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.
ICCAT Agrees on First Recovery Plan for Depleted Mediterranean Swordfish
The International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) agreed on a recovery plan for the severely depleted Mediterranean swordfish. The plan includes a reduction of catches and the adoption of a quota system, enforced by monitoring and control measures to prevent illegal fishing and improve transparency in fishery management and trade. Oceana has been campaigning for over a decade for the implementation of a recovery plan for the overfished Mediterranean swordfish. While Oceana applauds this critical step toward better management, it will continue to campaign for a stronger recovery plan aligned with scientific advice to protect the Mediterranean swordfish.
Obama Administration Removes Arctic Ocean from Offshore Drilling Plan
The Obama administration protected the Arctic Ocean from offshore drilling. The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management removed the Beaufort and Chukchi seas from the newly released final 2017-2022 five-year program for oil and gas leasing on the Outer Continental Shelf. This announcement follows a similar decision in March where BOEM removed the Atlantic Ocean from the five-year program following widespread opposition along the East Coast. Oceana has been campaigning for 10 years to stop the expansion of oil and gas into the U.S. Arctic.
The Honourable Minister LeBlanc Announces a Big Step Forward for More Transparent Fisheries Management in Canada
For the first time, the Canadian government has released key information on the status of the country’s fish stocks. The government has also shared the results of an annual Sustainability Survey for Fisheries and invested additional funds to increase the science capacity of the department managing Canadian fisheries. The Honorable Dominic LeBlanc, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, announced these changes at Oceana Canada’s symposium, Rebuilding Abundance: Restoring Canada’s Fisheries for Long-Term Prosperity. Oceana Canada was credited for providing the impetus for releasing this information, after campaigning for increased transparency and public access to Canadian fishery information since it began operations in 2015.
California Moves to Protect Hundreds of Forage Fish Species in State Waters
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife is establishing conforming regulations to prohibit new fisheries from developing on seven groups of currently unmanaged forage fish in state waters (0-3 miles). These regulations will mirror those finalized by NOAA in May for federal waters off California, Oregon, and Washington. Action by California is the last piece of the puzzle to achieving protections for hundreds of forage fish species from 0-200 miles off the U.S. West Coast. California state regulations are expected to go into effect early in 2017.
1,400 Square Kilometers in the Balearic Islands Protected from Destructive Fishing
After four years of Oceana’s campaigning for increased protections, Spain announced a ban on bottom trawling and other destructive fishing methods in a 1,400 square kilometer region between Mallorca and Menorca. The Spanish government also expanded the protected area in Fort d’en Moreu, a vibrant reef to the east of Cabrera that has been threatened by illegal trawling activity. The Spanish government’s compliance with EU legislation and action to protect valuable seascapes signifies a critical step towards securing greater protections – important for both habitat preservation and healthy marine ecosystems – in Spanish waters.
Forage Fish in Oregon Win Significant Protections
After campaigning by Oceana and its allies, the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission adopted a forage fish management plan for hundreds of small, schooling fish in state waters (0-3 miles from shore). This management plan mirrors action taken in 2015 by the Pacific Fishery Management Council to protect forage fish from new commercial development and builds on the National Marine Fisheries Service’s regulations to protect forage fish in federal waters off the coasts of Washington, Oregon and California (from 3-200 nautical miles). Forage fish are critical to healthy marine food webs and are threatened by overfishing due to increasing demand for fishmeal. These new measures will help ensure no new commercial fisheries for these small fish will be developed without careful consideration and science-based management.
Government renews funding, seeks collaboration for Benham Rise research
Government and university officials announced renewed funding for research in Benham Rise, a largely unexplored seamount off northeastern Luzon, at a forum in September capping the successful visit of Oceana senior advisor Alexandra Cousteau to the Philippines. Oceana helped lead an expedition to Benham Rise in May and provided video equipment and technical divers to document deep sea reefs in Benham Bank, the shallowest portion of the undersea plateau. Fisheries and science officials stressed the importance of collaborative efforts, as researchers noted that the number of fish species recorded had tripled from the first cruise in 2014 and Benham Rise holds significant opportunities for fisheries productivity.
Chilean Government Officially Decrees the Creation of the Nazca-Desventuradas Marine Park
The official designation of the Nazca-Desventuradas Marine Park comes after years of campaigning by Oceana and its allies. In 2013, a joint Oceana and National Geographic expedition to the Desventuradas Islands uncovered extraordinary levels of biodiversity in the previously unknown seas surrounding these islands. Following the expedition, Oceana released a report on the findings and a proposal for the regions protection. Chilean President Michelle Bachelet announced the intention to create a fully-protected marine park – the largest in the Americas – at the 2015 Our Ocean conference in Valparaiso, Chile.
Government Finalizes Safety and Prevention Rules for Arctic Ocean Exploration Drilling
After advocacy from Oceana and its allies, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) and the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) finalized rules to improve spill prevention and response requirements for oil and gas exploration drilling in the U.S. Arctic Ocean. The new rules apply to companies conducting new offshore oil exploration in the remote region and require companies to have a backup rig and emergency response equipment nearby in the event of a spill or accident. They also necessitate that oil companies be able to monitor and quickly respond to dangerous Arctic weather conditions such as sea ice and storms. The Arctic rules are the result of the agencies’ work to address the lessons learned after Shell’s failed 2012 drilling efforts in the Arctic Ocean and BP’s failure to contain the Deepwater Horizon disaster. Oceana supports the implementation of these critical and overdue rules and encourages the government to use them as a starting point for greater reform of the regulations governing offshore oil and gas planning, leasing and exploration.
Deep-Sea Trawling Ban Protects 4.9 Million Square Kilometers in European Oceans
Oceana in Europe campaigned with our colleagues in the Deep Sea Conservation Coalition for the prohibition of deep sea bottom trawling in the North East Atlantic waters. This victory provides increased protection for vulnerable marine ecosystems and deep-sea sharks. The European Parliament, Council and Commission reached an agreement that bans all trawling below 800m depth and that stops bottom fishing activity below 400m if the presence of vulnerable marine ecosystems is demonstrated. These actions protect 4.9 million km2 – an area larger than the EU itself.