In fewer than ten years, Oceana has achieved dozens of concrete policy victories for marine life and habitats. From stopping bottom trawling in sensitive habitat areas to protecting sea turtles from commercial fishing gear, our victories represent a new hope for the world’s oceans.
Thousands of Oceana Wavemakers contacted the Vermont Country Story, a leading catalog retailer, convincing it to stop selling a skin enhancer containing shark squalane. In an ironic note, the product was marketed under the name “Oceana.”
A federal appeals court let stand conservation measures approved by the North Pacific Fishery Management Council and NOAA Fisheries, and supported by Oceana, to limit the amount of discards from large bottom trawling vessels. The regulations require large “head and gut” bottom trawl vessels in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands to retain and utilize a larger portion of the fish they catch, as opposed to keeping only the most economically valuable species and throwing the rest overboard.
According to NOAA estimates, these regulations will prevent 110 million pounds of groundfish from being wasted as unwanted bycatch each year, and serve as an incentive for vessels to fish more carefully, limiting bycatch of corals and other marine animals.
The World Trade Organization took a tremendous step forward in the negotiations when it produced the first draft agreement on fisheries subsidies which surpassed, in some cases, all of Oceana’s conservation recommendations. The WTO negotiations were expected to be completed by the end of 2008, but are still ongoing because of reasons not related to fisheries subsidies. Oceana continues to “protect” the draft agreement, which is still intact and remains the basis for the negotiations.
Under pressure from scientists and conservation groups, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) denied a proposal to allow drift gillnet vessels to operate in an area off the California and Oregon coasts where such fishing is seasonally banned to protect the critically endangered Pacific leatherback sea turtle. The drift gillnet fishery, which targets swordfish, tuna and sharks, also kills not just endangered sea turtles, but humpback, fin, gray and sperm whales, several species of dolphins and other marine mammals.
The North Pacific Fishery Management Council adopted the nation’s first comprehensive ecosystem-based management measure when it approved the Aleutian Islands Fishery Ecosystem Plan. This Fishery Ecosystem Plan is a blueprint for considering all aspects of the marine ecosystem, including biological diversity, abundant populations of fish, food needs of top predators, and healthy intact habitats, when making decisions on managing healthy and sustainable fisheries in the Aleutian Islands.
This is an important new tool in managing Aleutian Islands fisheries from a more holistic, ecosystem-based perspective, and sets a remarkable precedent for ecosystem-based management measures in other fisheries around the nation.
Pioneer announced that it would switch its St. Gabriel, Louisiana plant to membrane-cell technology (this factory is now owned by Olin Corp). This switch eliminated the largest source of mercury air pollution in the state.
Oceana helped campaign for new legislation that significantly improves the protection of deep-sea corals and sponges from bottom trawling and other destructive fishing gear. This bill as passed makes marginal improvements to the existing Magnuson-Stevens Act.