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.
Delaware Protects Marine Life, Coast from Balloon Pollution
Following campaigning by Oceana and coalition partners, Delaware enacted a new law prohibiting intentional balloon releases statewide. Balloons released into the air can enter the oceans where they can harm and choke marine life. Delaware joins Maryland and Virginia in banning balloon releases, which will help protect marine life in the region and the roughly 225,000 jobs in the three states that depend on a clean coast.
Brazil’s Leading Food Delivery Service, iFood, Commits to Deliver Plastic-Free Meals by 2025
Brazil’s largest home food delivery service, iFood, publicly committed to deliver 80% of orders free from plastic cutlery, plates, cups, napkins, and straws by 2025, following a campaign co-led by Oceana and the United Nations Environment Program’s Clean Seas Campaign. They will also set public reduction targets by 2023 for additional categories of plastics in food deliveries: plastic containers, sachets, and bags. Additionally, iFood has committed to transparency by publicly disclosing data on its plastic footprint, and also to subjecting these disclosures to an independent audit, which will be made public. With the target reductions in place, iFood will stop 1.5 billion single-use plastic items per year from entering the environment. Oceana continues to campaign for other food delivery services to follow suit.
Orca Habitat Expanded in the United States
The Biden-Harris administration has expanded critical habitat protections for endangered Southern Resident orcas along the coasts of Washington, Oregon, and Northern California. The new protections span across nearly 16,000 square miles in the Pacific. With only 74 orcas remaining, the Southern Resident orca population is threatened with extinction. Their survival depends on the abundance of Chinook salmon, whose numbers have also declined. This critical habitat designation will help ensure these orcas have clean ocean waters free of disturbance. Oceana continues to campaign to protect orcas, salmon populations, and marine habitats.
Fisheries Management Councils Restored in Brazil, Increasing Transparency
Following campaigning by Oceana and allies, Fisheries Management Councils (FMCs) were restored in Brazil after the government created a new framework for fisheries decision-making, “Rede Pesca Brasil.” FMCs, which the government previously terminated in 2019, support transparent and participatory decision-making process for Brazil’s fisheries. The 10 FMCs will allow the government, scientists, fishers, and NGOs to discuss important topics including fishing quotas and destructive forms of fishing like bottom trawling. Oceana continues to campaign to further modernize and stabilize Brazil’s fisheries law and make FMCs legally mandatory.
California Funding Protects Whales, Dolphins, and Sea Turtles from Deadly Drift Gillnets
California Governor Gavin Newsom signed a new budget that included $1.3 million to get deadly drift gillnets out of the water. This destructive form of fishing is notorious for its indiscriminate catch of marine life including whales, dolphins, and sea turtles. In September 2020, Oceana delivered $1 million to begin to phase out the last large-mesh drift gillnet fishing for swordfish in the U.S. by January 2024 as outlined in a 2018 California state law. The law establishes a voluntary transition program for fishermen to surrender nets and state permits and incentivizes the use of cleaner gear. To date 50% of active fishermen have been compensated for turning in nets and permits, representing 20 miles of nets out of the water. Oceana continues to campaign for a federal law to end the use of large mesh drift gillnets nationwide.
Oceana and Allies Protect Over 25,000 Square Miles of New England Deep-Sea Corals from Destructive Fishing
In the United States, NOAA Fisheries issued a final rule to protect over 25,000 square miles of deep-sea coral habitat in New England’s Georges Bank and the Gulf of Maine from destructive fishing gear, following years of campaigning by Oceana and allies. The action protects centuries-old corals and fish habitat from destructive bottom trawling, which is like clear-cutting the seafloor. The area protected is roughly equivalent to the size of Vermont, New Hampshire, Connecticut, and Rhode Island, combined, bringing the total protected deep-sea coral areas in the U.S. Atlantic to nearly 86,000 square miles. Oceana continues to campaign to identify and protect deep-sea coral areas from destructive fishing methods, while maintaining robust fisheries, as part of our “freeze the footprint” strategy.
Belize Agrees to Publish Vessel Tracking Data for Commercial Fishing Fleet, Promoting Transparency at Sea
The government of Belize signed an agreement with Oceana and Global Fishing Watch (GFW) to make its vessel tracking data publicly available on the GFW platform. This will allow anyone to monitor all of Belize’s flagged commercial fishing vessels in near real-time. The agreement is the result of Oceana’s collaboration with the government to increase transparency of Belizean-flagged fishing vessels on the high seas. As part of a package of reforms to counter illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing by its flagged vessels, Belize has made decisive improvements toward the monitoring and regulation of its flagged vessels on the high seas. In 2013, the European Union (EU) banned Belizean imports after the bloc’s IUU Regulation issued Belize a red card because of IUU activities. The EU red card was subsequently removed in response to the Government of Belize’s legislative and administrative changes. Oceana will continue to campaign for the government to progress in the fight against illegal fishing.
Maryland Protects Marine Life from Choking on Balloons
Following campaigning by Oceana and coalition partners, Maryland enacted a new law prohibiting intentional balloon releases statewide. Balloons released into the air can eventually enter the oceans where they can harm and choke marine life. Under the new law, a person who is at least 13 years old, or an organization, cannot intentionally release balloons or organize balloon releases. Reducing single-use plastics, including balloons, is critical to the health of Maryland’s coasts and waterways and the 96,000 jobs in Maryland that depend on a clean coast. Oceana continues to campaign to stop plastic pollution by urging other local, state, and federal decisionmakers to pass policies that reduce the production and use of single-use plastics.
Chile Protects Oceans from Single-Use Plastics, Mandates Refillable Bottle
The Chilean government unanimously passed an ambitious law reducing single-use plastic pollution from the food and beverage industries, following campaigning by Oceana. The law prohibits all eating establishments from providing plastic tableware, such as cutlery, straws, and Styrofoam utensils. It also requires delivery and take-out facilities to only provide disposable tableware made from materials other than plastic or made of certified plastic. The law requires stores to actively display, sell, and receive refillable bottles and will only allow single-use bottles if they contain recycled material that was collected in Chile. Refillable bottle systems are a pragmatic and immediate solution to decrease the 21 to 34 billion single-use plastic bottles that pollute the ocean every year. This legislation would not have been possible without a report by Oceana and Plastics Oceans Chile which found that over 23,000 tons of single-use plastics are used in restaurants, bars, cafes, and delivery food companies every year in Chile, as well as a report from Oceana on the benefits of using refillable bottles over single-use bottles. Most of these plastic items end up in landfill or pollute the ocean, where they can harm marine life and ocean ecosystems.
Washington State Bans Polystyrene Foam, Limits Ocean-Polluting Single-Use Plastic at Restaurants
U.S. Washington Gov. Jay Inslee signed a bill into law that limits the use of unnecessary single-use plastic across the state, following campaigning by Oceana and our allies in the Pacific Northwest. The new law bans the manufacture, sale, and distribution of certain expanded polystyrene foam products, including foodware, packing peanuts, and foam coolers. It also requires dining establishments to only provide single-use plastic utensils, straws, cold-beverage cup lids, and condiment packaging if requested by customers. Finally, the law establishes post-consumer recycled-content standards for plastic beverage bottles, personal care products, home cleaning products, and trash bags. Many of the items this law limits or bans are unlikely to be recycled and often make their way into our oceans, where they can harm marine life and ecosystems. Washington is now the first state on the West Coast and the seventh in the country to ban polystyrene foam food containers, as well as the first state to ban foam plastic coolers.