Oceana - the largest international ocean advocacy organisation – held a welcome event last Friday at The Hospital Club to celebrate the opening of the organisation’s office in London and strengthen Oceana’s policy and research work to protect marine life and restore fish populations in the United Kingdom (UK).
“Oceana is joining the marine conservation community in the UK at a turning point in public engagement and concern for the oceans. Now we need to move beyond conserving the oceans to actually restoring marine life and rebuilding fish populations,” said Lasse Gustavsson, executive director of Oceana in Europe.
"With Brexit around the corner, the next few years will be testing times for UK seas and fisheries. Oceana will be focusing on making sure UK fisheries are sustainable, profitable and plentiful to ensure enough food, jobs and money from UK fisheries,” added Gustavsson.
Special guests, including TV presenter Patrick Aryee and Alexandra Cousteau, the granddaughter of renowned ocean explorer Jacques Cousteau, expressed their support for Oceana and marine conservation on the night, held in the margins of ‘Changing States of Water’, an art exhibition by curator Mary Ann Prior.
“This summer, I was lucky enough to experience Oceana’s fieldwork first-hand, during an expedition to Italy’s Aeolian Islands. Their aim was to gather data on deep-sea areas in order to propose the establishment of marine protected areas to the Italian government. It’s this that stood out for me, that fact that Oceana are actually out there in the oceans, with underwater robots and marine scientists, conducting valuable and groundbreaking research, ” said Patrick Aryee to guests.
“Oceana can make a difference in the UK to safeguard marine life and fisheries at a time when the UK public is more engaged than ever before in the health and wellbeing of our oceans”, explained Alexandra Cousteau, senior advisor for Oceana.
In the UK, Oceana will focus on two ocean conservation goals. The first is to ensure the completion of an ecologically-coherent and well-managed network of marine protected areas (MPAs) in UK waters. MPAs are designed to safeguard habitats and species from damaging activities such as fishing with bottom-towed gear and dredging.
Secondly, Oceana will campaign to stop overfishing by working alongside policymakers and stakeholders to promote the benefits of sustainable fishing and restore dwindling fish populations to ensure their long-term survival to provide more food, jobs and money for the UK.
Earlier this year, Oceana released a report at the London School of Economics and Political Science revealing that the UK could land nearly 30% more fish by transitioning to sustainable fishing. Prior to that, in 2017, Oceana carried out a marine research expedition in the North Sea, including UK waters, to identify at-risk biodiversity that needs new or better protection from human activities in one of the most productive yet overexploited seas in the world.
Established in 2001 in the USA, and now with offices in Belize, Brazil, Belgium, Canada, Chile, Denmark, Mexico, Peru, the Philippines, Spain and the UK, Oceana has a presence in the countries responsible for over one-third of the world’s wild fish catch.