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.
Chile Creates a New Marine Protected Area, Pisagua Sea
Chile created a new marine protected area (MPA) called ‘Pisagua Sea’ in northern Chile, following four expeditions led by Oceana and the Universidad Arturo Prat and a scientific recommendation to protect this important area. During the expeditions, Oceana documented over 150 species, including large schools of commercially important species anchovies and jack mackerel. Pisagua Sea, which measures 181,622 acres, also has abundant macroalgae forests, and smaller organisms like krill and crustaceans, making it the perfect environment for larger animals like fish, mammals, and birds to reproduce. The new MPA is the first in the country to protect not only marine habitat and species, but also the livelihoods of artisanal fishermen, who rely on this richly biodiverse area to support their community and local economy.
New Chile Law Increases Transparency in Salmon Farming, Reduces Threats to Marine Life
A new law in Chile will regulate the destructive impacts of the salmon farming industry, following campaigning by Oceana and our allies, including artisanal fishers. The law requires Chile’s Fisheries Service to publish data on the use of antibiotics, antiparasitics, mortalities, and the number of salmon produced by company. Oceana has campaigned for these companies to increase transparency by disclosing this information. The waste generated by enormous numbers of fish packed into pens and excessive use of antibiotics leaks into the ocean and harms marine life. Consequently, bacterial resistance can develop, which threatens marine and human health. The new law also establishes substantial fines for each salmon release and requires farms allowing releases to suspend operations. Salmon are not native to Chile and have no natural predator when they go into the wild, which threatens the ecosystem and local marine life. Artisanal fishers will now be able to catch released salmon, which will further reduce the threat to the marine environment.
United States Protects Whales, Dolphins, Sea Turtles from Deadly Drift Gillnets
Following campaigning by Oceana and our allies, the United States will end the use of the large-mesh drift gillnets in its federal waters. These are mile-long, nearly invisible nets set overnight to capture swordfish. In the U.S., large mesh drift gillnets are currently only in use off the coast of California, where they entangle, injure, and kill thousands of other ocean animals each year including whales, dolphins, sea lions, endangered sea turtles, sharks, and other important fish species. This victory follows the completion of a multi-year voluntary transition program in California to compensate swordfish drift gillnet fishermen for turning in their permits and nets. The program, which was partially funded by Oceana, also incentivizes the use of more selective gear, such as deep-set buoy gear, to catch swordfish. As a result, roughly 50 miles of large-mesh drift gillnets have now been removed permanently from the ocean. The new law aligns state and federal policy to ban the use of this indiscriminate gear in all U.S. waters, and all remaining federal permits will be phased out over the next five years.
Shark Fin Trade Banned in the United States
The United States Congress passed a law to ban the buying and selling of shark fins, following significant campaigning by Oceana and our allies. This victory officially removes the U.S. from the unsustainable global shark fin trade, where fins from as many as 73 million sharks end up each year. Just as rhino and elephant populations have declined due to the demand for their horns and tusks, the shark fin trade is jeopardizing the continued survival of many shark species. Global oceanic shark and ray populations have declined by more than 70% over the last 50 years, with overfishing as the primary cause. Oceanic whitetip sharks, great hammerheads, and scalloped hammerheads have declined globally to critically endangered levels according to the IUCN. The demand for shark fins incentivizes overfishing and shark finning, which the U.S. has banned for years, the cruel and wasteful practice of removing a shark’s fins at sea and throwing its body back overboard where it drowns, starves to death, or is eaten alive by other fish. By making it illegal to buy or sell shark fins in the U.S., Oceana and our allies helped bring the world one step closer to ending the devastating global shark fin trade.
Amazon Publicly Reports on Plastic Packaging Footprint for First Time
Amazon, the largest retailer in the world, publicly reported on the amount of plastic packaging it uses for the first time. This disclosure came in response to Oceana’s campaign and efforts to estimate the company’s plastic packaging footprint for the past three years. The packaging Amazon uses, particularly plastic film, is not readily recyclable and is harmful to marine life. In a December 2022 blog, Amazon reported it used 97,222 metric tons (or 214 million pounds) of plastic packaging for orders shipped through its fulfillment centers in 2021. This figure does not include all plastic packaging used in orders sold through the company’s websites, including orders from third-party sellers. Despite the exclusion, this is an important step toward increased transparency for the company. Oceana and our allies will continue to urge Amazon to report on its plastic packaging footprint on a regular basis going forward and to reduce its overall use of single-use plastics.
New International Rule Requires Countries to Investigate and Deter Companies from Engaging with Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated Fishing Vessels
The International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT), an inter-governmental organization that oversees the conservation and management of fishes such as tunas and swordfish in the Atlantic Ocean, adopted a new rule that will prevent companies from providing services, such as insurance, satellite communications, and financial services, to fishing vessels known to be engaged in illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing in the ICCAT regulatory area. The 52 member countries of ICCAT will be required to take effective and deterrent action against citizens and businesses that engage with and support IUU fishing. Campaigning by Oceana in Europe, Brazil, Canada, and the United States, was key to securing this victory. This achievement builds on Oceana’s ongoing campaign to get companies that do business with the fishing sector to avoid supporting illicit fishing activities.
Peru Protects Sharks and Other Marine Species from Illegal Trafficking
Peru’s Congress enacted a law that now includes illegal wildlife trafficking in the country’s Law Against Organized Crime. Oceana and our allies were instrumental in achieving this victory, which will help protect hundreds of aquatic and terrestrial species, including sharks, which are highly prized for their fins in the illicit trade. Thirty tons of shark parts were seized in Peru in 2018 alone. With this new inclusion, Peru is the first South American country to declare illegal wildlife trafficking as a form of organized crime. This victory will give Peruvian authorities more legal tools to enforce the law and penalize those operating criminal networks.
New Rule in the United States Requires Seafood Traceability from Boat-to-Plate
In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a final rule requiring traceability of high-risk foods, including most seafood. Now, businesses must track most seafood from the point of landing through the supply chain to the final point of sale. These new changes will help curb seafood fraud, which occurs regularly, cheats consumers, and puts public health and the oceans in jeopardy. Oceana and our allies campaigned for years for a strong boat-to-plate traceability rule from the FDA, including securing support from members of Congress and Wavemakers.
Brazil’s Leading Food Delivery Service, iFood, Commits to Additional Single-Use Plastic Reductions
Brazil’s largest home food delivery service, iFood, committed to reduce additional single-use plastic packaging throughout its operations, expanding earlier reduction targets to include polystyrene foam containers, plastic sachets, and plastic bags. In total, the company plans to eliminate 2.7 billion single-use plastic items by 2025. These ubiquitous single-use plastic items often become pollution and can harm marine life and ecosystems if they enter the oceans. This victory follows campaigning from Oceana and the United Nations Environment Program’s Clean Seas Campaign. In 2021, iFood publicly committed to an 80% reduction in plastic cutlery, plates, cups, straws, and napkins included in orders by 2025.
Chilean Court Rules in Favor of Oceana, Orders Salmon Farming Company to Release Antibiotics Data
Chile’s Constitutional Court ruled in Oceana’s favor and against a salmon farming company that previously denied Oceana access to data on its antibiotic use. Following the Court’s ruling, the salmon farming company Mowi is now required to provide Oceana with access to data on its use of antibiotics. This victory comes after years of Oceana campaigning with our allies against the expansion of salmon farming in Patagonian Chile, a biologically rich marine ecosystem. Salmon farms are often destructive – the waste generated by enormous numbers of fish packed into pens can devastate marine environments. The high density of fish often leads to disease and consequently, excessive use of antibiotics in feed, which is then released into the oceans where it can harm marine life. Bacterial resistance is also a consequence of excessive use of antibiotics in farming and can threaten marine and human health.