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.
U.S. State of California Enacts Boldest Plastic Reduction Policy in the Nation
In the United States, California enacted the strongest plastic source reduction policy in the nation, following bipartisan support in the state legislature. The law requires producers to slash their single-use plastic packaging and foodware by at least 25% by 2032 and implement the first statewide reuse and refill mandates in the nation. This victory will shift the burden of plastic pollution in the state back on producers, who will be required to pay $5 billion over 10 years in environmental mitigation funds, the majority of which directly address plastic’s harms to disadvantaged, low-income, and rural communities who have been disproportionately impacted by plastic production, use, and pollution. Campaigning by Oceana and our allies was a critical part in achieving this significant step that will help protect our oceans, communities, and climate. While there will continue to be a need to reduce beyond the 25% mandated in this new law, and to invest in tools such as regenerative agriculture to help reduce the worst impacts of pollution and climate change, this law represents a powerful step that other states, and even nations, can use to build their plastics reduction programs.
Canada Eliminates Production, Sale, and Export of Six Ocean-Polluting Single-Use Plastics
In a significant victory for our oceans, the Canadian government has announced it will phase out some of the most commonly found plastics polluting Canada’s shorelines and oceans by the end of 2023. Production, sale and exports of plastic bags, cutlery, stir sticks, six-pack rings, straws, and some plastic takeout containers will be eliminated. Oceana and our allies have been instrumental in advocating for this and other policies to reduce plastic pollution since 2019. Combined, the items banned will remove 33 billion units of single-use plastics from the waste stream, some of which entered the oceans every year and that harm marine animals like seabirds, whales, and turtles. Oceana will continue campaigning to ensure more harmful plastic products are added to the ban list.
U.S National Parks Protected from Single-Use Plastics
The U.S. Department of the Interior will phase out single-use plastics in national parks and other public lands, which will reduce the procurement, sale, and distribution of single-use plastic products and packaging in 423 national parks, including 88 ocean and coastal parks. This victory follows campaigning by Oceana and our allies, who have been campaigning for plastic-free national parks for years. Oceana and over 300 organizations and businesses sent a letter in 2021 to the U.S. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland calling for a ban on the sale and distribution of plastic foam products and other unnecessary single-use plastic items — including bottles, bags, cups, plates, bowls, and utensils — in our national parks.
U.S. State of Maine’s Coastal Waters Temporarily Protected from Monster Fish Farm
Following campaigning by Oceana and our allies, the U.S. state of Maine’s coastal waters were protected from a monster fish farm proposal. Maine’s government rejected the Norwegian-based company American Aquafarms’ permit, halting construction for at least a few years. The proposal, located in Frenchman Bay near the shoreline of Acadia National Park, would be the largest ocean-pen salmon farm in North America. If built, it would pollute Maine’s pristine waters and marine ecosystem with more than 4 billion gallons of polluted wastewater every day. This area draws in millions of tourists each year, generating hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue for the state annually. The proposed fish farm would threaten the economy and those who rely on the bay for food, jobs, and a cherished way of life. Oceana is continuing to campaign for permanent protection for Frenchman Bay and Maine’s coastal waters.
New Safeguards Set by Canadian Government Can Help Rebuild Fish Stocks
In a major turning point for the future abundance of Canada’s wild fish, the Canadian government released new rules that legally require depleted fish populations to be rebuilt. These requirements fall under the Fisheries Act, which Oceana successfully campaigned to amend in 2019. Oceana Canada and its allies advocated for robust rules to guide the recovery of Canada’s fish populations, of which less than a third are considered healthy. Thirty stocks are listed in the new safeguards, and 16 of those are in the “critical zone.” The requirements set a target, timeline, and course of action for stock rebuilding, contributing to more sustainable fisheries, healthy coastal communities, and a more abundant ocean
New At-Sea Monitoring Requirements Will Strengthen Accountability and Abundance of Groundfish Fishery in Northeast U.S.
In the United States, the National Marine Fisheries Service approved a final rule that requires all fishing in the New England (Northeast) groundfish fishery to be accompanied by professionally trained at-sea monitors or electronic systems to gather first-hand data about what is being caught and discarded at sea. This victory would not have been possible without Oceana and our allies, who campaigned for years for greater observer coverage levels for this fishery, which has suffered from decades of overfishing and excessive uncounted bycatch. This change is critical for the proper oversight of the 13 species in this fisheries management plan and will ensure that catch is counted and accounted for so that science-based catch limits can be properly set and enforced. Setting appropriate catch limits can in turn increase abundance in this important fishery.
Spain Curbs Ocean-Polluting Single-Use Plastics Through New Waste Law
Following campaigning by Oceana and allies, Spain adopted a new Waste Law that incorporates the European Union Single-Use Plastics Directive into national law, helping to reduce ocean-bound plastic pollution. Oceana advocated for the new law to go beyond the minimum requirements set by the EU, including newly adopted measures that will: establish a basis for future deposit-return schemes; reduce single-use plastics in public administration facilities; make plastic producers accountable for covering the costs of beach clean-ups; and enable municipalities to ban mass balloon releases and smoking on beaches. Although the Spanish government did not approve all of the additional prohibitions proposed by Oceana, the new law represents a key first step towards further action by Spain to reduce single-use plastics.
Fisheries and Oceans Canada Protect Two Critically Depleted Forage Fish
Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) has protected two critically depleted species – Atlantic mackerel and Southern Gulf spring herring – by closing the commercial and bait fisheries. Oceana Canada advocated for fishery rebuilding measures to be implemented and called for the closure of both fisheries. Atlantic mackerel and Southern Gulf spring herring play a crucial role in the Northwest Atlantic ecosystem and feed many other species, including whales, seabirds, and commercially important stocks such as cod and tuna. DFO’s decision – a difficult but necessary measure – contributes to the conservation of these forage fish and the long-term prosperity of Canada’s fisheries.
Coca-Cola Pledges to Reduce Single-Use Bottles, Increase Refillables
In a victory that could dramatically reduce ocean plastic pollution, The Coca-Cola Company committed to sell 25% of its products in reusable packaging by 2030 – up from an estimated current share of 16%. Refillable bottles are the primary form of reusable packaging that Coca-Cola uses, and they can be refilled and resold 30 to 50 times. This decision follows campaigning by Oceana and its allies and, if met, could take the equivalent of 1 billion single-use PET liter bottles out of the ocean every year. Coca-Cola, which sells one out of every five soft drinks globally, is the largest contributor to ocean plastic pollution by brand, according to a Break Free From Plastic report. An Oceana analysis found that just a 10% increase in the market share of refillable bottles in all coastal countries could keep up to 7.6 billion plastic bottles out of the ocean each year.
Norwegian Insurance Company Hydor Ends Coverage of Three Illegal Fishing Vessels
Hydor AS, a Norwegian-based insurance company, ended its contract with a fleet of vessels that were listed by the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) for illegally fishing across the Atlantic. This decision follows campaigning by Oceana and its ally the Environmental Justice Foundation, who together warned Hydor about its unwitting support of illegal fishing operators. This victory will help to mobilize other companies to fight against illegal, unregulated, and unreported (IUU) fishing, a criminal activity that hurts law-abiding fishers and puts companies at legal, financial, and reputational risk.