Blog | Oceana USA

Jerry Fraser's recent editorial ("A Dual Assault") in National Fisherman's e-newsletter was very misguided and only repeated the industry song of denial when it comes to dealing with destructive fishing issues in a straightforward manner. The science on the impacts of bottom trawling is not a grey area. The NRC report on this issue clearly says that bottom trawling has adverse impacts on structured habitat.

The science on the habitat needs of juvenile cod is also very clear - juvenile cod need places to hide from predators for survival. Juvenile cod habitats are still subject to being flattened by trawling and dredging, cod are still depleted, the NE fishing industry is still suffering the economic conquences and the only option left to seek habitat protection is through the courts.

The National Marine Fisheries Service did the cod, cod fishermen, and our oceans a huge disservice by approving management plans that failed to protect their critical habitats. Mr. Fraser would better serve the needs of the fishing industry by writing stories about responsible ocean use and encourage the industry to proactively address this and other desructive fishing practices. It's only going to be when we are all working for healthy oceans that the NE fishing industry can once again thrive. It's not all about catching more fish it's about fishing sustainably and healthy fish populations need healthy habitats. Ask the habitat scientists in NE what needs to be done. Their recommendations are not what NMFS recently approved, actually quite the opposite.

A loggerhead turtle

Last week a record number of endangered and threatened sea turtles began washing up along the Georgia coastline, including 13 Kemp's ridley sea turtles, the most endangered sea turtle in the world.  At the same time, 106 shrimp boats were spotted fishing off the Georgia coastline.  Because the turtles otherwise seemed healthy and no other fishing was occurring in those waters, officials think that shrimp trawling may be the culprit.

This news was particularly disturbing because last spring, after years of pressure from Oceana and other concerned citizens, the federal government finally required new, larger turtle excluder devices (TEDs), escape hatches sewn into trawl fishing nets, to allow all sea turtles to escape drowning.  Properly installed TEDs should dramatically reduce sea turtle deaths. Georgia shrimpers were one of the first groups to embrace this technology.  Unfortunately, though, it seems that other fishermen are choosing not to use their TEDs properly. Because government studies have shown that properly installed TEDs only reduce shrimp retention between 0-2%, it is unfortunate that TEDs may be sewn shut.

Clearly, education and enforcement are increasingly necessary to ensure that everyone is following the law.  As sea turtles continue to wash up on Georgia beaches, we are reminded that sea turtles face many man-made threats in the oceans.  Shrimp fishermen should not be one of them.  

For more information:

Check out this story. Can you imagine what happens to the whales, dolphins, turtles, sharks and other marine creatures who don't even have a chance against these boats?

COPENHAGEN (AFP) - A Danish trawler made a surprise catch when it scooped up a German submarine in its nets, forcing the vessel to rise to the surface, Danish sea rescue officials said.

The trawler was fishing in the Skagerrak waters between Norway and Denmark, about 20 nautical miles off the Danish port of Hirtshals, when it made its unusual catch...

This is not the first time a Danish fishing boat has had a close encounter with a submarine in the region. In March 1984, three crewmen were killed when their trawler was pulled to the bottom by a German submarine caught in its nets.

Oceana's victory in getting Royal Caribbean Cruises to adopt advanced wastewater treatment technology fleetwide is a tremendous step, but it is not the final solution to the problem of cruise ship pollution.  The industry is still growing.  The number of passengers that travel each year is increasing bringing with it more and more pollution, and cruise terminals are being developed in more and more cities throughout the country.  Cruise ships are no longer limited to Florida and Alaska, but headed to places like Norfolk, VA, and Gloucester, MA.

Because of this, it is not enough for one company to adopt advanced wastewater treatment technology.  Legislation is needed to combat this problem, and the Clean Cruise Ships Act of 2004 (PDF fact sheet) which has been introduced by Senator Durbin (D-IL) and Representative Farr (D-CA) would be the way to do it.  

This bill would:

  • prohibit the discharge of sewage, graywater and oily bilge water within twelve miles of the coast;
  • set standards for the treatment of sewage and graywater that can be released once they are outside of twelve miles;
  • ensure illegal discharges do not continue by requiring better inspection and monitoring.

It is important that we continue working to clean up our oceans and generate support for this bill.  Please contact your Members of Congress and ask them to support this legislation!

[editor's note, by Jason] (This post is by Andy Sharpless, Oceana's CEO.)

Eleven hard months of campaigning against Royal Caribbean. Oceana's demand was simple: stop dumping untreated and poorly treated sewage into our oceans! The company knew that technology existed to treat their waste water -- indeed it had installed this equipment on three of its 28 ships. We called on them to commit to cleaning up their entire fleet.

Two days ago, on Monday morning, I received a Fed Ex letter from Richard Fain, Chairman and CEO of Royal Caribbean, committing to installing advanced wastewater treatment equipment on the entire fleet, to audit its performance and to publicly disclose the results of those audits. (You can read the letter by following the link above.)

While the company doesn't want to give Oceana credit for this decision, we're sure that our months of flying banners behind airplanes, recruiting almost 90,000 people to pledge not to take a cruise, leafletting passengers onboard ships in the middle of the night, and holding rallies in ports in both the Atlantic and the Pacific were key drivers of their decision. And we commend them for it! Mr. Fain and the company are doing the right thing, and the oceans will be cleaner as a result. They are the second largest cruise ship operator, and their example will reverberate through the industry for the benefit of our oceans and our beaches.

We are also continuing the fight for clean oceans by working hard for passage of the Clean Cruise Ship Act of 2004, which is federal legislation that would make sure all cruise companies using American ports meet the standard we fought to make Royal Caribbean meet. This is a good day for everyone who cares about the future of our oceans, and who is working to prevent the irreversible collapse of our ocean wildlife.