Victories | Oceana USA


Since 2001, Oceana has achieved dozens 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.

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.

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.

December 2019

New U.S. Protection Will Save Sea Turtles from Dangerous Fishing Gear

The United States government finalized a rule protecting sea turtles from shrimp trawls in the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Ocean. This action comes after legal action from Oceana alleging that the federal government violated the Endangered Species Act in its failure to protect sea turtles from this fishery. The rule will require more than 1,000 additional shrimp vessels to deploy Turtle Excluder Devices (TEDs), which are 97% effective at allowing sea turtles to escape shrimp nets and which would save as many as 1,150 endangered and threatened sea turtles every year.

November 2019

Fishery Council Blocks Return of West Coast Longlines, Safeguarding Sea Turtles, Marine Mammals and Sharks

The Pacific Fishery Management Council voted overwhelmingly not to reopen pelagic longline fishing on the west coast of the United States. Pelagic longlining is a harmful fishing method that has been prohibited off the West Coast for decades and that have been to linked excessive bycatch of unintended species including marine mammals, sea turtles, seabirds, marlins and sharks. Despite this known danger to marine life, there was pressure on the Council to once again allow pelagic longline fishing on the high seas. This decision is a major win for the oceans. This victory came after decade long campaigning by Oceana and our allies – including birding and sportfishing communities, ecotourism operators, and Members of Congress

November 2019

More than 140,000 Square Miles of U.S. West Coast Seafloor Habitat Protected from Destructive Fishing

NOAA Fisheries issued final regulations to protect more than 140,000 square miles of living seafloor habitat off the U.S. West Coast from destructive bottom trawling, following campaigning by Oceana and allies. With this victory, 90% of the seafloor in U.S. waters off the West Coast will be safe from bottom trawling. These regulations will protect corals, sponges, rocky reefs, and other important habitat for marine life and ocean ecosystems.

October 2019

California Protects Small Fish Critical to Ocean Health and Abundance

The California Fish and Game Commission adopted a first-of-its-kind Fishery Management Plan for Pacific herring, a small fish critical to ocean food chains that provides nutrition to marine life, seabirds, and marine mammals. This plan comes after seven years of Oceana working with allies and government officials to create a new, sustainable fishery management framework that will protect herring as a vital food source and ensure its abundance into the future.

September 2019

U.S. Approves New Sustainable Fishing Gear to Provide Alternative to “Walls Of Death” off the U.S. West Coast

The Pacific Fishery Management Council has legally authorized deep-set buoy gear—an innovative fishing gear designed to successfully and sustainability catch swordfish off the U.S. West Coast. Unlike drift gillnets, which are a highly indiscriminate and wasteful fishing practice often used to catch swordfish, deep-set buoy gear will avoid deadly harm to marine mammals and sea turtles. This victory follows more than eight years of advocacy from Oceana in support of deep-set buoy gear, which has proven to be a better environmental and financial alternative.