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.

August, 2020

Belize Protects Reef, Fisheries, Marine Life

The Government of Belize has signed an agreement to protect its ocean from gillnets after years of campaigning by the people of Belize, Oceana, the Belize Coalition for Sustainable Fisheries, and our allies. This historic victory highlights Belize’s leadership in preserving ocean abundance and biodiversity, and truly valuing and protecting the livelihoods of the many who depend on the seas. Gillnets catch and kill everything that comes in their path including manatees, turtles, sharks, bonefish, and other important marine creatures. The vast majority of Belizean fishers have not used these nets (and were in fact harmed by them), but the agreement also provides help for the few legally licensed gillnet fishers to be able to successfully transition to alternative forms of fishing or sources of income. This win means that the world’s second largest barrier reef – the Meso American Reef – 40% of which is located in Belizean waters, is now protected thanks to the country’s far-sighted leadership, from gillnets, bottom trawling, and offshore ocean drilling.

June, 2020

Victory for Transparency: Brazil Makes Fisheries Catch Data Available Online

The Brazilian government formally launched online logbooks to increase transparency and to modernize catch data reporting for industrial fishing operations, following campaigning by Oceana. This new system replaces the outdated and essentially inaccessible paper logbooks which, in some cases, were literally stored in the dark and forgotten. Because of this failed and non-transparent system, Brazil had not published its fisheries statistics for nearly a decade, which made the country one of the only top 50 fishing nations that did not provide fish catch data to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). This victory comes after Oceana campaigning for the government to modernize this system and make catch data, which is crucial to rebuilding fish stocks, available online. Oceana developed Brazil’s first online logbook for the tainha, or mullet, fishery in 2018, which the government used as a model for its own system. 

April, 2020

Chile Prevents New Salmon Farming Concessions in Patagonia

The Undersecretary of Fisheries and Aquaculture (Subpesca) issued a resolution effectively ending new aquaculture concessions (including for farmed salmon). The notification was made as a 10-year government moratorium on new concessions expired. The resolution will stop salmon farming from expanding into pristine areas of Patagonia, including the Los Lagos and Aysen regions. This victory comes after years of Oceana campaigning against the expansion of salmon farming in Patagonian Chile.  Salmon farms are often destructive – the waste generated by enormous numbers of fish packed into pens can devastate marine environments and this high density leads to disease and excessive use of antibiotics in feed (which is released into the oceans). 

April, 2020

New York Bans Plastic Foam Food Containers and Packaging

New York state banned “styrofoam” plastic foam food and beverage containers in restaurants, grocery stores, and other venues and the use of plastic foam peanuts for packaging.  Oceana and allies worked to pass this ban, which will take effect January 1, 2022. Materials made of expanded polystyrene foam are a pervasive category of plastic pollution in the world’s oceans. Once in the ocean, polystyrene and other polluting plastics never disappear, but simply break down into smaller microplastics, threatening marine life and food webs. Oceana is calling for the use of plastic-free choices in place of plastics such as polystyrene foam.

February, 2020

U.S. Government Finalizes Protections for Whales, Sea Turtles from Death in California-Based Fishery

The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) published a final rule to implement strict limits — known as hard caps — on the number of whales, sea turtles and dolphins that can be injured or killed in the California-based swordfish drift gillnet fishery. This development comes after extensive legal action from Oceana, following NMFS failure to enact protections first approved in 2015. The California-based swordfish drift gillnet fishery kills more dolphins than all other observed U.S. West Coast and Alaska Fisheries combined.

January, 2020

Belize Phases Out Single-Use Plastics and Styrofoam

The Minister of Environment signed into law the Environmental Protection (Pollution from Plastics) Resolution, which will phase out single-use plastics, including shopping bags, food utensils, and Styrofoam. The measure was enacted to reduce pollution of Belize’s famed barrier reef and other natural resources. This decision comes after years of campaigning by Oceana and our allies, including thousands of Belizeans who participated in numerous plastic clean-ups and have seen the devastating impacts of plastic pollution on the country’s ocean and waterways.

December, 2019

New U.S. Protection Will Save Sea Turtles from Dangerous Fishing Gear

The United States government finalized a rule protecting sea turtles from shrimp trawls in the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Ocean. This action comes after legal action from Oceana alleging that the federal government violated the Endangered Species Act in its failure to protect sea turtles from this fishery. The rule will require more than 1,000 additional shrimp vessels to deploy Turtle Excluder Devices (TEDs), which are 97% effective at allowing sea turtles to escape shrimp nets and which would save as many as 1,150 endangered and threatened sea turtles every year. 

November, 2019

Fishery Council Blocks Return of West Coast Longlines, Safeguarding Sea Turtles, Marine Mammals, and Sharks

The Pacific Fishery Management Council voted overwhelmingly not to reopen pelagic longline fishing on the west coast of the United States. Pelagic longlining is a harmful fishing method that has been prohibited off the West Coast for decades and that have been to linked excessive bycatch of unintended species including marine mammals, sea turtles, seabirds, marlins and sharks. Despite this known danger to marine life, there was pressure on the Council to once again allow pelagic longline fishing on the high seas. This decision is a major win for the oceans. This victory came after decade long campaigning by Oceana and our allies – including birding and sportfishing communities, ecotourism operators, and Members of Congress.

November, 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, 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.