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. District Court ruled in favor of protecting Steller Sea Lions
The State of Alaska and a Seattle-based commercial fishing industry sued to overturn new protections for Steller sea lions that limited fishing in areas important to the Steller sea lions’ survival. Oceana intervened in the lawsuit to help the government defend the new measures necessary to prevent jeopardy to Steller sea lions and to protect their critical habitat. The federal district court in Alaska rejected the industry arguments and upheld the protections, which limit bottom trawling and fishery removals of Steller sea lion prey in critical areas. The court required the National Marine Fisheries Service to prepare an environmental impact statement evaluating changes to the management of the fisheries by March 2, 2014.
National Marine Fisheries Service implements new protections for Steller sea lions
In recognition of ongoing severe declines in the Western population of Steller sea lions and the failure of the overall population to meet pre-established recovery criteria indicating improvements in the status of the population, the National Marine Fisheries Service implemented new protections for the species. The new measures, which limit fishing in the western Aleutian Islands, are a necessary first step toward better conservation and management of the Aleutian Islands ecosystem.
Offshore Drilling Halted in Belize
Belize’s Supreme Court declared offshore drilling contracts issued by the government of Belize null and void, effectively ending the government’s immediate effort to allow offshore oil drilling in the Mesoamerican Reef, the second largest barrier reef in the world. Oceana has campaigned against offshore drilling in Belize for more than two years.
The Court’s decision was in response to a lawsuit brought by Oceana, COLA, and the Belize Coalition to Save Our Natural Heritage. In 2011, after collecting the 20,000+ signatures required to trigger a national referendum that would allow the public to vote on whether or not to allow offshore oil drilling in Belize’s reef, the government disqualified over 8,000 of these signatures effectively on the basis of poor penmanship – stopping the possibility of a vote. Oceana answered by organizing the nation’s first ever “People’s Referendum” in 2012 in which more than 29,000 people from all around the country cast their votes. In this historic vote, 96% voted against offshore exploration and drilling.
Shell Retreats on Arctic Drilling
Shell Oil Company announced that it will not attempt to drill exploration wells in the Arctic Ocean in 2013. This announcement comes in the wake of Shell’s disastrous 2012 drilling season, which left both of its drilling vessels disabled in Alaskan waters awaiting transport to Asia for repairs. The company also faces investigation by the Coast Guard, notices of violation of the Clean Air Act from the Environmental Protection Agency, and a 60-day review by the Department of the Interior. Oceana has called on the Department of the Interior to suspend activities in the Arctic Ocean and to fundamentally reconsider how it makes decisions about Arctic Ocean resources.
Portugal Nominates Gorringe Seamounts for MPA
Portugal has nominated the rich ecosystem of the Gorringe Bank as a new Marine Protected Area (MPA). Since 2005, Oceana has worked to draw attention and recognition to this bank, and to bring its spectacular seamount ranges into the network of marine protected areas. An Oceana expedition to the area in October 2012 documented species never before seen in these seamounts, including branching black coral, roughskin dogfish, and others. Unfortunately, the expedition also documented the invasive presence of litter, debris, and fishing gear, particularly in the rocky seabeds of the banks.
Dramatic Reforms for Europe’s Fisheries
The European Parliament approved major reforms to the Common Fishery Policy, a law that manages all European fisheries. Members overwhelmingly voted in favor of a comprehensive reform policy that includes amendments – many of which were drafted by Oceana – that require member states to fish all stocks at sustainable levels by 2015 and comply with a strong EU-wide discard ban, and puts an end to the practice of “discards”, throwing dead unwanted fish back into the sea. Oceana campaigned for years to make sure that this once in a decade opportunity to reform the failed EU fisheries policy was not wasted.
Wild Sea Trout Fishing Banned in the Baltic’s Gulf of Finland
After campaigning by Oceana to stop overfishing in the Baltic Sea, the Uusimaa and the Southeast Finland Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment voted to ban all wild sea trout fisheries in the Gulf of Finland to give the stock a chance to rebuild. In the summer of 2012, alarming surveys from the Baltic Sea found that wild sea trout had become critically endangered in the region. Until recently there were no limits to how much wild sea trout could be caught despite a steady decline in recent decades and evidence that populations in Finland and Russia were well below historic levels.
E.U. Parliament Votes to Curb Overfishing
After 18 months of negotiations, the Fisheries Committee of the EU parliament voted to put in place new measures that would effectively end overfishing and greatly improve the way the EU manages its fisheries, which have been historically some of the poorest managed, and most overfished in the world. In recent years, the majority of its scientifically-assessed fisheries have been found to be overexploited. The new measures include an obligation to set catch limits above maximum sustainable yield levels by 2015, in order for stocks to recover by 2020, and a clear ban on discards. Oceana has been campaigning for these changes for years. The new reforms now go to a vote before the entire European Parliament.
Investment Tax Credit for Offshore Wind Saved
Congress passed legislation crucial to the future of the country’s clean energy future. As part of the so-called “fiscal cliff” deal, the U.S. Congress voted to extend the Investment Tax Credit (ITC), a financing tool for offshore wind that makes investment in the clean energy industry much more attractive. The ITC technically expired at midnight on New Year’s Eve, and, if left expired, could have jeopardized a new industry with the potential to generate tens of thousands of jobs and enough electricity to power the country four times over. Fortunately, the tax credit was extended at the eleventh hour.
Great White Sharks Move Closer to Endangered Species Listing
In response to petitions filed by Oceana, the Center for Biological Diversity, Shark Stewards and WildEarth Guardians, the National Marine Fisheries Service announced that it would consider the West Coast population of great white sharks for listing on the federal Endangered Species Act. The announcement shows that NMFS recognizes the perils facing this unique population of great white sharks. NMFS will conduct an in depth status analysis of the population and will make a final determination of whether to add this population to the federal endangered species list by June 2013.