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.
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.