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.
January 31, 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 1, 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 15, 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 1, 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 15, 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 7, 2009
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 15, 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.
August 15, 2009
Beginning November 2009, bottom trawls and dredges will be prohibited in four deepwater canyons along the US Atlantic coast – a move that will protect the Atlantic tilefish fishery but that will also preserve a rich ecosystem that supports lobster, deep sea corals and sponges living in the canyons. Oceana pushed the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council to close the canyons (Oceanographer, Lydonia, Veatch and Norfolk), which range from Massachusetts to Virginia.
August 7, 2009
Saving sea turtles
After campaigning by Oceana, the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council voted to put in place new restrictions on bottom longline fishing off the west coast of Florida that will save hundreds of loggerhead sea turtles each year. The measures reduce the number of vessels eligible to fish with bottom longline gear by 80 percent, limit the number of hooks allowed on each vessel, and ban bottom longline fishing from June to August in waters up to about 210 feet deep. The National
Marine Fisheries Service now must act on the proposed plan.
July 15, 2009
United States will protect the food web
Following a multi-year advocacy campaign led by Oceana and others, and with the strong support of scientists, governors, conservationists, fishermen, coastal businesses and local communities, the federal government issued final regulations banning all fishing for krill in the U.S. Pacific waters of California, Oregon and Washington. Krill is the general name used for 85 species of small shrimp-like crustaceans that are a primary component of the diet for salmon, whales, seabirds and other animals, and play an essential role in the health of ocean ecosystems. Worldwide, ocean wildlife is estimated to consume between 150 and 300 million metric tons of krill each year. As a precautionary measure, the ban on commercial krill fisheries protects the vast marine food web that ultimately supports major commercial fisheries.