Marine Conservation

Making the seas safer for birds

Seabirds have declined by 70 percent since 1950. 

From overfishing of prey, to climate change, and pollution, seabirds are threatened at every part of their life cycle. That's why Audubon is working to reverse the seabird crisis by focusing on sustainable fisheries management, marine protected areas, and our Seabird Institute.

Fisheries Management

Audubon protects seabirds and the small, schooling fish they rely on. By defending the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, our nation’s only federal fisheries law, we are protecting the long-term sustainability of our fisheries, for the benefit of seabirds and other wildlife that need a healthy ocean. This law has successfully helped recover 44 fish species from overfishing, and it supports a number of commercial and recreational fishing industries across the United States.
We are also working to improve the way that states and federal governments manage forage fish, the small, schooling fish that seabirds, dolphins, whales, and other large fish rely on. Forage fish, like sardines and herring, are the base of the ocean food web, and they are threatened by overfishing and the effects of climate change. We’re working to advance policies that take into account the importance of forage fish for seabirds and other marine wildlife when making decisions about how many fish can be taken out of the ocean.
An Atlantic Puffin stands on a granite rock, its black-and-white feathers drenched from the ocean, clutching fish of several different sizes in its bright orange bill.

Long-Awaited Fisheries Bills Advance as Rough Year for Seabirds Comes to a Close

Seabirds need better fisheries policies to raise their chicks in the face of climate change.

More Food on the Table for New England's Puffins and Terns

Federal fishery managers took decisive action to protect Atlantic herring, a fish many seabirds eat.

Atlantic Fishery Commission Misses the Mark on Menhaden

A new decision by an Atlantic Coast fishing regulator may put coastal birds like Ospreys at risk of not having enough to eat.

Marine Protected Areas

We are working to establish marine protected areas at key locations throughout the Western Hemisphere, including in the U.S., Bahamas, and Chile. Marine protected areas are key to providing habitats for seabirds, fish, and other marine life that benefit coastal communities and economies. For example, the new Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument, which Audubon and others helped establish through advocacy and education encompasses crucial wintering grounds for Atlantic Puffins that nest in Maine. Its designation as a national monument limits fishing, drilling, and mining within this nearly 5,000-square-mile region. In addition, in the Bahamas, our scientific data was factored into the establishment of the 92,000-acre Joulter Cays Marine Protected Area, which is the wintering home for thousands of shorebirds, including 10% of the Atlantic population of Piping Plovers. Such protections uphold rich habitats that grow commercial fish populations, while providing a refuge for birds and other wildlife. In coalition with our partners, Audubon will advocate for continued and new protections for these marine protected areas.

A white goose with upraised white wings with black wingtips is about to land on the ground.
Boreal Forests

Our Connection to a Great Inland Sea

ᑲᓇᓇᑲᑕᐧᐁᓂᑕᒪᐠ ᑭᒋᑲᒥᔾ

Gulf of Mexico Marine Sanctuary Nearly Triples in Size

Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary is one of the only safe havens for Gulf seabirds.

Creating Safe Havens for Seabirds

The Ocean-Based Climate Solutions Act will help seabirds and coastal communities persevere in the face of climate change.

Seabird Institute

Over the last 40 years, Audubon's Seabird Institute (formerly known as Project Puffin) has accumulated significant data on seabirds and their diets, restored seabird nesting colonies in Maine for approximately 42,000 seabirds and exported these techniques to seventeen countries, and inspired hundreds of thousands of people in the U.S. and internationally to support seabird conservation. Audubon’s network of seven actively managed seabird nesting islands and the Hog Island headquarters and educational facility are located in the coastal waters of the Gulf of Maine, one of the fastest-warming regions of the global ocean. This network serves as a living laboratory to study and teach about climate change impacts on seabirds and the fish and marine ecosystems on which they depend. 


Tufted Puffins are Getting a Boost in the Pacific Northwest

Audubon and partners are launching new efforts to save this declining seabird.
An Atlantic Puffin stands on a rock with its wings outstretched, puffing out its chest and holding two fish in its large orange beak. Next to it is a worn looking painted wooden decoy puffin affixed to the rock.

50 Years of Project Puffin: An Oral History of An Audacious Idea

In 1973 a young biologist hatched a plan to bring a charismatic seabird back to Maine. It was the start of a five-decade scientific adventure that would ultimately revolutionize seabird restoration.

This Art Show Captures the Magic of the World’s First Restored Seabird Colony

An immersive exhibit in Maine transports viewers to Eastern Egg Rock, where Project Puffin began.

Birds That Depend on a Healthy Ocean