April 9, 2020
CEO Note: Campaigning during these early days of the COVID-19 pandemic
BY: Andy Sharpless
I hope you – and your families and friends – are staying safe during this pandemic.
I thought you would be interested to learn how Oceana’s teams, around the world, are faring during the COVID-19 pandemic. We currently have more than 250 people campaigning in nine key ocean countries and the European Union, which together, control about 30% of the world’s wild fish catch each year.
Everyone is currently safe and working from home everywhere we work, this includes Canada, the United States, Mexico, Belize, Peru, Chile, Brazil, Spain, Denmark, Belgium, the United Kingdom, and the Philippines. Across the world, our campaigners, lawyers, policy advocates, communicators, and administrative staff are facing the COVID-19 pandemic at varying stages of the crisis.
Spain has been one of the countries hardest hit by this virus, surpassing China in number of deaths. Our staff there have been working remotely since the week of March 9 and are now only able to leave their houses to head to the grocery store or local pharmacy. Our team in the Philippines are staying home under lockdown. Military checkpoints and CCTV cameras monitor the streets of Manila, hospitals are filled to capacity, and the country lacks essential medical equipment and testing kits needed to fight the virus. We are facing different degrees of these types of challenges everywhere we work.
Despite these conditions, Oceana continues to campaign for abundant oceans:
• In the Philippines, our staff are advising the Coast Guard on quarantine policy for fishing vessels.
• In Chile, the Senate – following campaigning by Oceana and our allies – passed a strong new plastics law effectively limiting single-use plastics.
• Our European team is meeting virtually with key stakeholders and government officials to win protections for key biodiversity hotspots.
• In the United States, our team is closely monitoring NOAA Fisheries recent emergency action authorizing, on a case-by-case basis, forgoing observer coverage of fishing vessels.
• And, in Mexico, we have just named – virtually – our new leader for all our campaigns in that important fishing nation: Renata Terrazas.
In the weeks ahead, I’ll give you more information about Oceana’s campaigns in these countries and our methods for continuing to protect the oceans while under this COVID-19 public health emergency.
I hope you are staying safe, and taking the steps recommended by your local health authority to protect yourself and minimize the rate of new infections. Reliable information can be found, as you know, from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the USA, and the World Health Organization.