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

Marine | Technology | Science

Closing the Abalone Data Gap

Can putting technology in the hands of citizen scientists transform how abalone are managed?

Marine | Planning | Science

Saving Tomorrow’s Coast

Can California protect its iconic coastline as sea levels rise?

2017 | Freshwater | Terrestrial | Marine | Science | Publications & Reports

Conservation Science Catalyst Fund - 2017 Annual Report

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…


2017 | Marine | Technology | Science | Video

Aquaculture by Design, Tomales Bay

Serena Lomonico, Robert Jones, Torrey Johnson, Sarah Newkirk, Sarah Lummis, Kirk Klausmeyer, John Finger, Terry Sawyer, Richard James

Aquaculture is becoming an increasingly important global food source. With this growth comes urgent, unanswered questions about the interactions of aquaculture operations—both positive and negative—and ecosystems. This video describes a collaboration between the Conservancy, the University of California, Santa Cruz, and Hog Island Oyster Company aimed at…


2017 | Freshwater | Terrestrial | Marine | Technology | Economics | Science | Publications & Reports

Dynamic conservation for migratory species

Mark D. Reynolds, Brian L. Sullivan, Eric Hallstein, Sandra Matsumoto, Steve Kelling, Matthew Merrifield, Daniel Fink, Alison Johnston, Wesley M. Hochachka, Nicholas E. Bruns, Matthew E. Reiter, Sam Veloz, Catherine Hickey, Nathan Elliott, Leslie Martin, John W. Fitzpatrick, Paul Spraycar, Gregory H. Golet, Christopher McColl, Scott A. Morrison

What if instead of buying habitat, conservationists could rent it when and where nature needs it most? The Conservancy is using predictive models of shorebird movements, data from the citizen science program eBird, and NASA satellite wetland habitat data to create a habitat marketplace of…


2017 | Freshwater | Terrestrial | Marine | Science | Publications & Reports

Managing consequences of climate-driven species redistribution requires integration of ecology, conservation and social science

Timothy C. Bonebrake, Christopher J. Brown, Johann D. Bell, Julia L. Blanchard, Alienor Chauvenet, Curtis Champion, I-Ching Chen, Timothy D. Clark, Robert K. Colwell, Finn Danielsen, Anthony I. Dell, Jennifer M. Donelson, Birgitta Eveng°ard, Simon Ferrier, Stewart Frusher, Raquel A. Garcia, Roger B. Griffis, Alistair J. Hobday, Marta A. Jarzyna, Emma Lee, Jonathan Lenoir, Hlif Linnetved, Victoria Y. Martin, Phillipa C. McCormack, Jan McDonald, Eve McDonald-Madden, Nicola Mitchell, Tero Mustonen, John M. Pandolfi, Nathalie Pettorelli, Hugh Possingham, Peter Pulsifer, Mark Reynolds , Brett R. Scheffers, Cascade J. B. Sorte, Jan M. Strugnell, Mao-Ning Tuanmu, Samantha Twiname, Adriana Verg´es, Cecilia Villanueva, Erik Wapstra, Thomas Wernberg , Gretta T. Pecl

Climate change is driving the largest global redistribution of the planet’s species since the ice age. Species redistributions present challenges for human well-being, environmental management and sustainable development. Species redistribution also poses new questions for the study of ecosystems, conservation science and human societies that…


2017 | Marine | Technology | Video

Big Data and the Deep Blue Sea

The Nature Conservancy, Matt Merrifield

Nearly half of the world depends on seafood for their main source of protein. In the Western and Central Pacific, where 60% of the world’s tuna is caught, illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing practices are threatening marine ecosystems, global seafood supplies and local livelihoods. This…


2016 | Marine | Economics | Science | Publications & Reports

Market and design solutions to the short-term economic impacts of marine reserves

Daniel Ovando, Dawn Dougherty, Jono R. Wilson

No-take marine reserves are a management intervention that can provide long-term fishery benefits. But, impacts of reserve implementation can negatively affect fishermen profits in the short term. This study examines how to overcome the losses in profit associated with implementing reserves. The authors found that creative…


2016 | Marine | Technology | Science | Video

Sustainable Management of Abalone Fishery in California

The Nature Conservancy, Jono Wilson

California fisheries, like the red abalone fishery, are facing increasing environmental variation and uncertainty due to climate change, complicating the sustainable management of commercial and recreational fisheries and threatening the resilience of fishing communities. To better manage these resources, better data is needed. In this video,…


2016 | Marine | Publications & Reports

Marine and Coastal Impacts of Ocean Desalination in California

Szeptycki, L., E. Hartge, N. Ajami, A. Erickson, W. N. Heady, L. LaFeir, B. Meister, L. Verdone, J.R. Koseff

The drought in California rekindled interest in ocean desalination as a new and reliable water supply option; yet desalination is expensive, energy intensive, potentially emits greenhouse gases, and has adverse impacts on coastal and marine ecosystems. This report is a synthesis of an Uncommon…


2016 | Freshwater | Terrestrial | Marine | Planning | Publications & Reports

Designing virtuous socio-ecological cycles for biodiversity conservation

Scott A. Morrison

Conservationists should assume that people don’t care about biodiversity. By doing so, they would be especially motivated to figure out what people do care about, and how conservation might be able to align with those interests. Focusing on what it is about nature or its…


2015 | Freshwater | Marine | Publications & Reports

Assessing California’s bar-built estuaries using the California Rapid Assessment Method

Walter Heady, Ross P. Clark, Kevin O’Connor, Cara Clark, Charles Endris, Sierra Ryan, Sara Stoner-Duncan

Connecting marine, freshwater and terrestrial ecosystems, bar-built estuaries are complex and dynamic coastal confluences that provide a great diversity of habitat and ecosystem services. The wetland habitats of bar-built estuaries are threatened by development, pollution, and climate related changes including diminished streamflows and sea…


2015 | Marine | Science | Video

Science for Nature and People Partnership: Data-Limited Fisheries Working Group

The Nature Conservancy, Jono Wilson

There are thousands of fisheries around the globe that lack the infrastructure, capacity, resources and management techniques to perform conventional assessments and management. We know that fisheries that get measured—that have stock assessments performed—are typically better managed, including increased regulation and enforcement. Conversely, when fisheries…


2015 | Marine | Planning | Maps & Webmaps

Coastal Resilience Monterey webmap

Brian Cohen

The Coastal Resilience Network supports a community of practitioners who are applying nature-based solutions to coastal hazard and climate adaptation issues. As a member of this Network, the Conservancy is working with scientists, geomorphologists, urban and environmental economists, regional conservation partners, and local stakeholders…


2015 | Marine | Planning | Maps & Webmaps

Coastal Resilience Ventura Web Map

Brian Cohen

As a member of the Coastal Resilience Network, the Conservancy is leading Coastal Resilience Ventura. Coast Resilience Ventura is a partnership that provides science and decision-support tools to help conservation practitioners, planners and policymakers address the impact of climate change. Through this effort, the…