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.

January, 2021

Oceana and Allies Stop the Expansion of Offshore Oil Drilling in the United States

President Joe Biden paused all federal offshore oil and gas leasing, following grassroots campaigning by Oceana to protect U.S. waters from the expansion of offshore drilling. President Biden’s action comes nearly 11 years after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history, where more than 200 million gallons of oil spewed into the Gulf of Mexico for 87 days. The disaster reduced total sales in the seafood industry by as much as $950 million, devastated many coastal economies dependent on tourism, and led to hard-working Americans losing their jobs and livelihoods. This victory ensures our coastal communities have greater protection from another disaster, and it would not have been possible without Oceana and our many allies. The campaign won support from every East and West Coast governor; more than 390 local municipalities; over 2,300 local, state, and federal bipartisan officials; and alliances representing more than 55,000 businesses. Stopping new leasing for offshore oil and gas – if made permanent – could prevent over 19 billion tons of greenhouse gas from being emitted and forestall more than $720 billion in damages to people, property, and the environment. The protections will also safeguard the U.S. clean coast economy, which supports around 3.3 million American jobs and $250 billion in GDP through activities like tourism, recreation, and fishing. Oceana continues to campaign for permanent protections of U.S. waters from expanded drilling.

October, 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.

October, 2020

Oceana, Coastal Communities and Businesses, Stop Harmful Seismic Airgun Blasting in Atlantic Ocean

Oceana and a coalition of groups filed suit in U.S. federal court and won a ruling stopping the government from granting permits allowing this dangerous and deadly practice and effectively stopping it from going forward in the Atlantic Ocean as planned. Seismic airguns create one of the loudest manmade sounds in the ocean to search for oil and gas beneath the seafloor, which can injure or kill marine animals from zooplankton to critically endangered North Atlantic right whales. Oceana, our allies, and thousands of coastal communities and businesses have campaigned against this dangerous practice for years. This long-fought legal battle challenged the issuance of Incidental Harassment Authorizations (IHAs), which are federal government-issued permits needed by seismic companies to harass and harm ocean animals while blasting the Atlantic Ocean. 

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.