Responsible Fishing | Oceana

Protect Habitat

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

Reducing Bycatch

Many marine species are unintentionally caught and killed by indiscriminate fishing gear.

Responsible Fishing

Oceana campaigns around the world to create responsible fishing policy and stop overfishing through the establishment of science-based catch limits, ending harmful fishing subsidies and reducing illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing.

Overfishing is rapidly depleting many of the world’s fish populations. The global fish catch peaked in the late 1980’s and has been declining ever since. Meanwhile, roughly 1 billion people, many of them poor, already depend upon fish as a primary source of animal protein.  Oceana works to reduce overfishing by advocating for science-based catch limits, reducing harmful fishing subsidies and stopping illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing.

Setting and enforcing science-based limits to govern how much fish is allowed to be taken out of the seas has been shown time and again to allow fish populations to remain healthy and, in many cases, dramatically increase in size. Oceana seeks to win policy victories around the world that put in place and enforce science-based catch limits. 

Overfishing is exacerbated by harmful fishing subsidies. These payments cause too many boats to be on the water and encourage fishing beyond sensible reason. Oceana works in Europe and elsewhere to limit these subsidies.

In addition, many commercial fishing vessels also operate unlawfully in the worlds’ oceans, engaging in IUU fishing. Without knowing how much fish fishing vessels catch, and which types of species they are landing, scientists cannot create scientifically-based fishing quotas that can allow species to be fished at responsible levels while continuing to grow the size of their populations.  

By promoting responsible fishing practices — like setting science-based catch limits, tracking IUU fishing and eliminating fishing subsidies — Oceana is safeguarding fisheries as a valuable source of food and jobs for the future. If managed sustainably, the oceans can provide enough fish to feed more than a billion people a healthy seafood meal each day.

What Oceana Does

Chile Sets First Science-Based Quotas


Chile is on track to dramatically rebuild its fisheries, thanks to new science-based fishing quotas for important species, including common hake, anchoveta, sardines and jack mackerel, all of which are overfished. Following a 2013 reform to the Chilean Fisheries Law, the Chilean government announced the country’s first science-based fisheries quotas for 2014, set with required advice from scientific committees. The government reduced the quota for common hake by 55 percent, for anchoveta by 65 percent in specific regions and for sardines by 29 percent in specific regions. The only increased quota was for the jack mackerel fishery, which is recovering after previous quota reductions. Reducing quotas will allow these seriously overfished species time to recover and rebuild, to the benefit of fishermen and ocean health.


Reforming Europes Fisheries Policy


The European Union Fisheries Council adopoted new fisheries laws that, if implemented, could increase European fish populations by as much at 40 percent. Oceana is campaigning to ensure that European policy makers follow through and use science and other responsible fishing tools to ensure that Europe can rebuild its fisheries and become a net exporter of seafood one day.



May 1, 2024

Brazil Establishes Science-Based Catch Limits for Lobster

The Brazilian government approved new science-based catch limits for the red spiny lobster and the green lobster fisheries during the 2024 season. Lobster fishing in Brazil is predominantly artisanal and is the main source of income for many traditional fishing communities. In 2019, Oceana released a stock assessment that revealed the red lobster population had declined by more than 80% since the 1950s. Oceana’s analysis and campaigning helped to mobilize artisanal fishers, fishing industries, and other allies to support implementing catch limits, which will help recover the lobster populations and support local fishing communities. To combat illegal fishing, the regulation also bans the sale of lobster in domestic markets during the last three months of the fisheries’ closed season.

March 6, 2024

New Law in US State of Oregon Safeguards Marine Reserves and Protected Areas

Following campaigning by Oceana and its allies, Oregon state lawmakers passed a bill to strengthen and fully fund its system of five marine reserves and adjacent protected areas. The bill will enhance the science, conservation, and management of these areas and better facilitate engagement with coastal communities and Native American tribes. Oregon’s marine reserve program helps to protect the health and biodiversity of the marine ecosystem for ocean wildlife and Oregonians. Combined, the fully protected reserves and less-restrictive protected areas total 117 square miles (303 square kilometers) and nearly 10% of Oregon’s ocean waters.  

February 29, 2024

US State of California Funds Ropeless Fishing Gear to Save Whales and Turtles from Entanglements

In the U.S. state of California, the California Ocean Protection Council authorized new funding to help prevent whale and sea turtles from becoming entangled in fishing gear, following campaigning by Oceana and its allies. This includes up to $650,000 to advance innovative “ropeless fishing gear” in the state’s commercial Dungeness crab fishery. This investment will help support 20 Dungeness crab fishers who received approval to test the whale-safe gear this spring. If the gear is successful, it could be authorized as soon as 2025 and allow fishing to continue in the springtime, when waters are closed to conventional gear because of the heightened risk of entanglements.

January 11, 2024

US State of California Protects Endangered Whales by Reducing Harmful Fishing Gear and Delaying Dungeness Crab Season

The U.S. state of California first delayed the opening of the 2023-2024 commercial Dungeness crab fishery and then reduced the number of crab traps that can be deployed in the water off the central and southern California coast by 50%. These measures were implemented to protect humpback whales from becoming entangled in commercial crab fishing gear. They came in response to excessive whale entanglements and a high number of humpback whale sightings, plus the discovery of a critically endangered Pacific leatherback sea turtle found entangled and drowned in commercial Dungeness crab gear. Oceana is a member of the California Dungeness Crab Fishing Gear Working Group and successfully advocated for stronger measures to protect whales from entanglement.

January 10, 2024

Mexico Creates Bajos del Norte National Park, New Protected Area in Gulf of Mexico

The Mexican government created Bajos del Norte National Park following a campaign and scientific expeditions by Oceana and its allies. This marine protected area (MPA) in the Gulf of Mexico covers more than 13,000 square kilometers (5,000+ square miles) – and brings the country closer to its goal of protecting 30% of its ocean by 2030. Located off the coast of Yucatan, the new MPA will conserve coral reefs, while also helping recover important commercial species like groupers, octopus, and spiny lobster. Bajos del Norte National Park will also connect with the nearby Alacranes Reef National Park to form a conservation corridor for migrating species like sharks and turtles. In 2021 and 2022, Oceana and Blancpain conducted two expeditions to the area. Our findings, and the subsequent joint efforts of national scientists, civil society organizations, fishers, and the Mexican government, made this new MPA possible.

January 10, 2024

New Law in Chile will Protect Kelp Forests and 50 Other Seafloor Species

Chile’s Congress passed the Benthic Law, which will improve the management of kelp – a key ecosystem for marine life and an important resource for artisanal fishers. Currently, kelp is often harvested illegally and there is little official information about its conservation status. The new law specifies proper techniques and tools for kelp collectors, including the regulation of the “barreteo” method – harvesting kelp from the base. The law also covers more than 50 commercial species that live on the seafloor such as sea urchins, crabs, and clams. The law establishes rules to determine which species and areas should be protected and where recovery plans must be put in place. Oceana campaigned for these changes to benefit Chile’s kelp forests, the numerous species that inhabit these unique ecosystems, and the 16,000+ artisanal fishers who rely on these areas for their livelihoods.

December 30, 2023

Spain Designates Seven New Marine Protected Areas

The Spanish government designated seven new marine protected areas (MPAs) in three Spanish marine regions. These areas, rich in biodiversity and vulnerable ecosystems, will be part of the Natura 2000 Network, which includes the natural areas of greatest ecological value in the European Union. With this designation, the total marine area protected in Spain, including Natura 2000 areas and other areas, will increase from 12% to 21%, bringing the country closer to its goal of protecting 30% of its waters by 2030. The new MPAs will help protect key ecosystems and fisheries resources and provide climate refuges for species. Oceana campaigned for these new designations and contributed the scientific data on biodiversity hotspots collected during multiple expeditions. Oceana will continue to campaign to stop destructive fishing practices inside these areas.

August 31, 2023

Philippines Requires Rebuilding of Sardine Fisheries

Following campaigning by Oceana and our allies, the Philippine government announced it will require all 12 of the country’s fisheries management areas (FMAs) to implement a national plan to rebuild sardine fisheries by March 2024. Sardines are a key resource in the Philippines, accounting for 15% of the total fish catch and the nation’s marine fisheries. They are also an affordable, nutrient-rich protein, making them a popular choice in many Filipino households. This high commercial demand, however, has led to rampant overfishing and population decline. Oceana advocated for this science-based management plan, which was approved in 2020, to help restore the health and long-term abundance of the species. The comprehensive plan includes rules for catching sardines, closed seasons, and limits on juvenile catch. It also requires measures to empower artisanal fishers, such as opportunities for fishers to generate alternative income during closed seasons. Oceana will continue to work with artisanal fishers, coastal communities, and governmental officials to ensure the plan is properly implemented across the FMAs.

August 14, 2023

Chile Approves New Marine Protected Area in Iconic Humboldt Archipelago

The Council of Ministers for Sustainability in Chile approved the creation of the Humboldt Archipelago multi-use marine coastal protected area (AMCP-MU in Spanish), marking one of the country’s most important environmental achievements. The new protected area, which measures more than 5,700 square kilometers (2,200 square miles), will safeguard one of the most biodiverse ecosystems in Chile, while also promoting sustainable development for local communities. This national designation will raise the environmental assessment standards for potential industrial development projects in the Humboldt Archipelago area, including for the Dominga port mining project, which Oceana and our allies campaigned against and fought in court for years. Dominga and other similar projects would encroach on this important feeding area for many marine species including blue whales and the vulnerable Humboldt penguin population. Industrial projects also threaten the ‘upwelling’ phenomenon that occurs in the Humboldt archipelago, which fertilizes the water and allows phytoplankton, the base of the food web, to flourish. The new protected area also preserves artisanal fishing and eco-tourism, both of which are sustainable and critical to supporting the local economy.

May 26, 2023

Peru Passes New Law to Protect its Oceans and Artisanal Fishers

Peru’s Congress unanimously passed a new law to strengthen protections for the first five miles off the country’s coast and support Peru’s artisanal fishers. This coastal area is one of the most productive in the world, playing a fundamental role in the life cycle of the area’s marine species. The law will reinforce the ban on large-scale industrial fishing within the first five nautical miles and prohibit any gear that is harmful to the habitat and seafloor. Specifically, boats using mechanized gear like purse seines can no longer be classified as “artisanal” and are prohibited from using this destructive gear within the first three miles off the coast. Additionally, the law requires science-based fishing quotas to be established and orders new measures to recover overfished species. This victory, which was won thanks to steadfast campaigning by artisanal fishers and their allies, including Oceana, will help support ocean abundance, biodiversity, and livelihoods in Peru.

January 26, 2023

Chile Creates a New Marine Protected Area, Pisagua Sea

Chile created a new marine protected area (MPA) called ‘Pisagua Sea’ in northern Chile, following four expeditions led by Oceana and the Universidad Arturo Prat and a scientific recommendation to protect this important area. During the expeditions, Oceana documented over 150 species, including large schools of commercially important species anchovies and jack mackerel. Pisagua Sea, which measures 181,622 acres, also has abundant macroalgae forests, and smaller organisms like krill and crustaceans, making it the perfect environment for larger animals like fish, mammals, and birds to reproduce. The new MPA is the first in the country to protect not only marine habitat and species, but also the livelihoods of artisanal fishermen, who rely on this richly biodiverse area to support their community and local economy.

September 30, 2022

Over 14,600 Square Kilometers of Deep-Sea Habitats Protected from Bottom Fishing in the Northeast Atlantic

The European Commission announced that it is closing 87 offshore areas between 400 and 800 meters (approximately 1,300 and 2,600 feet) deep to all bottom-contact fishing gear, protecting vulnerable deep-sea ecosystems in the Northeast Atlantic Ocean. This closure is key to implementing the 2016 EU Deep-Sea Access Regulation, secured by Oceana’s campaigning, which includes a ban on bottom-trawling below 800 meters deep. The decision to close additional areas followed extensive consultations with EU Member States and stakeholders, including Oceana, other NGOs, and the fishing industry.

April 14, 2022

New Safeguards Set by Canadian Government Can Help Rebuild Fish Stocks

In a major turning point for the future abundance of Canada’s wild fish, the Canadian government released new rules that legally require depleted fish populations to be rebuilt. These requirements fall under the Fisheries Act, which Oceana successfully campaigned to amend in 2019. Oceana Canada and its allies advocated for robust rules to guide the recovery of Canada’s fish populations, of which less than a third are considered healthy. Thirty stocks are listed in the new safeguards, and 16 of those are in the “critical zone.” The requirements set a target, timeline, and course of action for stock rebuilding, contributing to more sustainable fisheries, healthy coastal communities, and a more abundant ocean

March 30, 2022

Fisheries and Oceans Canada Protect Two Critically Depleted Forage Fish

Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) has protected two critically depleted species – Atlantic mackerel and Southern Gulf spring herring – by closing the commercial and bait fisheries. Oceana Canada advocated for fishery rebuilding measures to be implemented and called for the closure of both fisheries. Atlantic mackerel and Southern Gulf spring herring play a crucial role in the Northwest Atlantic ecosystem and feed many other species, including whales, seabirds, and commercially important stocks such as cod and tuna. DFO’s decision – a difficult but necessary measure – contributes to the conservation of these forage fish and the long-term prosperity of Canada’s fisheries.

May 17, 2021

Chile’s Environmental Court Reinforces Need for Science-Based Fisheries Management Following Legal Challenge by Oceana

Chile’s Environmental Court ruled in favor of Oceana and allies by confirming Subpesca’s (the government’s fisheries agency) increase of the fisheries quota for southern hake in 2019 was illegal. Oceana argued that Subpesca lacked proper scientific evidence to justify the increased quota for southern hake – a species overexploited since 2013. Chile’s 2013 Fisheries Law requires scientific committees to establish quotas based on scientific recommendations. This was the first time that the Environmental Court oversaw a fisheries case and challenged a decision made by the Ministry of the Economy. The ruling sets an important precedent that fishing quotas must follow the recommendations of scientific technical committees.

December 31, 2020

Scotland Creates New Marine Protected Area

The Scottish Government announced the designation of a new Scottish Nature Conservation marine protected area (MPA) for the Southern Trench, which is located off the northeast coast of Scotland. This MPA will grant protection to a rich array marine life including minke whales, elegant sea pens, and tube anemones. Oceana has been calling for protection of the Southern Trench since 2017, based on the findings from Oceana’s at-sea expedition. Oceana continues to campaign for Scotland to strengthen the protection of Southern Trench and other sites by banning destructive bottom-towed fishing gear in all Marine Protected Areas.

November 30, 2020

Spanish Supreme Court Upholds Expansion of Mediterranean’s Second-Largest Marine National Park

Spain’s Supreme Court ruled in favor of the expansion of Cabrera Marine National Park. This expansion makes it the second-largest marine protected area in the Mediterranean and the first to protect deep-sea corals. Following more than a decade of campaigning by Oceana and our allies, including six research expeditions, the Spanish government increased the size of Cabrera National Park from 100 to 900 square kilometers in February 2019. Carbopesca, a fishermen’s association promoting the interests of longline fishing, appealed to revoke the expansion. Oceana acted as an intervenor in the case and submitted information justifying the expansion.

November 9, 2020

Oceana and Allies Protect Deep-Sea Corals in the Gulf of Mexico

In the United States, NOAA Fisheries issued a final rule to protect 13 coral areas. These areas, which span from the U.S.- Mexico border to the Florida Keys, include a series of deep-sea canyons, reefs, and coral areas that have been identified as important habitat for iconic species such as sharks and grouper. This action comes following campaigning by Oceana and newly protects nearly 500 square miles of coral habitat, bringing the total protected deep-sea coral areas from Rhode Island to Texas to more than 61,000 square miles. Oceana has been campaigning for years to identify and protect deep-sea coral areas from destructive fishing methods like bottom trawling, which is like clear-cutting the seafloor, and has won additional victories in both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.

November 18, 2019

More than 140,000 Square Miles of U.S. West Coast Seafloor Habitat Protected from Destructive Fishing

NOAA Fisheries issued final regulations to protect more than 140,000 square miles of living seafloor habitat off the U.S. West Coast from destructive bottom trawling, following campaigning by Oceana and allies. With this victory, 90% of the seafloor in U.S. waters off the West Coast will be safe from bottom trawling. These regulations will protect corals, sponges, rocky reefs, and other important habitat for marine life and ocean ecosystems.

October 10, 2019

California Protects Small Fish Critical to Ocean Health and Abundance

The California Fish and Game Commission adopted a first-of-its-kind Fishery Management Plan for Pacific herring, a small fish critical to ocean food chains that provides nutrition to marine life, seabirds, and marine mammals. This plan comes after seven years of Oceana working with allies and government officials to create a new, sustainable fishery management framework that will protect herring as a vital food source and ensure its abundance into the future. 

June 18, 2019

Canada Passes New Fisheries Act: A Historic Win for Canada’s Oceans

Canada’s new Fisheries Act, passed into law on June 18, 2019, requires, for the first time in Canada’s history, science-based rebuilding of all depleted fish populations. The passage of this modernized law puts Canada on the path to restoring its oceans to abundance.

April 25, 2019

Canadian Government Bans Industrial Activity in Marine Protected Areas

Canada adopted new standards that ban industrial activities such as oil and gas, waste dumping, mining, and destructive bottom-contact fishing activity in newly created marine protected areas (MPAs), bringing Canada in line with international best practices. In the past few years, Canada has been protecting more of its ocean, but within some of these areas, industrial activities, including oil and gas, were still permitted. The new standards help protect fragile habitats that provide nursery, spawning, and feeding areas for marine wildlife from harmful practices.

March 1, 2019

Canada Creates Banc-des-Américains Marine Protected Area

The Government of Canada established a 1,000 square kilometer marine protected area (MPA) in the Gulf of St. Lawrence called the Banc-des-Américains. This new MPA protects one of Canada’s most diverse and productive marine areas. In 2017, Oceana Canada and Fisheries and Oceans Canada partnered to conduct an expedition in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, including the Banc-des-Américains. The government used data from the expedition to support protection and management of important habitat, including habitat-forming corals and sponges, forage fishes like capelin and herring, commercially important species like crab and shrimp, and the iconic and highly endangered North Atlantic right whale.

February 1, 2019

Spain Creates the Second-Largest Marine National Park in the Mediterranean

After more than a decade of campaign work by Oceana and our allies, including six research expeditions made possible by numerous supporters, the Spanish government increased the size of Cabrera National Park from 100 to 900 square kilometers. This increase makes Cabrera – one of the richest and most biodiverse places in the Mediterranean and Spanish Coast – the second largest marine national park in the Mediterranean and the first one to protect deep-sea corals.

June 5, 2018

Malta Expands Habitat Protections in the Mediterranean and Protects 35% of its Waters

This announcement is the result of Oceana efforts that began in 2013, and the protections are based on the findings of two Oceana expeditions (2015 and 2016 LIFE Ba?AR Expeditions). Oceana mapped out sandbanks, reefs, and more than 89 marine caves through use of a remotely operated vehicle and scuba divers. With these new measures, 35% of Malta’s waters are now protected.

May 16, 2018

The Philippines Protects the Philippine Rise

After campaigning by Oceana and its allies, the Philippine government created a marine protected area, declaring 500 square kilometers of rare underseas coral habitat as a strict protection zone where only scientific research will be permitted, as well as an additional 3,000 square kilometers where active fishing gear will be banned. Oceana’s 2016 expedition documented the stunning biodiversity and abundance in the region, and these new measures will help protect marine life including mesophotic (twilight) coral reefs, whales, dolphins, sharks, rays, and sea turtles. The area is also a spawning area for Pacific bluefin tuna, one of the most valuable fish on Earth.

April 10, 2018

More than 362,000 Square Miles of Fragile Seafloor Habitats Protected from Destructive Bottom Trawling off U.S. Pacific Coast

In a unanimous vote, the Pacific Fishery Management Council acted to protect more than 362,000 square miles of seafloor (an area equivalent to the size of Germany) from bottom trawling, a destructive fishing practice in which heavy fishing gear is dragged across the seabed. This action will safeguard a unique variety of coral gardens, sponge beds, rocky reefs, and deep-sea ecosystems that provide nurseries, food, and shelter for many species — including lingcod, sablefish, flatfish, sharks, rays, and more than 60 species of rockfish.

February 27, 2018

Chile Protects Juan Fernández Islands and Wildlife Found Nowhere Else on Earth

In a huge victory for Oceana and our allies, Chilean President Michelle Bachelet protected 262,000 square kilometers of ocean surrounding the Juan Fernandez Islands (and area larger than the landmass of the United Kingdom). Oceana worked closely with the local communities and small-scale fishers over several years to win protections for the sea while also preserving their own sustainable lobster and fishing efforts. As a result of the Juan Fernandez announcement and other closures resulting from campaigns by Oceana and its allies, 25% of Chile’s ocean is now protected as no-take marine parks.

February 26, 2018

Chile announces protection for the remarkable fjords of Tortel

Chilean President Michelle Bachelet created a protected area encompassing over 6,702 square kilometers around the southern town of Tortel. The proposal to protect Tortel was supported by Oceana over several years, and our five expeditions to the area brought the species hidden below the surface — including Chilean dolphins and colorful sponges and corals — to life. Caleta Tortel is a top destination for visitors to Chile’s Patagonia. Now, thanks to these protections, Tortel will be protected from salmon farming and other development that could irreparably damage this unique ecosystem.

September 29, 2017

Peru Agrees to Publish Vessel Tracking Data Through Global Fishing Watch to Help Fight Illegal Fishing

The government of Peru followed through on its commitment to make its national vessel tracking data publicly available by signing a Memorandum of Understanding. The initial commitment, which was the result of Oceana’s collaboration with the Peruvian government to increase transparency of commercial fishing in Peru’s waters, was announced at the Ocean Conference hosted by the United Nations in June of 2017. The signed Memorandum will start the process to make Peru’s Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) data publicly available through Global Fishing Watch, which provides the first global view of commercial fishing activity. This commitment matters because Peru, one of the most globally significant fishing nations and home to an enormous anchovy fishery (historically the world’s largest), has committed to making its fishing fleet truly transparent. Peru’s VMS data will add information from thousands of vessels to Global Fishing Watch, making it easier to identify, track and stop illegal fishing in Peru’s oceans and empower the government to enforce its laws effectively.

September 9, 2017

European Parliament Acts to End Overfishing in the North Sea

After advocacy from Oceana and its allies, members of the European Parliament voted for a robust, long-term, and sustainable management plan for the North Sea. The multiannual management plan covers fish species living near the sea bottom and accounts for nearly one-third of all fish caught in EU waters, including species such as cod, haddock, whiting, sole, plaice and Norwegian lobster. The North Sea is one of Europe’s most productive seas, making this an important step forward in restoring abundance to Europe’s oceans.

April 17, 2017

California Protects Hundreds of Forage Fish Species in State Waters

The state of California safeguarded hundreds of species of forage fish, the ocean’s smallest schooling fish, from new and directed fisheries in all ocean waters of the state unless and until it can be demonstrated these tiny but critical fish, squids and krill can be caught without causing harm to the ecosystem and disrupting the ocean food web. With this decision, protections are now in place prohibiting directed fishing for these forage species in all U.S. ocean waters on the West Coast from shore out to 200 nautical miles. Along with Oceana’s previous victory prohibiting a West Coast fishery for krill, now roughly 70 percent of the total weight of forage species in ocean waters off the West Coast is now protected from directed fishing. Forage fish support an array of wildlife, including sea lions, whales, dolphins, birds, and even bears and wolves, in addition to important species of recreational and commercial fish like tuna, salmon, swordfish, halibut, and rockfish. These landmark protections are the result of over a decade of campaigning by Oceana and its allies which include conservation groups, businesses, fishermen and policymakers. 

April 10, 2017

U.S. Takes Action to Protect West Coast Sardines from Overfishing for Third Consecutive Year

The Pacific Fishery Management Council voted to keep the U.S. West Coast Pacific sardine fishery closed for the upcoming commercial season. This was because scientists estimated the sardine population in the water to be 86,586 metric tons and that there needed to be a population size equivalent to at least 150,000 metric tons necessary in order to support a commercial fishery. This was the third year in a row where the commercial fishery was closed because of low sardine populations. Three years earlier, after the crash of the sardine population, Oceana led the fight and secured an emergency closure of the fishery, and the fishery has not opened since. Ensuring that there are enough sardines in the water for fishing also ensures that there are enough sardines remaining in the sea to feed and support wildlife that depends on them for survival, including brown pelicans, humpback whales, and sea lions. These decisions will also strengthen and speed up the rebuilding of sardine populations as ocean conditions become more favorable which, at greater abundance, have the potential to provide healthy seafood meals for many people as well.

March 30, 2017

New Pact Commits Nations to Rebuilding a Healthy Mediterranean Sea

Ministers and high-level representatives from Mediterranean countries signed a historic declaration to address the fisheries crisis in the region. The ministerial declaration, Malta MedFish4Ever, will be the blueprint for cooperation and the sustainable development of fisheries for all coastal states in the Mediterranean over the next 10 years. For years, Oceana has campaigned for catch limits, better enforcement and habitat protections in order to rebuild depleted Mediterranean fish stocks. A recent study commissioned by Oceana revealed that Mediterranean catches could increase by 200 percent in some areas if managed effectively. The MedFish4Ever agreement is a critical political commitment to rebuilding Mediterranean fisheries.  

November 21, 2016

ICCAT Agrees on First Recovery Plan for Depleted Mediterranean Swordfish

The International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) agreed on a recovery plan for the severely depleted Mediterranean swordfish. The plan includes a reduction of catches and the adoption of a quota system, enforced by monitoring and control measures to prevent illegal fishing and improve transparency in fishery management and trade. Oceana has been campaigning for over a decade for the implementation of a recovery plan for the overfished Mediterranean swordfish. While Oceana applauds this critical step toward better management, it will continue to campaign for a stronger recovery plan aligned with scientific advice to protect the Mediterranean swordfish.

June 30, 2016

Deep-Sea Trawling Ban Protects 4.9 Million Square Kilometers in European Oceans

Oceana in Europe campaigned with our colleagues in the Deep Sea Conservation Coalition for the prohibition of deep sea bottom trawling in the North East Atlantic waters. This victory provides increased protection for vulnerable marine ecosystems and deep-sea sharks. The European Parliament, Council and Commission reached an agreement that bans all trawling below 800m depth and that stops bottom fishing activity below 400m if the presence of vulnerable marine ecosystems is demonstrated. These actions protect 4.9 million km2 – an area larger than the EU itself.

June 13, 2016

Oceana Wins Habitat Protections in the Strait of Sicily

Following campaigning by Oceana, three Fisheries Restricted Areas were created by the General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM) in the Strait of Sicily, protecting 1,493 square km between Italy, Malta and Tunisia from bottom trawling and preserving nursery areas for hake and deep-sea rose shrimp. The commission also prohibited commercial harvest of red coral. These decisions will help protect vulnerable habitats and allow fisheries in these important Mediterranean marine ecosystems to recover.

August 5, 2015

Gorringe Bank Protected as a Site of Community Interest

Following ten years of campaigning and Oceana expeditions in 2005, 2011 and 2012, the Portuguese government declared Gorringe Bank a protected Site of Community Interest. This special marine region includes two seamounts, Gettysburg and Ormonde, extending from depths of 28 meters below sea level to more than 5,000 meters. Oceana’s expeditions and research revealed more than 350 species living in this biodiverse zone. Oceana was the first organization to document and photograph Gorringe Bank and drive the campaign for its protection.

May 20, 2015

Federal Fisheries Council Votes to Close West Coast Sardine Fishery

The Pacific Fishery Management Council voted at its April meeting to close the Pacific sardine fishery early for the remainder of the 2015 season, and to keep the fishery closed during the 2015 to 2016 season. A new scientific assessment by the National Marine Fisheries Service finds the sardine population has collapsed by 91 percent since 2007, and that the population is estimated to be at 96,688 metric tons, far below the 150,000 metric tons required for fishing to occur. The fishery crash is causing ecological effects on marine wildlife, which may have widespread and lasting implications. The Council’s action marks an important first step towards recovering this important forage fish. Moving forward, Oceana is requesting the Council overhaul its fishery management plan to account for ecosystem needs and increase the amount of sardines that must be left in the ocean before fishing should be allowed to occur in the future.

April 6, 2015

Chile Permanently Bans Bottom Trawling Around Its Seamounts

Chile became the first nation in the world to permanently ban bottom trawling around all of 117 seamounts located within its Exclusive Economic Zone. Chile finalized the new regulation after six years of campaigning by Oceana, who first addressed the issue in 2009 by proposing amendments to Chilean Fisheries Law for protecting vulnerable and sensitive habitat. Oceana also conducted expeditions to many of Chile’s seamounts over the past few years, such as around Salas y Gómez, Easter Island and the Juan Fernández islands, to document important marine diversity and call for protections. Now, 68,065.63 square kilometers of Chile’s waters are protected from bottom trawling.

March 31, 2015

Seven Groups of Forage Fish Protected from Commercial Fishing

The United States’ Pacific Fishery Management Council took final action to protect seven groups of forage fish species offshore of Washington, Oregon and California from development of new commercial fisheries. These groups — round and thread herring, mesopelagic fishes, Pacific sand lance, Pacific saury, Silversides, Osmerid smelts, and pelagic squids (other than Humboldt squid) — include hundreds of important forage fish species that play important roles in the California Current ecosystem. The decision comes as part of the Council’s first-ever fishery ecosystem plan that strives to proactively manage fisheries, and is critical for these species given that demand for the ocean’s tiny fish has drastically increased in recent decades for aquaculture feed. Oceana has called on the Council since 2009 to protected currently unmanaged forage species so that they can remain an abundant prey source for marine predators. 

January 29, 2015

Denmark Proposed Marine Protected Areas in Kattegat

Denmark presented plans for six new marine protected areas (MPAs) in Kattegat, which connects the Baltic and North Seas. The new MPAs will be protected from dangerous human activity, such as bottom trawling, which disturbs seafloor habitat. The new MPAs have been selected in part from Oceana’s findings of rare Haploops crustaceans and horse mussel communities during the expeditions in 2011 and 2012. Oceana first proposed protections for the area in 2011. With these new MPAs, Denmark is taking a leading role in Europe in protecting these vital soft-bottom habitat.

October 30, 2014

Federal Government to Better Monitor Amount of Wasted Catch in Southeast and Gulf Fisheries

The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) announced it will be taking steps to more accurately analyze the amount and type of wasted catch in Gulf and Southeast region fisheries. Up until now, the fisheries managed by the Gulf of Mexico and Southeast Fishery Management Councils did not have a plan to put a requirement under the Magnuson-Stevens Act in place, which calls to have a standardized way to collect and report the amount of bycatch that occurs in the fishery. Oceana recommended developing a bycatch reporting plan for the region last month, and is pleased the federal government is moving forward with a proposal to better address the amount of wasted catch in our nation’s fisheries. In addition, Oceana identified nine of the most wasteful fisheries in the United States, which included two from the Southeast and Gulf region, in a report released this past spring.



September 5, 2014

Swordfish Drift Gillnet Fishery Restricted to Protect Loggerhead Sea Turtles

From July 25 through August 31, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) issued an area closure for the swordfish drift gillnet fishery off Southern California to prevent entanglements and drowning of endangered loggerhead sea turtles with these nets. During years of El Niño conditions, endangered loggerhead sea turtles move farther north than normal to the nutrient-rich waters off Southern California in search of their preferred prey, pelagic red crabs. NMFS is required by law to close the more than 25,000-square-mile Pacific Loggerhead Conservation Area to protect the sea turtles during June, July, and August when an El Niño event is occurring or forecasted. The closure came after Oceana, the Center for Biological Diversity, and Turtle Island Restoration Network called upon NMFS in a letter urging them to implement this important closure. 

July 11, 2014

Federal Fisheries Managers Vote to Clean Up Swordfish Drift Gillnet Fishery

The Pacific Fishery Management Council voted to clean up California’s swordfish drift gillnet fishery by considering placing the first ever “hard caps” on the numbers of several protected species that can be injured or killed in the fishery. These species include fin, humpback, and sperm whales and leatherback, loggerhead, Olive ridley, and green sea turtles. The Council will make a final decision on hard caps in the fall for implementation in next year’s fishing season. The Council also set a target to require 100 percent monitoring so that all catch and bycatch is counted on every trip no later than the summer of 2016. Additionally, federal fisheries managers will consider bycatch reduction alternatives for all other marine mammals, sharks, and fish species that are discarded in the fishery. 

July 11, 2014

New England to Require Bycatch Reporting

The New England Fishery Management Council also approved an action implementing the federally mandated Standardized Bycatch Reporting Methodology (SBRM). In its final approval the Council included clear guidance to the National Marine Fisheries Service that bycatch information should be specific to particular stocks of fish and connected to the management of the fisheries. This is a significant improvement over past Agency reports that were far too generic to be useful. Without accurate and precise information about bycatch, fisheries managers cannot do their jobs effectively. This action by the Council recognizes this need and gives clear direction to the federal government that high-quality information is necessary. Oceana has worked for years to ensure that SBRM is implemented in order to improve information about bycatch and will continue to push for other necessary improvements before the Standardized Bycatch Reporting Methodology is put in place in early 2015.

July 11, 2014

Oceana Wins Bycatch Victories From Northeast Fisheries Managers

The New England Fishery Management Council took an important step forward for ocean conservation by agreeing to allocate $800,000 to support fishery research in the struggling groundfish fishery for cod, haddock and flounder. The Council has funds to support several projects and included bycatch reduction and solutions as themes in the call for research proposals.

This action comes only a month after Oceana released a report exposing nine of the dirtiest bycatch fisheries in the U.S., which included two New England fisheries—the Northeast Bottom Trawl and New England and Mid-Atlantic Gillnet fisheries, which discard 35 percent and 16 percent of what they catch, respectively. 

Recommendations adopted by the Council include solutions Oceana had called for in the report, such as bycatch avoidance, like hotspot identification and management, and bycatch minimization through gear improvements. Additionally, in response to intense industry interest in fishing in areas currently closed, the Council included guidance to safeguard marine habitats in any research funded in this program. 

February 25, 2014

Mediterranean Deep-Sea Corals Protected

Mediterranean countries and the EU decided to protect 11 species of deep-sea corals at the 18th COP to the Barcelona Convention. They also decided to implement the Action Plan on Dark Habitats, a scientific document drafted in part by Oceana, which will enable the creation of marine protected areas in deep-sea habitats like seamounts, submarine canyons, and caves. Many of these deep-sea habitats are unprotected, despite being extremely vulnerable to human activities like pollution, overfishing, and climate change.

September 19, 2013

Key Habitats of the Balearic Islands Protected from Trawling

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.

September 19, 2013

Marine Mammal Take Permits Denied for California Swordfish Drift Gillnet Fishery

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.

September 19, 2013

Chinook Salmon Bycatch Limit Set for Gulf of Alaska Bottom Trawlers

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.

April 23, 2012

Chile to Expand Marine Reserves

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.


April 23, 2012

Sea Turtles Gain Protections from Scallop Dredges

After campaigning by Oceana, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) announced new regulations for the Atlantic scallop fishery that will require Turtle Deflector Devices (TDDs) in areas and during times when sea turtles are known to be present.

The scallop fishery has long been a threat to sea turtles, who get caught up and drowned in the heavy equipment. TDDs are expected to reduce sea turtle mortality by at least 56 percent when compared to former dredges that force them into heavy chain bags where they were dragged and often drowned.

July 21, 2011

Court Rules in Favor of Oceana on Bycatch

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled in favor of Oceana in a suit that will require commercial fisheries from North Carolina to the Canadian border to monitor and report the amount of bycatch, or untargeted marine life, they discard. The decision is a triumph against one of the biggest problems facing our oceans today. Tons of fish are wasted and thousands of marine mammals, sea turtles, sharks and sea birds are injured or killed every year as bycatch.

September 22, 2010

Turkey Pledges to Eliminate Driftnets

Following intense campaign work by Oceana, Turkey announced it will stop using drifnets in 2011. Oceana estimates that more than 500 vessels had been operating illegally in the Mediterranean, some with nets up to 12 miles long. In 2009, Oceana identified at least 30 Turkish vessels using driftnets in the Aegean and Mediterranean to target swordfish and bonito, and there are an estimated 70 to 150 vessels operating in the country.

September 14, 2010

Chile Announces Designation of Largest Marine Park in the Americas

In the fall of 2015, Chilean president Michelle Bachelet announced the creation of the largest marine park in the Americas, Nazca-Desventuradas Marine Park. The new park is a no-take zone which extends for 297,518 square kilometers (114,872 square miles), protecting the high level of abundance and biodiversity found in the area surrounding the Desventuradas Islands.  Oceana worked closely with leaders (and fishermen) from the Juan Fernandez Islands, federal government representatives and officials in Chile and with National Geographic to achieve this result. In 2013, Oceana and National Geographic organized a joint expedition to film, photograph and report on the remarkable variety and profusion of sea life in the Desventuradas – including lobsters nearly two feet long and weighing close to 15 pounds.  Based on the findings from the expedition, Oceana and National Geographic created a comprehensive scientific report and a proposal for the large marine park for which Oceana campaigned for over the next two years. The Desventuradas islands are uninhabited except for a Chilean naval base and when fishermen from the Juan Fernández archipelago travel (more than 800 kilometers) to fish for lobsters. The Juan Fernández community supported the proposal and ultimately presented it to the Chilean government.

September 14, 2010

First-Ever Fishing Ban Created for Danish Marine Parks

Thanks to a new regulation by the European Union, Denmark, Germany and Sweden will cease all fishing activity on sensitive bubbling reefs and end fishing with damaging bottom gear (such as bottom trawls) over reefs in protected Danish waters of the Baltic Sea and Kattegat. The new measures are the first of their kind in the Baltic Sea, and were jointly proposed by the three Member States. The regulation covers 10 Natura 2000 protected areas—which are the backbone of marine protected areas in the EU. Oceana has conducted multiple expeditions in the Baltic Sea that exposed the ecological significance of this region, and has campaigned for years for sustainable fishing and habitat protections.

July 26, 2010

23,000 Square Miles of Deep-sea Coral Protected in South Atlantic

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) approved a plan to protect more than 23,000 square miles of known deep sea coral from North Carolina to Florida from destructive fishing gear. The plan, proposed by the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council in September 2009, will ban the use of bottom-damaging fishing gear in the largest known area of healthy deep sea coral ecosystems in the world, helping to ensure the productivity of commercial fisheries that depend on them.

March 11, 2010

U.S. Government Proposes Endangered Status for U.S. Loggerhead Sea Turtles

In response to two petitions submitted in 2007 by Oceana, the Center for Biological Diversity and the Turtle Island Restoration Network, the National Marine Fisheries Service and the Fish and Wildlife Service issued a proposed rule to change the status of North Pacific and Northwest Atlantic loggerhead sea turtles from “threatened” to “endangered” under the Endangered Species Act.

The government also proposed listing loggerhead sea turtles around the globe as nine separate populations, each with its own threatened or endangered status.

October 16, 2009

Gulf Council Protects Sea Turtles from Bottom Longlines

The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council took its final step in an effort to protect threatened sea turtles from the bottom longline sector of the Gulf of Mexico reef fish fishery. Specifically, the Council voted to close all bottom longline fishing shoreward of 35 fathoms (approximately 210 feet) from June to August, a time when large numbers of loggerheads were caught in previous years, and to restrict longline fishing of all vessels that have a history of catching at least 40,000 lbs of reef fish each year.

October 16, 2009

Deep-sea Coral Ecosystems Protected in South Atlantic

The South Atlantic Fishery Management Council approved a plan to protect more than 23,000 square miles of known deep-sea coral from North Carolina to Florida from destructive fishing gear. Five years in the making, the vote will restrict the footprint of bottom trawls – one of the most nonselective fishing gears currently in use, capable of destroying thousand-year-old coral reefs and moving 18-ton rocks – and help to restore the long-term productivity of commercially valuable fish that take refuge in these rare corals.

December 31, 2007

Measures to Reduce Fishing Waste Stand Up in Court

A federal appeals court let stand conservation measures approved by the North Pacific Fishery Management Council and NOAA Fisheries, and supported by Oceana, to limit the amount of discards from large bottom trawling vessels. The regulations require large “head and gut” bottom trawl vessels in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands to retain and utilize a larger portion of the fish they catch, as opposed to keeping only the most economically valuable species and throwing the rest overboard.

According to NOAA estimates, these regulations will prevent 110 million pounds of groundfish from being wasted as unwanted bycatch each year, and serve as an incentive for vessels to fish more carefully, limiting bycatch of corals and other marine animals.

January 31, 2009

Increased Funding for Observers

From 2003-2009, Oceana advocated increased funding for observer programs to members of the United States Congress. These efforts helped increase available funding for fishery observers from around 14 million dollars to approximately 32 million dollars.

April 30, 2005

Chile Establishes a Fishery Observer Program

For years a Chilean law to place professional observers aboard fishing fleets existed but was ignored. Oceana successfully convinced the government to enforce the law and professional observers are now at last beginning to monitor Chile’s commercial fishing operations.

July 31, 2006

Saving the ‘Dolphin Deadline’

After months of persistent campaigning by Oceana, the U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation that maintains an important deadline for protecting tens of thousands of dolphins, whales and other beloved ocean creatures from becoming bycatch.

October 2, 2003

New Safety Measures Will Save Sea Turtles in U.S. Shrimp Nets

Oceana successfully pressured the government to require larger TEDs (turtle excluder devices) in shrimp nets in the Gulf of Mexico and south Atlantic Ocean, saving an estimated 60,000 sea turtles a year.

January 31, 2004

U.S. Congress Increases Federal Funding for Fishery Observer Program

Oceana hailed Congress’s decision to more than double the funding for federal fishery observer programs. Fishery observers are independent scientists who work alongside fishermen at sea to collect data on what is caught incidentally and thrown overboard. This increase in funding, made in the 2004 Omnibus Appropriations Bill, is a significant first step towards improved management of our nation’s fisheries.

June 30, 2007

Protecting Pacific Leatherbacks from Gillnets

Under pressure from scientists and conservation groups, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) denied a proposal to allow drift gillnet vessels to operate in an area off the California and Oregon coasts where such fishing is seasonally banned to protect the critically endangered Pacific leatherback sea turtle. The drift gillnet fishery, which targets swordfish, tuna and sharks, also kills not just endangered sea turtles, but humpback, fin, gray and sperm whales, several species of dolphins and other marine mammals.

April 30, 2009

Sea Turtles Protected from Gulf Longlines

After Oceana’s advocacy work, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) put in place an emergency closure of the eastern Gulf of Mexico to bottom longline fishing gear from the reef fish fishery to protect sea turtles. The closure included all waters shallower than 50 fathoms for a period of six months. NMFS took this action after the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council voted (10-7) to ask them to do so. Oceana was instrumental in pushing both the Agency and the Council to take these actions to protect sea turtles.


April 30, 2009

Pacific Loggerheads Protected from West Coast Longlines

The federal Pacific Fishery Management Council voted to maintain a standing prohibition on a West Coast-based high seas longline fishery. The vote will prevent the opening of a new swordfish fishery that would threaten migrating loggerhead sea turtles and other marine wildlife on the high seas of the north Pacific Ocean.

June 30, 2008

Reducing Salmon Bycatch in the Pollock Fishery

The world’s largest fishery took the first step toward reducing wasteful king salmon bycatch. After pressure from Oceana and its allies, the North Pacific Fishery Management Council moved forward on capping salmon bycatch in the Alaska pollock fishery.


Take Action


All six of the sea turtle species living in the U.S. are threatened with extinction and face dying in fishing gear. Help save them by adopting a turtle today!


Help stop the reintroduction of pelagic longline fishing gear off the U.S. West Coast and keep dolphins, sea turtles and more from dying on the hook.

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