splash Splash. It's all about impact. In each issue, we'll bring news of the work you so generously support, and let you know just how that work is making a splash in the health of the planet. Join Ocean Conservancy to receive Splash in the mail »

Deep Dive: Kaitilin Gaffney

Director, Pacific Program

Deep Dive: Kaitilin Gaffney Splash Magazine

Kaitilin Gaffney's earliest ocean memories are of walking the wild, fog-shrouded beaches of Point Reyes with her grandmother. "I've been lucky to spend most of my life living next to the Pacific," she says.
- Kaitilin Gaffney, Director, Pacific Program

After growing up in San Francisco, she studied coastal policy at UC-Santa Barbara and attended law school back in the Bay Area at Berkeley. Earning her masters degree in fisheries policy under a Fulbright Fellowship in New Zealand, she joined Ocean Conservancy in 1999.

For eight years, Kaitilin served on the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary's Advisory Council, representing the conservation community during efforts to update management plans for northern California's three marine sanctuaries. "We looked at every sanctuary rule and regulation to see where improvements needed to be made and pushed hard for better protections across a broad range of areas, from curbing cruise ships pollution to addressing invasive species," she recalls.

Since 2004, Kaitilin has lead Ocean Conservancy's effort to establish a statewide system of marine protected areas in California under the Marine Life Protection Act. "It is incredibly important and challenging work," says Kaitilin, who credits her Ocean Conservancy colleagues' advocacy skills and ability to pull together during difficult times to get the job done.

Science proves that marine protected areas enable ocean life to thrive, but protected areas require fishermen to change where they fish and often face initial opposition. Kaitilin explains Ocean Conservancy's approach: "We believe that fishermen and conservationists have a great deal in common. Those who make their livelihoods or recreate on the water, and we in the conservation community, are the very people most likely to value the ocean and have the most to gain from protecting it. Ultimately, a healthier ocean is better for everyone."

Half of California's statewide marine protected area network is now complete, and some of those beaches I visited with my grandmother have been protected," says Kaitilin, who now goes tidepooling and builds sand castles with her own young children on those same beaches. "I like the fact that I can explain easily what I do: I try to protect the fish. To make sure they have safe homes. That's something even my three-year-old can understand."

All active news articles
Ocean Conservancy makes careful use of your support, and holds
high ratings with the BBB Wise Giving Alliance.
BBB Accredited Charity Charity Navigator