On Earth Day 2003 Oceana encourages people to celebrate the day by visiting the ocean in person or online to remember its beauty, strength, and life. In these times of uncertainty, going to the ocean or visiting it virtually at www.Oceana.org, where you can see ocean webcams, personal stories, and beautiful vistas that inspire, can people with peace and solace.
Oceans make up more than 70 percent of the blue planet on which we live and most people tend to think that the oceans are an infinite resource. While people enjoy the beauty and peace of the oceans on Earth Day, they must also realize that under the surface the oceans are suffering. The oceans are not an infinite resource and the health of the planet depends on and is interconnected with the health of the oceans.
Oceana has identified three significant threats to the oceans’ health that it is working to eliminate. A contact name is provided after each description as someone you can call to learn more about the problem and what can and is being done to solve it. Each person can be reached by calling 202-833-3900.
Cruise Ship Pollution Cruise ships, sometimes referred to as “floating cities,” leave behind trails of sewage, trash, toxic chemicals and air pollution in some of the oceans’ most sensitive and treasured locations. On a daily basis, just one cruise ship housing 3,000 people and crew generates: 30,000 gallons of sewage; 225,000 gallons of ‘graywater’ from showers, sinks, laundries and galleys; 7,000 gallons of oily bilge water; 15 gallons of toxic waste from photo processing, dry cleaning and paints; seven tons of garbage and solid wastes; and exhaust emissions equivalent to 12,000 automobiles. A significant amount of waste is entering the marine environment, the impact of which is either is not known or are being ignored by policymakers and the industry. Oceana is working to drastically limit cruise ship pollution through public education and support of federal and state legislative activities to pressure the industry to install and use state-of-the-art technology to treat sewage, graywater, ballast, toxic waste and limit air pollution.
Contact: Jackie Savitz, Director of Ocean Pollution
Fishing Bycatch Bycatch is one of the most serious environmental impacts on the world’s oceans. Bycatch refers to the ocean wildlife – fish, birds, marine mammals, and other sea life – that are inadvertently killed or injured in the course of fishing. Around the world each year an estimated 44 billion pounds of fish and other marine life are wasted, representing 25 percent of the entire world’s catch. However, despite the requirement that federal agencies accurately report and reduce bycatch, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) largely fails to comply with the law. For example, currently the vast majority of fishery management plans developed around the country fail to comply with the laws on bycatch reduction. Bycatch can be controlled and prevented while still allowing for commercial fishing. Better monitoring and reporting will lead to solutions that minimize bycatch and protect fish and other marine life. Counting captured marine life––both the target catch and the wasted bycatch in each fishery––is crucial to developing a plan to control bycatch. Oceana is working to dramatically reduce the incidental and wasteful catching and killing of fish, marine mammals and other sea life in the world’s oceans. In the United States, our efforts are focused on the following: 1) ensuring that NMFS implements the law and reduces bycatch in every fishery, 2) developing and supporting programs to obtain statistically reliable data on bycatch, and 3) enacting and implementing actions, such as hard bycatch caps, gear modifications, and management of critical areas, to directly reduce bycatch.
Contact: Courtney Sakai, Director of the Bycatch Campaign
Bottom Trawling Fishing The extensive use of bottom trawls and dredges for fishing causes more damage to the ocean floor than any other human activity in the world. By design, bottom trawls and dredges are towed along the seafloor, indiscriminately smashing everything in their way and catching, crushing, killing, burying and exposing to predators a wide variety of marine life. Bottom trawling and dredging cause physical and biological damage that is frequently extensive and long-lasting. The destruction of complex seafloor communities contributes to fisheries declines, since these areas are nurseries and shelter for a variety of juvenile fish and shellfish. In addition, it is increasingly apparent that bottom trawling directly contributes to the loss of marine biodiversity. According to scientists, the single largest threat to corals is destructive fishing gear such as bottom trawling. A single pass of a trawl can crush centuries of growth. Oceana is working to seek restrictions on the use of the worst trawling gear—rockhopper and roller gear—and to protect complex and biodiverse communities, such as deep-water coral and sponges. Oceana is pursuing this goal in a variety of different arenas. On the policy front, Oceana is promoting legislation to ban the worst trawl gear, to protect coral and sponge communities, and to save other complex bottom habitats from being bulldozed away by poorly managed trawl fishing. Oceana also continues to press federal and State fisheries managers to restrict bottom trawling and dredging through new regulations to protect Essential Fish Habitat in key regions of the country.
Contact: Dave Allison, Director of the Bottom Trawling Campaign
Oceana is a non-profit international advocacy organization dedicated to restoring and protecting the world's oceans through policy advocacy, science, law and public education. Founded in 2001, Oceana's constituency includes members and activists from more than 150 countries and territories who are committed to saving the world’s marine environment. In 2002, the American Oceans Campaign became part of Oceana’s international effort to protect ocean eco-systems, thereby extending our outreach in the United States. Oceana, headquartered in Washington, D.C., has additional offices in key U.S. coastal areas, a South American office in Santiago, Chile, and will open a European office in fall of 2003. For more information, please visit www.Oceana.org.