Last weekend I had the honor of recognizing award-winning actor and environmentalist Leonardo DiCaprio for his dedicated and generous support of ocean conservation. DiCaprio was Oceana’s guest of honor at our annual SeaChange Summer Party in Laguna Beach, California.
If you’re like most ocean lovers, you’ve probably spent a few nights this week tuning in to Discovery Channel’s Shark Week. But as we celebrate our collective love of sharks, we should also take a moment to reflect on the many threats that sharks face.
We all know that seafood is good for you, and that fish is high in heart-healthy omega-3s. And I’m sure you’ve also heard warnings about mercury levels in certain species of fish, especially if you or anyone you know is starting a family. But you might not know that the chlorine industry was a major source of mercury released to our environment.
Discarding fish is akin to throwing money into the ocean, yet the U.S. fishing industry wastes millions of pounds of seafood each year. Bycatch is not only wasteful, but kills countless numbers of marine creatures like dolphins, sea turtles, and sharks in the process.
I wrote to you a few short weeks ago about our tremendous victory in Oceana’s campaign to stop seafood fraud — at the U.S. State Department’s Our Ocean conference, President Obama committed to tackling seafood fraud and pirate fishing. As realistic as I often am about these conferences, I was pleasantly surprised by the outcomes of Our Ocean.
White sharks off the coast of California are in danger. This population of white sharks, occurring off California and Mexico, is genetically unique and isolated from other groups of white sharks across the world’s oceans.
I wrote to you recently about the U.S. government’s plans to allow seismic airguns in the U.S. Atlantic. This technology, used to search for oil and gas deposits, could injure an estimated 138,200 dolphins and whales and usher in offshore oil drilling. A similar battle is occurring across the Atlantic, where the Spanish government is planning to open 45 percent of the Spanish Mediterranean to seismic surveys, putting local ecosystems and economies at serious risk.
On Tuesday, the oceans won a major victory when President Obama announced his commitment to fight seafood fraud and black market fish, as well as expand marine protected areas.
I have truly historic news to share with you. Today, in a video message shared at Secretary of State John Kerry’s “Our Ocean” conference, President Obama announced his plan to develop a comprehensive program aimed at combating seafood fraud and keeping illegal fish out of the U.S. market.
Several months ago, I wrote to you with big news about Oceana’s future: Oceana is one of the recipients of a $53 million joint grant from Bloomberg Philanthropies, called the Vibrant Oceans initiative, which seeks to restore ocean abundance and fisheries in Brazil, the Philippines, and Chile.
I am now pleased to report back that we have hired two leaders for our work in Brazil and the Philippines — Dr. Monica Brick Peres and Attorney Gloria Estenzo Ramos.