Marine and Coastal Conservation

QLF works within the home Region to protect marine species at risk and the ecosystems they inhabit; to raise awareness among communities and marine resource users about the impact of their actions on marine and coastal areas; and to conserve the Sounds, estuaries, and coastal waters of southern New England and New York.

The Sounds Conservancy

The Sounds Conservancy is a marine research program along the six Sounds, estuaries, and coastal waters of southern New England (Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island) and New York. From south to north, the Sounds are Long Island, Fishers Island, Block Island, Rhode Island, Martha’s Vineyard, and Nantucket. The program is designed to work with practitioners and researchers to protect the Sounds and their coastal waters, and to support marine research, environmental policy, and environmental education and outreach.


Through The Sounds Conservancy, QLF awards a few dozen research grants to graduate students, Fellows, and practitioners in marine conservation. Grants have supported cutting-edge research that has served to protect biodiversity in marine and coastal environments. Among the critical projects that The Sounds Conservancy grant program has sponsored is Dr. Helen Hays’ international work aimed to protect the Common and Roseate Terns from their nesting grounds in New York State to their roosting grounds in Argentina. Learn more from the following case study.

Launched in 2014, The Sounds Conservancy Grants Explorer is an interactive website that maps out all research projects and features additional information about Grantees.

Launched in 2014, The Sounds Conservancy Grants Explorer is an interactive website that maps out all research projects and features additional information about Grantees.

Grantee research is published in an annually updated electronic publication that serves as a reference guide for present and future grantees, and is mapped in the program’s interactive website, The Sounds Conservancy Grants Explorer. Thanks to the work of Stephen Engle, Senior Consultant to QLF and Director of the Center for Community GIS, this website allows users to learn more about funded projects while enabling Grantees to share their ongoing research and foster new partnerships.

The Sounds Conservancy Grantees are affiliated with some of the leading universities and organizations along the Sounds including: University of Connecticut, Avery Point; Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies; University of Rhode Island; the American Museum of Natural History; Audubon (Massachusetts and Rhode Island); and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

The Sounds Conversancy also funds book projects, which has produced works including Forage Fish and the Industrial Fisheries and Forage Fish.

Program Publications


Marine Species at Risk

The goals of QLF’s Marine Species at Risk Program are to target priority marine species designated as endangered or threatened; support activities specified in species recovery plans; identify and protect habitats critical to species at risk; mitigate threats to species at risk; support recovery team experts and species experts; prevent the decline of marine species and the degradation of their habitats; and ensure the long-term conservation of species at risk through effective marine conservation partnerships. The program was originally established ten years ago to create a network of community partners to monitor and collect data on marine species at risk, develop a communication network for reporting sightings and exchanging information on marine species, and evaluate and communicate findings to regional scientists.

Today, Dr. Blanchard continues to build on QLF’s work along the coasts of Newfoundland and Labrador to engage fish harvesters and other stakeholder groups in the recovery of marine species at risk. In recent years, this work has focused on engaging fish harvesters in Newfoundland and Labrador to release wolffish caught as incidental catch in a wide variety of directed fisheries. Interns intercept fish harvesters at ports around the province, engaging them in dialogue about recovery actions such as live release and encouraging them to record their by-catch of wolffish so that biologists within Canada’s Department of Fisheries and Oceans can better assess species’ abundance and distribution. This project addresses three species of wolffish found in eastern Canadian waters and makes recommendations to government departments and stakeholder groups in order to help develop strategies for effective stewardship of other marine species. Consult QLF’s Marine Species Identification Charts to learn how to identify the marine species of Newfoundland and Labrador (click here for the French version).