Protections Advance for Great Whites in California
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.
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.
The Oregon House passed a bill making Oregon’s first network of marine reserves and marine protected areas (MPAs). Oceana actively supported the bill, which calls on state agencies, the State Fish and Wildlife Commission, and State Land Board to create marine reserves and adjacent MPAs at Cape Falcon, Cascade Head and Cape Perpetua. The three new marine reserves and MPAs add 109 square miles (70,000 acres) to Oregon's protected waters.
Federal policymakers released the final regulations banning all fishing for krill in U.S. Pacific waters of California, Oregon and Washington. This action was led by Oceana and others and has had strong support from scientists, conservationists, fishermen, coastal businesses and local communities.
Protecting Important Ecological Areas off the Oregon coast
The Oregon state legislature passed a bill to establish Oregon’s first two marine reserves and a protected area in its coastal waters, and defined a two year process to evaluate and implement additional areas to build a network of protected areas and reserves. Oceana worked to identify the Important Ecological Areas off the Oregon coast and with a coalition of conservationists, scientists, and local communities, advanced a statewide proposal to protect Oregon’s coastal ocean ecosystem.
Pacific Loggerheads Protected from West Coast Longlines
The federal Pacific Fishery Management Council voted to maintain a standing prohibition on a West Coast-based high seas longline fishery. The vote will prevent the opening of a new swordfish fishery that would threaten migrating loggerhead sea turtles and other marine wildlife on the high seas of the north Pacific Ocean.
Protecting Pacific Leatherbacks from Gillnets
Under pressure from scientists and conservation groups, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) denied a proposal to allow drift gillnet vessels to operate in an area off the California and Oregon coasts where such fishing is seasonally banned to protect the critically endangered Pacific leatherback sea turtle. The drift gillnet fishery, which targets swordfish, tuna and sharks, also kills not just endangered sea turtles, but humpback, fin, gray and sperm whales, several species of dolphins and other marine mammals.
Protecting Pacific Krill
The Pacific Fishery Management Council voted to prohibit commercial krill fishing in the federal waters off of California, Oregon and Washington. More than 5,000 Oceana activists contacted the Council to support a prohibition on krill fishing in the Pacific to protect our ocean ecosystem food web.
Protecting Essential Fish Habitat from Bottom Trawling
Along with a coalition of environmental and recreational fishing groups, Oceana developed a comprehensive, collaborative proposal to protect important undersea habitats, while maintaining vibrant fisheries off the U.S. West Coast. With the help of 19,373 Oceana Wavemaker comments, the Pacific Fishery Management Council voted unanimously to adopt the Oceana proposal, which was mostly approved by NOAA on March 8, 2006, protecting 140,000 square miles of ocean habitat from bottom trawling.
California Governor Schwarzenegger Signs Law to Protect Ocean Habitat and Vibrant Fisheries
California Governor Schwarzenegger signed a law that will further protect California's valuable Pacific waters from destructive fishing practices. Senate Bill 1459, sponsored by Senator Dede Alpert (D-San Diego) and approved by a bipartisan majority in both houses, ensures that fishing with bottom trawl nets that are dragged along the seafloor is conducted in a manner that protects marine life in waters off the California coast.