A international delegation passed new conservation measures that will protect more than 16.1 million square miles of seafloor habitat in the North Pacific Ocean from bottom trawling and other bottom contact gear. Participating nations, including the U.S., Canada, Japan, Russia, China, Korea and Taiwan (Chinese Taipei), acted on a commitment they made at the United Nations General Assembly to enact interim conservation measures to protect vulnerable marine ecosystems, like seamounts, deep-sea corals and hydrothermal vents, in international waters. Oceana and others have been working to advance these measures since 2006.
In a huge triumph for the U.S. Arctic, Shell announced it would cancel plans to drill exploratory wells offshore in Alaska due to continued uncertainty over whether it would receive federal permits. Shell had hoped to drill exploratory wells in 2010 in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas, but its plans were put on hold by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar after the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. Oceana has been instrumental in monitoring the permitting process and holding policymakers accountable for upholding the law.
Protecting the Arctic from industrial fishing
After years of work by Oceana and other conservation groups, the North Pacific Fishery Management Council voted unanimously to prevent the expansion of industrial fishing into all U.S. waters north of the Bering Strait in order to limit stress on ocean ecosystems in light of the dramatic impacts of global climate change in the Arctic. The decision is one of the largest precautionary measures in fisheries management history. Oceana has now protected more than one million square miles of ocean in the Pacific.