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.
European Parliament Acts to End Overfishing in the North Sea
After advocacy from Oceana and its allies, members of the European Parliament voted for a robust, long-term, and sustainable management plan for the North Sea. The multiannual management plan covers fish species living near the sea bottom and accounts for nearly one-third of all fish caught in EU waters, including species such as cod, haddock, whiting, sole, plaice and Norwegian lobster. The North Sea is one of Europe’s most productive seas, making this an important step forward in restoring abundance to Europe’s oceans.
U.S. Court Upholds Rule Requiring Traceability for At-Risk Seafood Imports
A federal court ruled in favor of upholding the Seafood Import Monitoring Program, rejecting a lawsuit that would have invalidated the rule. The program helps to reduce illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing and seafood fraud by increasing seafood traceability. The Commerce Department program, also known as the Seafood Traceability Rule, was implemented by the US government following campaigning by Oceana. It requires seafood importers of species like tuna, grouper, swordfish, red snapper and blue crab to provide specific information before their products can enter the United States, including what kind of fish it is, as well as how and where it was caught or farmed. Oceana (represented by Earthjustice), the Center for Biological Diversity and the Natural Resources Defense Council filed a joint amicus brief in support of the Seafood Traceability Rule.
Chile Rejects Major Industrial Port Mining Project That Threatened Penguins, Whales and Fragile Habitat
Following pressure from Oceana and its allies, Chile’s Ministerial Committee made major national news by confirming the rejection of port mining project Dominga in August 2017. The Andes Iron project had already been rejected by the Environmental Assessment Commission of Coquimbo in March 2017, but the mining company appealed the decision, causing the final verdict to fall on the Ministerial Committee. Dominga’s environmental impact assessment was strongly questioned by scientists, Oceana and its allies because it didn’t include basic required scientific information and didn’t gauge the impacts that two open pit mines and a mega port would have on the marine ecosystem and the world renowned Humboldt Penguin National Reserve.
Chilean Supreme Court Forces Salmon Farming Industry to Disclose Antibiotic Use
After Oceana waged a four-year legal battle, the Chilean Supreme Court ruled that the salmon farming industry in that country must disclose information about its use of antibiotics in aquaculture. Oceana has fought for transparency in the Chilean salmon farming industry, which has used alarming amounts of antibiotics, is a major cause of habitat degradation and poses risks to human health.
Legal Reform Makes EU’s External Fishing Fleet More Transparent, Accountable and Sustainable
The European Commission, Parliament and Council of Fisheries Ministers announced a new regulation governing the European Union’s extensive external fishing fleet. One third of total European catches are made on the high seas and in the waters of non EU countries. Since 2008, the EU has authorized over 23,000 vessels to fish outside EU waters. The new law applies the same strict requirements to all EU vessels fishing in the waters of other nations, promoting responsible fishing around the world. The new rules also make it public for the first time which vessels fish where, including private agreements, where an EU-flagged vessel makes a direct contract with the government of a non-EU coastal state to fish in its waters. Finally, the new regulation stops so-called abusive reflagging, where a vessel repeatedly and rapidly changes its flag for the purposes of circumventing conservation measures. In total, the new law makes the EU external fleet one of the most transparent in the world. Oceana led a two-year campaign pushing for these new measures.
California Protects Hundreds of Forage Fish Species in State Waters
The state of California safeguarded hundreds of species of forage fish, the ocean’s smallest schooling fish, from new and directed fisheries in all ocean waters of the state unless and until it can be demonstrated these tiny but critical fish, squids and krill can be caught without causing harm to the ecosystem and disrupting the ocean food web. With this decision, protections are now in place prohibiting directed fishing for these forage species in all U.S. ocean waters on the West Coast from shore out to 200 nautical miles. Along with Oceana’s previous victory prohibiting a West Coast fishery for krill, now roughly 70 percent of the total weight of forage species in ocean waters off the West Coast is now protected from directed fishing. Forage fish support an array of wildlife, including sea lions, whales, dolphins, birds, and even bears and wolves, in addition to important species of recreational and commercial fish like tuna, salmon, swordfish, halibut, and rockfish. These landmark protections are the result of over a decade of campaigning by Oceana and its allies which include conservation groups, businesses, fishermen and policymakers.
U.S. Takes Action to Protect West Coast Sardines from Overfishing for Third Consecutive Year
The Pacific Fishery Management Council voted to keep the U.S. West Coast Pacific sardine fishery closed for the upcoming commercial season. This was because scientists estimated the sardine population in the water to be 86,586 metric tons and that there needed to be a population size equivalent to at least 150,000 metric tons necessary in order to support a commercial fishery. This was the third year in a row where the commercial fishery was closed because of low sardine populations. Three years earlier, after the crash of the sardine population, Oceana led the fight and secured an emergency closure of the fishery, and the fishery has not opened since. Ensuring that there are enough sardines in the water for fishing also ensures that there are enough sardines remaining in the sea to feed and support wildlife that depends on them for survival, including brown pelicans, humpback whales, and sea lions. These decisions will also strengthen and speed up the rebuilding of sardine populations as ocean conditions become more favorable which, at greater abundance, have the potential to provide healthy seafood meals for many people as well.
New Pact Commits Nations to Rebuilding a Healthy Mediterranean Sea
Ministers and high-level representatives from Mediterranean countries signed a historic declaration to address the fisheries crisis in the region. The ministerial declaration, Malta MedFish4Ever, will be the blueprint for cooperation and the sustainable development of fisheries for all coastal states in the Mediterranean over the next 10 years. For years, Oceana has campaigned for catch limits, better enforcement and habitat protections in order to rebuild depleted Mediterranean fish stocks. A recent study commissioned by Oceana revealed that Mediterranean catches could increase by 200 percent in some areas if managed effectively. The MedFish4Ever agreement is a critical political commitment to rebuilding Mediterranean fisheries.
Philippines’ Protected Area Management Body Adopts Vessel Monitoring Requirement in the Tañon Strait to Combat Illegal Fishing
Vessel monitoring, a key measure for effective law enforcement, will be required for all commercial fishing vessels entering the Tañon Strait. One of the Philippines’ largest marine protected areas, the Tañon Strait is the country’s very first protected seascape to require vessel monitoring for all transiting commercial fishing vessels. A 161-kilometer strip which connects the Visayan and Bohol Seas, the Tañon Strait lies between the islands of Cebu and Negros and hosts 63 percent of the country’s coral species, plus 14 out of the country’s 26 species of whales and dolphins. It is a rich fishing ground for artisanal fishers who live along its coast but is faced with pressures such as illegal commercial fishing, pollution and unplanned coastal development projects. Oceana campaigns for responsible fisheries management throughout the Philippines and is a key force in driving protection and better management for the Tañon Strait and other municipal waters.
President Obama Protects Fish, Whales and More from Dangerous Seismic Airgun Blasting in the U.S. Atlantic Ocean
The Obama administration formally denied all pending permits to conduct seismic airgun blasting in the Atlantic Ocean. Seismic airgun blasting, an extremely loud and dangerous process used to search for potential oil and gas deposits deep below the ocean’s surface, was originally proposed in an area twice the size of California, stretching from Delaware to Florida. Oceana helped mobilize more than 120 East Coast municipalities, over 1,200 elected officials and an alliance representing over 35,000 businesses and 500,000 fishing families in publicly opposing offshore drilling and/or seismic airgun blasting. These individuals and groups became involved to protect the area’s nearly 1.4 million jobs and more than $95 billion in gross domestic product from dirty offshore drilling activities. Oceana will continue to advocate for the United States’ transition away from expanded offshore drilling and toward a cleaner energy economy, including the development of renewable energy sources such as offshore wind.