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.
Spain Curbs Ocean-Polluting Single-Use Plastics Through New Waste Law
Following campaigning by Oceana and allies, Spain adopted a new Waste Law that incorporates the European Union Single-Use Plastics Directive into national law, helping to reduce ocean-bound plastic pollution. Oceana advocated for the new law to go beyond the minimum requirements set by the EU, including newly adopted measures that will: establish a basis for future deposit-return schemes; reduce single-use plastics in public administration facilities; make plastic producers accountable for covering the costs of beach clean-ups; and enable municipalities to ban mass balloon releases and smoking on beaches. Although the Spanish government did not approve all of the additional prohibitions proposed by Oceana, the new law represents a key first step towards further action by Spain to reduce single-use plastics.
Fisheries and Oceans Canada Protect Two Critically Depleted Forage Fish
Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) has protected two critically depleted species – Atlantic mackerel and Southern Gulf spring herring – by closing the commercial and bait fisheries. Oceana Canada advocated for fishery rebuilding measures to be implemented and called for the closure of both fisheries. Atlantic mackerel and Southern Gulf spring herring play a crucial role in the Northwest Atlantic ecosystem and feed many other species, including whales, seabirds, and commercially important stocks such as cod and tuna. DFO’s decision – a difficult but necessary measure – contributes to the conservation of these forage fish and the long-term prosperity of Canada’s fisheries.
Coca-Cola Pledges to Reduce Single-Use Bottles, Increase Refillables
In a victory that could dramatically reduce ocean plastic pollution, The Coca-Cola Company committed to sell 25% of its products in reusable packaging by 2030 – up from an estimated current share of 16%. Refillable bottles are the primary form of reusable packaging that Coca-Cola uses, and they can be refilled and resold 30 to 50 times. This decision follows campaigning by Oceana and its allies and, if met, could take the equivalent of 1 billion single-use PET liter bottles out of the ocean every year. Coca-Cola, which sells one out of every five soft drinks globally, is the largest contributor to ocean plastic pollution by brand, according to a Break Free From Plastic report. An Oceana analysis found that just a 10% increase in the market share of refillable bottles in all coastal countries could keep up to 7.6 billion plastic bottles out of the ocean each year.
Norwegian Insurance Company Hydor Ends Coverage of Three Illegal Fishing Vessels
Hydor AS, a Norwegian-based insurance company, ended its contract with a fleet of vessels that were listed by the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) for illegally fishing across the Atlantic. This decision follows campaigning by Oceana and its ally the Environmental Justice Foundation, who together warned Hydor about its unwitting support of illegal fishing operators. This victory will help to mobilize other companies to fight against illegal, unregulated, and unreported (IUU) fishing, a criminal activity that hurts law-abiding fishers and puts companies at legal, financial, and reputational risk.
Philippines Government Protects Marine Ecosystems and Fishers From Harmful Coastal Development Projects
A national agency in the Philippines issued an order to better protect the ocean and local communities from harmful land reclamation projects along the coast. Dubbed “dump-and-fill,” these development projects can threaten marine biodiversity, hurt fisherfolk and food security, and remove natural buffers — such as mangroves — that protect communities from waves and typhoons. On February 17, the Department of the Interior and Local Government determined that all projects by local governments must comply with the Philippine Environmental Impact Assessment System Act, Fisheries Code, and other environmental laws before they are approved. This decision is a direct result of campaigning by Oceana and its allies, who drew national attention to dump-and-fill projects that were being approved without proper environmental assessments and compliance with legal requirements, such as genuine public consultations.
Endangered Shortfin Mako Shark Gets a Fighting Chance at Survival with New Protections
The North Atlantic shortfin mako shark, which has been classified as endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species since 2019, is now protected from fishing for two years. Specifically, fishers are prohibited from keeping any short fin mako sharks they catch, as well as shipping them or landing them at any port. Many longline fishers targeting swordfish and tuna also catch mako sharks, often keeping them to sell commercially. The decision, which was made by the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT), will allow the species to begin to recover. This victory would not be possible without campaigning from Oceana and our allies, who rallied support for the ban from U.S Members of Congress and government officials.
New Law in New York State Will Reduce Plastic Waste in Hotels
New York state enacted an Oceana-backed law will reduce plastic pollution in hotels by prohibiting small plastic bottles of personal care products for guests. These bottles contribute to the 33 billion pounds of plastic that pollute the ocean each year. This action made New York the sixth state to enact an Oceana-supported plastic reduction bill in 2021. To pass the bill through the state legislature, Oceana played an integral role in lobbying legislators and engaging online activists and coalition partners.
Mexico Ushers in Greater Transparency by Publicly Tracking Fishing Vessel Activity
The Mexican government released its fishing vessel data on a publicly available government portal and is being uploaded into Global Fishing Watch (GFW), a platform that monitors fishing vessels worldwide using satellite technology. This victory greatly increases transparency in the industry by allowing the public to monitor where, when, and how often fishing vessels in Mexico’s seas are operating. This victory would not be possible without campaigning by Oceana and our allies. Oceana first requested fishing vessel data from the government in 2018 but was denied. Oceana successfully appealed the decision to the National Institute of Information Access (INAI) and the government’s fisheries agency delivered fishing vessel data from 2012 to June 2018 to Oceana. The agency has since published more data on an online portal and will continue to update the data monthly. GFW, which was co-founded by Oceana, has uploaded Mexico’s data from 2020 and is awaiting data for 2021 and 2022. Based on this newly released data, Oceana published a report in May 2021 that found 236 instances of possible illegal fishing in seven of the country’s marine protected areas.
Major Global Insurance Company AXA XL Introduces Transparency Requirement for Insured Fishing Vessels
Following campaigning by Oceana and our allies, AXA XL, one of the largest international insurers, now requires International Maritime Organization (IMO) numbers for all fishing vessels and refrigerated cargo vessels it insures. IMO numbers are unique identifiers that can be used for monitoring and tracking vessels, and do not change even if a vessel changes ownership, flag, or name — a common tactic used by illegal fishers to avoid detection. By requiring IMO numbers, AXA XL is reducing the risk of insuring vessels engaged in illegal, unregulated, and unreported (IUU) fishing and increasing transparency in the fishing sector. Their decision sets a leading example for other companies to follow, including those outside the insurance sector.
Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean Strengthens Transparency Requirements for Fishing Vessels
The General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM), the regional fisheries management organization covering the Mediterranean and Black Seas, adopted a recommendation to improve its Authorized Vessel List. GFCM member countries are now required to report which vessels are allowed to fish inside Fisheries Restricted Areas, helping authorities spot which fishing vessels are operating within the law and those that are not. This victory is a direct result of campaigning by Oceana, who highlighted the weaknesses of the previous list and secured support for the new recommendation from the EU and other GFCM members. The decision will help ensure that Fisheries Restricted Areas provide real protection to critical fisheries habitats and fragile deep-sea ecosystems.