Late last year, I wrote to you about how the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration took actions that placed state shark fin bans in jeopardy. These bans, which close down the market for imported shark fins, are incredibly important to halting the finning and capture of tens of millions of sharks each year.
For the past five years, the oil industry has kept up a relentless campaign to drill in Alaska’s Arctic Ocean. Oil exploration and drilling would put this exceptional ecosystem at great risk from a disastrous (and inevitable) oil spill, greatly harming marine life, fish species, and coastal communities.
I’m proud to announce that the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation just awarded Oceana a grant of $3 million to aid our conservation efforts in the Pacific and Arctic Oceans. Over the next three years, this grant will help fund existing and new campaigns that target ocean habitats and keystone species, like sharks.
The political world, recently, spent much time speculating about what former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg would do next after leaving office. And, I have very good news to share—one of Mayor Bloomberg’s new goals will be to help save the oceans and feed the world.
Oceana and two other groups will be joint recipients of a historic and innovative $53-million, five-year grant from Bloomberg Philanthropies to restore fish populations in three of the world’s largest fishing nations: Brazil, Chile, and the Philippines. “Data shows the world’s severely threatened fish populations can rebound if fishing is properly managed,” noted Mayor Bloomberg in a press release about the grant. “The investment we are making now will help bring more life back to our oceans—and protect them for future generations.”
The North Atlantic right whale is one of the most endangered species in the U.S. and the rarest of all the large whales. Commercial whaling reduced their population to just a few hundred individuals, and the species is still struggling to recover. Their migration route along the East Coast and habit of feeding at the surface puts them at great risk of being struck and killed by ships. Now the government is planning to allow potentially deadly oil and gas exploration right along the whale’s migration route.
The New Year promises to bring many exciting changes here at Oceana. The first among many exciting pieces of news is that Oceana recently hired a new Vice President to lead conservation efforts in our Belize office—Janelle Chanona.
Janelle, a long time anchor for Channel 5 in Belize, most recently ran her own media and production company. She has advised several environmental groups in Belize (including Oceana). She is a graduate of St. Johns College in Belize, of Loyola College in Baltimore in the United States and received a Master’s degree with distinction from Nottingham Trent University in the United Kingdom. A passionate diver, she is a frequent visitor to Belize's barrier reef, the largest such reef in the Western Hemisphere.
Everyone here at Oceana is eagerly looking forward to a new year of campaigning for our oceans. But before we set off, I’d like to look back at our accomplishments throughout 2013. Just a few months ago I marked 10 years of working for Oceana, and I can easily say that it was our most successful year yet. I’d like to call out a few of our many victories in particular…
Sweeping fisheries reforms in Europe
Conservation is an international challenge, especially when it comes to our oceans. Earlier this month the presidents and CEOs of 24 leading conservation organizations, including Oceana, send a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman urging him to incorporate fisheries subsidies reform into the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
You might not have heard, but sharks are in trouble from an unlikely source—our own federal government. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the government agency tasked with managing our nation’s fisheries, is taking steps to undermine state laws that protect sharks.
Last month, the International Whaling Commission released a report that, for the very first time, established a firm connection between a sonar mapping tool used for offshore oil and gas exploration and the deaths of marine animals.
In 2008, about 100 “melon-headed whales” stranded in a shallow lagoon in northwestern Madagascar. Despite their name, melon-headed whales are actually a type of dolphin, found in deep oceans near the equator. They’re similar in size to a bottlenose dolphin, with dark grey coloring and a large, rounded head. At least 75 dolphins—three-quarters of those stuck in the lagoon—eventually died from dehydration, starvation, and sun exposure in the shallow waters.