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.
Peru Passes New Law to Protect its Oceans and Artisanal Fishers
Peru’s Congress unanimously passed a new law to strengthen protections for the first five miles off the country’s coast and support Peru’s artisanal fishers. This coastal area is one of the most productive in the world, playing a fundamental role in the life cycle of the area’s marine species. The law will reinforce the ban on large-scale industrial fishing within the first five nautical miles and prohibit any gear that is harmful to the habitat and seafloor. Specifically, boats using mechanized gear like purse seines can no longer be classified as “artisanal” and are prohibited from using this destructive gear within the first three miles off the coast. Additionally, the law requires science-based fishing quotas to be established and orders new measures to recover overfished species. This victory, which was won thanks to steadfast campaigning by artisanal fishers and their allies, including Oceana, will help support ocean abundance, biodiversity, and livelihoods in Peru.
New Laws in U.S. State of Oregon Prohibit Plastic Foam and Enable Refill Systems
Following campaigning by Oceana and our allies, the U.S. State of Oregon passed two new laws to combat the plastic pollution crisis. The first law phases out polystyrene foam foodware, packing peanuts, and coolers. Plastic foam is not accepted in curbside recycling and is one of the top items found polluting Oregon’s beaches. This type of plastic often breaks up into smaller pieces, disperses easily, and can persist in the environment for centuries. This law will also ban PFAS, nicknamed “forever chemicals,” from food packaging because they accumulate in the environment and pose a threat to human health. The second law requires the state’s health code to enable restaurants to use reusable containers to serve their customers.
New Law in U.S. State of Washington Reduces Plastic Waste
Following campaigning by Oceana, the Plastics Free Washington Coalition, and other allies, a new law passed in the U.S. state of Washington that increases access to refillable water bottle options, requires hotels to eliminate single-use plastics for personal care products, and reduces pollution from plastic foam-filled floats and docks. Specifically, it requires that new buildings constructed with water fountains also contain bottle refilling stations; phases out the use of small plastic containers, wrappers, and packaging for personal care items like shampoo or soap by hotels and other lodging establishments; bans soft plastic film-wrapped floats and docks; and mandates a study of hard-shell, foam-filled floats and docks. A 2023 poll conducted by Oceana found that 92% of Washington voters are concerned about single-use plastic products and 87% support local and state policies that reduce single-use plastic.
Mexico Joins the Port State Measures Agreement to Address Illegal Fishing
Mexico joined the Port State Measures Agreement (PSMA), a binding international agreement to prevent, deter, and eliminate illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing. The PSMA prevents vessels engaged in IUU fishing from using foreign ports and landing their catches in countries that have signed on to the agreement, which disincentivizes these vessels’ operations and stops their products from reaching national and international markets. Oceana played a crucial role in Mexico’s adoption of the PSMA, campaigning Senators, the Navy, and the Foreign Affairs Ministry to support the measure. According to Mexico’s fisheries agency, illegal fishing accounts for more than 40% of the country’s fish catch. Joining the PSMA will help to curb these illicit activities. Following Mexico’s adoption of this agreement, Oceana continues to campaign for a new national law that will increase transparency and traceability in the country’s fishing sector.
Brazil’s Museum of Tomorrow Becomes Plastic-Free Zone
Brazil’s Museum of Tomorrow (MoT) announced on March 22, World Water Day, that it is now the first Plastic-Free Zone (PFZ) in the country. Oceana collaborated with the futuristic science museum to first establish the museum’s pilot program, which was widely supported by employees and included auditing the disposable plastics used in the museum’s operations, creating a plastic-free event guide, and engaging external suppliers. During the pilot phase, MoT and Oceana found solutions to eliminate most single-use plastic items, such as bottles, cups, bags, and plastic film. As a next step, the museum will extend plastic-free requirements to visitors, marking an end to the sale, use, and distribution of single-use plastics on museum premises.
Deep-Sea Corals and Seafloor Habitats Protected in U.S. Pacific Waters
In the United States, the Pacific Fishery Management Council voted to reopen more than 4,500 square miles of Southern California ocean waters to recreational and non-trawl commercial gear used to catch groundfish while also permanently protecting more than 600 square miles of habitat including almost half of the area’s known deep-sea corals. These areas include coral and sponge ecosystems discovered by Oceana during a 2016 scientific expedition. The entire area remains closed to bottom trawling. This victory is a win-win for fishing communities and ocean biodiversity and is the result of a unique collaboration between recreational and commercial fishermen, Oceana, and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife who worked together to design the new conservation areas. The council also voted to protect five ecologically important areas off the Oregon coast from all forms of fishing gear used to catch groundfish and known to harm seafloor habitats, including bottom longlines and pots. These five areas, which total 182 square miles, are already protected from bottom trawling, and will now receive an additional layer of protection with this action.
Panama Commits to Reduce Plastic Pollution
Panama announced a bold commitment to reduce plastic pollution during the 8th annual Our Ocean conference in Panama City. The new measures will stop more than 160,000 tons of plastic that is imported and consumed in the country each year, according to the government. Panama plans to eliminate single-use plastic items including utensils and cups in three years. In five years, the country will reduce the import and consumption of plastic packaging by 30%, including plastic foam food containers. In seven years, Panama will reduce the import of virgin plastic by at least 20%, and, in no later than 10 years from now, it will reduce the sale and import of both single-use plastic and virgin plastic by 50%. Oceana was instrumental in achieving this commitment and advised Panamanian officials on effective measures to reduce single-use plastics at the source.
Oceana Defends EU Policy to Rebuild Fisheries from Attack
Oceana and its allies defended the European Union’s main fisheries law from attacks, including attempts to overturn the discard ban, which was the subject of strong lobbying by the industrial fishing sector. Adopted in 2013, the Common Fisheries Policy has led EU fisheries to become increasingly more sustainable by adhering to principles such as science-based catch limits and bycatch reduction. The European Commission’s recent assessment of the law showed that the number of sustainably harvested fish stocks has increased from only five in 2009 to over 60 in 2022. Oceana continues to campaign for full implementation and enforcement of the law.
Chile Creates a New Marine Protected Area, Pisagua Sea
Chile created a new marine protected area (MPA) called ‘Pisagua Sea’ in northern Chile, following four expeditions led by Oceana and the Universidad Arturo Prat and a scientific recommendation to protect this important area. During the expeditions, Oceana documented over 150 species, including large schools of commercially important species anchovies and jack mackerel. Pisagua Sea, which measures 181,622 acres, also has abundant macroalgae forests, and smaller organisms like krill and crustaceans, making it the perfect environment for larger animals like fish, mammals, and birds to reproduce. The new MPA is the first in the country to protect not only marine habitat and species, but also the livelihoods of artisanal fishermen, who rely on this richly biodiverse area to support their community and local economy.
New York City Limits Single-Use Plastic Utensils
Following campaigning by Oceana and its allies, New York City lawmakers passed a bill requiring that restaurants, food delivery apps, and online delivery platforms only provide certain single-use items — including plastic utensils and condiment packets — if requested by the customer. Single-use plastic foodware, including utensils, is a significant source of plastic waste in New York City — the largest city in the U.S. A 2022 Oceana poll found that 83% of registered New York state voters are concerned about the amount of plastic items used in food delivery and takeout, and 88% support local and state policies to reduce single-use plastic. Plastic is one of the greatest contributors to climate change and is entering the ocean at an alarming rate. Scientists estimate that 33 billion pounds of plastic wash into the ocean every year.