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About Us

Jeff Watters

Jeff Watters

Vice President of External Affairs
Washington, D.C.

Democracy isn’t a spectator sport. If we want our government to do good things for our ocean, we have to show up. We have to make Congress pay attention to these issues. That is what my team does every day – represent Ocean Conservancy and its members in the halls of power to achieve positive policies for the ocean and those who rely on it.


  • M.S., Limnology and Marine Science, University of Wisconsin at Madison
  • B.S., Zoology and Anthropology, University of Wisconsin at Madison

Areas of Expertise

  • Ocean policy & governance
  • Fisheries management
  • Ocean Acidification

Jeff came aboard at Ocean Conservancy in 2011. In that time he has risen from Senior Manager of our Government Relations team to its Senior Director. As Senior Director of Conservation Policy and Engagement, Jeff leads our teams in navigating Capitol Hill and fighting for the goals of Ocean Conservancy and our members among elected officials.

Pursuing both his undergraduate and graduate studies at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, he earned his Masters of Science in limnology and marine science. As a Midwesterner, Jeff has described the impetus for his pursuit of marine science as “coast envy.” His research of sea turtles brought him to Hawaii in January, which does certainly sound more temperate than Madison.

From Madison, Jeff decamped to Washington, DC, having secured a Christine Mirzayan graduate fellowship on the Ocean Studies Board of the National Academy of Sciences. His selection for another prestigious fellowship, NOAA’s Knauss Sea Grant, placed him in a policy position within the office of Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA). Having gotten the politics bug, Jeff continued on Senator Cantwell’s office as Legislative Assistant for four years. He advised the senator on ocean and fisheries issues and staffed her chairmanship of the Senate Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries and Coast Guard.

Jeff’s extensive knowledge about the workings of both the ocean and Capitol Hill made him an invaluable resource and team member for Ocean Conservancy’s Government Relations team. Although he works closely with our fish and ocean acidification teams, he works on behalf of all our programs and members. In his spare time Jeff is still working, helping to run a cookie shop with his husband or rein their two dogs, Chloe and Lexi.

My Ocean Animal

Sea Turtle – Sure, it may not be surprising that a guy who studied sea turtles chooses them as his ocean animal, but there is a lot to be said about these not-so-little guys. They may not be loud or flashy but, like the tortoise on land, they prove that by plodding along, pushing yourself forward, you can get further than anyone might have guessed. Having such a long lifespan wouldn’t be a bad thing, either.

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