This committed CEO tackles international water woes. His team's success is making waves.

By Jacquelyne Froeber
January 24, 2008
Courtesy of Oceana/Juan Cuetos

At 5 p.m. Andy Sharpless is just sitting down for lunch. "Iguess it's dinner now," he says with a laugh. As CEO of thenonprofit group Oceana inWashington, D.C., Andy works around the clock to protect worldwidemarine habitats.

Thousands of Oceana members show equal dedication to the cause."There are many things you can do for the ocean, but we focus onthree or four projects that make a big difference―fast," Andysays. For each project, the campaign team has up to five years toenact government or corporate policy change. Oceana has achieved 15key policy changes in the past six years.

The group has successfully safeguarded more than 1 millionsquare miles of ocean from bottom trawling, a practice in whichfishermen drag weighted nets along the sea floor. "It's similar tohunting rabbits with a bulldozer," Andy says. "You may catchrabbits, but you've destroyed the forest." Another victory waspersuading Royal Caribbean cruise lines to upgrade waste-treatmentsystems aboard its 29 ships, meaning less sewage in the water.

Oceana has garnered support from politicians, celebrities, andfood industry leaders such as Trader Joe's and Whole Foods, andrecruited 300,000 "wavemakers" online. "We have the ability to movedecision makers," Andy says. "With the right policies in place, wecan replenish and ultimately save our oceans."