Victories | Oceana


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.

October, 2020

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.

October, 2020

Oceana, Coastal Communities and Businesses, Stop Harmful Seismic Airgun Blasting in Atlantic Ocean

Oceana and a coalition of groups filed suit in U.S. federal court and won a ruling stopping the government from granting permits allowing this dangerous and deadly practice and effectively stopping it from going forward in the Atlantic Ocean as planned. Seismic airguns create one of the loudest manmade sounds in the ocean to search for oil and gas beneath the seafloor, which can injure or kill marine animals from zooplankton to critically endangered North Atlantic right whales. Oceana, our allies, and thousands of coastal communities and businesses have campaigned against this dangerous practice for years. This long-fought legal battle challenged the issuance of Incidental Harassment Authorizations (IHAs), which are federal government-issued permits needed by seismic companies to harass and harm ocean animals while blasting the Atlantic Ocean. 

September, 2020

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.

September, 2020

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.

August, 2020

Belize Protects Reef, Fisheries, Marine Life

The Government of Belize has signed an agreement to protect its ocean from 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.

August, 2020

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 $44.8 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.

June, 2020

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. 

April, 2020

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). 

April, 2020

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.

February, 2020

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.