Marine Mammal Commission


What is your agency’s mission and how does supporting research in the Arctic advance that mission?

The Marine Mammal Commission provides independent, science-based oversight of domestic and international policies of federal agencies to address human impacts on marine mammals and their ecosystems. The Commission has a longstanding commitment to support the assessment of marine mammal stocks and the management of risks to marine mammals in a changing Arctic. The Commission is also responsible for recommending provisions that ensure the availability of marine mammals for Alaska Native subsistence and cultural purposes.

Where would one go to find out what research is being funded by your agency in the Arctic?

Information regarding Commission-funded research in the Arctic and elsewhere is available on our Grants and Research Program Webpage. In 2019, the Commission funded projects addressing impacts of a changing ocean on marine mammals of importance to Alaska Natives. In 2021, the Commission funded projects that addressed human impacts on marine mammals and their ecosystems or that had clear management implications. In 2022, the Commission funded projects on measuring the impacts of climate change on marine mammals.

Where would one go to read about scientific research results from your agency?

The Commission’s website,, provides a broad range of information on marine mammal species and issues of concern. All articles and final reports from Commission-funded projects are posted on our Grant Awards Webpage or are available upon request.

In terms of budget, approximately how big is your agency’s investment in Arctic research?

We have a very modest overall research budget and the amount focused on Arctic research varies annually.

What are your agency’s funding priorities over the next 2 years?

Our priorities are reviewed and revised annually based on priorities identified by our Commissioners and Committee of Scientific Advisors.

How does your agency coordinate and collaborate with other agencies to advance your mission in the Arctic?

The Commission works closely with other federal agencies charged with carrying out or complying with the mandates of the MMPA. Key agencies include the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and Bureau of Ocean and Energy Management. We are also active members of interagency groups such as IARPC and the Arctic Policy Group. Collaborations involve support for and coordination on research and stock assessments, identifying research priorities and knowledge gaps, and applying research results to the evaluation and management of proposed activities in the Arctic. 

Activities in Alaska

Does your agency have office(s) in Alaska?

The Commission is headquartered in Bethesda, MD, but many members of the small staff are frequently in Alaska for meetings on science, species monitoring and management, environmental assessment, and co-management.  

Does that office support research?


Where can one go to learn more about your agency’s presence in Alaska?

Information regarding the Commission’s focus on the Arctic can be found on the Arctic and the Grants and Research webpages.


Peter Thomas
Executive Director

Vicki Cornish
Energy Policy Analyst/Alaska Native Liason

External Links

IARPC Collaborations Links