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.
In June 2008, Following advocacy from Oceana, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) finalized a regulation requiring the landing of sharks with their fins still attached in the federal waters of the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico. The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, also after Oceana’s urging, passed similar regulations in August 2008 for the state waters along the east coast of the United States.
The world’s largest fishery took the first step toward reducing wasteful king salmon bycatch. After pressure from Oceana and its allies, the North Pacific Fishery Management Council moved forward on capping salmon bycatch in the Alaska pollock fishery.
President Bush established a U.S. policy to engage other Arctic nations and prevent the expansion of industrial fishing throughout international Arctic waters until further information is gathered about impacts. The policy in part states that "the decline of several commercially valuable fish stocks throughout the world's oceans highlights the need for fishing nations to conserve fish stocks and develop management systems that promote fisheries sustainability," and also states that until international agreement for managing Arctic fishing are in place, "...the United States should support international efforts to halt the expansion of commercial fishing activities in the high seas of the Arctic Ocean."
Oceana and the Center for Biological Diversity petitioned the U.S. Department of Commerce and the U.S. Department of the Interior to uplist the loggerhead sea turtle population in the Atlantic Ocean from "threatened" to "endangered" under the Endangered Species Act. In addition, the petition calls on the government to protect key habitat areas by designating them “critical habitats” under the Endangered Species Act. The U.S. government announced on March 5, 2008 that our petition was sufficiently well-founded to require a detailed governmental review of the loggerhead sea turtle population in the Atlantic Ocean to decide whether it should be declared "endangered" under the Endangered Species Act.
The European Court of Justice rejected any further requests by the French government for exemptions from the EU ban on driftnetting in the Mediterranean Sea. This ruling will spare 25,000 juvenile bluefin tuna annually, along with 10,000 non-targeted marine species caught annually in the driftnets.
In response to a newly published Oceana report on the levels of mercury in grocery store seafood, both Kroger and Harris Teeter grocery companies begin to post the FDA fish consumption advisory at the point of sale. Kroger is the United States’ second largest grocery company and the addition of both companies added nearly 2,600 grocery stores to Oceana’s Green List.
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.