close up of black grouper fish

General Content


close up of black grouper fish


South Atlantic Ocean Conservation

Vibrant fish populations are vital to healthy oceans and important to coastal communities from North Carolina to Florida. Protecting marine ecosystems can help ensure the abundant fish populations that are essential for bountiful seafood, productive fishing, and on-and-in-the-water enjoyment for generations to come. Our work emphasizes:

  • Habitat protections for dwindling fish species so they have safe havens to live and spawn.  Protected areas allow fish to grow bigger and reproduce more, which in turn means healthier fish populations that can provide more seafood and fishing opportunities.
  • A holistic approach to managing marine resources.  We work with fishery managers to move beyond regulating one species at a time to considering the impacts of fish and fishing on  entire ecosystems. Ecosystem-based fisheries management will provide a healthier environment where marine life can thrive.
  • Recovery of depleted fish populations, such as red snapper. Following plans to rebuild fish species will produce bountiful harvests for the future.
  • The Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act: the nation’s fishing law that has guided several important fish species, including black sea bass, toward recovery.

Meet Our Team

Holly Binns


Holly Binns directs Pew’s efforts to protect ocean life in the Gulf of Mexico, the U.S. South Atlantic Ocean and the U.S. Caribbean. This work aims to ensure sustainable fishing and robust marine food webs; protect important habitats such as deep-sea corals and fish spawning sites; and safeguard marine resources for the benefit of coastal communities, fishermen, seafood eaters, divers, boaters, and others, as well as for future generations.

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Leda Cunningham


Leda Cunningham manages Pew’s work to conserve ocean resources in U.S. South Atlantic waters off of North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and eastern Florida, based in Morehead City, North Carolina.

She previously served as executive director of the Reef Environmental Education Foundation, where she led fundraising and strategic planning initiatives and managed a team of staff and volunteers whose achievements included developing the world’s largest citizen-science-derived marine life sightings database. Before that, Cunningham coordinated outreach to the scuba diving community for the National Environmental Trust.

Cunningham holds a bachelor’s degree in biology from Macalester College and master’s degrees in business administration and global environmental policy from American University in Washington.

Lora Clarke


Lora Clarke is the science and policy analyst for Pew’s efforts to conserve ocean resources and ensure sustainable fishing in the South Atlantic, based in Charleston, South Carolina.

Before joining Pew, Clarke served in various roles for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, including associate program manager for the Comparative Analysis of Marine Ecosystem Organization grant program, coordinator of the Protected Species Program and National Habitat Science, policy adviser for the National Ocean Policy, and adviser to the NOAA administrator on climate issues.

Clarke holds a bachelor’s degree in biology from Christopher Newport University, a master’s degree in wildlife and fisheries conservation from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and a doctorate in marine and atmospheric sciences from Stony Brook University. 

Dean Foster


Dean Foster is the outreach officer for Pew’s work to conserve ocean resources and support science-based fishery management in U.S. South Atlantic waters, based in Charleston, South Carolina.

Foster previously worked as a print journalist and owned a public relations agency. He has been honored with regional and national awards in the fields of journalism, public relations, and advertising and is a founding board member and past-president of Rebuilding Together in Charleston, a chapter of a national nonprofit organization dedicated to repairing homes for the elderly, sick, and handicapped.  

He holds a bachelor’s degree in news-editorial journalism from the University of South Carolina.