International Ocean Conservation

What We Do

Oceana is dedicated to protecting and restoring the world's oceans on a global scale.

Our Vision

Oceana seeks to make our oceans more biodiverse and abundant by winning policy victories in the countries that govern much of the world's marine life.

Oceana, founded in 2001, is the largest international advocacy organization focused solely on ocean conservation. Our offices around the world work together to win strategic, directed campaigns that achieve measurable outcomes that will help make our oceans more bio diverse and abundant.

We envision a future where the world's oceans are filled with life. Where enormous schools of anchovies, sardines and other fish are common sights. Where marlins, sharks and tuna roam the seas in large numbers; where coral gardens, sea-grass meadows and other ocean landscapes thrive and sustain its life; where dolphins, whales and sea turtles flourish; where local fishing cultures and economies blossom rather than decline; and where seafood is a healthy and plentiful source of food for hundreds of millions of people.

juan fernandez reef

Oceans cover 71 percent of the globe, and they are as important to us as they are vast. Our oceans are home to most of the life on our planet and play a central role in the world's natural systems, like regulating our climate and absorbing carbon dioxide. They provide livelihoods to countless fishermen and others around the world. They also seas feed hundreds of millions of people and have the capacity to provide a healthy seafood meal to a billion people, every day. Unfortunately, the oceans are in trouble — scientists report that the amount of fish caught from the oceans began declining — for the first time in recorded history — just a few decades ago. Fortunately, we know how to fix things. Science-based fishery management — which establishes science-based catch limits, reduces bycatch and protects habitat — is helping the oceans rebound and recover where it is established. Oceana is dedicated to advocating for science-based fishery management and restoring the world's oceans.

 

The Problem

The oceans are vast, but they are not immune to human influence. We have already altered or destroyed marine ecosystems and driven million-year-old species to the brink of extinction. According to a study published in Science, less than 4 percent of the oceans remain unaffected by human activity.

We are taking too many fish out of the water.

In the last few decades, commercial fishing has evolved into a high-tech, heavily subsidized industry that uses cutting-edge electronics, computer systems, huge amounts of fuel and miles of gear to find and catch more fish in remote places formerly out of bounds to fishermen.

The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization says that at least 75 percent of seafood species are overexploited, fully exploited or recovering from depletion and need more effective and precautionary management.

We are putting too many pollutants in the water.

Mercury is a toxic pollutant emitted by land-based industrial plants. This mercury finds its way back into our food chain via our seafood with potentially serious consequences. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), one in ten American women has enough mercury in her blood to pose a risk of neurological damage to her developing baby.

Meanwhile, offshore fish farming, rather than taking the pressure off wild seafood species, results in increased overfishing to feed the farmed fish as well as the despoiling of seafloor habitat. Concentrated fish waste dropped from the open-water pens blankets the ocean bottom, snuffing out oxygen and life.

Last and perhaps most alarming, carbon dioxide is making our oceans warmer and more acidic. As a result, corals and other creatures at the base of the ocean food chains have trouble forming shells. Without a drastic reduction in carbon dioxide emissions, many of the world's coral reefs will disappear and entire ocean ecosystems may collapse.

We are squandering the oceans' resources.

sea lion in net

Destructive fishing practices that include driftnets, longlines and bottom trawls are ruining ocean ecosystems by indiscriminately killing fish and other wildlife, including seabirds and marine mammals. Each year, more than 16 billion pounds of bycatch are thrown overboard thanks to wasteful fishing techniques.

Bottom trawls drag heavily weighted nets along the ocean floor in search of fish or crustaceans in a practice akin to clearcutting a forest in order to catch a rabbit. Centuries-old habitats such as coral gardens are destroyed in an instant by bottom trawls, pulverized into barren plains. Endangered sea turtles drown on longline hooks while sharks have their fins sliced from their bodies, which are then tossed overboard.

 

Oceana's Solution

Oceana was created to identify practical solutions and make them happen. The good news is that we can restore the oceans to their former glory. Oceana is…

Campaign-Driven

We channel our resources towards strategic, directed campaigns to achieve measurable outcomes that will protect and restore our oceans to former levels of abundance.

Learn about current campaigns >>

Fact-Based

We believe in the importance of science in identifying problems and solutions for the oceans.

Our original scientific reports >>

Multi-disciplinary and expert

Our scientists work closely with our teams of economists, lawyers, communicators, and advocates to achieve tangible results for the oceans.

Meet our staff >>

 

The Perfect Protein

The Fish-Lover's Guide to Saving the Oceans and Feeding the World

Oceana believes that wild seafood, when properly managed, can provide a delicious, nutritious, and renewable source of protein for millions of people.

Andy Sharpless, CEO of Oceana, together with his co-author, Suzannah Evans, reveals how eating more seafood is not only good for our health but can also help to save the planet. He explains how wild fish really are the perfect protein.

Learn more about and buy the Perfect Protein book.