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.
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.
Federal Government Announces Final Action Plan for Seafood Fraud and Illegal Fishing
The Presidential Task Force on Combating Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated (IUU) Fishing and Seafood Fraud announced its final action plan to tackle these issues. Since 2011, Oceana has worked to stop seafood fraud and ensure that all seafood sold in the U.S. is safe, legally caught and honestly labeled. Oceana has released several studies over the past few years that uncover seafood fraud, such as a 2014 study revealing that America’s favorite seafood – shrimp – was misrepresented in 30 percent of the 143 products tested and a 2013 similar study that found that 33 percent of the more than 1,200 fish samples it tested nationwide were mislabeled, according to Food and Drug Administration guidelines. President Obama directed agencies to work together to develop a robust plan to address seafood fraud and illegal fishing at Secretary of State John Kerry’s Our Ocean conference in June 2014, and Oceana applauds President Obama’s commitment to addressing seafood fraud and illegal fishing.
Seven Groups of Forage Fish Protected from Commercial Fishing
The United States’ Pacific Fishery Management Council took final action to protect seven groups of forage fish species offshore of Washington, Oregon and California from development of new commercial fisheries. These groups — round and thread herring, mesopelagic fishes, Pacific sand lance, Pacific saury, Silversides, Osmerid smelts, and pelagic squids (other than Humboldt squid) — include hundreds of important forage fish species that play important roles in the California Current ecosystem. The decision comes as part of the Council’s first-ever fishery ecosystem plan that strives to proactively manage fisheries, and is critical for these species given that demand for the ocean’s tiny fish has drastically increased in recent decades for aquaculture feed. Oceana has called on the Council since 2009 to protected currently unmanaged forage species so that they can remain an abundant prey source for marine predators.
Denmark Proposed Marine Protected Areas in Kattegat
Denmark presented plans for six new marine protected areas (MPAs) in Kattegat, which connects the Baltic and North Seas. The new MPAs will be protected from dangerous human activity, such as bottom trawling, which disturbs seafloor habitat. The new MPAs have been selected in part from Oceana’s findings of rare Haploops crustaceans and horse mussel communities during the expeditions in 2011 and 2012. Oceana first proposed protections for the area in 2011. With these new MPAs, Denmark is taking a leading role in Europe in protecting these vital soft-bottom habitat.
EU Moves Away from Harmful Subsidies
European Parliament and the Fisheries Council reached a political agreement on the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund, the financial mechanism that will allow the implementation of the reformed Common Fisheries Policy over the next seven years. Previous fisheries subsidies schemes have given priority to short-term economic interests at the expense of sustainability in fisheries, using taxpayer’s money to increase fleet capacity and fund overfishing. Oceana supports the efforts of the European Parliament and Council to stop this toxic pattern, and shift spending towards beneficial measures such as control and data collection.
Spain Announces Law to Fight Pirate Fishing
Spain, which is Europe’s largest fishing country and the biggest importer and exporter of seafood products in the European Union, has become the first Member State to take action against pirate fishing. Spain introduced a new fisheries law that imposes stronger penalties on Spanish citizens found to be involved with pirate fishing anywhere around the world. The new Spanish fisheries law, 33/2014, is the translation into Spanish legislation of the EU’s illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing regulation, which requires all EU member States to take action against citizens and companies found to be involved in any IUU fishing activities anywhere in the world. Under this new law, the Spanish government will be able to act against Spanish citizens who are benefiting from illegal fishing.
Presidential Task Force Releases Strong Recommendations on Seafood Fraud and Illegal Fishing
President Obama’s Task Force on Combating Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated (IUU) Fishing and Seafood Fraud delivered its draft recommendations, and were hailed as being a strong and robust first step at tackling these issues. The recommendations included domestic and international measures that help ensure seafood sold in the United States is safe, legally caught and honestly labeled—such as strengthening enforcement and increasing collaboration between state and federal governments, industry groups and more. The president established the task force in June at the global “Our Ocean” conference hosted by Secretary of State John Kerry. Oceana has actively worked to combat seafood fraud since 2011, and has released several reports on the issue, created a map that reflects that most comprehensive literature review on seafood fraud to-date, and submitted comments to the President’s Task Force this past fall.
Federal Government Takes Action to Recover Western Atlantic Bluefin Tuna
The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) finalized regulations that help recover the western Atlantic bluefin tuna population, which have declined by more than 80 percent in recent decades from overfishing and bycatch. As part of the Final Amendment 7 to the 2006 Consolidated Atlantic Highly Migratory Species Fishery Management Plan, NMFS will now close certain parts of the Gulf of Mexico and areas off North Carolina during the spring to protect spawning bluefin from longlines. In addition, the federal government is also implementing a strict limit on bluefin bycatch. Once fishermen reach their individual quota on bluefin bycatch, they will have to either stop fishing activity or obtain additional quota from other fishermen. Finally, NMFS will also require video cameras on longline fishing vessels to help improve data collection that currently relies solely on outside observer coverage.
Oceana, Google, and SkyTruth Announce Global Fishing Watch
Oceana, Google, and SkyTruth partnered to announce Global Fishing Watch, a new big-data technology platform that provides an unprecedented global view of commercial fishing and human interaction with the oceans. It draws on data from the Automatic Identification System to analyze the identity, speed, and direction of vessels, with some specific applications including identifying vessels operating illegally without a license and those that may be falsely reporting catches, as well as pinpointing areas where large numbers of vessels converge. The technology will give citizens a free and easy-to-use online platform to visualize and track fishing activity worldwide, and will have uses for every day citizens to fishery managers and advocacy groups. The trio unveiled a prototype of the technology this November at the 2014 IUCN World Parks Congress in Sydney.
Federal Government to Better Monitor Amount of Wasted Catch in Southeast and Gulf Fisheries
The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) announced it will be taking steps to more accurately analyze the amount and type of wasted catch in Gulf and Southeast region fisheries. Up until now, the fisheries managed by the Gulf of Mexico and Southeast Fishery Management Councils did not have a plan to put a requirement under the Magnuson-Stevens Act in place, which calls to have a standardized way to collect and report the amount of bycatch that occurs in the fishery. Oceana recommended developing a bycatch reporting plan for the region last month, and is pleased the federal government is moving forward with a proposal to better address the amount of wasted catch in our nation’s fisheries. In addition, Oceana identified nine of the most wasteful fisheries in the United States, which included two from the Southeast and Gulf region, in a report released this past spring.