Victories | Oceana


Since 2001, Oceana has achieved hundreds of concrete policy victories for marine life and habitats. From stopping bottom trawling in sensitive habitat areas to protecting sea turtles from commercial fishing gear, our victories represent a new hope for the world's oceans.

February, 2019

Spanish government creates the second-largest marine national park in the Mediterranean

After more than a decade of campaign work by Oceana and 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 formerly protect deep-sea corals. The park will also provide shelter to important species including marine mammals like sperm whales and dolphins and large fish like bluefin tuna and will be the Mediterranean’s deepest protected national park at over 2,000 meters.

December, 2018

The Philippines ends bottom trawling in all municipal waters, protects ocean nurseries

In the Philippines, following Oceana’s campaign, the government removed a loophole and effectively ended bottom trawling in all its municipal waters (which are critical sources of seafood and sustenance for many Filipinos). In the late 1990s, the Philippines passed a law limiting industrial fishing in local waters but allowed smaller vessels – under three tons – to fish (with the intent of encouraging artisanal fishing in these water). This exception led to the creation of a new industrial fleet of “mini trawlers” that continued to operate near the coasts of the Philippines. The Government of the Philippines has now removed the loophole and mandated the decommissioning of all bottom trawl gear and reaffirmed the right of access – as intended in the original legislation – for artisanal fishers to municipal waters. Bottom trawlers destroy habitat, which includes ocean nurseries, by dragging heavily weighted nets across the ocean floor in pursuit of fish and leaving behind damage that can take centuries to recover from.

December, 2018

Peru passes law to reduce use of plastics and protect its ocean

After campaigning by Oceana and our allies, a new law in Peru will help to reduce the use of plastics and plastic pollution. Peru’s Congress passed legislation, based on a proposal from the country’s Ministry of the Environment, banning the use of plastic bags and restricting other single-use plastics (including straws). The measures also include language that prohibits the use of plastics in Peru’s beaches, coast and the country’s many protected areas. This law will help Peru’s ocean and its economy as it will protect Peru’s abundant seas which are home to the world’s largest single-species fishery. Use of virgin plastic grows by 4% every year. This means that if even by some herculean efforts, recycling rates double by 2030, there would still be far more plastic entering the ocean than now. We cannot recycle ourselves out of this problem.

October, 2018

California Phases Out Destructive Swordfish Drift Gillnet Fishing, Protecting Marine Mammals, Turtles and Sharks From Bycatch

Despite 30 years of management measures aimed at reducing bycatch, the California swordfish drift gillnet fishery had remained one of the nation’s dirtiest fisheries, killing more dolphins than all observed U.S. West Coast fisheries combined. Thanks to a years-long campaign by Oceana and our allies, a new law will clean up the fishery, phasing out the use of drift gillnets through a buyout transition program and incentivizing the use of cleaner fishing gear. These measures will eventually eliminate nets that have frequently entangled, injured and killed marine mammals like whales, dolphins and sea lions as well as endangered sea turtles, sharks and other important fish species.

September, 2018

Brazil Bans Destructive Bottom Trawling in Waters of Rio Grande do Sul

After campaigning by Oceana and our allies, the state of Rio Grande do Sul, in the south of Brazil just above Uruguay, has approved a law to ban bottom trawling in state waters. These new protections extend along the entire length of the state’s 620-kilometer coast and cover a distance out to 12 nautical miles (22.2 km) from shore. In total, an area of more than 13,000 square kilometers is now protected from bottom trawling, a destructive fishing technique. Brazil’s fisheries have been threatened by overfishing and poor management, and 90 percent of the state’s fish industries have closed in the last 30 years. As a result, the new protections were welcomed by both conservationists and fishers as a measure that would help restore the long-term health of Brazil’s fisheries.

June, 2018

Malta Expands Habitat Protections in Mediterranean

The government of Malta has announced the designation or expansion of eight marine protected areas in the Mediterranean. 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 BaĦAR Expeditions). Oceana mapped out sandbanks, reefs and more than 89 marine caves through use of a Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) and scuba divers. After collecting and analyzing 310 hours of ROV footage and thousands of photos, we delivered a list of proposed sites for protection to the Maltese government that included seagrass meadows, bamboo coral gardens and habitat for cnidarians, sponges, a variety of other invertebrates and fish. With these new measures, 35 percent of Malta’s waters are now protected. As a designation made under the Natura 2000 framework, national authorities are now responsible for drafting a management plan within six years – a key step toward ensuring the continued protection of these areas.

May, 2018

Philippines Creates Benham Bank Protected Area to Safeguard Unique Habitat, Corals and More

After campaigning by Oceana and its allies, the Philippines government created a marine protected area in Benham Bank, declaring 50,000 hectares as a strict protection zone where only scientific research will be permitted, as well as an additional 300,000 hectare Fisheries Management Area 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.

May, 2018

Brazil Introduces First-Ever Management Rules for Tainha, Begins Science-Based Management of Its Fisheries

The government’s publishing of management rules for the tainha (mullet) fishery for the 2018 season mark a significant victory for Oceana and its allies in Brazil. For the first time, the country’s critical tainha fishery will be governed by scientific management, including stock assessments and catch limits. When Oceana first arrived, Brazil collected almost no fisheries data and had no catch limits for any ocean fish, leading to overfishing and declining stocks. Oceana successfully brought together government officials, scientists and small-scale and commercial fishers to introduce some much-needed, science-based policymaking into Brazil's oceans.

April, 2018

More Than 140,000 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 140,000 square miles of seafloor 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 — important for both ocean abundance and commercial and recreational fishing. This victory for ocean diversity will more than double the area of protected seafloor in U.S. waters off California, Oregon, and Washington.  The fishery council's action will also restore fishing opportunities by opening some historic fishing grounds that were previously closed to bottom trawling while overfished rockfish populations recovered. This outcome comes after a decade of campaigning by Oceana and its allies and builds on previous  work which secured more than 135,000 square miles of West Coast seafloor protections in 2006. Once these new measures are implemented, more than 90 percent of the U.S. West Coast's Exclusive Economic Zone (3-200 miles from shore) will be protected from bottom trawling.

February, 2018

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

In a huge victory for Oceana, Chilean President Michelle Bachelet protected 262,000 square kilometers of ocean surrounding the Juan Fernandez Islands. As documented by Oceana’s expeditions, these islands, among the most biodiverse and productive ocean places on the planet, are home to wildlife found nowhere else on the planet. 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. Oceana also partnered with National Geographic's Pristine Seas project on this closure via joint expeditions, reports and direct advocacy. As a result of the Juan Fernandez announcement and other closures resulting from campaigns by Oceana and it allies, 25 percent of Chile's ocean is now protected as no-take marine parks. This milestone has made Chile a true global leader in ocean conservation.