In fewer than ten years, Oceana has achieved dozens of concrete policy victories for marine life and habitats. From stopping bottom trawling in sensitive habitat areas to protecting sea turtles from commercial fishing gear, our victories represent a new hope for the world’s oceans.
Oceana, the largest international advocacy group working solely to protect the world’s oceans, applauds United States Representative Edward Markey (D-MA) today for introducing the Safety and Fraud Enforcement for Seafood (SAFE Seafood) Actto address the growing problem of seafood fraud, which can come in many different forms – from mislabeling fish and falsifying documents, to adding too much ice to packaging. If passed, this bill would help stop seafood fraud by requiring full traceability of all seafood sold in the U.S., from boat to plate.
This legislation follows the release of a new Oceana study, which found that one-third, or 33 percent, of the 1,215 fish samples it collected from 674 retail outlets in 21 states were mislabeled, according to U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) guidelines. Rep. Markey was joined in the legislation by original co-sponsors Walter Jones (R-NC), John Tierney (D-MA), Bill Keating (D-MA), Lois Capps (D-CA) and Jo Bonner (R-AL).
Following campaigning by Oceana, great white sharks off the California coast have been awarded ‘candidacy’ status under the California Endangered Species Act, which means the state will consider an array of possible management measures that can be put into place to reduce bycatch of white sharks. Possible measures include time and area closures of the fisheries where white sharks are caught, modifications to fishing gear, and strict limits on how many of the sharks may be captured incidentally as bycatch. The Department of Fish and Wildlife will now embark on a one-year in-depth status review of the population. Once the review is complete, the Commission will vote on whether or not to officially list white sharks as threatened or endangered.Read Press Release
The European Parliament approved major reforms to the Common Fishery Policy, a law that manages all European fisheries. Members overwhelmingly voted in favor of a comprehensive reform policy that includes amendments – many of which were drafted by Oceana – that require member states to fish all stocks at sustainable levels by 2015 and comply with a strong EU-wide discard ban, and puts an end to the practice of “discards”, throwing dead unwanted fish back into the sea. Oceana campaigned for years to make sure that this once in a decade opportunity to reform the failed EU fisheries policy was not wasted.Read Press Release
Shell Oil Company announced that it will not attempt to drill exploration wells in the Arctic Ocean in 2013. This announcement comes in the wake of Shell’s disastrous 2012 drilling season, which left both of its drilling vessels disabled in Alaskan waters awaiting transport to Asia for repairs. The company also faces investigation by the Coast Guard, notices of violation of the Clean Air Act from the Environmental Protection Agency, and a 60-day review by the Department of the Interior. Oceana has called on the Department of the Interior to suspend activities in the Arctic Ocean and to fundamentally reconsider how it makes decisions about Arctic Ocean resources.
Portugal has nominated the rich ecosystem of the Gorringe Bank as a new Marine Protected Area (MPA). Since 2005, Oceana has worked to draw attention and recognition to this bank, and to bring its spectacular seamount ranges into the network of marine protected areas. An Oceana expedition to the area in October 2012 documented species never before seen in these seamounts, including branching black coral, roughskin dogfish, and others. Unfortunately, the expedition also documented the invasive presence of litter, debris, and fishing gear, particularly in the rocky seabeds of the banks.Read Press Release
After campaigning by Oceana to stop overfishing in the Baltic Sea, the Uusimaa and the Southeast Finland Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment voted to ban all wild sea trout fisheries in the Gulf of Finland to give the stock a chance to rebuild. In the summer of 2012, alarming surveys from the Baltic Sea found that wild sea trout had become critically endangered in the region. Until recently there were no limits to how much wild sea trout could be caught despite a steady decline in recent decades and evidence that populations in Finland and Russia were well below historic levels.Read Press Release
After 18 months of negotiations, the Fisheries Committee of the EU parliament voted to put in place new measures that would effectively end overfishing and greatly improve the way the EU manages its fisheries, which have been historically some of the poorest managed, and most overfished in the world. In recent years, the majority of its scientifically-assessed fisheries have been found to be overexploited. The new measures include an obligation to set catch limits above maximum sustainable yield levels by 2015, in order for stocks to recover by 2020, and a clear ban on discards. Oceana has been campaigning for these changes for years. The new reforms now go to a vote before the entire European Parliament.Read Press Release
Thanks to tireless campaigning by Oceana, Congress passed legislation crucial to the future of the country’s clean energy future. As part of the so-called “fiscal cliff” deal, the U.S. Congress voted to extend the Investment Tax Credit (ITC), a financing tool for offshore wind that makes investment in the clean energy industry much more attractive. The ITC technically expired at midnight on New Year’s Eve, and, if left expired, could have jeopardized a new industry with the potential to generate tens of thousands of jobs and enough electricity to power the country four times over. Fortunately, the tax credit was extended at the eleventh hour.
The state of California announced that state-regulated forage fisheries like squid and herring would embrace a new ecosystem-based management system, with an eye towards sustainability. Forage species are the base of the marine food web, providing a food source for larger predators, including whales, sea lions, sea birds and more. The new policy will “freeze the menu”, i.e., prevent the development of new forage fisheries or expansion of existing fisheries unless and until there is adequate science available to ensure that those species can be fished sustainably and without negative consequences for their predators.Read Press Release
The European Parliament approved a strict ban on shark finning, closing a crucial loophole in EU law by requiring that all sharks caught in EU waters, and by EU vessels in international waters, be landed with their fins attached. This is a monumental achievement for sharks and one that Oceana campaigned for. The EU is the world’s largest exporter of shark fins to Hong Kong and mainland China and the new EU rule represents a huge step forward in the conservation of sharks.Read Press Release