in the US state of Washington.  Management options would include protecting new marsh areas as “blue carbon areas,” areas that have more vegetation and therefore absorb carbon dioxide. These areas could potentially lessen the local effects of ocean acidification.

    Scientific support for protecting places in the sea

Chief Scientist Dr. Elliott Norse Proudly Tells America How Obama Made Ocean Conservation History

Also view Dr. Norse speak with Jeff Burnside on KomoNews in Seattle.

Additional Coverage

Media coverage of Marine Conservation Institute's role in the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument expansion and pieces quoting our organization's experts:

How President Obama Created the Largest Strongly Protected Area on Earth

PRIMNM_Expansion_Actual_wEEZ.jpg President Obama signed a proclamation on September 25, 2014, designating the largest marine reserve in the world. His proclamation expands the existing Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument from 83,000 square miles to 490,000 square miles.  To protect the whales, seabirds, sea turtles, fishes and corals in this region of the central and western Pacific Ocean, commercial fishing and mineral extraction will now be prohibited in this national monument.

The expanded monument is now the largest protected area on the planet (land or sea). It encompasses the seven islands and reefs of Wake, Johnston, Baker, Howland, Kingman, Jarvis and Palmyra, as well as the ocean around them.    Read more here...

Learn more about our decade of work in the Central Pacific

To Build a Global Ocean Refuge System

On October 22, 2013, Marine Conservation Institute announced the Global Ocean Refuge System (GLORES), a comprehensive science-based strategy for advancing marine protected areas worldwide.

kingman.jpg Oceans are essential to human survival and prosperity and yet human activities are pushing many critical marine species toward extinction. Marine protected areas are generally recognized as the best way to protect the diversity and abundance of the ocean's ecosystems, yet less than 2% of the ocean's area is now protected. GLORES (pronounced glôr-ees) will develop and manage objective criteria that incentivize and accelerate the creation of strongly protected marine areas worldwide.

Learn more at