Coastal waters, rivers, coral reefs, lagoons, and inlets maintain ecosystems and provide habitat for fish, invertebrates, marine mammals, corals, and plants. They also feed and create revenue for many local communities. Despite the existence of longstanding traditions to sustain local fisheries, there are many sites in which modern fishing practices, overfishing, environmental degradation, and development are imposing unprecedented pressure on the ecosystems. These pressures threaten the biological functions these aquatic systems perform, the wildlife they support, and the communities they nourish.
In fishing villages from the Pacific to the Caribbean, WCS field staff are working to engage local communities in conservation initiatives, management plans, and ecotourism planning. They train local people to collect data, survey land and sea sites, patrol beaches, and enforce the laws and traditions that help sustain marine resources. Our conservationists pinpoint environmental threats, establish marine protected areas, raise awareness, support education programs through local universities, and advise on national and local policies, such as the rezoning of Indonesia's Karimunjawa National Park.
From the Newsroom
With support from the Summit Foundation, WCS conservationists and their local and international partners have introduced a new system of managed access to the Glover's Reef Marine Reserve’s conch fishery.
When local fishers in Kia Island opened a protected coral reef to fishing for a short-term community fundraising effort, the effects of the harvest bore long-term consequences for the reef's health.
A newly released study finds that people are increasingly consuming marine mammals—including some very rare species, like the Fraser’s dolphin—in more than 100 countries around the world.
A WCS marine project to reduce bycatch in Kenya and Curacao through a low-cost, low-tech fish trap design takes the top honor in a contest sponsored by Rare, in partnership with National Geographic.
Researchers find that fishery closures in Belize’s Glover’s Reef help barracudas, groupers, and other predatory fish recover while the parrotfish and other herbivores essential for reef recovery still need more protection.