Belize’s Mesoamerican reef is one of the most famous tourist attractions in Central America. Crystal blue waters, white sand beaches, and vibrant coral reefs are home to dolphins, sea turtles, and hundreds of species of fish. But a part of this beautiful protected area is under immediate threat from developers, who want to build a luxury resort, Formula One racetrack, and airport right on the reef itself.
Monitoring global fishing activity is a monumental task. I’d like to introduce you to a groundbreaking new tool, created by Google, SkyTruth, and Oceana, called Global Fishing Watch. Using satellite data emitted by fishing vessels, the program gives people around the world a simple online platform to visualize, track, and share information about ocean fishing activity.
As a supporter of Oceana, you’re already familiar with our campaign to stop seafood fraud. Last week, Oceana released a new scientific report revealing that 30 percent of shrimp products tested from grocery stores and restaurants were misrepresented. The only known study of its kind in the U.S., the report also revealed that consumers are often provided with little information about the shrimp they purchase, including where and how it was caught or even if it was farmed, making it nearly impossible for consumers to make informed and sustainable seafood choices.
As many of you know, important elections recently took place in the United States, Europe, and Brazil. So as a supporter of ocean conservation, you may be wondering just how these elections will impact Oceana’s work to protect and restore the world’s oceans.
The good news is that ocean conservation is a truly bipartisan issue. If you are fearful that the oceans will suffer under conservative leadership, just remember that some of the biggest victories for the oceans in the last two decades occurred under conservative governments.
Nearly a month ago I heard some troublesome news from my Oceana colleagues in Chile: A sizeable oil spill had occurred in Quintero Bay, harming local marine life and jeopardizing the local fishing communities.
I have an exciting announcement about Oceana’s efforts to save the oceans and feed the world: The Wyss Foundation will provide up to $10 million in matching funds over the next five years to help Oceana rebuild fisheries in Peru and Canada.
I am writing to you today to inform you of leadership changes for our European campaigns for abundant oceans.
Xavier Pastor, our leader in Europe, will retire next year after more than four decades in ocean conservation. My colleagues and I spent the past several months searching to find his successor, among many excellent candidates. I can now announce that Lars “Lasse” Gustavsson will replace Pastor as the next Senior Vice President and Executive Director of Oceana in Europe.
Last month, President Obama finalized the expansion of the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument — the largest marine reserve in the entire world. First created by President George W. Bush in 2009, the reserve is centered around several islands and atolls in the central Pacific Ocean. The newly expanded reserve will protect an area three times the size of California from commercial fishing, dumping, and mining.
On behalf of Oceana and the ocean conservation community, I’d like to take a moment to celebrate this extraordinary presidential action.
Off the coast of California, deadly drift gillnets threaten some of our most iconic and amazing marine species, like the endangered sperm whale. These nets can entangle and drown open-ocean animals that swim into them. Last year, Oceana successfully pressured the government to put in place emergency rules to protect sperm whales from these deadly nets. Unfortunately, the government recently let these protections expire, violating two federal laws.
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.