Everyone here at Oceana is eagerly looking forward to a new year of campaigning for our oceans. But before we set off, I’d like to look back at our accomplishments throughout 2013. Just a few months ago I marked 10 years of working for Oceana, and I can easily say that it was our most successful year yet. I’d like to call out a few of our many victories in particular…
Sweeping fisheries reforms in Europe
Oceana, and its allies, pushed through sweeping (and positive) changes to how the European Union manages its fisheries. This is fantastic news for the ocean, given that the EU (in total) accounts for 10 percent of the entire fish caught on the planet. This included a ban on discards, the requirement for science-based quotas for most of the stocks in European waters, and the reduction of funding for harmful fisheries subsidies. Oceana’s scientists estimate that the new measures could increase the amount of fish caught in the EU by an astounding 40 percent.
Arctic drilling held at bay
The prospects for drilling in the US Arctic Ocean (comprised of the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas) were considerably reduced. Following an utterly disastrous drilling season in 2012, and considerable public pressure from Oceana and its allies, Shell Oil announced in February that they would not attempt drilling in the Arctic for the rest of the year. Then in October, Shell announced that they will also forgo drilling in the Beaufort Sea through 2014, and will scale back plans for drilling in the Chukchi Sea. Arctic drilling threatens irreplaceable ocean ecosystems, as there is no proven technology that would allow companies to drill safely in the Arctic’s challenging environment. Oceana is now working to have the government rescind or alter the drilling leases sold in the Chukchi Sea. We’re also challenging the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement’s approval of Shell’s oil spill response plans.
Seafood fraud campaign takes off
Oceana’s Seafood Fraud campaign took off this past year. We launched our Seafood Fraud report in February, generating a landslide of media attention across the country, including the Wall Street Journal, the Los Angeles Times, and NPR. The strong presence in media helped Oceana to convince our allies in Congress to introduce the SAFE Seafood Act in the House and Senate. The act would stop seafood fraud by requiring full chain traceability for all seafood sold in the county. To help generate support for the act, Oceana recruited a network of more than 450 top chefs to urge Congress to pass this historic legislation.
Protections for Chilean seamounts
In late 2012, Chile became the first country in the world to protect all of its seamounts from bottom trawling. As Chile has more than 100 seamounts, this was no small victory. In 2013, Oceana continued establishing protections for these unique and biodiverse ecosystems by launching an expedition to the Desventuradas Islands in February to document marine life. The data gathered on that expedition laid the groundwork for a protection proposal Oceana submitted to the Chilean government in December. We also helped Rapa Nui leaders develop a plan for increased protections to Easter Island and the neighboring Salas y Gomez.
The Perfect Protein book launch
On May 28, I published my first book: The Perfect Protein. Co-authored with Suzannah Evans, our book explains how wild seafood can be a major contribution to solving the global food security crisis. The text is also a central component of our new campaign: Save the Oceans, Feed the World. As many of you many know, the book also includes a forward by President Bill Clinton and 21 sustainable seafood recipes from top chefs. The launch generated significant press for Oceana, including coverage by the Guardian, CBS This Morning, and Coast Magazine. This book represents a major accomplishment, not just for myself, but for the many Oceana staff members that helped make this project a reality.
Thank you again for your continued support throughout the year. Our accomplishments are also yours, as we truly could not achieve them without your help. I look forward to writing to you all in the New Year with more victories for our oceans.
For the oceans,
Chief Executive Officer