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.

April 2016

Small Fish Win Big Protections in the U.S. Pacific Ocean

The National Marine Fisheries Service issued a final rule today prohibiting the development of new commercial fisheries for forage species in all federal ocean waters offshore Washington, Oregon, and California (3-200 nautical miles). These regulations implement a unanimous decision by the federal Pacific Fishery Management Council which voted in March 2015 to proactively protect forage fish.

March 2016

Oceana Declares Victory in Protecting the Atlantic from Offshore Drilling

The Obama administration made a historic move to protect the East Coast from offshore drilling. In the newly proposed five-year program for oil and gas development on the Outer Continental Shelf, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management removed the Atlantic Ocean for leasing from 2017 to 2022. While Oceana applauded the Obama administration for listening to widespread opposition along the East Coast, it continues to urge the government to stop seismic airgun use in the Atlantic and not to hold new lease sales in the remote and unforgiving Arctic Ocean.

December 2015

GrubHub to Ban Sale of Shark Fin Products

GrubHub, the nation's leading online and mobile food ordering company, announced it will no longer allow restaurants to sell shark fin products through its website and subsidiary websites. It is estimated that 73 million sharks, many of which are vulnerable or even critically endangered species, are killed every year to supply the wasteful demand for shark fin soup. Shark finning involves hacking a shark’s fins off, often while the shark is still alive. The body of the shark is then thrown back into the ocean, only to drown, starve or die a slow death. Although the practice of shark finning is illegal in U.S. waters, fins can still be bought and sold in many U.S. states. These fins often come from unsustainable foreign fisheries in countries that have ineffective shark finning bans, contributing to the global trend of declining shark populations, which scientists have estimated to be at more than 90 percent for many species. Since 2010, 10 states and three U.S. territories have passed laws prohibiting the buying and selling of shark fins within their borders, including California, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, Maryland, New York, Oregon, Texas and Washington as well as American Samoa, the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands and Guam. As apex predators, sharks play a critical role in maintaining healthy oceans and balanced food webs, however the global fin trade has thrown many marine ecosystems into jeopardy.

September 2015

Shell Abandons Drilling Activity in U.S. Arctic Ocean

Following years of campaigning by Oceana and its allies, Shell Oil announced that it will cease further oil exploration in the U.S. Arctic Ocean for the foreseeable future. The move comes after a series of failed exploration attempts in the Arctic, costing the company billions of dollars. Shell’s efforts to operate in the remote and unforgiving Arctic in 2012 led to a series of mishaps, fines, government investigations and the grounding of the drill rig Kulluk. This year Shell faced new challenges and was unable to find oil in the prospect where the company drilled. Oceana’s campaigners successfully used law, economics, lobbying, science, and the press to clearly make the case that Shell’s plan was neither economically viable nor environmentally safe. Today’s decision is propelled by more than eight years of campaigning by Oceana and its allies whose work charted new ways to stop one of the largest and most powerful companies on the planet from putting the U.S. Arctic Ocean at risk. This is an enormous victory for the oceans, Oceana and the entire conservation community. 

September 2015

Landmark Decision to Protect Endangered Sea Turtles, Dolphins, and Whales

Today, the Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) adopted hard limits on the number of endangered marine mammals and sea turtles that can be injured or killed in the California-based swordfish drift gillnet fishery. Oceana commends the Council’s action to safeguard sensitive marine wildlife. If too many endangered species are caught over a two-year period, the fishery will be shut down for the remainder of the fishing season.

September 2015

Landmark Decision to Protect Endangered Sea Turtles, Dolphins, and Whales

The Pacific Fishery Management Council adopted hard limits on the number of endangered marine mammals and sea turtles that can be injured or killed in the California-based swordfish drift gillnet fishery. If too many endangered species are caught over a two-year period, the fishery will be shut down for the remainder of the fishing season. Drift gillnets — stretching a mile in length and 200 feet below the ocean’s surface — target swordfish and thresher sharks in federal ocean waters off California. Yet they create a deadly trap for all ocean wildlife that swims in their path. On average, the swordfish drift gillnet fishery throws overboard 64 percent of its catch, much of it dead or dying. Marine mammals feeding off the coast of California are regularly ensnared in these invisible nets and they drown when they are not able to surface for air. According to the Council decision, hard caps will be set for the following nine wildlife species: endangered fin, humpback, and sperm whales, short-fin pilot whales, and common bottlenose dolphins; as well as for endangered leatherback, loggerhead, olive ridley, and green sea turtles (see table, below). Federal fishery observers are expected to monitor 30% of the fishery to determine if the caps are hit in the next two fishing years, and fishery monitoring will increase to 100% in 2018 according to the Council action.

July 2015

Louisiana Now Requires TEDs Enforcement on Shrimp Trawl Vessels

Since 1987, Louisiana has remained the only state to not enforce federal regulations requiring that shrimp otter trawl vessels use Turtle Excluder Devices (TEDs)—openings in nets that allow turtles to escape when accidentally caught. But in July, Louisiana reversed state law with the passage of House Bill 668, allowing Louisiana state officials to enforce TEDs on shrimp otter trawl vessels. The Louisiana shrimp industry supported the bill, with the Louisiana Shrimp Task Force, made up of industry stakeholders, officially voting in favor of reversing the 1987 law partly to help improve the conservation rating of their shrimp. Oceana has previously exposed the amount of bycatch in the Southeast Shrimp Trawl Fishery, and has worked for years to get Louisiana on board with federal law.

June 2015

Texas Becomes 10th State to Ban Trade of Shark Fins

Texas became the 10th state in the U.S. to ban the sale of shark fins after signing a house bill into law. Texas had recently emerged as a hub for shark fins, with the state’s fin trade growing by 240 percent since 2010. This move also makes Texas the first state in the Gulf region to pass a shark fin sale ban, and follows several fin trade bans in California, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, Maryland, New York, Oregon and Washington. Shark finning is illegal in U.S. waters, but most states still import and export fins. The shark fin trade is largely responsible for millions of shark deaths per year and is significantly driving their decline. Oceana has campaigned against the shark fin trade for years, and has previously won victories at the state and Federal levels to establish and uphold shark fin bans in other states.

June 2015

Deep-Sea Corals Protected from Destructive Fishing in the Mid-Atlantic

The Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council approved a proposal to protect over 35,000 square miles of ocean habitat, an area roughly equivalent to the size of Kentucky, from trawl and dredge fishing where deep sea corals live. This strategy is part of a coral conservation plan to protect known coral areas from current fishing efforts. Oceana has been working for more than a decade to identify and protect deep-sea corals from harmful fishing gears in United States waters and around the world.

June 2015

A Small Consession for Halibut in the Bering Sea

The North Pacific Fishery Management Council voted for a slight reduction to the Pacific halibut bycatch limits of the Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands (BSAI) groundfish fisheries. In the last 10 years (2004-2013), approximately 82 million pounds of mostly juvenile halibut have been wasted as bycatch in the federal groundfish fisheries in the Bering Sea. The amount of halibut discarded as bycatch by the groundfish fisheries still exceeds the catch of the halibut fisheries in the region that catch halibut for human consumption. The action may result in an approximately 11 percent reduction from the average halibut bycatch, and might save up to 645,000 pounds of halibut from being wasted next year. The lower halibut bycatch limits may be in place by 2016 and would mostly affect the industrial bottom trawl fleet that catch large volumes of lower value flatfish for export to Asia.