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.
December 30, 2023
Spain Designates Seven New Marine Protected Areas
The Spanish government designated seven new marine protected areas (MPAs) in three Spanish marine regions. These areas, rich in biodiversity and vulnerable ecosystems, will be part of the Natura 2000 Network, which includes the natural areas of greatest ecological value in the European Union. With this designation, the total marine area protected in Spain, including Natura 2000 areas and other areas, will increase from 12% to 21%, bringing the country closer to its goal of protecting 30% of its waters by 2030. The new MPAs will help protect key ecosystems and fisheries resources and provide climate refuges for species. Oceana campaigned with our allies for these new designations and contributed the scientific data on biodiversity hotspots collected during multiple expeditions. Oceana will continue to campaign to stop destructive fishing practices inside these areas.
December 14, 2023
Spain Sanctions 25 Fishing Vessels for Disabling Public Tracking Devices
The Government of Spain sanctioned 25 Spanish-flagged fishing vessels for repeatedly disabling their automatic identification system (AIS). The sanctions, with fines of up to €60,000 (US$65,000), are a direct result of Oceana’s analysis and close collaboration with the Spanish administration. Oceana found the sanctioned vessels appeared to be fishing near Argentinian waters between 2018 and 2021 with their AIS trackers turned off. These vessels spent nearly twice as much time with AIS devices off as they did visibly fishing.
Vessels are known to turn off their AIS trackers to avoid being seen, possibly to engage in fishing that is not authorized. Broadcasting AIS vessel location data is required by Spain and the European Union to guarantee safety at sea.
December 12, 2023
EU Sets Sustainable Catch Limits to Help Recover Fish Populations
The European Union set more sustainable catch limits for the fisheries it manages exclusively in the Northeast Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea for 2024. For Atlantic fisheries, 87% of the catch limits were set in line with scientific recommendations, nearly all the current catch by weight. Also this year, in the Western Mediterranean, fishing effort by destructive trawlers was reduced by 9.5% and catch limits were lowered for various deep-sea shrimps. Oceana and our allies campaigned for these changes across the EU and helped drive public support and engagement. Oceana will continue to campaign for sustainable fisheries management in EU waters.
November 10, 2023
Mediterranean Countries Can Now Penalize States who Fail to Tackle Overfishing and Illegal Fishing
The General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM) created a sanction system that will allow it to penalize states that fail to tackle overfishing or illegal fishing by their fleets. This action, which is the result of campaigning by Oceana and its allies, is essential to restoring fish populations in the Mediterranean Sea, one of the most overfished seas on Earth. Starting in 2025, the GFCM will be able to sanction countries that fail to take action when their trawl fleets fish in no-trawl areas, or if they fail to follow rules on fishing gear or catch restrictions. These penalties can include restricting fishing authorizations or reducing the allowed fishing days at sea. Prior to the GFCM’s decision, Oceana, ClientEarth, and the Environmental Justice Foundation prepared a legal analysis, which found that the GFCM could establish such a system. Oceana continues to urge Mediterranean countries to follow through on their commitments and restore fish populations and ecosystems.
June 27, 2023
EU Requires Tracking Systems for All Its Fishing Vessels
The European Commission, the European Parliament, and the Council agreed a new law that requires all European Union (EU) fishing vessels, including 49,000 small-scale vessels, to install and use tracking systems by 2030 at the latest. Tracking systems have numerous benefits for the ocean, including promoting sustainable fisheries by increasing transparency about fishing activities. Simultaneously, they empower fishers by involving them in fisheries management, and they enable rapid emergency response in the case of safety issues at sea. The law also requires more transparency from EU countries, which must now disclose national enforcement actions, including the annual number of infringements detected and sanctions imposed. They must also set up a digital traceability system to provide key information (species and origin) to authorities for all seafood products on the EU market. This law, which follows campaigning by Oceana and our allies, will enhance transparency, optimize fishing efficiency, and help combat illegal fishing.
May 31, 2023
European Commission Releases Public Database Disclosing Activities of EU Vessels Fishing Outside of EU Waters
Following campaigning by Oceana and its allies, the European Commission released a public database that allows anyone to search for information about EU-flagged vessels authorized to fish outside of European Union (EU) waters. As a measure to increase transparency, the database publishes information on each vessel, including: what waters it is authorized to fish outside of the EU and for how long; the fishing gear it is allowed to use; and its target species. Prior to this victory, public information about the activities of EU-flagged vessels fishing outside of EU waters was limited or non-existent, allowing these vessels to operate with little scrutiny. Oceana’s campaigning was critical in making this database a reality, which will help shine a light on fishing vessel activity and deter illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing.
May 15, 2023
Dow Jones Introduces New Screening Requirements for Illegal, Unregulated, and Unreported Fishing Vessels
Following campaigning by Oceana in Europe, Dow Jones, the third-party screening provider for many businesses that service the fishing sector, agreed to integrate illegal, unregulated, and unreported (IUU) vessel checks into its risk screening systems. These systems are used by businesses that provide fuel, logistical support, crews, satellite communications, and other services, to assess potential risks before doing business with fisheries operators. By limiting their services strictly to legitimate operators, businesses can reduce risks of legal non-compliance and avoid association with environmental crimes, reputational damage, and human rights abuses. Additionally, by reducing access to essential services that keep IUU vessel operations on the water, these businesses are pulling the plug on unscrupulous operators that plunder the ocean.
February 22, 2023
Oceana Defends EU Common Fisheries Policy from Attack
Oceana and its allies defended the European Union’s main fisheries law from attacks, including attempts to overturn the discard ban, which was the subject of strong lobbying by the industrial fishing sector. Adopted in 2013, the Common Fisheries Policy has led EU fisheries to become increasingly more sustainable by adhering to principles such as science-based catch limits and bycatch reduction. The European Commission’s recent assessment of the law showed that the number of sustainably harvested fish stocks has increased from only five in 2009 to over 60 in 2022. Oceana continues to campaign for full implementation and enforcement of the law
December 19, 2022
German and Dutch Marine Protected Areas Closed to Destructive Fishing Gear
Following joint recommendations by Germany and the Netherlands, the European Commission closed over 3,500 square kilometers (over 1,350 square miles) of the North Sea to bottom trawling, and prohibited the use of destructive fishing gears such as gillnets, trammel nets, and driftnets across an additional 1,700 square kilometers (over 650 square miles). These fisheries restrictions cover parts of existing marine protected areas (MPAs) designated for the protection of reefs, sandbanks, and endangered marine species such as the harbor porpoise. Oceana researched these important areas during expeditions in 2016 and 2017, published proposals for their protection, and campaigned for their adoption.
November 30, 2022
New International Rule Requires Countries to Investigate and Deter Companies from Engaging with Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated Fishing Vessels
The International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT), an inter-governmental organization that oversees the conservation and management of fishes such as tunas and swordfish in the Atlantic Ocean, adopted a new rule that will prevent companies from providing services, such as insurance, satellite communications, and financial services, to fishing vessels known to be engaged in illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing in the ICCAT regulatory area. The 52 member countries of ICCAT will be required to take effective and deterrent action against citizens and businesses that engage with and support IUU fishing. Campaigning by Oceana in Europe, Brazil, Canada, and the United States, was key to securing this victory. This achievement builds on Oceana’s ongoing campaign to get companies that do business with the fishing sector to avoid supporting illicit fishing activities.