The California Current is one of only four temperate upwelling systems in the world. Seasonal upwelling of nutrient-rich waters fuels a highly productive ecosystem, supporting biodiversity and fisheries that, along with coastal tourism, are a foundation of California’s economy.  

Yet California’s coasts and oceans are also under increasing threat. Relatively few fisheries are managed based on robust scientific assessments, and more needs to be done to avoid overfishing and reduce bycatch. Plastics and other pollutants are pervasive. Climate change compounds these challenges. Ocean chemistry is changing. Sea levels and temperatures are rising – threatening important resources, biodiversity, and human populations.

Fortunately, the coastal and ocean ecosystems of California are bolstered by a network of marine protected areas and some of the most science-based marine policies in the world. Conservancy scientists look to build on those foundations by applying science and technology to enhance resilience of marine resources in the face of emerging threats.

Fisheries

Wild capture fisheries supply food and jobs for hundreds of millions of people across the globe. Yet an… >>

Coastal Conservation

Almost half of the world’s human population lives in coastal areas, and associated coastal development has significantly degraded… >>

Science in Action

Terrestrial | Marine | Planning

TNC and the U.S. Navy

How can we protect natural resource and coastal military assets from sea level rise?

Freshwater | Terrestrial | Marine | Science

Research for Impact

How do we design scientific research to have impact in the world?

2021 | Terrestrial | Marine | Planning | Technology | Science | Publications & Reports

Jack and Laura Dangermond Preserve Invasive Plant Species Action Plan

Moses Katkowski, H. Scott Butterfield, John Knapp, Kelly Easterday, Laura Riege, Mark Reynolds

This 5-year action plan describes the vision for invasive plant species mapping, monitoring and treatment at the Jack and Laura Dangermond Preserve in Sourthern California. The plan is adaptive and will updated as new species, management approaches (including new and emerging technologies), and monitoring results…


2021 | Marine | Science | Publications & Reports

Disease-driven mass mortality event leads to widespread extirpation and variable recovery potential of a marine predator across the eastern Pacific

S. L. Hamilton, V. R. Saccomanno, W. N. Heady, A. L. Gehman, S. I. Lonhart, R. Beas-Luna, F. T. Francis, L. Lee, L. Rogers-Bennett, A. K. Salomon and S. A. Gravem

The sunflower sea star (Pycnopodia helianthoides) is an important mesopredator in kelp forest ecosystems that was devastated by the outbreak of sea star wasting disease (SSWD). This study quantifies how SSWD impacted this iconic animal across its range and documents that the outbreak occurred more…


2021 | Freshwater | Terrestrial | Marine | Planning | Publications & Reports

Coastal Adaptation Vision for Naval Base Ventura County Point Mugu: Technical Report

Environmental Science Associates (ESA) for The Nature Conservancy and Naval Base Ventura County


2021 | Freshwater | Terrestrial | Marine | Planning | Science | Video

StoryMap: Restoring coastal wetlands for climate resilience: A case study at Naval Base Ventura County Point Mugu

Charlotte Stanley, Alyssa Mann, Walter Heady

The United States operates thousands of military installations in the U.S. and worldwide, worth about $1.2 trillion. These facilities are where personnel train and test weaponry, with the specific aim of ensuring the nation’s security. With climate change, coastal installations are now being impacted by rising sea levels, erosion and…


2021 | Freshwater | Terrestrial | Marine | Planning | Science | Publications & Reports

Restoring coastal wetlands for climate resilience: A case study at Naval Base Ventura County, Pt. Mugu

Walter Heady, Alyssa Mann, Stacey Solie, Bob Battalio, James Jackson, Kendall Lousen, and Bob Barnes

The U.S. Congress and the Department of Defense (DoD) have determined that climate change is a threat to national security and have required military installations to develop plans to improve the climate resilience of both military installations and key supporting civilian infrastructure. This report, co-authored…


2021 | Freshwater | Terrestrial | Marine | Planning | Science | Publications & Reports

Coastal Adaptation with the U.S. Navy at Point Mugu

Alyssa Mann, Walter Heady, Charlotte Stanley

TNC and the United States Navy partnered together to prepare for the impacts of climate change on Naval Base Ventura County (NBVC), Point Mugu in California. NBVC is a critical and strategic asset of the U.S. Navy. It is also home to Mugu Lagoon, the…


2021 | Marine | Planning | Science | Publications & Reports

A Structured Approach for Kelp Restoration and Management Decisions

Mary G. Gleason, Jennifer E. Caselle, Walter N. Heady, Vienna R. Saccomanno, Julie Zimmerman, Tristin Anoush McHugh, Norah Eddy

Global kelp forests are biodiverse and productive nearshore ecosystems that provide a wide range of ecosystem services, but they are at risk from both local stressors and global drivers of kelp loss. A structured decision making (SDM) framework can help guide kelp management and restoration…


2021 | Marine | Economics | Science | Publications & Reports

The rise in climate change-induced federal fishery disasters in the United States

Lyall Bellquist, Vienna Saccomanno, Brice X. Semmens, Mary Gleason, Jono Wilson

The health of ocean ecosystems is critical to maintaining natural biodiversity and sustainable fisheries, but federally-declared fishery disasters are reflecting devastating impacts to ecosystems, economies, and communities. This study represents the first nationwide synthesis of fishery disasters during the 30-year history of the federal assistance…


2021 | Marine | Planning | Science | Publications & Reports

Beyond Protection: Fisheries Co-Benefits of No-Take Marine Reserves

Jono R Wilson, Darcy Bradley, Kristina Phipps, Mary G Gleason

Overfishing threatens the health and resilience of the ocean. In response, the global conservation community has set ambitious targets for protecting biodiversity inside no-take marine reserves. Yet fully protected marine reserves currently comprise only a small fraction of the ocean. In this review, the authors…


2021 | Marine | Planning | Science | Publications & Reports

Opportunities for Fishery Partnerships to Advance Climate-Ready Fisheries Science and Management

Serena Lomonico, Mary G Gleason, Jono R Wilson, Darcy Bradley, Kate Kauer, Richard J Bell, Thomas Dempsey

Climate change poses unprecedented challenges to the sustainable management of wild capture fisheries. Management systems that improve the flow of information so that actionable steps can be taken are critical to ensuring our ocean is resilient and healthy. In this body of work, the authors…


2021 | Marine | Science | Publications & Reports

Ecological Impact of Abandoned, Lost, and Discarded Fishing Gear

Eric Gilman, Michael Musyl, Petri Suuronen, Milani Chaloupka, Saeid Gorgin, Jono Wilson, Brandon Kuczenski

More than 4.5 million fishing vessels deploy fishing gear in the ocean every year. A significant amount of these nets, traps, lines, and floats are abandoned, lost, or discarded, threatening the health of ocean ecosystems through ghost fishing, transfer of microplastics, toxins and  invasive species,…


2021 | Marine | Science | Publications & Reports

Triennial migration and philopatry in the critically endangered soupfin shark, Galeorhinus galeus

Andrew P. Nosal, Daniel P. Cartamil, Arnold J. Ammann, Lyall F. Bellquist, Noah J. Ben‐Aderet, Kayla M. Blincow, Echelle S. Burns, Eric D. Chapman, Ryan M. Freedman, A. Peter Klimley, Ryan K. Logan, Christopher G. Lowe, Brice X. Semmens, Connor F. White, Philip A. Hastings

Due to decades of heavy fishing pressure and steep population declines worldwide, the conservation status of the soupfin shark was elevated to Critically Endangered globally in 2020 by the IUCN. This species is commercially fished in the United States, but the fishery has not undergone a…


2021 | Marine | Planning | Publications & Reports

Beyond the boundaries: How regulation-centered marine protected area information improves ocean protection assessments

Jennifer Sletten, Mimi D’Iorio, Mary G. Gleason, Alex Driedger, Timoth´e Vincent, Claire Colegrove, Dawn Wright, Virgil Zetterlind

Understanding the complex seascape of regulations that apply across U.S. ocean waters is critical for effective marine resource management. This study found that cumulative restrictions from overlapping fisheries regulations often provide stronger levels of protection than traditional marine protected areas (MPAs). About 85% of U.S. waters are…


2020 | Freshwater | Terrestrial | Marine | Planning | Technology | Science | Publications & Reports

Nature-Based Climate Solutions: A Roadmap to Accelerate Action in California

Sydney J. Chamberlin, Michelle Passero, Ashley Conrad-Saydah, Tanushree Biswas, Charlotte K. Stanley

California’s natural and working lands – its forests, grasslands, wetlands, farmlands, rangeland, and urban green spaces – provide Californians with numerous environmental, social, and economic benefits, including greenhouse gas reductions (e.g., carbon sequestration). However, extreme heat events, droughts, floods, wildfires, development, and other anthropogenic impacts…


2020 | Freshwater | Terrestrial | Marine | Science | Publications & Reports

Conservation Science Catalyst Fund - 2020 Annual Report

Brynn Pewtherer

The Nature Conservancy deploys science to help overcome major challenges facing people and nature. In today’s fast-paced world, turning threats to nature into opportunities for conservation requires agility. The Conservation Science Catalyst Fund enables our science team to mobilize quickly — and produce the information…


2020 | Freshwater | Terrestrial | Marine | Science | Publications & Reports

Bridging the knowledge‐implementation gap between agency and academia: A case study of a graduate research experience

Aviv Karasov‐Olson, Alicia K. Bird, Amy C. Collins, Emily E. Graves, Julea A. Shaw, Eric F. Tymstra, T. Rodd Kelsey, Mark W. Schwartz

Conservation biology is particularly susceptible to the knowledge‐implementation gap where academic pursuits do not always meet the needs of practitioners. Providing future practitioners with relevant training and experiences as graduate students can help narrow this gap. An example of one such experience was a partnership…


2020 | Marine | Science | Publications & Reports

Effective fisheries management instrumental in improving fish stock status

Ray Hilborn, Ricardo Oscar Amoroso, Christopher M. Anderson, Julia K. Baum, Trevor A. Branch, Christopher Costello, Carryn L. de Moor, Abdelmalek Faraj, Daniel Hively, Olaf P. Jensen, Hiroyuki Kurota, L. Richard Little, Pamela Mace, Tim McClanahan, Michael C. Melnychuk, Cóilín Minto, Giacomo Chato Osio, Ana M. Parma, Maite Pons, Susana Segurado, Cody S. Szuwalski, Jono Wilson, Yimin Ye

Does fisheries management work at improving the status of fish stocks? The answer is a resounding, yes. This article compiles estimates of the status of global fish stocks, comprising roughly half of the world’s fish catch. Findings suggest that on average, fish stocks are increasing…