Ted Danson, Emmy and Golden Globe award winning actor and environmental activist, announced today a new partnership between American Oceans Campaign (AOC), an organization he founded in 1987, and Oceana, a new nonprofit international ocean advocacy organization. This partnership, in effect, enlarges the scope and broadens the reach of the work AOC has undertaken to safeguard the vitality of U.S. oceans and coastal waters over the last fifteen years. Today, these organizations launched a new campaign, “OceansAtRisk.com,” to end the massive waste of marine life, the “bycatch” of U.S. fishing operations that is destroying critical regions of our oceans and the life within them.
“Only one-half of one percent of the resources spent by nonprofit organizations is earmarked for protecting the oceans though oceans cover almost 75 percent of the planet. The launch of Oceana as a global ocean advocate will make a huge difference. With AOC and Oceana joining forces, I see a new surge of energy and expertise and many more resources being dedicated to ending destructive fishing practices and the pollution of our oceans than ever before,” said Ted Danson, founder of American Oceans Campaign.
The centerpiece of the “OceansAtRisk.com” campaign is the filing of a formal petition with the Bush Administration, forcing it to uphold laws to reduce destructive fishing. The petition is based on findings from a new report, Oceans at Risk: Wasted Catch and the Destruction of Ocean Life, released today by Oceana that exposes the devastating effects of wasted catch in U.S. fisheries and the failure of the government to take action.
Oceana’s petition calls on the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) to implement a program that would count, cap, and control wasteful fishing practices in U.S. fisheries. Should NMFS not respond in a timely manner, Oceana will consider legal action. In addition, the launch of the nationwide citizen’s campaign at www.OceansAtRisk.com is intended to pressure the Bush Administration and Congress to enforce the law and mandate near-zero levels of bycatch of all marine life.
Danson continued: “I would like every American who cares about our threatened oceans, which are such an integral part of the circle of life, to go to our Web site, www.OceansAtRisk.com, and be a part of this petition. Here’s something you can do that will make a difference."
Oceans at Risk: Wasted Catch and the Destruction of Ocean Life finds that each year billions of pounds of fish are discarded in U.S. fisheries. Around the world each year an estimated 44 billion pounds of fish are wasted--25 percent of the entire world catch.
“Today, we are calling on everyone who loves the oceans to help us stop this wave of destruction. The U.S. government has utterly failed to enforce laws to protect ocean wildlife unintentionally caught during fishing. This kind of inaction would not be acceptable on land and it shouldn’t be allowed in the ocean. Our report catalogues numerous cases where NMFS has approved fishery management plans that brazenly omit required provisions to reduce wasted catch,” said Dawn M. Martin, Executive Director of Oceana.
The report details how large-scale industrial fishing operations use vast fishing nets that unintentionally strangle, drown, and crush billions of other fish, sea turtles, whales, sharks, dolphins, and seabirds. Other fishing gears such as bottom trawls bulldoze the ocean floor for fish, scraping up everything in their path. The report also details astounding gaps in government data on wasted catch and includes regional summaries of problems caused by wasteful fishing practices in waters off the U.S. coast.
“Oceans gave birth to life on earth and are essential to our own health and well-being. Today, as a result of wasteful fishing practices, our oceans are at risk, and with them our food supplies, our coastal economies, and even ourselves. This crisis is causing fish populations that were once considered abundant, such as cod, haddock and flounder, to decrease by more than 50 percent,” said Kelli McGee, California director of American Oceans Campaign.
The new organization resulting from this merger between American Oceans Campaign and Oceana will be called “Oceana.” Oceana will bring together dedicated people from around the world to build an international movement to save the oceans through public policy advocacy, science and economics, legal action, grassroots mobilization, and public education—all part of an exciting new commitment to save the world’s oceans.