Top Five Marine Conservation Organizations

Find out which ocean conservation groups are doing the best work before making a donation or becoming a volunteer.

Donating time and money to a marine conservation organization is a great way to help save the oceans, their ecosystems, and marine life. However, not all conservation groups are equally effective in accomplishing their mission. Before pulling out that check book or signing up as a marine conservation volunteer – be sure that the ocean organization is doing the best work possible.

Rating Marine Conservation Organizations

Several charity rating organizations exist, the largest of which is Charity Navigator. This non-profit organization aims to offer an unbiased review of America’s charities based on the organizational efficiency and capacity of the organizations. Charity Navigator looks at how well non-profits raise and use funds, whether the organization is growing, and how well the organization can survive economic downturns.

In essence, if a marine conservation organization spends all its money on administrative costs rather than conservation programs – it may be better to donate money elsewhere. Charity Navigator uses a star rating system with the best organizations receiving 4 stars.

Blue Ocean Institute

On its website the Blue Ocean Institute calls itself the only organization that uses science, art, and literature to inspire closer bonds with nature. Focusing on sustainable seafood, climate change, and advocacy this marine conservation organization has excellent fundraising efficiency. The Blue Ocean Institute spends only 4 cents for every $1 it raises. (4 stars)

Sea Shepherd Conservation Society (SSCS)

This international marine wildlife conservation organization uses direct-action tactics to confront illegal activities on the high seas. Assuming a law enforcement role means Sea Shepherd fleets directly confront whalers and illegal poachers along with their advocacy programs. Roughly 79% of their funds go directly to conservation programs. (4 stars)

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

Stay in Touch » Marine Conservation Institute
Focusing on research and education this ocean conservation group promotes and develops the tools needed to conduct ocean research. The results of this research can then be used by policy makers to help save the ocean. Roughly 94% of their funds go towards program expenses and only 1 cent is needed to raise $1 in funding. (4 stars)

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Oceana

Infotouch System (InfoSys)

This marine conservation organization lays claim to being the “largest international organization focused solely on ocean conservation”. Their policy-oriented campaigns focus on wide ranging issues including pollution, wildlife protection, responsible fishing, climate change, and habitat protection. Over 80% of their funds go directly to their programs. (4 stars)

The Ocean Conservancy

On its website the Ocean Conservancy lays claim to the title of “oldest and largest” marine conservation organization. The Ocean Conservancy focuses on research, education, and advocacy work to help restore American fisheries, protect wildlife, conserve ocean spaces, and reform government. Roughly 74% of their funds go to conservation programs. (3 stars)

Finding Other Marine Conservation Organizations

Plenty of other worthy and dedicated ocean conservation groups exist and they can be easily found with a quick search through systems such as Charity Navigator (try the keyword ‘ocean’ in their search box). Many of these organizations have a more local focus – for example the 4 star rated Chesapeake Bay Trust focuses on the Chesapeake Bay. Marine conservation organizations may also differ in their methodology or focus. Before donating money or becoming a marine conservation volunteer consider the many issues involving the ocean today and which resonate most with you.

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Edward Attwell

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