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.
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).
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.