President and Founder
Sigrid Lüber´s life changed within a matter of minutes in 1989. While diving in the Indian Ocean, she suddenly found herself surrounded by dolphins. She interpreted the encounter as her mission to stand up for marine life. Back in Switzerland, she founded OceanCare.
From the beginning, it was Sigrid Lüber´s aim to influence international processes in the interest of marine life. In 1992, she took part in a meeting of the International Whaling Commission for the first time. A few years later in this same committee, she exposed Japan´s influence on the voting behaviour of some Member States with a legal opinion on «vote buying». Using a report on chemical analyses, she addressed the contamination of whale meat with pollutants and the health risk of whale meat consumption.
From 2004 onwards, Sigrid Lüber took part in relevant UN conferences that focused on the ocean. She has established excellent contacts with decision makers, put emerging issues such as underwater noise on the agenda and worked to ensure that compliance mechanisms are used to check the implementation of international resolutions. Thanks to her excellent collaboration with the United Nations and the expertise she has built up within her organisation, OceanCare was granted Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations (ECOSOC) in 2011.
For more than three decades, Sigrid Lüber shaped important aspects of international ocean policy. With her visionary awareness of emerging threats and a balanced mix of pragmatism and commitment, diplomatic skills and courageous consistency, she has been instrumental in ensuring that OceanCare is respected and valued by international bodies and scientific experts.
At the beginning of 2022 Sigrid Lüber has placed the strategic and operational management of OceanCare in the hands of Fabienne McLellan. She remains committed to the organisation as President, , continues to represent OceanCare, performs governance tasks, supports the team as a mentor and, with her extensive expertise, ensures the quality of the work in marine conservation.
Fabienne McLellan was overcome by wanderlust at an early age. She travelled to numerous countries and lived in Vancouver, San Diego, Melbourne and London. She has been back in her home country of Switzerland since 2014.
Fabienne McLellan gained many years of professional experience in the financial sector and completed a Bachelor’s Degree in Communication and Business at the University of Applied Sciences for Business Administration in Zurich and a Master’s Degree in Environment Conservation and Sustainability at Monash University in Australia. She joined OceanCare as a volunteer in 2009 and became a permanent team member in 2014 after returning from London, where she gained professional experience in ocean campaigning. At OceanCare, she worked on Public Relations as well as on the animal and species conservation programme. In 2016 she started working on the marine plastic pollution issue and in 2018, she followed in Sigrid Lüber´s footsteps as Co-Director of International Relations.
Since 2021, Fabienne McLellan has been a member of the Steering Committee of the Sea Turtle Rescue Alliance founded by OceanCare and Dr. Claire Petros, and advises the international sea turtle alliance on policy issues.
At the beginning of 2022, Fabienne McLellan took over the operational and strategic management of OceanCare as Managing Director. With her in-depth expertise, passionate commitment and excellent communication skills, she combines all the abilities needed to successfully lead the organisation into the future.
Fabienne McLellan continues to be responsible for the content of the plastics programme and – together with Nicolas Entrup – for the animal and species conservation programme. Working on international policy processes within international fora also remains a focal point of her work. Together with OceanCare´s policy experts, she works on the process leading to a UN High Seas Treaty, develops strategies to curb marine pollution caused by plastic and noise, participates in the realignment of conventions such as that of the International Whaling Commission, and advocates for a consistent implementation of the objectives of multilateral environmental agreements including corresponding sanctions for treaty violations.
Director International Relations
Nicolas Entrup has dedicated his professional activities to the protection of animals, species and the environmental for more than two decades. He possesses a wealth of experience in working on multilateral environmental agreements as well as on EU committees, and fosters a regular exchange with representatives from interest groups from the worlds of politics and business. Nicolas Entrup is involved in various scientific and policy working groups for the protection of the marine environment, where he insists on concrete results that will bring measurable benefits for marine life.
Nicolas Entrup has been part of the OceanCare team since 2011. He helps shape the organisation´s strategic direction and enriches it through his profound expertise and extensive network of international contacts. In the animal and species conservation programme, he works in particular on initiatives to end the hunting of whales, and since 2018 he has been responsible for the programme to reduce underwater noise. At the beginning of 2022, he took over as Director of International Relations at OceanCare.
With his small and yet sophisticated Viennese campaign agency SHIFTING VALUES, Nicolas Entrup also works on his own projects in the fields of climate and animal welfare.
Born in the USA and raised in the German-speaking part of Switzerland, different languages, dialects and mentalities have always been a matter of course for Margarete Neuenschwander.
After finishing school, this love of languages and foreign cultures took her to Paris, London and finally Zurich, where she studied literature and linguistics. Further stays abroad included Sweden and Southern Asia.
After completing her studies, she worked as a copywriter in advertising, but soon realized that she wanted to use her skills for a charitable cause. This wish shaped her professional career from then on: She set up the branch of the emergency aid organisation “Médecins Sans Frontières” in German-speaking Switzerland, which she headed for 5 years. Other non-profit projects followed, including seven years with “Solar Impulse”. After the historic solar flight around the world, she took over the task of raising funds for the “Special Olympics”. Since 20 years, Margarete Neuenschwander is also a board member of a foundation that supports projects worldwide in the fields of health, education and ecology.
Since May 2019, she has been working for OceanCare, where she can once again apply her many years of experience in public relations, fundraising and network building to something that is close to her heart.
Vera Bürgi studied history of art at the Universities of Lausanne and Zurich. She has many years of communication experience in the fields of culture and environmental protection, among others.
She began working for OceanCare in 2003. Initially, Vera Bürgi was responsible for public relations and campaign work, as well as part of the fundraising programme. From 2011 to 2019, she was the organisation´s Managing Director and shared management responsibility from 2019 with Sigrid Lüber until 2022, when Fabienne McLellan took the helm of the organisation.
Today, Vera Bürgi is contributing her many years of expertise in marine conservation and her strong linguistic skills to OceanCare´s organisational communication.
Parallel to her work for the ocean, Vera Bürgi works as a trainer and coach with the science-based Zurich Resource Model (ZRM) for self-management, developed at the University of Zurich. She is co-author of a ZRM non-fiction book.
Stefani Westphal Vonesch
Stefani Westphal has been a member of OceanCare since 1993. She was elected to the Board of Directors in 2001 and became Vice President in 2003.
Water is Stefani’s element, thirst for knowledge is one of her main traits, and animals are her big love. As a child, Stefani spent her days snorkelling in Lake Zurich and in addition to some semesters studying zoology and a 10 year career in marketing, she became a professional diver. In her many years as a sports diver and diving instructor, Stefani has come to know and love the marine environment, always feeling like a privileged guest in an amazingly different world. On her numerous dives, she is acutely aware of the beauty of, and the threats to this wonderful part of our planet. It is very important to her that her work at OceanCare contributes to the conservation of marine habitats.
Besides her work for OceanCare, Stefani is a dedicated breeder of Rhodesian Ridgebacks. This dog breed fits to her passion for Southern Africa, where she completed “Basic Ranger” training.
Ocean Policy Expert
Johannes-Alexander Müller studied Political Science at the University of Vienna and subsequently completed the Masters in Terrorism and Political Violence at The Handa Centre for the Study of Terrorism and Political Violence (CSTPV) at the University of St Andrews. He then proceeded to pursue his doctoral studies with the School of International Relations at the University of St Andrews, where he undertook a critical assessment of the role of the United Nations and its efforts to tackle terrorism from the 1970s until today. Johannes’ current research interest focuses on the nexus between climate change, resources scarcity and armed non-state actors (‘Climate conflict’).
At OceanCare he works on matters relating to international environmental governance with a specific focus on processes within multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs) and the United Nations, including efforts on an international legally binding instrument on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction (BBNJ-Instrument). His focus has been on addressesing the importance of addressing and mitigating the impacts of underwater noise, also in the context of climate change, and advocates for the need to adequately implement existing environmental obligations.
Director of Science
Mark grew up by the sea on the south coast of England where his fascination with marine animals began. He has spent the better part of his scientific career, which spans more than three decades, trying to address threats to marine wildlife, especially marine mammals, and has worked in both the university and non-profit sectors. His more than 200 scientific publications cover many issues including chemical and noise pollution, marine debris and climate change, and he has several books to his name. Much of his work has been focused on whales and the issues they face, including whaling, and for more than a quarter of a century he has been a member of the Scientific Committee of the International Whaling Commission (IWC).
In 2020, Mark was honoured to be appointed as the Scientific Councillor for Marine Pollution to the UN Convention for the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals and in 2019 he convened and chaired the third IWC workshop on marine debris. He has successfully run a number of other international workshops for the IWC and also chairs the UK’s Marine Animal Rescue Coalition.
He is a Visiting Research Fellow at the University of Bristol.
Mark is joining the OceanCare team as Director of Science to further strengthen the science that underpins our work programmes, including within international fora.
Sandra loves the marine world and has made it her professional focus. She completed a Bachelor´s degree in Environmental Sciences at ETH Zurich and a Master´s degree in Marine Biology at the Rijksuniversiteit Groningen in the Netherlands.
She participated in whale research projects in Canada and explored the ecosystems of rocky coasts in the Mediterranean. Sandra Striegel is particularly interested in the effects of climate change: she studied its consequences for sea turtles in the Caribbean, explored the ability of corals to adapt to warmer and more acidic water, and investigated the potential of large whale species to mitigate the effects of global warming in the ocean and keep its ecosystems in balance. Her most recent research project to date was dedicated to the consequences of increasingly frequent and intense marine heat waves for life in the oceans.
Since 2021, Sandra Striegel has been working at OceanCare on the interface between science and policy. She also writes about the ocean and knows how to inspire her readers for the world that is close to her heart.
Ever since Chérine saw her first fin whale at the age of five, she has been intrigued by the ocean and it’s megafauna – a passion that made her become an environmental scientist which led to a Masters Degree at the ETH University in Zurich. Her main research interest is the social complexity of megafauna, in particular the vocal communication of killer whales. In her own research project, she investigates the role of vocal cues in mediating coordination, when killer whales hunt herring. While acquiring solid data as such are important as a basis for effective conservation, she appreciates to now also engage at the science and policy interface as a scientific officer at OceanCare. As scientific officer she contributes to the fisheries work programme with focus on the protection of sharks and the animal and species conservation programmes.
Public Fundraising & Online campaigns
Although she grew up far from the sea, Corinne has always been fascinated by the vastness and wildness of the oceans.
She spent her childhood at Lake Zurich, where she discovered her love of water. Already back then, she wanted to open her horizon to the south and see more of the world than just Zurich. Little wonder that she completed her basic training with the tour operator Hotelplan and travelled the world as a travel consultant and tour guide for many years.
Later she decided to change into the communication business. A master study in strategic communication and nearly 10 years as a consultant with Spinas Civil Voices, an agency specialized in non-profit organisations, kept Corinne on the go.
Since early 2019, Corinne has been ardently working with OceanCare. She is convinced that there’s no healthy planet without intact wildlife.
Corinne loves challenging projects and campaigns. She masters the complete range of media channels and, like a captain, keeps track of the goal even through stormy weather.
Donor Relations & Social Media
Hanna holds a bachelor’s degree in communication science and and studied law until 2019. Prior to joining OceanCare, she worked in the financial sector, in research and as a teacher, among others. With her multifaceted interests and diversified skills, she supports OceanCare in the area of Online Communication & Donor Relations.
Influenced by great teachers during her school days, who knew how to communicate complex environmental issues in a comprehensible and motivating way, Hanna soon developed the wish to work in the field of environmental protection.
As a sailing fan, paddler and keen swimmer, it was only natural for her to devote herself to marine conservation. As overfishing, uncontrolled waste disposal and raw material extraction take a toll on the world’s oceans, their inhabitants appear to be particularly in need of protection. Hanna has often learned that people misjudge the dangers our oceans are exposed to, or – even worse – close their eyes to reality.
Taking this into account, she sees it as her task to raise awareness for the marine balance and thus to win over as many people as possible to the concerns of marine, animal and species conservation. For one thing is clear: the fate of the oceans and their inhabitants affects us all.
Ed Lüber was among OceanCare’s first supporters. He loves the sea and diving, sailing and wind surfing have long been part of his life since 1967. From 1970, he worked as a diving instructor in Turkey, East Africa, the Maldives and the Mediterranean, in addition to working as a construction manager in water engineering and a professional diver in all Swiss waters. Ocean conservation has always been an important issue to him, and he prefers – as he generally does in life – action to lots of words. For example, during his time in the Maldives he returned mussels and corals collected by tourists to the sea every night.
After completing his training as a high seas skipper, Ed became head of the technical aspects of OceanCare’s cetacean research programme, which he was actively involved in for more than ten years. Further, for many years he acted as the editor of the former news publication for OceanCare members and advocated ocean conservation through written articles. One of his greatest experiences was encountering a whale shark which boat staff mistook for a tiger shark and became concerned that Ed would enter the water! Now, as an active retiree, Ed remains committed to OceanCare. If he is not out walking his dog, he takes care of the shop and is the good soul of the team.