The Marine Conservation Action Fund (MCAF) is a small grants and fellowship program that addresses critical needs in the marine conservation field, including rapid turnaround funding for urgent, time-sensitive projects and support for early-stage, entrepreneurial projects led by local conservation leaders in low and middle-income countries.

Since it was founded in 1999, MCAF has supported more than 190 projects in more than 60 countries and across six continents. MCAF has supported conservation leaders gathering key data on imperiled marine species and engaging communities through local conservation projects. Through these efforts, conservation leaders are creating solutions that benefit ocean health and support food security and livelihoods for local communities.

Eligibility/Selection criteria:

MCAF recognizes that lasting change requires investment in local leadership. Therefore, as of 2021, project leaders that are new to MCAF must be a national of the low or middle-income country or the broader region where the work is taking place. Highest priority is also given to organizations whose leadership are nationals of the country where the work is taking place.

Successful projects are those focused on science-based and place-based solutions to pressing conservation problems, those that develop local capacity for conservation, and those that work closely with stakeholders and communities towards lasting, systemic change.

Funding process:

MCAF awards are up to $12,000.

Proposals are reviewed on a rolling basis by expert reviewers who may include previous MCAF grant recipients and MCAF advisory committee members. Through the expert review process, we seek to provide helpful feedback to the applicant and ensure that MCAF funds the initiatives with the greatest potential to have a meaningful conservation impact.

To submit an inquiry, please send a summary or brief concept note of your project to MCAF Program Officer Emily Duwan eduwan@neaq.org. We will then advise as to whether we would like to invite a full proposal.

For examples of projects previously funded by MCAF please visit our blog linked here


Emily Duwan, MCAF Program Officer


Elizabeth Stephenson, MCAF Director