On 1 January 2022, Fabienne McLellan will take over as managing director of OceanCare, the international marine conservation organisation founded by Sigrid Lüber in 1989. Sigrid Lüber, to date co-managing director with Vera Bürgi, will remain president of the organisation and continue to contribute her more than 30 years of experience in international cooperation and her extensive expertise in marine conservation issues, but will retire from active management. The same applies to Vera Bürgi, who will focus on organisational communication from 2022.

As a contractor and staff member of OceanCare, it may be unusual to comment on this, but knowing Sigrid Lüber since the early 1990s, having a lot in common with her and also owing her a lot, I wish to use this moment to share a few thoughts.

Rooted in the small town of Wädenswil on Lake Zurich, Sigrid has built up an internationally recognised, very efficient and successful marine conservation organisation, which is often going its own way. One of Sigrid’s outstanding talents is a special intuition for recognising and taking up topics long before they become widely known or understood, i.e. ‘mainstream’. As a result, she and her team worked up issues and introduced them to political fora, enabling other stakeholders to take these up more easily (even years later). Legal opinions on the ‘vote-buying’ influence of Japan, in particular, on the voting of certain member states of the International Whaling Commission (IWC), or analyses of the pollutant load of whale meat and the resulting discussion of whale meat consumption from a public health perspective are just two examples.

The most remarkable example, however, is how committedly she addressed the threat from noise-producing activities to marine wildlife, and not ‘only’ to marine mammals. Sigrid played a key role in getting marine noise pollution recognised as a threat and taken up in numerous UN bodies. The list of issues could be continued. Nonetheless, throughout the years of OceanCare developing successfully and building an international network of experts, Sigrid always remained modest and preferred to take a back seat. This character trait gave additional motivation and ‘empowerment’ to the staff and consultants, based on fairness and appreciation.

It was a great honour and pleasure when Sigrid asked me in 2018 to take over the ‘Invisible Pollution Programme’ she had developed and to continue and develop it according to my ideas to tackle underwater noise.

It was and is also instructive for me to witness an organisational development process in which the founder and managing director has already been preparing her retirement from this executive function for several years in order to hand over the helm smoothly. This approach is highly professional, but very rare, particularly in so-called ‘founder organisations’. All the more reason to take my hat off to her.

This careful preparation makes the change in the organisation’s directorate work smoothly. In her successor Fabienne McLellan, to date co-director international relations at OceanCare, Sigrid Lüber recognised very early on that she not only shares the attitude, vision, philosophy and goals of the organisation, but lives them intensively.

I am looking forward to this new, next phase and wish Fabienne McLellan good luck and success. Together we will continue to sharpen the organisation’s profile and set the course for the organisation to take on the challenges with full strength also in the future. At the same time, I am happy that Sigrid Lüber will continue to actively support the organisation as President with words and deeds and, as I know her, wholeheartedly.


OceanCare has been working passionately and scientifically for living oceans since 1989. The Swiss-based non-governmental organisation has special consultative status on marine issues with the United Nations and contributes internationally to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. Marine pollution and climate crisis, species extinction and hunting are key issues. OceanCare is paving the way for ground-breaking – from functional marine protected areas to a strong UN Agreement on the High Seas and a global treaty on plastic reduction, to preventing oil and gas exploration in the seabed. More at: www.oceancare.org