Managing Director, Coral Triangle Program, WWF


With environmental experience ranging from the Peace Corps and CARE to The Nature Conservancy and WWF, Cathy has a wealth of knowledge to draw from as director of WWF’s Coral Triangle Program.

Cathy began her environmental career as a forestry and watershed management student. While she spent many years working on forestry-related issues, her work with blue whales and salmon aquaculture in Chile eventually brought her over into the marine world.

Cathy keeps track of and supports the important work of WWF that happens on the ground, or in many cases, in the waters of the Coral Triangle. She loves the incredible diversity of life across the region and seeing how local people are taking action to bring about positive change. For example, in Wakatobi Marine Park in Indonesia, communities made the difficult decision to establish no-take zones in a fish spawning area, since stocks were declining.  They also decided to outlaw dynamite and cyanide fishing. While taking on these measures reduced the amount of fish they were able to bring home, their decisions paid off in the long run, and fish stocks are rebounding.

Cathy incorporates WWF’s practices of sustainable living in her own life as well. She promotes recycling and composting in DC and commutes to work by bicycle.

“I’m continually humbled by ordinary people making significant changes to improve the environment.”

The Coral Triangle is a marine area located in the western Pacific Ocean. It includes the waters of Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Papua New Guinea, Timor Leste and Solomon Islands. Named for its staggering number of corals (nearly 600 different species of reef-building corals alone), the region nurtures six of the world’s seven marine turtle species and more than 2000 species of reef fish. The Coral Triangle also supports large populations of commercially important tuna, fueling a multi-billion dollar global tuna industry. Over 120 million people live in the Coral Triangle and rely on its coral reefs for food, income and protection from storms.

Current levels and methods of harvesting fish and other resources are not sustainable and place this important marine area and its people in jeopardy. A changing climate threatens coastal communities and imperils fragile reefs. The challenge ahead is to develop sustainable solutions for the Coral Triangle’s inhabitants and protect one of the most diverse marine habitats on Earth at the same time. Together with conservation partners and the governments of the region, WWF works to safeguard this important region for its people and the world.

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Coral Triangle Initiative

What’s the problem with tuna fishing in the Coral Triangle?