Since 2001, 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.
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.
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
Great white sharks that live off the coast of California are now candidates for protection under the state’s Endangered Species Act. The California Fish and Game Commission voted today to initiate a comprehensive one-year review of the white shark population to determine if it qualifies for state protection. The state will also consider management measures and new regulations to better protect the sharks. Today’s decision is based on the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s recommendation to accept a petition to protect the white sharks, filed in August 2012 by three conservation groups. The conservation groups commend both the Commission and the Department of Fish and Wildlife for recognizing the science documenting the perils facing this population of iconic sharks.Read Press Release
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.
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.
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 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.
The Chilean senate passed sweeping new regulations that establish a more robust, science based fisheries regulatory regimen. The new laws will close all 118 of Chile’s seamounts to bottom trawling, impose science-based fishing quotas and drastically reduce the incidental capture and discard of unwanted species by improving monitoring on Chilean fishing vessels. Oceana has been pushing for all of these changes for years, and during the passage of this historic legislation our work was acknowledged by several senators as well as the Chilean Minister of the Economy.
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