The Beacon

CEO Note: A Look at the Impressive Outcomes from Our Ocean Conference

The Palmyra Atoll in the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument. (Photo: Island Conservation / Flickr Creative Commons)

I wrote to you a few short weeks ago about our tremendous victory in Oceana’s campaign to stop seafood fraud — at the U.S. State Department’s Our Ocean conference, President Obama committed to tackling seafood fraud and pirate fishing. As realistic as I often am about these conferences, I was pleasantly surprised by the outcomes of Our Ocean.

One of the highlights of the conference was a speech by actor and activist Leonardo DiCaprio, who will be Oceana’s honored guest at the upcoming SeaChange Summer Party in August. Like DiCaprio, I believe that this is an exciting and important moment in our efforts to restore the oceans to their former abundance.

The Our Ocean conference confirms that we are not alone in our fight for the oceans. In addition to the President’s historic commitment to tackle seafood fraud and pirate fishing, several other important announcements occurred:

• President Obama announced a commitment to protect some of the most precious U.S. marine landscapes, including expanding protections near the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument in the south-central Pacific Ocean, which contains some of the most pristine tropical marine environments in the world.

• President Tong of Kiribati announced that his country will ban commercial fishing in the Phoenix Islands Protected Area — an area roughly the size of California — by January 2015.

• President Remengesau of Palau proposed a new National Marine Sanctuary that would cover most of Palau’s exclusive economic zone — an area of almost 500,000 square kilometers.

• Elizabeth Wright-Koteka and Kevin Iro of the Cook Islands announced their nation’s intent to phase in the expansion of the Cook Islands Marine Park to cover the entire exclusive economic zone of the Cook Islands, starting with a “no commercial fishing zone” out to 50 miles around islands.

• Sir David King of the United Kingdom announced an upcoming public process to consider  establishing a marine conservation zone covering most of the exclusive economic  zone of the Pitcairn Islands — an area roughly greater than three times the size of the United Kingdom.

• Kenred Dorsett of The Bahamas announced additional marine protected areas to be created by the end of 2014.

• Norway announced that it will allocate more than $150 million to promote fisheries development and management abroad, and that it will allocate more than $1 billion to climate change mitigation and adaptation assistance.

• The United States announced development of an innovative program, to be pilot tested in partnership with Palau, to detect illegal fishing and other illegal activities at sea using surveillance information from multiple sources.

These are just a handful of the many outcomes of Our Ocean 2014. I’d like to thank U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry for making these achievements possible — he called on ocean leaders to take action and inspired an unprecedented number of meaningful commitments for our oceans. I’d also like to thank you — your support was crucial in bringing the issue of seafood fraught to light.

Despite these tremendous successes, we must remember that the work to protect and restore our oceans is just beginning. Your continued support will allow Oceana to expand our efforts to protect and restore the world’s oceans, to the benefit of both marine life and people.  

For the oceans,
Andrew Sharpless
Chief Executive Officer


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