Victories | Oceana

Victories

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.

May, 2021

Maryland Protects Marine Life from Choking on Balloons

Following campaigning by Oceana and coalition partners, Maryland enacted a new law prohibiting intentional balloon releases statewide. Balloons released into the air can eventually enter the oceans where they can harm and choke marine life. Under the new law, a person who is at least 13 years old, or an organization, cannot intentionally release balloons or organize balloon releases. Reducing single-use plastics, including balloons, is critical to the health of Maryland’s coasts and waterways and the 96,000 jobs in Maryland that depend on a clean coast. Oceana continues to campaign to stop plastic pollution by urging other local, state, and federal decisionmakers to pass policies that reduce the production and use of single-use plastics.

May, 2021

Chile Protects Oceans from Single-Use Plastics, Mandates Refillable Bottle

The Chilean government unanimously passed an ambitious law reducing single-use plastic pollution from the food and beverage industries, following campaigning by Oceana. The law prohibits all eating establishments from providing plastic tableware, such as cutlery, straws, and Styrofoam utensils. It also requires delivery and take-out facilities to only provide disposable tableware made from materials other than plastic or made of certified plastic. The law requires stores to actively display, sell, and receive refillable bottles and will only allow single-use bottles if they contain recycled material that was collected in Chile. Refillable bottle systems are a pragmatic and immediate solution to decrease the 21 to 34 billion single-use plastic bottles that pollute the ocean every year. This legislation would not have been possible without a report by Oceana and Plastics Oceans Chile which found that over 23,000 tons of single-use plastics are used in restaurants, bars, cafes, and delivery food companies every year in Chile, as well as a report from Oceana on the benefits of using refillable bottles over single-use bottles. Most of these plastic items end up in landfill or pollute the ocean, where they can harm marine life and ocean ecosystems. 

May, 2021

Washington State Bans Polystyrene Foam, Limits Ocean-Polluting Single-Use Plastic at Restaurants

U.S. Washington Gov. Jay Inslee signed a bill into law that limits the use of unnecessary single-use plastic across the state, following campaigning by Oceana and our allies in the Pacific Northwest. The new law bans the manufacture, sale, and distribution of certain expanded polystyrene foam products, including foodware, packing peanuts, and foam coolers. It also requires dining establishments to only provide single-use plastic utensils, straws, cold-beverage cup lids, and condiment packaging if requested by customers. Finally, the law establishes post-consumer recycled-content standards for plastic beverage bottles, personal care products, home cleaning products, and trash bags. Many of the items this law limits or bans are unlikely to be recycled and often make their way into our oceans, where they can harm marine life and ecosystems. Washington is now the first state on the West Coast and the seventh in the country to ban polystyrene foam food containers, as well as the first state to ban foam plastic coolers.

March, 2021

Virginia Protects Oceans from Polystyrene Foam and Balloon Pollution

U.S. Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam signed two bills into law to reduce plastic pollution across the state. The laws prohibit the use of polystyrene foam for food service containers, including takeout boxes and cups, and ban the intentional release of balloons into the environment. Both polystyrene foam and balloons contribute to the 33 billion pounds of plastic entering our oceans every year. A 2021 report by Virginia Clean Waterways found that balloons are among the deadliest and most common types of marine debris found on Virginia’s beaches. The governor’s action follows campaigning by Oceana to stop plastic pollution at the source by urging local, state, and federal decisionmakers to pass policies that reduce the production and use of single-use plastics.

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.

December, 2020

Scotland Creates New Marine Protected Area

The Scottish Government announced the designation of a new Scottish Nature Conservation marine protected area (MPA) for the Southern Trench, which is located off the northeast coast of Scotland. This MPA will grant protection to a rich array marine life including minke whales, elegant sea pens, and tube anemones. Oceana has been calling for protection of the Southern Trench since 2017, based on the findings from Oceana’s at-sea expedition. Oceana continues to campaign for Scotland to strengthen the protection of Southern Trench and other sites by banning destructive bottom-towed fishing gear in all Marine Protected Areas.

November, 2020

Spanish Supreme Court Upholds Expansion of Mediterranean’s Second-Largest Marine National Park

Spain’s Supreme Court ruled in favor of the expansion of Cabrera Marine National Park. This expansion makes it the second-largest marine protected area in the Mediterranean and the first to protect deep-sea corals. Following more than a decade of campaigning by Oceana and our allies, including six research expeditions, the Spanish government increased the size of Cabrera National Park from 100 to 900 square kilometers in February 2019. Carbopesca, a fishermen’s association promoting the interests of longline fishing, appealed to revoke the expansion. Oceana acted as an intervenor in the case and submitted information justifying the expansion.

November, 2020

Measures Taken on U.S. West Coast to Save Critically Endangered Orcas from Extinction

For the first time, the Pacific Fishery Management Council adopted ocean salmon fishing regulations to help save critically endangered Southern Resident orcas from extinction. Only 75 of these orcas remain, and their survival relies on the abundance of their preferred prey, Chinook salmon. Sixteen Southern Resident orcas have died since 2015, some showing signs of malnutrition and starvation. Chinook salmon populations are also struggling due to a combination of fishing pressure, habitat loss, and dams that obstruct spawning. Oceana and our allies campaigned for the new measures, which include fishing reductions and area closures if Chinook salmon numbers off the coast of Washington and Northern Oregon drop below 966,000. This will help ensure that Southern Resident orcas have enough salmon to eat.

October, 2020

The Philippines Issues New Rules to Help Stop Illegal Commercial Fishing

The Philippines national government issued new rules that require vessel monitoring for all commercial fishing vessels and to establish a new electronic reporting system for fisheries catch data. This decision is a major victory for transparency in the Philippines and comes after campaigning by Oceana, local governments, and other allies. Mandatory vessel monitoring will make it possible for the government to stop large commercial fishing boats from illegally fishing in and depleting the country’s municipal coastal waters. These fishing grounds are reserved for small-scale fisherfolk, who rely on the ocean for their livelihoods and food security. Oceana will continue to campaign for the government to enforce these rules and promote responsible fishing practices.

October, 2020

California Protects Whales and Sea Turtles from Entanglements in Crab Fishery

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife published new regulations to reduce entanglements of endangered humpback whales, blue whales, and Pacific leatherback sea turtles in the state’s commercial Dungeness crab fishery, following campaigning by Oceana and our allies. In recent years, whales have ventured closer to shore in search of food and subsequently into Dungeness crab fishing grounds, resulting in a major increase in entanglements off the U.S. West Coast, which can often prove fatal. At least 56 whales were entangled in 2016 alone, according to the federal government. California’s new regulations require closures or reductions in the number of traps in certain Dungeness crab fishing areas when higher concentrations of whales or sea turtles are present. The regulations also allow for the use of approved alternative fishing gear that lowers the risk of entanglement, such as “pop-up” or “ropeless” gear, in areas closed to conventional gear.

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