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Emergency Rules Implemented to Protect Endangered Sperm Whales from California Drift GillnetsSeptiembre, 2013
On September 3, the National Marine Fisheries Service issued emergency regulations that will shut down California’s drift gillnet fishery if a single endangered sperm whale is caught. The fishery kills more whales and other marine mammals than any other fishery along the U.S. West Coast and has one of the highest bycatch rates in the country. These rules will also require independent observers on all drift gillnet vessels operating in offshore waters deeper than 6,500 feet. The rules will be enforced by requiring new vessel monitoring systems tracking the locations of all drift gillnet vessels off the U.S. West Coast.Read Press Release
The Department of the Interior postponed a decision on whether to allow seismic airgun use in 300,000 square miles of ocean off the Atlantic coast. This is the third time Oceana has successfully helped delay the decision. The government’s estimates predict that seismic testing would disrupt critical behaviors like feeding, calving, and breeding for many marine creatures, including dolphins, whales, and loggerhead sea turtles. At least 138,500 dolphins and whales will be injured, or possibly killed, if airguns are allowed in the mid-Atlantic. Coastal fisheries in seven states would also be impacted, as airguns can lower catch rates between 40 and 80 percent.
The National Marine Fisheries Service took a major step toward protecting sperm whales by declining to issue a required marine mammal take permit for California’s swordfish drift gillnet fishery. Last month the government issued a draft permit for the fishery to kill and seriously injure endangered sperm, fin, and humpback whales. More than 13,000 comments were submitted in opposition to the permit, prompting the NMFS to reverse course. This fishery catches and discards more than 100 protected whales, dolphins, seals, and sea lions on average each year, as well as thousands of sharks and other non-target fish.Read Press Release
The Spanish government issued a protection order to prohibit trawling on the summits of Mallorca Channel seamounts and in the coral reef east of Cabrera. Oceana fought for the protection of these beds for seven years. Until now these unique habitats, including coralligenous communities and rhodolites beds, were continuously subject to degradation because of illegal fishing.Read Press Release
On July 23, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld necessary protections for the endangered western population of Steller sea lions. The measures were put in place by the National Marine Fisheries Service in 2010 to reduce competition between large-scale commercial fisheries and endangered Steller sea lions. This population of sea lions has declined by more than 80 percent, and sharp declines continue in places with limited protection, like western Aleutian Islands. Oceana and Greenpeace, represented by Earthjustice, joined the federal government in successfully defending the regulations against legal attacks from the Seattle-based fishing industry and Alaskan state government. This victory will help ensure the recovery of this species and the continued health of our ocean’s ecosystems.Read Press Release
The bottom trawl fisheries in the Gulf of Alaska will now have to avoid catching Chinook salmon as bycatch or risk closing their fisheries. A new rule, recommended by the North Pacific Fishery Management Council, establishes a limit on the number of Chinook salmon that can be killed as bycatch each year in the Central and Western Gulf of Alaska bottom trawl fisheries. If trawlers targeting rockfish, cod, and flatfish catch more than 7,500 Chinook salmon as bycatch they will have to stop fishing for the season. The rule also requires that all Chinook salmon caught by bottom trawlers be delivered to a processing facility, where observers will count the number of salmon and collect scientific data or biological samples.Read Press Release
The European Parliament approved major reforms to the Common Fishery Policy, a law that manages all European fisheries. Members overwhelmingly voted in favor of a comprehensive reform policy that includes amendments – many of which were drafted by Oceana – that require member states to fish all stocks at sustainable levels by 2015 and comply with a strong EU-wide discard ban, and puts an end to the practice of “discards”, throwing dead unwanted fish back into the sea. Oceana campaigned for years to make sure that this once in a decade opportunity to reform the failed EU fisheries policy was not wasted.Read Press Release
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.
After a long battle by Oceana and allies, a planned coal-fired thermoelectric power plant in Northern Chile known as Castilla, was rejected by the Chilean Supreme Court.
The Castilla plant was planned for the Punta Cachos region, just a few kilometers from important habitats for Humboldt penguins, sea turtles and one of Chile’s few seagrass meadows. As part of its operations, the plant would have released warm water into the ocean, which could have affected the entire ecosystem.
The Chilean Government announced its intention to expand the Salas y Gómez marine reserve and to create a smaller reserve off the coast of Easter Island. The government also announced a plan to develop an assessment and status report of the main fisheries of Easter Island. The announcement follows several expeditions to the islands and years of campaigning by Oceana.
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