What We Do


Marine Conservation Institute accomplished so many things in 2014 and we couldn’t have done it without the support of our many donors and partners.  We are profoundly grateful that you have been faithful supporters of our work over the years.


2014 in Review

This past year was exciting and successful for Marine Conservation Institute! Some of the key projects we focused on in 2014 are listed below. 


Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument Expansion


Map: Beth Pike, Marine Conservation Institute

In September, President Obama created the largest marine reserve in the world by expanding the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument from 83,000 square miles to 491,000 square miles. 

Marine Conservation Institute worked diligently to ensure protection in these waters since 2008.  We assembled the scientific information that helped President George W. Bush declare Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument in 2009.  Marine Conservation Institute then co-authored the scientific report in 2014 that showed the Obama Administration the exceptional conservation value of the waters surrounding the original Monument boundaries.  Finally, we gathered substantial marine scientist support in 2014 for the expansion.  All of our work in these waters can be found here.

Prestigious media outlets, including the Associated Press, BBC Newsday, PBS NewsHour, The Washington Post and The Guardian, covered our work on this historical expansion.  


Global Ocean Refuge System Strong Momentum

Global Ocean Refuge System (GLORES) momentum is building rapidly and we ask that you continue to help with this important initiative to strongly protect at least 20% of the ecosystems in each marine biogeographic region of the world’s oceans by 2030.  Your support and encouragement enabled us to accomplish so much in 2014.

One of the most essential pieces of the Global Ocean Refuge System is the scientific criteria.  Marine Conservation Institute Founder and Chief Scientist Dr. Elliott Norse and President Dr. Lance Morgan have been working countless hours in 2014 reviewing existing research and talking with other marine scientists to develop the criteria.  They hosted an all-day workshop to discuss the draft criteria, with almost 20 other renowned marine scientists, immediately preceding the International Marine Conservation Congress (IMCC) in Scotland in August.  We are now busy incorporating the many insights from this meeting and several others.

Marine Conservation Institute would also like to thank the following early donors of the Global Ocean Refuge System:  Arntz Family Foundation; Naomi and Nehemiah Cohen Foundation, Benjamin C. Hammett; Holland America Line, The San Francisco Foundation; Tiffany & Co. Foundation; Vidda Foundation; and Waitt Foundation. The support of these organizations is absolutely critical to making GLORES a reality.  Want to join the team? You can donate to GLORES here.

We have also generated strong partner momentum for GLORES, including renowned ocean conservationist and Marine Conservation Institute Board member Dr. Sylvia Earle; Gateway founder Ted Waitt; Royal Geographic and National Geographic Society Fellow Dr. Enric Sala; scuba diving legend Peter Hughes; and Mavericks surfer Ryan Seelbach

See the entire list of partners on the GLORES Partner page.  Corporations in the travel, tourism and ocean sports industries are also now partnering with us on GLORES, including Alaska Airlines, Holland America Line, Seabourn, Un-Cruise Adventures, Gill and SCUBAPRO.  

We are also grateful for all the high-profile photographers and videographers who have recently offered their support for GLORES, including Andy Casagrande, Cristian Dimitrius, Daniel Fox, Paul Nicklen (Sea Legacy), and Brian Skerry.

Thanks again for all of your support on this initiative.  Please help us continue to build the Global Ocean Refuge System to save marine life from extinction. More information can be found on the GLORES Website.  


MPAtlas Enhancements and SeaStates Reports


Our MPAtlas team has been making excellent enhancements to MPAtlas.org, our interactive resource to learn more about marine protected areas around the world.  In 2014, we unveiled a major new tool, MPA Campaign Tracker, to help people explore and track the progress of global marine protected area campaigns and initiatives.  The team has also completed reports on how well the world is protecting our oceans.  Similar to the SeaStates US 2014 report which looks at how well each of the US States’ protects its waters, our new SeaStates G20 2014 provides data on each of the G20 member countries.  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.  Both of these reports provide strong data that support the need for the Global Ocean Refuge System.  All of the reports can be found here.  


Additional Activities in 2014


Predicting Deep Sea Coral Locations in the Louisville Ridge Seamounts

Our scientists are working to identify Vulnerable Marine Ecosystems using predictive habitat modeling within South Pacific Regional Fishery Management Organization (SPRFMO) region and New Zealand’s Exclusive Economic Zone.  This project is a partnership with New Zealand’s National Institute for Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA).  Earlier this year we participated in a research cruise (February-March 2014) to validate model results using drop-camera systems.  The results of this work will be used to improve modeling techniques so we can identify high-value areas in a cost-effective manner.  We will also be applying this work to building a biogeographic map to use with our Global Ocean Refuge System.  


Gulf Gems: Treasured Places in Troubled Waters


Our Gulf Gems report, which we created in 2014, highlighted critical areas in the Gulf of Mexico that are currently unprotected or under-protected from extractive and potentially damaging human activities.   


Shark Sanctuaries on MPAtlas


If you love sharks  like we do, you may be interested in learning where people have created safe havens where sharks don’t have to worry about losing their fins and their lives.  View the global shark sanctuaries map that we created in 2014 at MPAtlas.org  


Our Focus Areas for 2015


In 2015, we will continue to focus on the Global Ocean Refuge System (GLORES).  Almost everything we are doing ties into GLORES in a significant way.  

We will finalize the scientific criteria for GLORES in 2015 and begin testing it on actual marine areas. We will also work on building the broader Strategic Plan for this initiative and continue generating partner and donor support from several different sectors including marine scientists, conservation organizations, corporations, the travel and tourism industry, foundations and more.   

The MPAtlas team will work to expand their program and collaborate with conservation organizations, add new information layers to the map for various uses and conduct additional research.  
Marine Conservation Institute will also be publishing our recommendations on improving management of Hawaiian monk seal and human interactions and continuing our research to better understand the threats of climate change and acidification on ocean ecosystems.  And as we always, we will be advocating for strong protection of our oceans from Alaska to the Gulf of Mexico and the high seas beyond. 

Stay tuned for more details about our 2015 plans on our websites!