Here’s a very simple way to protect marine life—keep drift gillnets out of California waters. Fishermen use this fishing gear to target swordfish and thresher sharks, but they also catch and kill dozens of other important marine species. In 2011, for every five swordfish the fishery landed, one marine mammal was killed and six fish—including sharks and tunas—were tossed overboard dead or dying.
We can all agree that wasting food is unacceptable. So why are U.S. fisheries allowed to throw away perfectly edible seafood? Many fisheries toss fish and other species overboard, usually dead or dying, simply because it’s not the type of seafood they are trying to catch. And the government allows this wasteful practice. A new Oceana report published this week reveals nine of our country’s most wasteful fisheries.
Nearly one year ago, I wrote to you to announce that Chilean President Sebastián Piñera signed a monumental reform to the Chilean Fisheries Law, requiring that scientific advice guide fishing quotas for important commercial species. I’m now pleased to report back that the law is already making a difference, putting Chile on track to dramatically rebuild its fisheries, which will benefit both fishermen and ocean health.
Several weeks ago, I wrote to you about how the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management is planning to allow seismic airguns off the East Coast, despite the obvious harm they will cause marine life, including whales and dolphins.
Late last year, I wrote to you about how the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration took actions that placed state shark fin bans in jeopardy. These bans, which close down the market for imported shark fins, are incredibly important to halting the finning and capture of tens of millions of sharks each year.
For the past five years, the oil industry has kept up a relentless campaign to drill in Alaska’s Arctic Ocean. Oil exploration and drilling would put this exceptional ecosystem at great risk from a disastrous (and inevitable) oil spill, greatly harming marine life, fish species, and coastal communities.
I’m proud to announce that the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation just awarded Oceana a grant of $3 million to aid our conservation efforts in the Pacific and Arctic Oceans. Over the next three years, this grant will help fund existing and new campaigns that target ocean habitats and keystone species, like sharks.
The political world, recently, spent much time speculating about what former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg would do next after leaving office. And, I have very good news to share—one of Mayor Bloomberg’s new goals will be to help save the oceans and feed the world.
Oceana and two other groups will be joint recipients of a historic and innovative $53-million, five-year grant from Bloomberg Philanthropies to restore fish populations in three of the world’s largest fishing nations: Brazil, Chile, and the Philippines. “Data shows the world’s severely threatened fish populations can rebound if fishing is properly managed,” noted Mayor Bloomberg in a press release about the grant. “The investment we are making now will help bring more life back to our oceans—and protect them for future generations.”
The North Atlantic right whale is one of the most endangered species in the U.S. and the rarest of all the large whales. Commercial whaling reduced their population to just a few hundred individuals, and the species is still struggling to recover. Their migration route along the East Coast and habit of feeding at the surface puts them at great risk of being struck and killed by ships. Now the government is planning to allow potentially deadly oil and gas exploration right along the whale’s migration route.
The New Year promises to bring many exciting changes here at Oceana. The first among many exciting pieces of news is that Oceana recently hired a new Vice President to lead conservation efforts in our Belize office—Janelle Chanona.
Janelle, a long time anchor for Channel 5 in Belize, most recently ran her own media and production company. She has advised several environmental groups in Belize (including Oceana). She is a graduate of St. Johns College in Belize, of Loyola College in Baltimore in the United States and received a Master’s degree with distinction from Nottingham Trent University in the United Kingdom. A passionate diver, she is a frequent visitor to Belize's barrier reef, the largest such reef in the Western Hemisphere.