Victories | Oceana Europe
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Achievements

Since 2003, Oceana has achieved dozens of concrete policy victories for marine life and habitats in Europe. 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.

February, 2011

Shell Cancels 2011 Drilling Plans in U.S. Arctic

In a huge triumph for the U.S. Arctic, Shell announced it would cancel plans to drill exploratory wells offshore in Alaska due to continued uncertainty over whether it would receive federal permits. Shell had hoped to drill exploratory wells in 2010 in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas, but its plans were put on hold by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar after the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. Oceana has been instrumental in monitoring the permitting process and holding policymakers accountable for upholding the law.

November, 2010

ICCAT Improves Conservation Measures for Sharks and Sea Turtles

Though failing to improve protections for bluefin tuna, the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) increased the number of shark species prohibited for retention in ICCAT fisheries. Specifically, the group improved conservation measures for oceanic whitetip sharks, hammerhead sharks and shortfin mako sharks. In addition, ICCAT put in place new measures to reduce sea turtle mortality, such as the use of sea turtle dehooking and disentangling gear as well as mandatory collection and submission of sea turtle bycatch data. 

June, 2010

Bluefin Tuna Season Cut Short Again

After continuous campaign work by Oceana, in early June the European Commission closed the bluefin tuna purse seine fishery early for a third year in a row, further confirming the overcapacity of the fishing fleet. The assigned quota was reached one week earlier than expected, and the Commission’s decision came despite the fleet reduction plans implemented and the absence of the Italian fleet in the seas.

Bluefin tuna stocks are nearing collapse due to overfishing and illegal fishing; stocks have decreased by 80% from existing levels before the industrial fishing era.

January, 2010

Protecting Sea Turtles

In response to a lawsuit brought last year by Oceana, the Center for Biological Diversity and the Turtle Island Restoration Network, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration of the United States, NOAA, has proposed designation of 181.000 km2 of ‘critical habitat’ in waters off of Washington, Oregon and California in an effort to meet the requirements of the Endangered Species Act and restore depleted populations of the endangered Pacific leatherback turtle. Though NOAA’s proposal does not include the already established Pacific Leatherback Conservation Area, Oceana is confident that the protections will aid leatherback recovery, as long as adequate fishing restrictions currently in place in the Conservation Area are unaltered and the agency recognizes and acts on the fact that commercial fishing is the largest threat to the existence of sea turtles.

December, 2009

Protecting Belize from Foreign Trawlers

News of Jamaican trawlers entering Belize’s southern waters in December to fish led to a decisive agreement by the Ministry of Fisheries to halt the issuing of fishing licenses to foreign fishing fleets in Belize’s Exclusive Economic Zone pending consultation with local fishermen. The action will allow officials to assess the sustainability of the proposed venture and ensure it does not displace local artisanal fishing communities. This decision is critical since the government is in the process of drafting regulations to exclude destructive fishing gears to protect vulnerable fin fish species such as parrot fish and Nassau grouper. Oceana’s new office in Belize called on the Government of Belize to suspend all plans and proposals to allow foreign fleets in territorial waters, until the proper groundwork on their viability and overall benefits can be ascertained. Some foreign companies are seeking 15-year development concessions, putting them in direct competition with local Belizeans.

November, 2009

Increasing U.S. Observer Funding

Oceana’s ongoing efforts to increase funding for the fishery observer program continue to produce results. Observers are trained monitors who count everything that is caught by a fishing vessel, including discarded fish, sea turtles and marine mammals. Observers are our eyes on the ocean and provide important information for fishery managers. In 2009, Congress appropriated $32.7 million to the observer program. For 2010, the observer program received $41.1 million, an increase of $8.4 million more than 2009.

November, 2009

The United States saving Sharks

The United States Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation passed the Shark Conservation Act of 2009 by voice vote, paving the way for full Senate consideration. The bill, introduced by Sen. John Kerry, would end shark finning in U.S. waters by requiring all sharks caught to be landed whole with their fins still attached. Landing sharks with their fins still attached allows for better enforcement and data collection for stock assessments and quota monitoring. The Act would also close a loophole that allows the transfer of fins at sea as a way to get around current law. Additionally, the bill would allow the United States to take action against countries whose shark finning restrictions are not as strenuous. Similar legislation has already passed the House of Representatives, led by Rep. Madeleine Bordallo.

October, 2009

Stopping Illegal Driftnets

Oceana issued a report to the European Commission and the general public on the continued use of illegal driftnets in the Mediterranean. This report is the last of a series resulting from years of Oceana work against the use of this illegal fishing gear and the fraud in subsidies. Oceana’s efforts contributed toward a judgment against Italy for the lack of control in the use of this illegal fishing gear. The European Union Court of Justice found Italy in breach of EU law for continuing to use driftnets, despite the ban on this gear in 2002. Separately, Oceana’s research has pushed for the reimbursement of subsidies intended to finance the conversion of driftnets fraudulently used by the fleet. Oceana’s report showed that 73 of 92 Italian vessels photographed with driftnets on board had been previously identified for conversion. To date, Italy has returned 7.7 million euros due to cases of fraud in subsidies for reconverting driftnet vessels.

October, 2009

Protecting Sharks

Following Oceana advocacy, the EU and USA governments proposed 8 species of sharks to CITES Appendix II. In preparation for the CITES negotiations in March 2010, the United States submitted the oceanic whitetip, dusky, sandbar, and three species of hammerhead shark – great, scalloped and smooth – for increased protection under these international trade rules. The European Union did the same for spiny dogfish (used for fish and chips) and the highly migratory porbeagle shark. If the proposals would have been adopted, export permits would have been only issued for shark products from these species if the products could be proven to be legal and sustainable.

September, 2009

Protecting Habitat in the Atlantic

Capping a five-year effort, Oceana helped persuade the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council to protect 59,000km2 of valuable deep-sea corals stretching from North Carolina to Florida by banning all bottom trawl activity in the area. Known as America’s largest continuous deep sea coral ecosystem, the area includes hundreds of pinnacles up to 500 feet tall and provides critical fish habitat for commercially valuable species like snapper, grouper, wreckfish, royal red shrimp and golden crab. Closing the area to bottom trawling will help ensure the long-term productivity of these species. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration now must approve the plan.

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