The Beacon

Protecting Penguins and More in Antarctica

Penguins hunting. © John Weller

Oceana has joined the Antarctic Ocean Alliance, an international collective of environmental organizations and high-profile supporters that have come together to call for the world’s largest network of marine protected areas and no-take marine reserves to be established in Antarctica’s Southern Ocean.

Antarctic waters make up almost 10% of the world’s seas and are some of the most pristine left on earth. Home to almost 10,000 unique and diverse species such as penguins, seals and whales, these waters are now at risk from the impacts of commercial fishing and climate change. The Alliance is calling for 19 critical habitats in Antarctica’s Southern Ocean to be protected, starting with the Ross Sea.

The Alliance released a report today entitled “Antarctic Ocean Legacy: A marine reserve for the Ross Sea," which provides the rationale for protection of the Ross Sea region. If established, it would be the world’s largest fully protected marine reserve, totalling 3.6 million square kilometres.

Alliance members and supporters include actor Edward Norton, Oceanographer Dr. Sylvia Earle, entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson, as well as more than a dozen other environmental and conservation organizations.

The regulatory body responsible for this region – the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) – has agreed to create a network of marine protected areas in some of the ocean around Antarctica. However, CCAMLR meets with limited public participation and no media access and the Alliance believes that, without public attention during the process, only minimal protection will be achieved.

The Alliance launched a video featuring interviews with Edward Norton and Sylvia Earle asking the public to sign a petition calling for large-scale marine protection for Antarctica. Check it out and let us know what you think!


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Alexandra Cousteau Joins Oceana

alexandra cousteau

Alexandra Cousteau. © Oceana

We’re excited to announce that Alexandra Cousteau, granddaughter of ocean explorer Jacques-Yves Cousteau, has become a senior advisor to Oceana. 

Alexandra is a distinguished international ocean advocate, and as a senior advisor she will lend her environmental expertise and influence to help guide the organization’s global campaigns to protect and restore the oceans.

“I admire Oceana’s effectiveness,” said Alexandra. “In order to protect our oceans we need action that produces tangible results and that’s what Oceana does. I’ve traveled the globe exploring our oceans and I’ve learned from the world’s best, so I know what’s at stake. I trust in Oceana’s ability to protect the oceans and I’m thrilled to do my part to help it keep winning.”

Alexandra is also a National Geographic Explorer, founder of Blue Legacy International, and brand ambassador for Oceana expedition partner Revo Sunglasses.

“Alexandra comes from a family of ocean heroes; it’s in her blood. I can’t think of a better person to join Oceana as we tackle our second decade of ocean conservation,” said Oceana CEO Andy Sharpless. “She’s been at this since her first ocean expedition when she was four months old, so she has a level of experience and credibility that is extremely unique. We’re immensely fortunate to have her on our team”.

Welcome, Alexandra!


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Oregon House Approves Marine Reserves, MPAs

Oregon's Otter Rock. © Oceana/Will Race

Great news! Today the Oregon House passed a bill making Oregon’s first network of marine reserves and marine protected areas (MPAs). The bill, which Oceana has been actively supporting, now goes to the governor’s desk for a signature.

The bill calls on state agencies, the State Fish and Wildlife Commission, and State Land Board to create marine reserves and adjacent MPAs at Cape Falcon, Cascade Head and Cape Perpetua. 

The three new marine reserves and MPAs add 109 square miles (70,000 acres) to the already designated 9 square miles of area at Redfish Rocks and Otter Rock.  All areas combined total less than 10 percent of Oregon’s Territorial Sea; leaving the vast majority of Oregon’s Pacific waters open to fishing and development. The marine reserves will be ‘no-take’ and the MPAs will allow activities like fishing for Dungeness crab and salmon, while prohibiting bottom trawling, the harvest of forage fish, and offshore development.

Marine reserves have positive ecological benefits inside and outside of their protective boundaries, as fish and wildlife populations increase and then spill over into adjacent areas. 

“This is a great first step in protecting sensitive and important ecological areas off our coasts,” said Whit Sheard, Pacific counsel and senior advisor with Oceana. “This bill represents some difficult compromises, but it is a critical step forward for the long-term management of our publicly held ocean resources.”

Oceana will continue to work with regional managers and local communities to ensure the future well-being of the Pacific Ocean off Oregon and its wildlife.


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Last Chance to Register for the World Oceans Summit

Happy Friday, all!

We just wanted to remind you about the The Economist's fast-approaching World Oceans Summit where 200 global leaders, including our CEO Andy Sharpless, will discuss the future of our oceans.

The summit, which takes place in Singapore from Feb. 22-24, will offer a robust examination of the future of the seas, the importance of the sustainable use of the oceans, and what this means for business.

Featured speakers include:

  • Robert Zoellick, President, World Bank (Keynote speaker)
  • John Micklethwait, Editor-in-chief, The Economist; and Chairman, World Oceans Summit
  • Anote Tong, President, Republic of Kiribati
  • Teo Chee Hean, Deputy Prime Minister, Government of Singapore
  • Andrew Sharpless, Chief Executive Officer, Oceana
  • David Miliband, Member of Parliament, United Kingdom
  • Sylvia Earle, Explorer-in-residence, National Geographic Society
  • Philippe Lacamp, Head of Sustainable Development, John Swire & Sons (H.K.)
  • Tim Smith, Chief Executive Officer, North Asia, Maersk Line
  • Malcolm Preston, Global Head of Sustainability and Climate Change, Pricewaterhouse Coopers
  • Abyd Karmali, Global Head of Carbon Marks, Bank of America Merrill Lynch

There are only a handful of seats left, and as an Oceana supporter, you are entitled to a special 20% discount off the standard ticket price – simply enter the code OCEANA to enjoy the special rate.

Register here, and if you have any questions or require further information, contact Alice Wong at (+852) 2585 3312 or [email protected]


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Belize Government Rejects 8,000 Anti-drilling Signatures

Last year, our colleagues in Belize traversed the small Caribbean nation to gather more than 20,000 signatures on a petition against offshore oil drilling off Belize’s coast and beautiful protected areas. They discovered that almost everyone they spoke to was against allowing oil rigs to invade Belize’s crystal blue waters.

According to Belizean law, those signatures should be sufficient to trigger a national referendum on the issue. But this week, the government threw a wrench in the works by rejecting more than 8,000 of the signatures. According to Chief Elections Officer Josephine Tamai, the signatures were turned down primarily because of poor penmanship. 

Oceana’s Vice President for Belize, Audrey Matura-Shepherd, spoke to a local radio station about the news:

“At the moment what I feel is that Belizeans should just come out to the streets and protest. Belizeans need to get more agitated. They need to realize that their voices are being shut down…But not only that, we need to organize and make a mass movement. To set the agenda as it pertains to our resources, especially as it relates to our marine resources.”

Oceana is not backing down in the fight to stop offshore drilling from ruining Belize’s incredible marine heritage. Stay tuned!


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Maryland Introduces Shark Fin Trade Ban

shark fins

Shark fins drying in the sun. © Oceana/LX

The West Coast shark fin trade bans we celebrated last year may be catching on here on the East Coast.

Maryland lawmakers introduced bills Tuesday in both the House and Senate that would outlaw the sale, trade, distribution or possession of shark fins, with violations punishable by fines ranging from $5,000 to $50,000.

As Oceana's Campaign Director Beth Lowell told the Baltimore Sun’s Green blog, there's been no dried shark fin shipped into or out of the port of Baltimore, but U.S. Customs data show exports of shark products, mainly dogfish, exported from Washington and Norfolk.

Each year, tens of millions of sharks are killed for their fins, mostly to make shark fin soup. In this wasteful and cruel practice, a shark’s fins are sliced off while at sea and the remainder of the animal is thrown back into the water to die. Without fins, sharks bleed to death, drown, or are eaten by other species.

Shark finning is illegal in the U.S., but fins are imported from countries with weak or nonexistent protections. In recent decades some shark populations have declined by as much as 99%.  

We’ll be keeping a close eye on this legislation and we’ll be sure to keep you posted!


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Watch 'Big Miracle' and Help the Oceans

drew barrymore

© Oceana

Last week we had a great time at the Washington, DC premiere of “Big Miracle,” the true story of an activist who spearheads an international effort to save three gray whales trapped in the ice in northern Alaska.

The film stars Drew Barrymore and John Krasinski (“The Office”) and Oceana board member Ted Danson also makes an appearance as – get this – an an oil executive.

The movie comes out this Friday, Feb. 3, and we’re excited to be included in the film’s promotion. Starting today, for every two or more tickets you purchase on Fandango, Big Miracle and Universal Pictures will donate $1 to Oceana – up to $10,000!

So get your tickets to “Big Miracle” and also be sure to check out the cool whale infographics on the movie’s site.


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Join Us for SeaBlue on March 3

Looking for an excuse to celebrate the oceans this winter? Look no further. On March 3, we are holding our inaugural SeaBlue benefit event in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and you are invited!

SeaBlue will feature a musical performance by The Honey Brothers with Oceana Ambassador Adrian Grenier, and Alexandra Cousteau and World Champion Freediver Martin Stepanek will also be in attendance.

The benefit, co-chaired by philanthropic leaders Senta Monet Mackel and Louise Storelli Fogarty, will be hosted at the award-winning W Fort Lauderdale. Guests will be treated to an evening of hors d’oeuvres, cocktails and dancing in an underwater world created by Chris Cruz of Emagination.

SeaBlue is made possible by the generous support of our sponsors and underwriters, including W Fort Lauderdale, Discovery Channel’s Shark Week, LiveESP.com, Wells Fargo, Bacardi U.S.A. and Emagination.

You can purchase tickets at www.seablueevent.org, and please spread the word!


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Oceana Sues on Behalf of Loggerheads

A loggerhead sea turtle hatchling. © Oceana/Cory Wilson

Fishing gear should be killing fewer sea turtles, not more – and today we filed a complaint with the government saying just that.

Oceana’s complaint is in response to the U.S. government’s decision in October 2010 to allow eight East Coast fisheries to harm 14 times more threatened loggerhead sea turtles – raising the limit from 42 to 610.

Oceana is disputing the U.S. government’s decision to allow these fisheries to injure and kill more loggerhead sea turtles without adequately assessing the aggregate impacts of the fisheries on this species. The fisheries harm leatherback, Kemp’s ridley, and green sea turtles as well, and those species also would benefit from proper assessments of the fisheries’ impacts.  

Oceana’s complaint addresses eight federal fisheries, including those for monkfish and for summer flounder, scup and black sea bass, which are responsible for the highest levels of sea turtle bycatch in the region.

Oceana is calling on the U.S. to implement simple solutions to protect and restore sea turtle populations in the Atlantic, including turtle escape hatches in trawls, adopting adequate monitoring of fisheries that catch sea turtles, capping the allowable catch of sea turtles and where necessary, closing areas for fishing when and where sea turtles are present.


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Hairy-chested ‘Hoff’ Crabs and Hybrid Sharks

hoff crabs

Piles of the newly discovered "Hoff" crabs. © NERC Chesso Consortium

Happy New Year! Hope all you ocean lovers out there had a relaxing holiday. And what better way to start off 2012 than with some fascinating new ocean discoveries?

First, scientists have identified the first-ever hybrid shark off the coast of Australia, a result of mating between the common blacktip shark and the Australian blacktip shark.  The discovery indicates that some shark species may respond to changing ocean conditions by interbreeding.

And more humorously, scientists in the UK have found a new yeti crab species on the Southern Ocean floor that they have dubbed "The Hoff" because of its hairy chest – a la David Hasselhoff.

The researchers found hundreds of the crabs lying in heaps around hydrothermal vents – as many as “600 individuals per square metre." “Baywatch” and crustacean fans alike are rejoicing, and Mr. Hasselhoff himself even tweeted about the discovery.

If you could have a marine animal named after you, what would it be?


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