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 and Allies Protect Deep-Sea Corals in the Gulf of Mexico
In the United States, NOAA Fisheries issued a final rule to protect 13 coral areas. These areas, which span from the U.S.- Mexico border to the Florida Keys, include a series of deep-sea canyons, reefs, and coral areas that have been identified as important habitat for iconic species such as sharks and grouper. This action comes following campaigning by Oceana and newly protects nearly 500 square miles of coral habitat, bringing the total protected deep-sea coral areas from Rhode Island to Texas to more than 61,000 square miles. Oceana has been campaigning for years to identify and protect deep-sea coral areas from destructive fishing methods like bottom trawling, which is like clear-cutting the seafloor, and has won additional victories in both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.
Oceana, Coastal Communities, and Businesses Prevent Harmful Seismic Airgun Blasting in U.S. Atlantic Waters
Oceana and a coalition of groups filed suit in U.S. federal court that successfully delayed seismic airgun blasting in the Atlantic, preventing this dangerous and deadly practice from going forward in the Atlantic Ocean as planned by the oil industry. Seismic airguns create one of the loudest manmade sounds ever experienced in the ocean, which can injure or kill marine animals from zooplankton to critically endangered North Atlantic right whales. This victory follows campaigning by Oceana, our allies, and thousands of coastal communities and businesses.
The Philippines Issues New Rules to Help Stop Illegal Commercial Fishing
The Philippines national government issued new rules that require vessel monitoring for all commercial fishing vessels and to establish a new electronic reporting system for fisheries catch data. This decision is a major victory for transparency in the Philippines and comes after campaigning by Oceana, local governments, and other allies. Mandatory vessel monitoring will make it possible for the government to stop all commercial fishing boats from illegally fishing in and depleting the country’s municipal coastal waters. These fishing grounds are reserved for small-scale fisherfolk, who rely on the ocean for their livelihoods and food security. Oceana will continue to campaign for the government to enforce these rules and promote responsible fishing practices.
California Protects Whales and Sea Turtles from Entanglements in Crab Fishery
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife published new regulations to reduce entanglements of endangered humpback whales, blue whales, and Pacific leatherback sea turtles in the state’s commercial Dungeness crab fishery, following campaigning by Oceana and our allies. In recent years, whales have ventured closer to shore in search of food and subsequently into Dungeness crab fishing grounds, resulting in a major increase in entanglements off the U.S. West Coast, which can often prove fatal. At least 56 whales were entangled in 2016 alone, according to the federal government. California’s new regulations require closures or reductions in the number of traps in certain Dungeness crab fishing areas when higher concentrations of whales or sea turtles are present. The regulations also allow for the use of approved alternative fishing gear that lowers the risk of entanglement, such as “pop-up” or “ropeless” gear, in areas closed to conventional gear.
California Begins Phase-Out of “Walls of Death” from Waters
Oceana delivered $1 million to the government of California to officially activate a 2018 state law to end the last large-mesh drift gillnet fishing for swordfish in the U.S. by January 2024. The law establishes a voluntary transition program for fishermen to surrender nets and state permits and incentivizes the use of clean gear. Generous donors including the Marisla Foundation, Cinco Hermanos Fund, Sue J. Gross Foundation, the Offield Family Foundation, and others provided the necessary funding to secure this victory. For years, Oceana and our allies campaigned for the California bill to end this destructive form of fishing, which is notorious for its indiscriminate catch of marine life including whales, dolphins, and sea turtles. Oceana is also campaigning for a federal law to end the use of drift gillnets nationwide.
Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina Protected from Offshore Drilling for 10 Years
U.S. President Trump withdrew the waters off Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina from offshore oil and gas leasing for 10 years. This was a reversal of President Trump’s previous plan to open nearly all U.S. waters to offshore drilling, threatening more than 2.6 million jobs and nearly $180 billion in GDP in pursuit of only two years’-worth of oil and just over one year’s-worth of gas at 2018 consumption rates. This victory follows years of campaigning by Oceana, its advocacy partner Oceana Action, and its many allies. The campaign organized opposition from coastal communities, business owners, and elected officials from both political parties. Oceana continues to campaign for permanent federal-level protections of all U.S. waters from expanded drilling.
Belize Protects Reef, Fisheries, Marine Life from Gillnets
The Government of Belize banned gillnets after years of campaigning by the people of Belize, Oceana, the Belize Coalition for Sustainable Fisheries, and our allies. This historic victory highlights Belize’s leadership in preserving ocean abundance and biodiversity, and truly valuing and protecting the livelihoods of the many who depend on the seas. Gillnets catch and kill everything that comes in their path including manatees, turtles, sharks, bonefish, and other important marine creatures. The vast majority of Belizean fishers have not used these nets (and were in fact harmed by them), but the agreement also provides help for the few legally licensed gillnet fishers to be able to successfully transition to alternative forms of fishing or sources of income. This win means that the world’s second largest barrier reef – the Meso American Reef – 40% of which is located in Belizean waters, is now protected thanks to the country’s far-sighted leadership, from gillnets, bottom trawling, and offshore ocean drilling.
Virginia’s Coast and Fisheries Protected from Offshore Drilling
In the United States, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam signed a bill into law that protects Virginia’s beautiful and abundant ocean by prohibiting the exploration, development, and production of offshore oil and gas oil drilling in Virginia waters. The law also prohibits construction of any infrastructure to support drilling off Virginia’s coast, and prevents the state’s agencies from taking any action to facilitate oil and gas production. Offshore drilling threatens more than 86,000 jobs and $4.8 billion in GDP generated from fishing tourism and recreation along Virginia’s 3,300-mile coastline. This action follows grassroots organizing and campaigning by Oceana and our allies. Every East and West Coast governor has now called for offshore drilling protections. Oceana continues to campaign for permanent federal-level protections of all U.S. waters from expanded drilling.
Victory for Transparency: Brazil Makes Fisheries Catch Data Available Online
The Brazilian government formally launched online logbooks to increase transparency and to modernize catch data reporting for industrial fishing operations, following campaigning by Oceana. This new system replaces the outdated and essentially inaccessible paper logbooks which, in some cases, were literally stored in the dark and forgotten. Because of this failed and non-transparent system, Brazil had not published its fisheries statistics for nearly a decade, which made the country one of the only top 50 fishing nations that did not provide fish catch data to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). This victory comes after Oceana campaigning for the government to modernize this system and make catch data, which is crucial to rebuilding fish stocks, available online. Oceana developed Brazil’s first online logbook for the tainha, or mullet, fishery in 2018, which the government used as a model for its own system.
Chile Prevents New Salmon Farming Concessions in Patagonia
The Undersecretary of Fisheries and Aquaculture (Subpesca) issued a resolution effectively ending new aquaculture concessions (including for farmed salmon). The notification was made as a 10-year government moratorium on new concessions expired. The resolution will stop salmon farming from expanding into pristine areas of Patagonia, including the Los Lagos and Aysen regions. This victory comes after years of Oceana campaigning against the expansion of salmon farming in Patagonian Chile. Salmon farms are often destructive – the waste generated by enormous numbers of fish packed into pens can devastate marine environments and this high density leads to disease and excessive use of antibiotics in feed (which is released into the oceans).