This CEO Note appears in the new Spring 2014 issue of Oceana magazine, now available online.
Saving the ocean sounds like a global-scale task. For practical people, such big ambitions can be off-putting. Many of us want to know that what we are doing is actually making a difference, and will readily trade in glorious unfulfilled ambitions for measurable and concrete achievements.
So do Oceana’s campaigns meet that standard?
The European Union, which catches more fish by weight from the waters off its coast than all but two countries, just passed a fundamental reform of the rules governing commercial fishing by all 28 member states. This reform of what is called The Common Fishery Policy (or CFP for short) will improve the abundance of Europe’s ocean by 40 percent by the year 2020.
Chile, where more fish by weight are caught each year than in all but seven other countries in the world, has also reset its national laws to stop overfishing and to rebuild its depleted fisheries. It’s too early to forecast the precise rate of improvement, but there will be substantially more fish in the Chilean Ocean by the end of this decade.
In the U.S., fourth on the list by the size of the catch from its ocean, overfishing has largely ended. Essential changes are still required in the management of bycatch — the unintended killing of non-target species — but the Americans are moving to eliminate ongoing depletion of commercial marine species.
As these examples show, ocean protection is practical because it can be achieved through national action by the countries whose oceans produce most of the world’s marine catch. The marine waters of just nine countries and the European Union provide more than two thirds of the world’s marine catch each year by weight. The waters of 30 countries (and the EU) give us more than 90 percent of the world’s catch.
But can we reasonably hope to bring sensible fishery management rules to most of those thirty countries?
Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg thinks so. And he’s challenged Oceana prove it. With generous support from the Bloomberg Philanthropies, Oceana will this year hire teams of Brazilians and Filipinos whose job will be to rebuild the abundance of the Brazilian and Philippine oceans.
Leonardo DiCaprio also thinks so. And he’s also helping Oceana to do it. With generous support from the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, Oceana will secure better management of the eastern Pacific Ocean.
Peter and Diana Thomson also think so. They’re challenging Oceana to win the policies that will rebuild the seriously depleted Canadian ocean. Providing a challenge grant of half the funds that Oceana needs to hire a Canadian advocacy team, they’ve given us a strong push toward stopping overfishing in the 16th most important fishing nation in the world.
These commitments validate your vision and loyalty as a longtime backer of Oceana. They are helping to give us the scale to make a truly global impact on the health and abundance of the world’s oceans. Good ocean management by the European Union, Chile, the United States, Canada, the Philippines and Brazil would secure a quarter of the world’s marine catch by weight.
I hope this news seizes you with a great sense of optimism for our shared goal of rebuilding ocean abundance. We are indeed saving the ocean. In so doing, we are protecting marine biodiversity, feeding hundreds of millions of people healthy seafood every day, securing countless fishing jobs, and showing the world that global scale conservation is, surprisingly, practical.
Congratulations to all of you whose loyalty, generosity and hard work are making this happen!
For the oceans,
Chief Executive Officer