Transparent Oceans Initiative - Oceana

Transparent Oceans Initiative

Transparent Oceans Initiative

Oceana uncovers the offenses and abuses notorious to distant-water fishing fleets, catalyzing policy change to protect the ocean and fish-reliant communities.


The Campaign

The Transparent Oceans Initiative (TOI) produces and disseminates evidence-based research that documents the activities—and the consequences—of the nations engaged in fishing on the high seas and the distant waters of other countries, so called distant-water fishing (DWF).

Oceana tells the real story of overfishing, food insecurity, human rights abuses, illegality, and ecosystem damage caused by poorly regulated industrial fleets roaming the world’s oceans. With research and advocacy partners around the world, TOI’s research and strategic outreach are designed to catalyze policy change, making governments and distant-water fishing businesses more transparent and accountable.

TOI’s work tracks developing policy issues to ensure that our research is timely and useful, and able to seize the moment to advance reforms. TOI research and outreach emphasize:

  • Collaborating with countries that are able and willing to influence distant-water fishing fleet behavior;
  • Empowering and aiding those working to reform policies from within key distant-water fishing nations and in the countries most impacted by harmful distant-water fishing fleets; and
  • Working with allies at international forums to hold distant-water fishing nations accountable for their fleets.

Ultimately, the Transparent Oceans Initiative aims to protect the ocean, improve the rule of law, and increase equity by taking away the social license of distant-water fishing fleets to operate with impunity.

New Releases

Tracking Harmful Fisheries Subsidies

For years we have known that governments subsidize fishing by their own fleets in the waters of other nations. But we did not know exactly where those dollars were destined, making it hard to determine a cumulative footprint for foreign subsidy spending in coastal state waters.

Now, researchers have mapped these subsidy flows for the first time. The top 10 providers of harmful fisheries subsidies spent more than $5.3 billion on fishing in the waters of 116 other nations. That is more than one-third of their total harmful fisheries subsidy spending, according to a study authored by Daniel Skerritt and U. Rashid Sumaila of the University of British Columbia and supported by Oceana. In the waters of several least developed countries (LDCs), the catches made, and estimated subsidies received, by foreign fleets surpass those of the domestic fleet.

Read more and download the full report and two-page summary (in Chinese, English, French, and Spanish) here.


China’s Fisheries Subsidies Propel Distant-Water Fleet 

Many governments pay subsidies to the fishing industry to support economic activity, employment, and the food supply. But such subsidies can lead to unsustainable fishing by incentivizing harvest that would not be profitable in the absence of government support. In its 13th five-year plan for 2016–2020, the Chinese government acknowledged the need to reduce the environmental impact of fishing.

A new analysis of China’s fisheries subsidies reveals decreasing transparency in reporting and continued heavy subsidization of their distant water fleet, but also documents a drop in domestic subsidy spending. The study, which was led by Tabitha Grace Mallory, Chen Hao, and Leng Danyan of the China Ocean Institute and the University of Washington will be submitted for publication in the peer-reviewed literature by the close of 2021.

Read more and download the two-page summary here.


News & Reports