The Environmental Law Institute’s Ocean Program

Our oceans act as a crucial life-support system for the planet and its inhabitants — soaking up carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, providing a wealth of natural resources, nurturing incredible and mysterious sea creatures, and serving as a playground and place of cultural heritage. Covering 71 percent of Earth’s surface and providing 99 percent of its living space, the ocean often seems invincible. Yet human activity threatens to diminish the myriad services that the ocean provides.

To address threats to the marine environment, the Ocean Program focuses on strengthening ocean and coastal law and policy domestically and internationally. We support ocean management systems that are based on local priorities, inclusive and effective processes, and best available information.


Photo Credit: Kathryn Mengerink, Ocean Program Founder, on a Barbuda beach

Our focus areas and projects include:

planning 3   Supporting improved ocean management through marine planning and collaboration

fish   Analyzing legal management framework options for sustainable fisheries and aquaculture

gulf   Facilitating public engagement in Gulf of Mexico restoration and recovery

Arctic   Strengthening Arctic offshore natural resource management

MPA   Enhancing management of Marine Protected Areas

seminars   Hosting an Ocean Seminar Series on key ocean issues in ocean and coastal governance

The Environmental Law Institute is a research and education organization that works with governments, NGOs, and communities to help foster practical, innovative, and just solutions to environmental challenges.  

For more information on the Environmental Law Institute, including its other program areas and intersections with our marine activities, please visit