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.
New York Bans Plastic Foam Food Containers and Packaging
New York state banned “styrofoam” plastic foam food and beverage containers in restaurants, grocery stores, and other venues and the use of plastic foam peanuts for packaging. Oceana and allies worked to pass this ban, which will take effect January 1, 2022. Materials made of expanded polystyrene foam are a pervasive category of plastic pollution in the world’s oceans. Once in the ocean, polystyrene and other polluting plastics never disappear, but simply break down into smaller microplastics, threatening marine life and food webs. Oceana is calling for the use of plastic-free choices in place of plastics such as polystyrene foam.
U.S. Government Finalizes Protections for Whales, Sea Turtles from Death in California-Based Fishery
The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) published a final rule to implement strict limits — known as hard caps — on the number of whales, sea turtles and dolphins that can be injured or killed in the California-based swordfish drift gillnet fishery. This development comes after extensive legal action from Oceana, following NMFS failure to enact protections first approved in 2015. The California-based swordfish drift gillnet fishery kills more dolphins than all other observed U.S. West Coast and Alaska Fisheries combined.
Belize Phases Out Single-Use Plastics and Styrofoam Food Containers
The Minister of Environment signed into law the Environmental Protection (Pollution from Plastics) Resolution, which will phase out single-use plastics, including shopping bags, food utensils, and Styrofoam food containers. The measure was enacted to reduce pollution of Belize’s famed barrier reef and other natural resources. This decision comes after years of campaigning by Oceana and our allies, including thousands of Belizeans who participated in numerous plastic clean-ups and have seen the devastating impacts of plastic pollution on the country’s ocean and waterways.
Mexico Provides Public Access to Vessel Tracking Data for Commercial Fishing Fleet for First Time
The Government of Mexico provided access to satellite monitoring data from 2012 to 2018 for more than 2,000 commercial fishing vessels on the Global Fishing Watch (GFW) platform. The government’s action comes as a result of Oceana’s campaign to increase transparency in Mexican waters and follows a ruling from the National Institute for Access to Information and Protection of Personal Data that determined that the information was of public interest and should be made available. Oceana will continue to campaign to secure a more real time provision of this data as has been done in Peru and Indonesia.
New U.S. Protection Will Save Sea Turtles from Dangerous Fishing Gear
The United States government finalized a rule protecting sea turtles from shrimp trawls in the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Ocean. This action comes after legal action from Oceana alleging that the federal government violated the Endangered Species Act in its failure to protect sea turtles from this fishery. The rule will require more than 1,000 additional shrimp vessels to deploy Turtle Excluder Devices (TEDs), which are 97% effective at allowing sea turtles to escape shrimp nets and which would save as many as 1,150 endangered and threatened sea turtles every year.
Fishery Council Blocks Return of West Coast Longlines, Safeguarding Sea Turtles, Marine Mammals, and Sharks
The Pacific Fishery Management Council voted overwhelmingly not to reopen pelagic longline fishing on the west coast of the United States. Pelagic longlining is a harmful fishing method that has been prohibited off the West Coast for decades and that have been to linked excessive bycatch of unintended species including marine mammals, sea turtles, seabirds, marlins and sharks. Despite this known danger to marine life, there was pressure on the Council to once again allow pelagic longline fishing on the high seas. This decision is a major win for the oceans. This victory came after decade long campaigning by Oceana and our allies – including birding and sportfishing communities, ecotourism operators, and Members of Congress.
More than 140,000 Square Miles of U.S. West Coast Seafloor Habitat Protected from Destructive Fishing
NOAA Fisheries issued final regulations to protect more than 140,000 square miles of living seafloor habitat off the U.S. West Coast from destructive bottom trawling, following campaigning by Oceana and allies. With this victory, 90% of the seafloor in U.S. waters off the West Coast will be safe from bottom trawling. These regulations will protect corals, sponges, rocky reefs, and other important habitat for marine life and ocean ecosystems.
California Protects Small Fish Critical to Ocean Health and Abundance
The California Fish and Game Commission adopted a first-of-its-kind Fishery Management Plan for Pacific herring, a small fish critical to ocean food chains that provides nutrition to marine life, seabirds, and marine mammals. This plan comes after seven years of Oceana working with allies and government officials to create a new, sustainable fishery management framework that will protect herring as a vital food source and ensure its abundance into the future.
U.S. Approves New Sustainable Fishing Gear to Provide Alternative to “Walls Of Death” off the U.S. West Coast
The Pacific Fishery Management Council has legally authorized deep-set buoy gear—an innovative fishing gear designed to successfully and sustainability catch swordfish off the U.S. West Coast. Unlike drift gillnets, which are a highly indiscriminate and wasteful fishing practice often used to catch swordfish, deep-set buoy gear will avoid deadly harm to marine mammals and sea turtles. This victory follows more than eight years of advocacy from Oceana in support of deep-set buoy gear, which has proven to be a better environmental and financial alternative.
Canada Passes New Fisheries Act: A Historic Win for Canada’s Oceans
Canada’s new Fisheries Act, passed into law on June 18, 2019, requires, for the first time in Canada’s history, science-based rebuilding of all depleted fish populations. The passage of this modernized law puts Canada on the path to restoring its oceans to abundance.