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Ocean Defenders Alliance

 19744 Beach Blvd., Box #446
 Huntington Beach, CA 92648
[P] (714) 875-5881
[F] (714) 968-4921
[email protected]
Kurt Lieber
 Printable 1 Page Summary
 Printable Profile
Organization DBA --
Former Names --
Organization received a competitive grant from the community foundation in the past five years Yes
Employer Identification Number 32-0065856 00000


Mission StatementMORE »

Ocean Defenders Alliance works to clean and protect marine ecosystems through documentation, education, and meaningful action. Working with affected communities, we focus primarily on the reduction and removal of man-made debris posing serious threats to ocean wildlife and habitats.

Mission Statement

Ocean Defenders Alliance works to clean and protect marine ecosystems through documentation, education, and meaningful action. Working with affected communities, we focus primarily on the reduction and removal of man-made debris posing serious threats to ocean wildlife and habitats.

FinancialsMORE »

Fiscal Year 2019
Projected Expenses $325,560.00
Projected Revenue $325,560.00

ProgramsMORE »

  • Ocean Debris Elimination Campaign

Revenue vs. Expense ($000s)

Expense Breakdown 2017 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2016 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2015 (%)

For more details regarding the organization's financial information, select the financial tab and review available comments.


Mission Statement

Ocean Defenders Alliance works to clean and protect marine ecosystems through documentation, education, and meaningful action. Working with affected communities, we focus primarily on the reduction and removal of man-made debris posing serious threats to ocean wildlife and habitats.

Background Statement

ODA fills a huge void in the world of marine conservation by taking on the role of “cleanup crew” for the seas. We don’t just talk about the need for clean oceans—we physically go out and make it happen!

Our Founder, Kurt Lieber, is an avid diver and underwater photographer, and while enjoying recreational dives recognized through his own experiences the need for this important work. Although a mechanical engineer by trade, Kurt’s passion has always been the health of marine wildlife and their habitats. On dives all over the world, he saw human trash and commercial fishing gear that had been discarded…often wrapped around beautiful reefs, trapping and killing helpless marine life in an endless cycle.

The more he learned, the more Kurt felt a compelling urgency to “dive in” and help the ecosystem survive this onslaught of man-made debris and pollution. So, in 2002, he took action and created the nonprofit 501(c)(3) Ocean Defender’s Alliance. Since then, Kurt’s leadership and vision has translated into tangible results for ocean life: hundreds of volunteer divers have removed many tons of deadly man-made debris; presentations have helped educate thousands of school children, business/civic groups, and dive club members; and the “Alliance” of concerned citizens and organizations is growing.

While others are talking, ODA is “diving in” to save lives as often as our resources permit.

Impact Statement

2017 was a year of solid year of debris-removing accomplishments, and a great year of successful expansion in the Hawaii Islands.
We had mechanical challenges in California, but it did not stop us; we still got a lot done at sea and conducted diversified cleanup activities on shorelines and in waterways. We had an overall total of 61 outings; 31 in California and 30 in Hawaii. Our dedicated teams removed: 7,850 pounds of man-made debris; 8 traps; 2,640 feet of trap line; 9,000 feet of fishing line; and 3,295 pounds of net. Our representatives gave 32 presentations to students, boat/dive clubs, and civic organizations. Both onshore and at-sea volunteer involvement grew.

Needs Statement

Operating boats is extremely expensive, therefore, we need money to keep our boats in safe working order. In addition to repairs and maintenance, we need fuel, oil and other consumables to run the vessel.
For our crew, we need air for dive tanks, supplies for removing debris, and food/provisions to sustain the volunteers. 
Volunteers: We need skilled divers, who can work in stressful situations and help us out at least once a month.  We also need people who are willing to work on and clean the boat.
We would be happy to answer any questions, so please do contact us!  :)

CEO Statement

Ocean Defenders Alliance (ODA) began protecting California's ocean ecosystems and wildlife in 2000. We are the longest running non-profit focused solely on removal of dangerous man-made fishing gear from the coastal waters of California.  Since then, and because of the help of our many wonderful volunteers, we have removed vast amounts of trap-line and net that too often entangle whales, dolphins, and sea lions. We have also recovered hundreds of abandoned lobster traps and many tons of other debris that was threatening marine life.
The result for sea life is simple: ODA's work has saved hundreds of thousands of animals from unnecessary and horrific death (most often drowning or starvation).
The world's oceans are in serious decline, primarily due to human abuse and neglect--but there is cause for hope! Working together with respect and focus, we will increase our already positive impact.
Please help us ensure healthy oceans for future generations. The time to act is NOW! Come join us!

Board Chair Statement

Many organizations are now talking about the state of the oceans. The need for talk, debate, and politics is real--but the oceans are dying now, and ODA is hard at work defending the seas.
ODA truly "walks-the-walk." Won't you join us?

Other Ways to Donate/Volunteer

We accept checks, cash, credit card, and material donations (see our Wish List), all of which can be facilitated via our website or over the phone.ODA also offers a wide variety of volunteer opportunities, because we need scuba divers, boat mechanics, deck hands, and many others to help with various on-shore support activities. We can only accept people 18 or over for our ocean-going campaigns, but we welcome younger people with the appropriate skills and mindset as long as they are accompanied by a parent or guardian.

Geographic Area Served

Central Orange County
West Orange County
South Orange County
North Orange County
Currently defending ocean wildlife in southern California in Orange, Los Angeles, San Diego, and Ventura counties, as well as Oahu and the Big Island in Hawai'i. We hope to expand slowly into other states as time and resources permit, including Florida and Washington state.

Organization Categories

  1. Environment - Natural Resources Conservation & Protection
  2. Animal Related - Wildlife Preservation & Protection
  3. Environment - Environmental Education



Ocean Debris Elimination Campaign

Ocean Defenders Alliance (ODA) works to clean and protect marine ecosystems through documentation, education, and meaningful action. Working with affected communities, we focus primarily on the reduction and removal of man-made debris posing serious threats to ocean wildlife and habitat.

ODA was created to fill a void in the world of marine conservation; we take on the role of “cleanup crew” for the seas. Many talk of needing clean oceans, but ODA "dives in," physically removing ghost gear (nets, lines, traps, and other debris). We use ships crewed by our dedicated volunteer SCUBA divers to remove deadly marine debris from oceans, especially protected areas like the Channel Islands off of Ventura County, California. ODA has completed hundreds of life-saving excursions, but commercial fisheries continue to lose gear and uneducated people continue to pollute. Much remains to be done, which is why ODA is also looking at ways to address the sources of these issues
Budget  325,560
Category  Environment, General/Other Natural Resources Conservation & Protection
Population Served General/Unspecified US& International
Program Short-Term Success 

Immediate success for ODA means that there is less abandoned fishing gear in coastal waters which could entangle/kill marine life and smother benthic life. Success also includes educating every person possible! They become ocean ambassadors and join us in cleaning local waters (either on their own or with us).

In 2018, we plan to: Conduct 48 debris removal expeditions by boat; Complete 20 harbor and inland waterway cleanups; Give 40 presentations; Remove 2,000 pounds of nets and another 5,000 pounds of other misc. debris from the ocean; Retrieve 48 traps and 6,000 feet of trap line; Haul out 12,000 feet of fishing line along with a myriad of hooks and lead weights; By boat, Trap Trackers to record location of traps we saw by air recon.

Objectives: In the next 1-3 years and beyond, ODA will increase our debris removal in California and Hawaii for each of the coming years, including: days spent at sea, volume of ghost gear removed, and the number of presentations.

Program Long-Term Success 

In the next 1-5 years, and beyond, ODA will increase our debris removal goals annually, including: days at sea, volume of debris removed, and number of presentations given. Our activities create immediate change for the ecosystems we service with long-lasting impact and every trap line removed gives mammals a safer environment to swim through. The animals that survive can reproduce and add to the endangered populations. Threatened species of fish have rebounded within a few years of our regular “cleanup” visits to their region.

Lasting change requires public involvement and pressure on commercial/political interests. ODA visits schools, universities, dive clubs, and civic groups to help them understand that healthy oceans equal healthy humans and inspires them to help us make a real impact. This, along with beach, harbor, and plastic patrol cleanups make people real stewards of the oceans.  

ODA-Hawaii had over 30 debris cleanups in 2017; 14 by boat. In HI, we deliver all recovered nets to Hawaii’s “nets to energy program.”

In 2017, ODA initiated and is expanding our Trap Trackers project. We document and map areas along CA where there are high densities of fishing gear. We return 6 months later to retrieve any left-behind traps and we share this data with other nonprofits which have filed lawsuits to reduce entanglements, and also share with NOAA, the agency that holds public commentary sessions about fishing regulations.

Program Success Monitored By 

To track our success (which translates as debris removed and people educated), we use an all-inclusive Excel spreadsheet to record: date; location; vessel; ODA chapter/partner; activity type; crew-members; number of dives; name of specially designated area; type of specially designated area; debris statistics, including misc debris, plastic, traps, trap lines, trap remnants, fishing line, nets. Education & Outreach is tracked in a separate spreadsheet and includes: date, location, type of audience, and subject.

Inclement weather prohibits safe operation at sea, so we increase non-boat activities like land-based cleanups, volunteer training, educational presentations, and harbor cleanups.

We had inordinate down-time in CA last year due to our vessel receiving $300,000+ (no cost to us) of new equipment. This is a positive improvement but reality is that boats require ongoing maintenance and unexpected breakdowns happen.  We’re vigilant for adding another vessel.

Examples of Program Success 

Every piece of debris we remove has a long-lasting effect. When animals are ensnared, they die and become prey for other marine life. There is no quantifying how long this cycle continues unless that gear is removed. This helps to explain why we cannot provide the number of animals saved because there is no way to know how many died (or would have) in each piece of ghost gear we remove. A study in WA of 870 ghost nets were found to contain over 32,000 animals, including more than 500 birds and mammals.

In our Trap Trackers program, we recently recorded 6 densely set lines of lobster traps and created maps to urge fishing industry and government to increase space for whales to traverse between traps without entanglement. Fledgling ODA-Hawaii has 4 dive partner companies whose boats we use and many volunteers eager to continue cleaning its waters.  ODA is noticing previously extirpated species are slowly growing in size/numbers where we operate and have removed ghost gear.



CEO/Executive Director Mr. Kurt Lieber
CEO Term Start 2002
CEO Email [email protected]
CEO Experience
Born in Chicago, Illinois, Kurt’s family moved to Cleveland in 1967 where he had the privilege of having Lake Erie in his backyard. He spent many hours swimming there, but would often find huge schools of dead/dying fish covered with lesions and tumors—and gasping their last breaths. This repeated personal connection with suffering animals left him with a sense that he had to do something to help.
Kurt’s love of the underwater world continued to grow as he began scuba diving in 1975. Almost immediately, he became a volunteer with several ocean-related organizations and worked on projects aimed at restoring kelp to areas off the Southern California coast; helping injured marine mammals return to the wild; and assisting sick and injured pelicans (usually entangled in fishing lines and hooks). In 1992, he began volunteering with Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, conducting outreach, serving as crew on their conservation ships, and eventually joining their Board of Directors in 2003 where he served as Treasurer for 8 years before departing in 2011.
Towards the end of the 1990’s, Kurt decided to act on a long-time desire: to start an organization that would address the needs of southern California’s marine environment. Thus was born Ocean Defenders Alliance (ODA) in 2000 with a donated boat and a lot of enthusiasm from local activists. ODA obtained official non-profit 501(c)(3) status in 2002. Since then, even while working full-time as an engineer, Kurt has led ODA’s slow but steady growth and been saving marine wildlife through ODA’s important activities.

Former CEOs and Terms

Name Start End
-- -- --

Senior Staff

Name Title Experience/Biography
-- -- --


Award Awarding Organization Year
-- -- --


Affiliation Year
-- --

External Assessments and Accreditations

External Assessment or Accreditation Year
-- --



Staff Information

Number of Full Time Staff 1
Number of Part Time Staff 0
Number of Volunteers 0
Number of Contract Staff 0
Staff Retention Rate % 100%
Staff Professional Development Yes

Staff Demographics

Ethnicity African American/Black: --
Asian American/Pacific Islander: --
Caucasian: 1
Hispanic/Latino: --
Native American/American Indian: --
Other: --
Other (if specified): --
Gender Female: --
Male: 1
Not Specified --

Plans & Policies

Organization has Fundraising Plan? Under Development
Organization has Strategic Plan? Under Development
Years Strategic Plan Considers 3
Management Succession Plan No
Organization Policies And Procedures Under Development
Business Continuity of Operations Plan No

Risk Management Provisions

Nondiscrimination Policy Yes
Whistle Blower Policy Yes
Document Destruction Policy Yes
Directors and Officers Insurance Policy Yes

Reporting and Evaluations

Management Reports to Board? Yes
CEO Formal Evaluation and Frequency No N/A
Senior Management Formal Evaluation and Frequency N/A N/A
Non Management Formal Evaluation and Frequency N/A N/A

Government Licenses


CEO Comments


Foundation Comments



Board Chair Kurt Lieber
Board Chair Company Affiliation --
Board Chair Term -
Board Co-Chair --
Board Co-Chair Company Affiliation --
Board Co-Chair Term -

Board Members

Name Company Affiliations Status
Bill Cooper Ph.D. Director of the Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering - University of California at Irvine Voting
Jim Lieber Engineering Consultant Voting
Kurt Lieber Managing Director - Ocean Defenders Alliance Voting
Kim McCoy J.D. Community Volunteer Voting
Bonnie Monteleone Marine Biologist - University of North Carolina Wilmington Voting

Constituent Board Members

Name Company Affiliations Status
-- -- --

Youth Board Members

Name Company Affiliations Status
-- -- --

Additional Board Members and Affiliations

Name Company Affiliations Status
Kevin Augarten Medical Safety Coordinator --
Ranko Balog Customs Broker --
Chris Bell Electronics Expert and Dive Instructor --
Carol Boot-Storie Marketing --
Stephen Boreman, Esq. Attorney at Law --
Kim Cardenas Technical Diver --
Jeff Connor Computer Specialist --
Alex Earl Nonprofit Executive Management --
Peter Fulks Videographer --
Trevor Fulks Videographer --
Matthew Hatae Boat Captain - Hawaii --
Ray Hollowell Videographer --
AJ Jaeger Photographer --
Catherine Kilduff, Esq. Attorney --
Rex Levi Boat Captain - Hawaii --
Jason Manix Dive Team Coordinator --
Walter Marti Filmmaker --
Cheryl McCarthy Corporate Fundraising --
John Milligan Computer and Electronics Specialist --
Steve Millington GUE Dive Instructor --
Linda Nicholes Events and Networking --
Timothy Pearson Marine Sciences Teacher --
Julia Ransom Writer and Photographer --
Carla Robinson Nonprofit Development --
Lauren Saez NMFS - Fishery Biologist --
Ken Staples Underwater photographer --
Darlene Summers Outreach and Fundraising --
Chuck Swift Planning and Operations --
Vicki Szymczak Dive team coordinator --
Tom Weisel Engineer --
Robert Wintner Snorkel Bob's Business and Photographer --
Mike Wynd Rebreather diver and Equipment Specialist --

Board Demographics

Ethnicity African American/Black: 0
Asian American/Pacific Islander: 0
Caucasian: 5
Hispanic/Latino: 0
Native American/American Indian: 0
Other: --
Other (if specified): --
Gender Female: 2
Male: 3
Not Specified 0

Board Information

Board Term Lengths --
Board Term Limits --
Board Meeting Attendance % 100%
Written Board Selection Criteria --
Written Conflict Of Interest Policy Yes
Percentage of Monetary Contributions 100%
Percentage of In-Kind Contributions --
Board Orientation --

CEO Comments


Foundation Comments


Standing Committees



Revenue vs. Expense ($000s)

Expense Breakdown 2017 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2016 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2015 (%)

Fiscal Year Jan 01, 2019 to Dec 31, 2019
Projected Revenue $325,560.00
Projected Expenses $325,560.00
Form 990s

2017 Form 990

2016 Form 990

2015 IRS 990 - ODA

2014 Form 990

2013 IRS 990 - ODA

2012 IRS 990EZ - ODA

Audit Documents --
IRS Letter of Exemption

IRS Letter of Determination

Prior Three Years Total Revenue and Expense Totals

Fiscal Year 2017 2016 2015
Total Revenue $334,680 $294,900 $224,323
Total Expenses $281,024 $226,101 $250,263

Prior Three Years Revenue Sources

Revenue By Revenue Source
Fiscal Year 2017 2016 2015
Foundation and
Corporation Contributions
$333,632 $294,900 $221,133
Government Contributions $0 $0 $0
    Federal -- -- --
    State -- -- --
    Local -- -- --
    Unspecified -- -- --
Individual Contributions -- -- --
Indirect Public Support -- -- --
Earned Revenue -- -- --
Investment Income, Net of Losses -- -- $3,190
Membership Dues -- -- --
Special Events -- -- --
Revenue In-Kind $1,048 -- --
Other -- -- --

Prior Three Years Expense Allocations

Expense By Type
Fiscal Year 2017 2016 2015
Program Expense $242,851 $193,703 --
Administration Expense $27,971 $14,503 $250,263
Fundraising Expense $16,202 $17,895 --
Payments to Affiliates -- -- --
Total Revenue/Total Expenses 1.19 1.30 0.90
Program Expense/Total Expenses 86% 86% 0%
Fundraising Expense/Contributed Revenue 5% 6% 0%

Prior Three Years Assets and Liabilities

Assets and Liabilities
Fiscal Year 2017 2016 2015
Total Assets $241,274 $186,543 $119,286
Current Assets $188,104 $186,543 --
Long-Term Liabilities -- -- --
Current Liabilities $32,900 $31,825 $33,367
Total Net Assets $208,374 $154,718 $85,919

Short Term Solvency

Fiscal Year 2017 2016 2015
Current Ratio: Current Assets/Current Liabilities 5.72 5.86 0.00

Long Term Solvency

Fiscal Year 2017 2016 2015
Long-term Liabilities/Total Assets 0% 0% 0%
Endowment Value --
Spending Policy N/A
Percentage(If selected) --
Are you currently in a Capital Campaign? No
Capital Campaign Purpose --
Campaign Goal --
Capital Campaign Dates -
Capital Campaign Raised-to-Date Amount --
Capital Campaign Anticipated in Next 5 Years? No

CEO Comments


Foundation Comments

Summary financial data is per the Form 990s and consultation with the organization. Foundation/corporate and individual contributions are combined under Foundation and Corporation Contributions.  Change in Assets from 2011 to 2012 includes $40,200 value of vessel donated to the organization in the prior period.


Other Documents

No Other Documents currently available.