The Beacon

Blog Tags: Congress

Shark Finning Banned in U.S. Waters

In a culmination of years of work by Oceana and our allies, Congress has ended shark finning in U.S. waters with the passage today of the Shark Conservation Act.

This morning the U.S. House approved the Senate version of the Shark Conservation Act (passed yesterday), which now goes to President Obama to be signed into law.

Shark finning is the brutal practice of slicing off a shark's fins, often for use in shark fin soup, an Asian delicacy. The shark -- sometimes still alive -- is thrown back into the water to bleed to death. In addition, without the fins attached, many sharks can’t be identified, which further impedes management.

Sharks have been swimming the world’s oceans for more than 400 million years and as apex predators, they play a vital role in maintaining the health of ocean ecosystems. But due to their slow growth rate and low level of reproduction, sharks are especially vulnerable to pressure from human exploitation. Many shark populations have declined to levels where they are unable to perform their roles as top predators in the ecosystem.

This is an enormous victory for sharks and for the oceans. Huge thanks to all of you who have taken action over the years to help make this happen! You can thank your Representatives and Senators for protecting sharks, too.


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Victory! Senate Passes Shark Finning Bill

Yet another victory today, if you can believe it. In a last minute vote, the U.S. Senate passed the Shark Conservation Act, which will end shark finning in U.S. waters.

Each year, commercial fishing gear kills more than 100 million sharks worldwide – including tens of millions for just their fins, for use in shark fin soup. Landing sharks with their fins still attached allows for better enforcement and data collection for stock assessments and quota monitoring.

The Shark Conservation Act improves the existing law originally intended to prevent shark finning, and it also allows the U.S. to take action against countries whose shark finning restrictions are not as strenuous. The passage of this bill signals the U.S.’s ongoing commitment to shark conservation.

Only one step stands in the way of this bill becoming law -- it returns to the House for one final vote to accept the Senate’s version of the legislation. We’re almost there…

Thanks to all of you who helped us -- and the sharks -- get this far!


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Five Ways to Help Protect Sharks

shark

You know that sharks are in trouble around the world. Their populations are crashing as a result of overfishing, shark finning and bycatch, and the oceans are suffering as a result.

So this shark week, what can you do to help save sharks? Here are five ways. Have other suggestions? Let us know in the comments.

1. Tell Congress to stop shark finning

The Shark Conservation Act would end shark finning in U.S. waters and make us world leaders in shark conservation. Tell your Senators to support shark protections by passing this bill.

2. Keep shark off the menu

Not only is it ecologically irresponsible to serve shark meat, it is also unhealthy. Since they are at the top of the ocean food chain, sharks bioaccumulate high amounts of mercury. For women who are pregnant or may become pregnant, this is especially dangerous. The bottom line? Stay away from shark meat.

3. Adopt a shark

Yes, sharks can be soft and cuddly -- when you adopt one from Oceana. When you adopt a hammerhead shark, you’ll receive a hammerhead stuffed animal with a personalized adoption certificate, and your donation will help our work to protect them. 

4. Educate yourself and others about sharks

There are dozens of species of sharks, from toothy great whites to filter-feeding whale sharks. The more you learn about these creatures, the more you will love them. So educate yourself and your loved ones -- especially the shark-fearing ones.

5. Spread the word: We should be scared for sharks

As our shark spokeswoman, January Jones, said in her PSA, we shouldn’t be scared of sharks, we should be scared for them. Spread this message on Facebook and Twitter -- and any other way you know how.


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Jackie Savitz Discusses Dispersants on CNN

Oceana campaign director Jackie Savitz discussed the dangers of dispersants on CNN’s “The Situation Room” last night, check it out:

And tomorrow she will testify before the full Senate Environment & Public Works Committee about the known effects of dispersants. Savitz will offer her perspective on use of Corexit, and will argue that dispersant use is “the lesser of two evils.”


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Ted Danson to Testify on Fishing Subsidies

Actor and Oceana board member Ted Danson will testify before a Congressional subcommittee hearing tomorrow about the negative impact of fishing subsidies on the oceans.

In the hearing, entitled Marine Wealth: Promoting Conservation and Advancing American Exports, Danson will describe how government subsidies negatively affect the oceans and global seafood market, and he’ll explain why sustainable fishing is necessary to preserve ocean health and jobs.


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Help Us Hit 100K Signatures!

So far more than 96,000 people have signed our petition to stop offshore drilling. That's nothing to sneeze at by any means, so thanks to everyone who has signed so far!

We still have quite a ways to go to reach our goal of 500,000 signers, though. Let's start by reaching the 100K mark -- add your name to the growing list and then spread the word via Twitter, Facebook and e-mail if you haven't already.


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Join Hands Across the Sand on June 26th

This coming Saturday, June 26th, thousands of people will join hands -- literally -- on beaches around the world in opposition to offshore drilling. Will you be one of them?

Hands Across the Sand isn’t about politics. It’s about protecting our oceans, coastal economies and marine life from the disastrous effects of offshore drilling.

Participating is easy. Just go to your beach on June 26 at 11 AM in your time zone. Form lines in the sand and at 12:00, join hands. It’s a peaceful, simple way to send a message to state legislators, Governors, Congress and President Obama: It's time to end offshore drilling and transition to clean energy.

The movement started in Florida this past February, when thousands of Floridians representing 60 towns and cities and over 90 beaches joined hands to protest the efforts by the Florida Legislature and the US Congress to lift the ban on oil drilling in the near and off shores of Florida.

Check out this video from the event:

Hands Across The Sand from Walton Outdoors on Vimeo.

Join hands with us and draw a line in the sand against offshore oil drilling.


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Ted Danson On Offshore Drilling - in 1991

The Hair

Courtesy People.com.

I thought it was prescient when Oceana board member Ted Danson testified before Congress early last year about the dangers of offshore drilling. Now, in the midst of the biggest oil disaster in U.S. history, Ted has become one of the most visible critics of the oil industry and its false promises, most recently with an appearance on Larry King Live last week.

Ted's ocean activism goes farther back than the oil disaster, of course. I dug up a newspaper story about Ted's first appearance before Congress in April 1991. Still at the height of Cheers fame, Ted is introduced thusly:

"Gone was the carefully blown-dried hair, the red Corvette and the babe-seeking wandering eye of the country's most famous bartender: Cheer's [sic] star Ted Danson wanted to be taken seriously when he told Congress that President Bush's Energy Policy basically stinks."

The article, written with some skepticism about a Hollywood star's place in the halls of Congress, quoted Rep. Wayne Allard, who compared the amount of oil spilled into the oceans to "the teaspoon or so of gas that dribbles down the side of cars at the gas pump. 'Is that an unacceptable risk?' Allard asked."

Nearly twenty years later, it's not hard to tell who was vindicated by history, even if it's a bitter victory. As Ted said then about our energy policy: "It ain't working, guys. Something's got to change."

To view a PDF of the entire newspaper page, including a vintage photo of Paul and Linda McCartney debuting her frozen-foods line, click here.


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Oceana to Congress: No New Drilling

From left to right: Randall Luthi, President of the National Ocean Industries Association; Jack N. Gerard, President and CEO of the American Petroleum Institute; Dr. Michael Hirshfield, Senior Vice President for North America and Chief Scientist, Oceana; Dr. Michelle Michot Foss, Head of the Center for Energy Economics and Chief Energy Economist at the University of Texas

Yesterday Oceana Senior Vice President and Chief Scientist Mike Hirshfield testified about the costs of offshore drilling before the House Committee on Natural Resources.  

Here’s an excerpt of his testimony:

“Mr. Chairman, I wish you didn’t have to hold this hearing. For years, the oil industry has told us all that offshore drilling was safe. They repeatedly downplayed the risks and oversold the benefits. They tried to convince us that catastrophes like the Deepwater Drilling Disaster could never happen. I could easily fill my time with embarrassing industry quotes (like these.) I will spare you that.

We now hear calls for action to ensure that “this will never happen again.” We all wish that could be the case. But let’s be honest, we know another offshore oil drilling disaster will happen, caused by another unexpected combination of technological failure and human error. The industry is asking us to play a game of environmental roulette, and they are taking aim at a long list of targets. Will we see oil foul the beaches of the Atlantic seaboard next? The Pacific? The Arctic?


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Oceana Chief Scientist to Testify on Offshore Drilling

Breaking news this morning: A Coast Guard official says the “top kill” maneuver has stopped the oil leak that has been gushing into the gulf for more than a month, though engineers still have to seal the well permanently with cement before they deem it a success.

And more good news -- President Obama will announce today that he is extending the moratorium on permits to drill new deepwater wells for six more months.

Meanwhile, this morning Oceana Senior Vice President and Chief Scientist Mike Hirshfield will testify about the costs of offshore drilling before the House Committee on Natural Resources.  


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