What We Do

Ocean Conservancy History

We’ve worked with you to fight for a healthy ocean since 1972—thank you for four decades of support.

1972 - Ocean Conservancy was born in 1972 with the creation of Delta Corporation, which would later become known as the Center for Environmental Education, the Center for Marine Conservation and, finally, Ocean Conservancy. Gloria Freund, Photo Contest 2011
1986 - 1986 Ocean Conservancy’s first beach cleanup was held in 1986 on 12 sites along the Texas shoreline. In 2011, more than 6,000 sites in more than 100 countries participated in the International Coastal Cleanup. Gerasimos Domenikos, Aurora Photos
1987 - In 1987, we won the fight to require Turtle Excluder Devices (TEDs) in shrimp trawls to prevent the drowning of sea turtles. Our current efforts focus on working with fishermen in the Gulf of Mexico to enable conversion to more efficient gear that reduces mortality of fish and wildlife as bycatch, while also helping fishermen to reduce their costs. Douglas Kahle, Photo Contest 2011
1992 - Ocean Conservancy helped establish the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, home to these sea lions, off the coast of California in 1992. Pat Ulrich, Photo Contest 2011
1996 - In 1996, we joined with partners in successful efforts to convince Congress to rewrite the Magnuson–Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, which substantially improved the way fisheries are managed. Ocean Conservancy is now engaged in another battle to preserve this important piece of legislation. William Goodwin, Photo Contest 2011
2003 - Scientific monitoring shows that the protected regions of the Channel Islands, adopted in 2003, are successfully improving biodiversity and ocean health—a strong argument supporting Ocean Conservancy’s current work establishing a state-wide network of marine protected areas in California. Jonathan Hubbell, Photo Contest 2011
2010 - Ocean Conservancy Executive Vice President Dennis Takahashi-Kelso and Board Member Philippe Cousteau inspected the oiled marshes of Louisiana following the BP Deepwater Horizon oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. Our work to restore this vital region continues today. Tom McCann, Ocean Conservancy
2012 - As we look toward the next 40 years, Ocean Conservancy will continue to advocate for sustainable solutions informed by science and our commitment to future generations. Alexandra Rose , Photo Contest 2011

In 1972, Ocean Conservancy began as a small organization with a simple purpose: to fight for a healthy ocean.

Over the next four decades, our supporters helped us stay at the forefront of this issue as we developed concrete solutions that ensure a healthy ocean for generations to come. With each victory, you’ve helped us use science to inform our work with partners as diverse as our supporters — from fishing communities to major businesses.

Over the years, you've helped us:

  • Lay the groundwork for an international moratorium on commercial whaling.
  • Play an instrumental role in protecting fur seals from over-hunting and banning the international trade of sea turtles.
  • Create national marine sanctuaries and serve as the lead non-governmental organization in the designation of 10 of the 13 marine sanctuaries.
  • Address the need for better fisheries management and reduce the effects of bycatch.

But the increasing risks to ocean health make our work today more important than ever.

When the explosion of BP's Deepwater Horizon rig in 2010 produced the largest accidental marine oil spill in history, we capitalized on our two decades of experience in the region to take a leading role in the assessment and restoration of damage.

With your support, our work in the Gulf continues today with efforts to advocate for science-based restoration plans that ensure this environmentally and economically important region's full recovery become a reality.

Since 1986, the International Coastal Cleanup has been one of the hallmarks of our work, growing from 12 sites along the Texas coast to more than 6,000 sites in more than 100 countries. With the help of the more than 9 million volunteers, we’ve been able to remove over 145 million pounds of debris in just under three decades.

But there's still significant work to be done.

Every day, we need to engage a wide range of competing ocean interests to ensure balanced, sustainable use of the ocean's resources, restore important habitats and help existing ecosystems adapt to a changing environment if we hope to protect the planet's valuable marine resources in the decades to come.

Join us in the fight for a healthy ocean and to stop the damage we see every day. By becoming part of this movement, you help us live out our shared vision: Be counted among the people who understand that we're not healthy without a healthy ocean.

Join the Fight for a Healthy Ocean

Help keep the ocean healthy for sea turtles, polar bears, whales and people like you.


Why the Ocean Matters

The ocean provides the air we breathe, the food we eat and the water we drink. Learn more about why the ocean matters to you.  

Vision for a Healthy Ocean

Ocean Conservancy works to keep the ocean healthy, to keep us healthy.

Our Solutions

We champion sound science that will lead to innovative, sustainable solutions.

Ocean Conservancy makes careful use of your support, and holds high ratings from charity watchdogs.
BBB Accredited Charity