ACOPS is an environmental NGO that informs, advises and engages to achieve sound policy and sustainable seas. We aspire to connect change makers and the public with scientific, legal and policy specialists with an eye to realising long-term progress and the rule of law.

ACOPS has consultative observer status with numerous intergovernmental bodies, including the Arctic Council, the OSPAR Convention, the International Maritime Organization, the International Seabed Authority and the London Convention and Protocol.

ACOPS is a registered UK charitable company (Charity no. 290776, Company House no.01867863 ).



We have a seat at the table to represent our marine future.

The Ocean is the heart of the planet. 70% of the earth’s surface,  more than 50% of the oxygen we breathe and the biggest climate regulator there is. It is also a key part of our economy, carrying 90% of our trade and providing critical resources from global food security to mining and coastal developments. We know that coastal and marine systems we benefit from are vulnerable. Human activities affect marine ecosystems as a result of pollution, overfishing, the introduction of invasive species, climate change impacts including ocean acidification and deoxygenation and many competing activities in space and time.

The international law of the sea and the rule of law matter greatly. They are the basis for fair and equitable access among us all to our shared resources. for shipping, fishing, mining and all other activities at sea. They also are our insurance for a secure world.

Sound marine science is equally as critical to inform the development and implementation of international regulations and ensure sustainable development.

Ocean law and policy, which is based on the law of the sea and sound science keeps developing in many places including United Nations bodies in New York and Nairobi, the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) in London, the International Seabed Authority (ISA) in Kingston or the Arctic Council in Iceland. Wherever they are, ACOPS  participates both directly or indirectly, to inform policy making.

In fact, ACOPS started 67 years ago, as the coordinating Advisory Committee on Oil Pollution of the Sea, established in 1952 by Lord Callaghan as one of the world’s first environmental non-government organisations.

On 17 May 2019, ACOPS hosted guests at the House of Lords for a changing of the guard that aspires to build on a storied history with an updated vision, scope and strategy. As we celebrated the 67th birthday of ACOPS, we launched ACOPS 67,  a new plan to embrace a new age of communication and multi-stakeholder engagement.  Marine environmental issues are not solely a government affair. Progress towards sustainable ocean requires constructive discussions that also involve scientists, industry, investors and the civil society.    

For more on ACOPS 67, click here!



The term ‘uses of the sea’ designates all activities at sea such as commercial shipping,  offshore oil and gas, fishing, mining in the deep sea beyond the jurisdiction of coastal States (i.e. beyond their Exclusive Economic Zone and Continental Shelf), the laying of cables and pipelines. marine scientific research, etc. 

These ‘uses’ are organised, managed and/or regulated on a sectoral basis often under the purview of an international and/or a regional body. 

ACOPS is active in several marine and maritime sectors or activities, especially shipping, coastal and offshore mining as well as deep seabed mining beyond national jurisdiction.

International shipping is regulated under the purview of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) in London. ( http://www.imo.org/en/Pages/Default.aspx

Deep seabed mining is regulated by the bodies of the International Seabed Authority (ISA) in Jamaica.  (https://www.isa.org.jm/

ACOPS has a consultative status with both the IMO and the ISA.



‘Cross-sectoral issues’ refer to marine environmental issues that are not specific to one sector of activity at sea. To be tackled, they therefore require the involvement of all the sectors of activity at sea and relevant stakeholders. They often are also linked to or raise societal issues. ACOPS studies the governance mechanisms applicable to the management of these issues, with a legal and institutional approach and on the basis of sound science available to assess environmental impacts. These studies provide the basis for ACOPS to inform, advise and engage with relevant  stakeholders.

Issues of this type that ACOPS follows closely are  the establishment of marine protected areas (MPAs) where uses of the sea are restricted, the impact and regulation  of marine litter including marine plastics and the dumping of waste and other matter at sea. 

The marine environmental management of a regional sea area such as the Arctic, the North Atlantic, the Mediterranean Sea, the Caribbean Sea or the South China Sea also require a cross-sectoral and integrated approach to all activities at sea within this sea. ACOPS has been involved in the Arctic for decades through the Arctic Council. ACOPS’ Trustees and Friends are also involved through their research in other regional seas. For example, Youna Lyons has a particular interest on management and protection of the marine environment in the seas of Southeast Asia. 

ACOPS’ activity includes contribution to a number of reports and publications and participation to specialized networks involved with different aspects of the protection of the marine environment and sustainable use of our oceans. They are described in the context of each topic area.



How you can engage

Ask Us – Send us your questions and concerns whether from the perspective of an individual, an industry or another group of interest. Email us: admin@acops.org.uk

Connect with Us – on current ocean issues through our LinkedIn page or email

Engage with Us – in our social discussion of human connections with the ocean on Instagram

Support Us – Support our presence to international meetings and our work financially or in kind  (as donors or partners): contact us

Volunteer – We welcome specialized and general volunteering offers to help us continue our work: contact us