David Phillips is Co-Founder and Executive Director of the non-profit organization Earth Island Institute, headquartered in Berkeley, California, which helps grow environmental leaders through the sponsorship of projects for the conservation, preservation, and restoration of the environment.
He founded the Free Willy Keiko Foundation, a program to rescue, rehabilitate and release the first captive orca ever returned to his home waters. The foundation negotiated the acquisition of Keiko from a Mexican theme park, built the first-ever rescue and rehab center for an orca whale at the Oregon Coast Aquarium in Newport Oregon, negotiated an agreement with the Icelandic government to allow Keiko to return to his home waters, designed and built the ocean sea pen for the continued rehab of Keiko in Iceland, and the netted-off bays in Iceland and Norway, and directed the effort to bring Keiko to open water to swim with wild orcas.
David also directs the International Marine Mammal Project (IMMP), which oversees the Save Japan Dolphins effort focusing on ending the killing of dolphins in Japan and the capture of dolphins for live trade. The IMMP also oversees the Dolphin-Safe tuna program that has resulted in a more than 95 percent reduction in dolphin kill associated with the purse seine tuna fishing operations in the Eastern Tropical Pacific Ocean. The IMMP is also active in opposing the captivity, breeding, and circus performances by captive cetaceans.