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Global Ocean Refuge System Experiences Strong Momentum and Continues to Seek Additional Support

Marine Conservation Institute, a leader in protecting marine biodiversity, today announced significant progress on its priority initiative, the Global Ocean Refuge System (GLORES, pronounced “glories”). GLORES will catalyze strong protection for at least 20% of the ecosystems in each marine biogeographic region of the world’s oceans by 2030, enough to avert mass extinction of marine life. In other words, it will ensure there are strongly protected marine reserves in a carefully-selected set of relevant places worldwide (tropics, Arctic, etc.) enough to protect the biodiversity of marine life that is critical to healthy oceans and, therefore, human survival.

“We knew from the outset that GLORES was a major undertaking requiring immense collaboration and intense focus,” said Lance Morgan, president of Marine Conservation Institute. “The support we have received from various individuals and organizations makes it clear that people understand the value of this highly scientific and systematic approach to protecting our oceans.”

Since unveiling GLORES in October of 2013, there has been strong momentum in developing the scientific criteria for determining marine areas that are worthy of being awarded the “Global Ocean Refuge” label; securing GLORES endorsers and partners; and evaluating and using technology to enhance the GLORES process.

Developing GLORES Criteria

In 2014 and the first quarter of 2015, Marine Conservation Institute received input on its initial draft of the GLORES criteria from more than 35 scientists worldwide via informal consultations and formal workshops.  A highly complex project, the organization is currently preparing the GLORES criteria for a second round of expert feedback this summer and fall.  When completed, the criteria will provide clear guidance for determining whether marine areas are ecologically important, protecting key species and habitats, and effectively managed and enforced.

The completion of the criteria is vital to GLORES delivering on the promise of healthy oceans and it is expected to be ready for pilot testing on select marine areas later this year.  The testing will evaluate if the GLORES criteria captures the right breadth and depth of information; if all stakeholders agree with the results when it is applied to a specific marine area; and if the results provide a clear answer on if the site is worthy of Global Ocean Refuge status.

Signing Prestigious Partners and Endorsers

GLORES is also receiving attention from well-respected and well-known individuals. Ocean conservationist (and Marine Conservation Institute Board member) Dr. Sylvia Earle; National Geographic Society’s Dr. Enric Sala; president of California Fish and Game Commission Mike Sutton; Gateway Computer founder Ted Waitt; SCUBA diving legend Peter Hughes; Mavericks surfer Ryan Seelbach and many others have already endorsed GLORES.

“The Global Ocean Refuge System is critical to saving the biodiversity of our oceans,” said Sylvia Earle. “It makes so much sense, we all should have thought of it a long time ago.”

“GLORES helps focus the attention of people and policymakers around the world on the vital need to ensure that our oceans will continue to provide the ecosystem services so vital to all life on earth,” said Mike Sutton.

The travel/tourism and ocean sports industries have also been supportive of GLORES because much of their business depends on healthy oceans. Companies such as Alaska Airlines, Holland America Line, Seabourn, SCUBAPRO, Gill, Un-Cruise Adventures and others have joined to help with either endorsements or partnerships.

GLORES also has the support of some of the world’s best and most famous underwater photographers including Brian Skerry, David Doubilet, Paul Nicklen, Andy Casagrande, Cristian Dimitrius, Daniel Fox and several others.

“I believe the logical, methodical and cooperative strategy set forth by GLORES is a recipe for success,” said Brian Skerry. “Protecting substantially larger portions of Earth’s oceans will require the non-stop effort of people from many disciplines and I have no illusions that this will be easy or that it will happen overnight. But the steps being taken today by GLORES, I believe, will pay substantial dividends in the time ahead.”

The entire list of GLORES partners can be found on the partner page of the GLORES website.

Using Technologies to Enhance GLORES

Marine Conservation Institute is also using innovative technology to help in various areas of GLORES. The organization’s scientists are involved in a new effort with Esri, a leader in geographic information systems software and tools, to create a global data architecture for 3-dimensional ocean mapping. This new tool, once it is finished, will help ensure that GLORES has a strategic framework for identifying the most important marine areas to conserve biodiversity.

In addition, the team at Marine Conservation Institute continues to work on its website.  The public website tracks marine conservation efforts around the world as well as protected area campaigns, promises and progress. Largely supported by the Waitt Foundation, it is a key component of the GLORES initiative.

There is still much work to be done with GLORES to ensure it protects the health of the oceans. Interested parties that would like to join this initiative should visit

About Marine Conservation Institute 

Marine Conservation Institute is a team of highly-experienced marine scientists and environmental-policy advocates dedicated to saving ocean life for us and future generations. The organization’s goal is to help the world create an urgently-needed worldwide system of strongly protected areas—the Global Ocean Refuge System (GLORES)—a strategic, cost-effective way to ensure future diversity and abundance of marine life. Founded in 1996, Marine Conservation Institute is a US-based nonprofit organization with offices in Seattle, near San Francisco and in Washington DC. For more information, please go to:

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Photo credit:  Brian Skerry

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By the Sea Communications
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1 Comment

  1. Tharaka Sriram on May 17, 2015 at 12:28 am

    GLORES is a brilliant idea- thank you for coming up with it and pushing it on the global policy agenda.