I have truly historic news to share with you. Today, in a video message shared at Secretary of State John Kerry’s “Our Ocean” conference, President Obama announced his plan to develop a comprehensive program aimed at combating seafood fraud and keeping illegal fish out of the U.S. market.
Several months ago, I wrote to you with big news about Oceana’s future: Oceana is one of the recipients of a $53 million joint grant from Bloomberg Philanthropies, called the Vibrant Oceans initiative, which seeks to restore ocean abundance and fisheries in Brazil, the Philippines, and Chile.
I am now pleased to report back that we have hired two leaders for our work in Brazil and the Philippines — Dr. Monica Brick Peres and Attorney Gloria Estenzo Ramos.
I have great news about two important new campaign victories in Europe: Portugal and Spain will now protect more than 2 million square kilometers of seafloor habitat from destructive fishing gears.
This CEO Note appears in the new Spring 2014 issue of Oceana magazine, now available online.
Saving the ocean sounds like a global-scale task. For practical people, such big ambitions can be off-putting. Many of us want to know that what we are doing is actually making a difference, and will readily trade in glorious unfulfilled ambitions for measurable and concrete achievements.
So do Oceana’s campaigns meet that standard?
Earlier this month, I had the honor of recognizing former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg for his dedicated support of ocean conservation. Mr. Bloomberg was our special guest at Oceana’s annual New York City Gala, hosted by Ted Danson, Mary Steenburgen, and Susan and David Rockefeller.
Yesterday marked the four-year anniversary of the 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Although several years have passed, the people, wildlife, and ecosystems of the Gulf are still struggling to recover from this disaster.
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.