Marine Conservation Action Fund

Mobula leaping out of the ocean in Mexico's Gulf of California
Mobula leaping out of the ocean in Mexico's Gulf of California. Photo: Brian Skerry

Supporting Locally-Led Ocean Action Worldwide

The New England Aquarium’s Marine Conservation Action Fund (MCAF) is a small grants and fellowship program that provides support for community-based projects spearheaded by local conservation leaders in low- and middle-income countries around the globe. Through this partnership, conservation leaders are creating solutions that benefit ocean health and support their local communities.

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What is the Marine Conservation Action Fund?

Since it was founded in 1999, MCAF has supported over 200 projects in more than 60 countries and across six continents—and is continuing to grow.

MCAF Fellows Program

Through the MCAF Fellows Program, launched in 2015, the New England Aquarium has developed enduring partnerships with proven conservation leaders to help them catalyze lasting conservation outcomes.

MCAF Fellows at a networking reception
MCAF Fellows at a networking reception

Early Career Ocean Professionals Program

The Early Career Ocean Professionals (ECOP) program is a small grants program aimed at emerging conservation leaders who only have a few years of career experience. Awardees lead their own small project with the mentorship and guidance of MCAF fellows and project leaders.

Jonathan Triminio, Crocodile Research Coalition, Belize
Jonathan Triminio, Crocodile Research Coalition, Belize

Meet MCAF Director Elizabeth Stephenson

Hear from Elizabeth in her own words on how MCAF plays a critical role in supporting locally-led ocean conservation work around the globe.

MCAF Director Elizabeth Stephenson
MCAF Director Elizabeth Stephenson Photo: Vanessa Kahn

UN Ocean Decade Endorses MCAF Collaboration

Our project “The Ripple Effect—Capacity Sharing for the Ocean,” focuses on collectively scaling up the support of local leaders in their efforts to engage groups such as fishers, youth, community members, and emerging conservationists to work collaboratively to protect the ocean.

Funding and Support

For funding inquiries or to learn more about MCAF, please contact Director Elizabeth Stephenson at and Program Officer Emily Duwan Once a funding inquiry is received, we will advise as to whether we would like to invite a full proposal. Successful projects are those focused on locally-informed, evidence-based solutions to pressing ocean conservation issues, and those that collaborate with local stakeholders and communities towards the goal of lasting, systemic change.

Additional Information:
  • Funding inquiries must include a paragraph about your proposed project along with a brief bio of the project lead, and an approximate budget and timeline.
  • Project leaders must be a national of the low or middle-income country or the broader region where the work is taking place.
  • Proposals are reviewed on a rolling basis and reviewers may include members of MCAF’s advisory committee, Aquarium staff and other leading experts in the field. Through the review process, we seek to provide valuable feedback to applicants and ensure that MCAF funds the initiatives with the greatest potential to have a meaningful conservation impact.
  • MCAF grants range from $1,000 to $12,000.

Support Our Global Network

The New England Aquarium's Marine Conservation Action Fund is helping to advance ocean health and conservation efforts in over 60 countries. To learn how you can support MCAF, please email Annelise Conway at