Protect Habitat | Oceana

Responsible Fishing

Protecting Important Marine Habitat

Oceana campaigns to protect important marine places, from the cold Arctic to coral reefs in order to increase marine biodiversity and abundance.


The oceans cover 71 percent of the planet. Within these marine waters lie a variety of marine habitats, including the nutrient-rich polar waters, underwater seagrass beds and colorful coral reefs. Oceana wins policy victories that protect the most important and productive marine areas in order to increase the biodiversity and abundance of the world’s oceans and has already protected nearly 4 million square miles of ocean.

Oceana has protected nearly 4 million square miles (more than 10 million square kilometers) of ocean habitat. These protections include Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), no-take zones, and fishing restrictions that protect seafloor communities such as bans on bottom trawling.

Protecting important marine habitat is critical for maintaining healthy oceans and restoring biodiversity. Many marine habitats act as essential fish habitat, acting as a nursery for young fish, providing shelter from predators or acting as a food source. Fisheries managers in many countries are required by law to minimize the impacts of fishing on these areas for the benefit of fisheries and marine life.

Marine habitat is also important for other marine creatures, including marine mammals, sea turtles and sharks. Many of these species are keystone species, and the health of their populations is an important indicator of the health of marine ecosystems. Protecting important ocean habitats from destructive fishing practices and pollution protects all marine life, from top predators to tiny zooplankton.

Protecting marine habitat is a crucial part of Oceana’s international strategy to protect and restore ocean abundance. Learn more about Oceana’s victories and ongoing campaigns to protect marine habitat in Belize, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Europe, Mexico, Peru, the Philippines, and the United States.

What Oceana Does

Protecting Habitat for Healthy Fisheries


Oceana campaigns to protect key habitats off the U.S. West Coast from destructive fishing methods, like bottom trawling, which destroys vast fields of sponges and coral gardens on the ocean floor. In 2005, Oceana was instrumental in protecting more than 135,000 square miles of sensitive seafloor habitat on the U.S. West Coast from destructive bottom trawling. Using data gathered on multiple scientific expeditions, Oceana is currently campaigning to protect an additional 140,000 square miles of seafloor. If adopted, the proposal would nearly double the total amount of seafloor protections in the Pacific off the coasts of Washington, Oregon and California.


Expanding Spain’s Cabrera National Park


Just off the coast of Spain’s famed Balearic Islands lies a vast expanse of unexplored and biologically rich deep ocean. One of these places is the Emile Baudot escarpment, a large rocky wall that runs from Ibiza to Menorca, spanning more than 300 kilometers and reaching depths of up to 2,000 meters below the surface. Though the Emile Baudot escarpment lies just beyond the southern tip of Spain’s famed Cabrera National Park, it has been completely unprotected from pollution and overfishing. In August 2013, Oceana launched an expedition to document the diverse and varied sea life inhabiting the escarpment. Oceana used the footage and data gathered on the expedition to urge the Spanish government to extend the national park to include the Emile Baudot escarpment. In October 2015, the Government Council approved the proposal and began the process to enlarge the park. The enlargement will make Cabrera the second largest national park in the Mediterranean.