Marine Mammal Commission

Current Funding Opportunities

Fiscal Year 2023 Grants

Fiscal Year  2023 Request for Proposals 

Proposal deadline: Wednesday, April 12th 2023 11:59pm EDT

Applicant notification: by Monday, July 31st 2023

Funding Opportunities in Fiscal Year 2023

The Marine Mammal Commission will be accepting proposals between November 01, 2022 and April 12, 2023 for projects focused on understanding marine mammal population health in a changing climate.  Funding requests are limited to $60,000 USD.

Marine Mammal Health in a Changing Climate

The Marine Mammal Commission’s mission, as defined by the U.S. Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), is to ensure that marine mammal populations are restored and maintained as significant functioning elements of healthy marine ecosystems. However, numerous stressors, including pollution, habitat loss, overfishing and fisheries bycatch, noise, and vessel traffic, threaten both the health of marine mammals and the health of marine ecosystems of which they are a part.  In addition, climate change is leading to warming seas, extreme weather events, ocean acidification, and shifts in range and abundance of many marine species and infectious agents, all of which can disrupt ecosystem processes and function, including impacts on the health of marine mammals. For example, some viruses and bacteria that cause disease in marine mammals and other marine wildlife have increased in prevalence or been detected outside of their previously documented range; harmful algal blooms (HABs) that produce dangerous toxins have become more frequent and extensive; increased freshwater discharge from terrestrial sources has dropped salinity in coastal waters and led to marine mammal unusual mortality events; and changes in prey distribution, nutritional quality, or availability are impacting body condition, growth, reproduction, and survival of some marine mammal species. Monitoring the health of populations may provide an early warning of emerging issues prior to observable changes in vital rates or abundance, and may also provide insight into the underlying causes of a population decline. Increased capacity to detect changes in marine mammal population health and understand the underlying factors and processes contributing to those changes is critically needed to be prepared to respond to and mitigate impacts related to changing marine ecosystems, particularly in the face of climate change.

We are seeking proposals for projects that:

Further our understanding of how environmental factors affect marine mammal population health.

In this context, we define “population health” as the distribution of health indicators or outcomes in a population or subset of a population. Health indicators could include a single measure or aggregate measure of body condition or energy stores, organ status, immune status, sublethal injury from trauma or human interaction, or infectious disease. Projects that use long-term data or archived time-series samples are welcome, as are prospective studies, or projects that provide innovative tools for assessing health indicators to support long-term surveillance into the future. We are particularly interested in learning about changes in population health driven by climate change, and encourage proposals that investigate how environmental factors that will be affected by a changing climate, such as prey availability or nutritional quality, HAB toxins, pathogens, temperature, or salinity, influence health of marine mammals.  Proposals that increase the inclusion or representation of people from underserved groups in marine mammal research, management, or conservation are strongly encouraged.

Note: Proposals requesting support for basic stranding response are better suited for application to the National Marine Fisheries Service or Fish and Wildlife Service Prescott Grant Programs in the United States, and will not be considered under this funding opportunity.

Eligibility: Applicants from both within the U.S. as well as outside the U.S. are eligible to apply (including both non-U.S. citizens and those affiliated with non-U.S. institutions).

At the time of posting, the federal government is working under a continuing resolution. Availability of funds to support research is dependent on passage of a final budget for the Commission.  Proposals will be accepted until Wednesday, April 12, 2023.

Proposal Requirements and Submission Information

Information on proposal requirements and submission procedures is available on the proposal requirements page. Please review and follow this information carefully. Proposals that are submitted after the deadline or do not meet the requirements will not be evaluated or considered for funding.

Proposal Evaluation

All proposals will be evaluated with respect to: the importance or significance of the type of project proposed,1 its relevance to the current funding opportunity and focal area and the Commission’s mission and goals,2 the technical and resource adequacy of the proposal,3 and the likelihood that the project will achieve its stated objectives or outcomes. Review and selection of applications will be based on a detailed evaluation of these criteria and recommendations for funding.  Awards are subject to the availability of funds.

Potential applicants may contact Dee Allen, Scientific Program Officer, by e-mail ( or telephone (301-504-0087) with any questions about proposal requirements, the evaluation process, out-of-cycle funding, or suitability of a topic for Commission funding. During a review cycle, all proposals that meet minimum requirements will be reviewed by the Commission’s staff, Committee of Scientific Advisors on Marine Mammals, Commissioners, and external experts, as necessary. The Commission will assign reviewers based on their expertise and assurance that they have no conflict of interest with the proposed activities. The Commission will maintain the confidentiality of all proposals.


  1. For example, would such a project significantly advance critical scientific understanding, contribute to the development of an innovative method or technology, lead to groundbreaking policy ideas, or catalyze critical thinking through a meeting, workshop or symposium?
  2. Mission: Provide independent, science-based oversight of domestic and international policies and actions, thereby promoting effective implementation of the MMPA and its goals of protecting and conserving marine mammals and their habitat. Strategic Goal: Improve Population Assessment and Health Surveillance. Our goal is to improve the availability and quality of data, scientific assessments, and information necessary for marine mammal conservation and management programs, especially in the face of climate change.
  3. For example, are the elements described in the proposal (e.g., project plan, field and lab procedures, sample sizes, proposed statistical analyses, equipment, research platforms) internally consistent and are they sufficient to achieve the project’s goals, objectives, and outcomes?