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. Government Removes Atlantic Ocean from Offshore Drilling Plan
The Obama administration removed the Atlantic Ocean from the five-year program (2017 to 2022) for oil and gas development on the Outer Continental Shelf. Along the Atlantic coast, nearly 1.4 million jobs and over $95 billion in gross domestic product rely on healthy ocean ecosystems, mainly through fishing, tourism and recreation. Oceana built and led a powerful grassroots movement to demonstrate the broad-based and diverse opposition to offshore drilling. As a result, over 110 East Coast municipalities, as well as more than 100 Members of Congress, more than 750 state and local elected officials and approximately 1,100 business interests have publically opposed offshore drilling and/or seismic airgun blasting. Oceana’s organization and mobilization of the people in opposition to offshore drilling led to this major victory for the ocean.
GrubHub Takes Shark Fin Soup Off the Menu
After an online campaign by Oceana and its supporters, GrubHub – the dominant online food ordering company – announced that it would no longer permit restaurants to offer shark fin products through its service. GrubHub’s decision to eliminate shark fin soup from all its menus will help reduce global demand for shark fin products, as the company offers access to menus from more than 35,000 restaurants across 900 cities.
Moratorium and Ban Protects Belizean Marine Resources
The Government of Belize announced its intention to impose a permanent ban on offshore oil exploration along the Belizean barrier reef system and within the country’s seven world heritage sites. The Belizean barrier reef is the largest section of the MesoAmerican barrier reef, the biggest barrier reef in the Western Hemisphere and home to some of the most biologically diverse marine ecosystems on the planet.
Shell Abandons Drilling Activity in U.S. Arctic Ocean
Shell Oil announced that it will cease further oil exploration in the U.S. Arctic Ocean for the foreseeable future. The move comes after a series of failed exploration attempts in the Arctic, costing the company billions of dollars. Shell’s efforts to operate in the remote and unforgiving Arctic in 2012 led to a series of mishaps, fines, government investigations and the grounding of the drill rig Kulluk. This year Shell faced new challenges and was unable to find oil in the prospect where the company drilled. Oceana’s campaigners successfully used law, economics, lobbying, science, and the press to clearly make the case that Shell’s plan was neither economically viable nor environmentally safe. Today’s decision is propelled by more than eight years of campaigning by Oceana and its allies whose work charted new ways to stop one of the largest and most powerful companies on the planet from putting the U.S. Arctic Ocean at risk. This is an enormous victory for the oceans, Oceana and the entire conservation community.
Gorringe Bank Protected as a Site of Community Interest
Following ten years of campaigning and Oceana expeditions in 2005, 2011 and 2012, the Portuguese government declared Gorringe Bank a protected Site of Community Interest. This special marine region includes two seamounts, Gettysburg and Ormonde, extending from depths of 28 meters below sea level to more than 5,000 meters. Oceana’s expeditions and research revealed more than 350 species living in this biodiverse zone. Oceana was the first organization to document and photograph Gorringe Bank and drive the campaign for its protection.
Construction of Largest Coal-Fired Plant in Chile Stopped
Codelco, the largest copper mining company in the world, canceled it plans to construct Energía Minera, which would have been the largest coal-fired plant in Chile with a capacity of 1,050 megawatts and worth $1.7 billion USD. The company canceled construction in order to avoid conflicts with local communities in the Ventanas area, which is already heavily polluted by three other thermoelectric plants and a copper refinery. Oceana has campaigned against this plant for five years together with allies. With this move, Oceana in Chile achieved its campaign goal of stopping the construction of two coal-fired plants. The other, Punta Alcalde, was cancelled earlier in 2015.
Amended Fisheries Code Becomes Law in the Philippines
Republic Act 10654, which amends the Philippine Fisheries Code, became law in February 2015 after Philippine President Benigno Simeon Aquino III allowed amendments to the 1998 Philippine Fisheries Code to lapse into law — a deliberate inaction in the Philippines that allows items to become law. Under RA 10654, which cracks down on illegal fishing and helps rebuild fisheries, sanctions have been raised to as high as $45 million (PHP) for commercial fishing violators and $2.4 million (PHP) for poachers. Additionally, the amendments call for the installation of a Monitoring, Control and Surveillance (MCS) system on all flagged Philippine fishing vessels that help identify commercial vessels operating illegally in Philippine waters, and call for it to be unlawful to intentionally tamper with, switch off or disable the vessel monitoring system.. By passing these amendments, the Philippines avoided penalties by the European Union for failing to meet its standards on sustainable fishing practices.
Federal Fisheries Council Votes to Close West Coast Sardine Fishery
The Pacific Fishery Management Council voted at its April meeting to close the Pacific sardine fishery early for the remainder of the 2015 season, and to keep the fishery closed during the 2015 to 2016 season. A new scientific assessment by the National Marine Fisheries Service finds the sardine population has collapsed by 91 percent since 2007, and that the population is estimated to be at 96,688 metric tons, far below the 150,000 metric tons required for fishing to occur. The fishery crash is causing ecological effects on marine wildlife, which may have widespread and lasting implications. The Council’s action marks an important first step towards recovering this important forage fish. Moving forward, Oceana is requesting the Council overhaul its fishery management plan to account for ecosystem needs and increase the amount of sardines that must be left in the ocean before fishing should be allowed to occur in the future.
Chile Permanently Bans Bottom Trawling Around Its Seamounts
Chile became the first nation in the world to permanently ban bottom trawling around all of 117 seamounts located within its Exclusive Economic Zone. Chile finalized the new regulation after six years of campaigning by Oceana, who first addressed the issue in 2009 by proposing amendments to Chilean Fisheries Law for protecting vulnerable and sensitive habitat. Oceana also conducted expeditions to many of Chile’s seamounts over the past few years, such as around Salas y Gómez, Easter Island and the Juan Fernández islands, to document important marine diversity and call for protections. Now, 68,065.63 square kilometers of Chile’s waters are protected from bottom trawling.
Oceana Halts Construction of $1.4 Billion Power Plant Project
A $1.4 billion power plant project, known as Punta Alcade, in Chile has been cancelled by multi-national energy company Endesa. Punta Alcade would have been built in the coastal town of Huasco, which is already heavily polluted with five existing power plants. The project’s owner, the multi-national energy company Endesa, attributed high costs associated with environmental requirements as part of its reasoning for withdrawing from the project. Oceana in Chile and its allies campaigned against Punta Alcade’s construction for four years as part of its work to establish clean energy technology throughout Chile and move away from fossil fuel emissions.