Marine Mammal Commission

Current Funding Opportunities

Fiscal Year 2018 Grants (CLOSED)

2019 Request for Proposals to be Announced in November, 2018

Pre-proposal deadline: Thursday, January 11th 2018 11:59pm EST (CLOSED)

Notification of requests for full proposals: Monday, March 12th 2018

Full proposal submission deadline (invited applicants only): Monday, April 9th 2018

Applicant notification: Monday, July 2nd 2018

Funding Opportunities in Fiscal Year 2018

The Marine Mammal Commission will be accepting pre-proposals until January 11, 2018. The Commission will ONLY accept proposals on the focal area described below. There is no concurrent open call for proposals this year. Preference may be given to proposals requesting $50,000 or less; however, exceptional proposals requesting larger amounts (not to exceed $100,000) will be considered. Additional weight will be given to proposals that leverage other resources, have matching funds, or are highly collaborative in nature. 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/full budget for the Commission.

Focal Area

Community-driven conservation approaches to eliminate, manage, or mitigate threats to marine mammals

Marine mammals continue to face an array of threats ranging from fisheries, noise, and vessel traffic to environmental change. Conservation action is needed to eliminate, manage, or mitigate these threats.  Successful conservation programs require not only an understanding of species and ecosystems, but also of the needs, values, perceptions, and cultures of the relevant human communities. Individuals need to become engaged, informed, and inspired to work toward altering human behavior. The Commission believes that increased awareness of examples of successful innovative, community-driven approaches to conservation will help.

UCSC researchers weighing an adult female northern elephant seal.

UCSC researchers weighing an adult female northern elephant seal. Research conducted under NMFS permit #87-1743. (Sam Simmons, Marine Mammal Commission)

This year the Commission is requesting proposals that focus on such examples. Proposals must include a component to evaluate the effectiveness of measures to eliminate, manage, or mitigate threats to marine mammals. The threat may come from any type of human activity (e.g. fishing, shipping, energy development) as well as from things like climate change, ocean acidification, or loss of ice cover. Particular consideration will be given to proposals that include a social science component where it is shown how greater understanding of human interests and motivation can inform management and improve the effectiveness of conservation efforts. For example, the success of measures to reduce the impacts of fisheries on marine mammals often depends on the support of communities. Gaining such support may hinge on having good information on attitudes within the fishing, environmental, and management communities, ensuring that both fishermen and non-fishermen have high levels of knowledge concerning the issue(s), and offering policy options that incentivize rather than just regulate. Proposals that are both empirically informed and linked to tangible management problems, and solutions, and that concern populations at extreme risk, may be given preference.

Submission Requirements

Tests with the side-scan sonar to record Amazonian manatees in Amanã Sustainable Development Reserve

Tests with the side-scan sonar to record Amazonian manatees in Amanã Sustainable Development Reserve. (Miriam Marmontel)

Proposals in FY18 will follow the submission requirements detailed on the proposal requirements page. Invitations to submit full proposals will be based on the review of a 3-page pre-proposal, and grants will be awarded to invited applicants based on evaluation of a detailed full proposal (not to exceed 8 pages) and subject to the availability of funds.

Please review and follow the instructions for the proposal requirements carefully. Proposals that do not meet the requirements will not be evaluated or considered for funding.

For a given project, only a single pre-proposal, submitted to a single topic area (see below) will be accepted.

Topic Area A: Research and Conservation

Proposals on basic or applied marine mammal research, development of new technologies, or those explicitly related to marine mammal conservation, policy or management, should be submitted to this topic area.

Topic Area B: Outreach and Connectivity

Proposals requesting funds for conferences, workshops, symposia, education, outreach, or publication development should be submitted to this topic area.

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.

Deploying a satellite tag on an adult male northern elephant seal

Deploying a satellite tag on an adult male northern elephant seal. This instrument tells us about the location and diving behavior of the seal, as well as the temperature and salinity of the ocean as the seal swims to find food. Research conducted under NMFS permit #87-1743. (Dan Costa)

Potential applicants may contact Samantha Simmons, Ph.D., Acting Scientific Program Director, by e-mail (ssimmons@mmc.gov) 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 and pre-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 choose 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 contribute to the conservation of a species/population, advance critical scientific understanding, contribute to the development of innovative technology, lead to groundbreaking policy ideas, catalyze critical thinking through a meeting, workshop or symposium, or contribute to an important conservation issue through outreach, communication or education? 

  2. Mission: ensure consistency with the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) and other relevant mandates to protect and conserve marine mammals through oversight of domestic and international policies and actions of federal agencies addressing human impacts to marine mammals and their ecosystems. Strategic Goal: ensure the protection and conservation of marine mammals as functioning elements of healthy, stable marine ecosystems through science-based mitigation and monitoring of anthropogenic impacts on these populations and their ecosystem.  

  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?