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Our greatest successes!

This year, Marine Conservation Institute celebrates 20 years of conservation successes! Over the past two decades we have celebrated many accomplishments towards our mission to protect the oceans. Founded as Marine Conservation Biology Institute in 1996, our science and policy staff effectively bridge research and advocacy to create and expand marine protected areas, secure protections for threatened and endangered marine species, and advance the science of marine conservation biology. In honor of our 20th anniversary, we want to share with you some of our biggest and most impactful accomplishments.

Top 10 Greatest Successes Over 20 Years

  1. We played an instrumental role in the establishment of many new marine protected areas (MPAs) covering over 700,000 cumulative square miles of ocean:
    Clouds of reef fish and corals, French frigate shoals, NWHI

    Clouds of reef fish and corals, French frigate shoals, NWHI. Photo: James Watt

  1. We advanced the science of Marine Conservation Biology:
  1. We pushed bottom trawling to the forefront of the marine conservation debate:
     Paragorgia johnstoni, a gorgonian coral that typically lives on the flat summits of sea mounts throughout the North Atlantic. Photo: Les Watling

    Paragorgia johnstoni, a gorgonian coral that typically lives on the flat summits of sea mounts throughout the North Atlantic. Photo: Les Watling

  1. We engaged with thousands of scientists to publish documents promoting conservation:
    • Published Troubled Waters: A Call for Action (1997), a document signed by over 1,600 scientists urging the world’s citizens and governments to take decisive action to protect our oceans, and presented it to the US Capitol in 1998
    • Submitted recommendation to President Barack Obama in 2014 urging him to create more marine protected areas in U.S. waters, signed by hundreds of scientists around the world
    • Published and presented the following documents to the UN General Assembly:
      • A Statement of Concern to the United Nations General Assembly regarding the risks to seamounts, cold-water corals, and other vulnerable ecosystems of the deep-sea (2003), signed by 142 experts
      • A Scientists’ Statement on protecting the world’s deep-sea coral and sponge ecosystems (2006), signed by 1,452 experts
      • A Scientists’ Statement to the UN General Assembly 64th Session regarding progress made in protecting vulnerable deep sea ecosystems (2009), signed by 235 experts
  1. We identified important ocean places and animals in need of protection:
    A Hawaiian monk seal. Photo: James Watt

    A Hawaiian Monk Seal. Photo: James Watt

  1. We initiated the conversation about ocean acidification:
    • Published several reports on the threat of ocean acidification to marine life
    • Hosted a congressional briefing to bring information to the decision makers in the US
    • Held an ocean acidification meeting in Puget Sound, WA that brought together scientists and shellfish farmers to assess the risk of acidification to marine life and future options
    • Hosted the first ever ocean acidification workshop with New Zealand’s shellfish industry and the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership
  1. We identified and protected important coral reef ecosystems:
    Photo: NOAA

    Photo: NOAA

  1. We informed and promoted high seas conservation:
  1. We launched, an online geographic atlas and mapping tool that tracks the status, health, and management of the world’s marine protected areas (2012):
    9-MPAtlas-screenshotbySuz illustrating global marine protected areas

    • Launched the annual SeaStates reports, which report on and rank how well each US state strongly protects its oceans
    • Published the SeaStates G20 2014 report, which describes how much of the oceans are strongly protected by the world’s biggest economies
  1. Launched the Global Ocean Refuge System (2013)

This list represents just some of the many achievements of Marine Conservation Institute over our 20-year history. For more information about our achievements and publications, check out our Publications and Presentations, News Releases and Accomplishments Timeline.

We are extremely grateful to our partners and supporters for all they have done to help us be successful. We look forward to a future with healthy oceans for all of us!


  1. Paul Pieri on May 20, 2016 at 9:59 pm

    looking for a few suggestion on potential work internships available and where to search for them in the portal site?
    my daughter is a fresh grad in marine bio from WWU , just spent time in certified dive research in G. Br. reef and Thialand and would love to step her green toes right on in somewhere. She is a wonderful, energetic and responsible gal which any scientist would adore her capacity to perform and lovely disposition. ( biased opinion from her Dad !)…
    thx for any leads.