Oceana listed several important ocean conservation milestones for this year, some of which they actively spearheaded and some were the end result of hard work from many organizations and individuals.
Offshore Drilling Halted in Eastern Gulf of Mexico, and Atlantic and Pacific Coasts
December, 2010 - Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced that in the new five-year drilling plan, no new offshore drilling would be allowed in the Eastern Gulf of Mexico or off the Atlantic and Pacific coasts. The Eastern Gulf of Mexico will be protected from offshore oil and gas exploration for the next seven years. These areas were being considered for oil and gas development, and the Administration had previously indicated support for exploration in the Atlantic Ocean. The decision follows years of campaign work by Oceana to stop expanded offshore drilling.Belize Bans All Trawling
December 2010 - The Belizean government announced that all forms of trawling were banned in the country's waters. Oceana in Belize collaborated with Belizean Prime Minister Dean Barrow’s administration to negotiate the buy-out of the two shrimp trawlers.
With this ban, which goes into effect December 31st, Belize has become one of the first countries in the world to institute a complete and permanent ban on trawling in all its waters.
December, 2010 - The Olin Corporation announced that it will convert its mercury-based chlor-alkali manufacturing plant in Charleston, TN to modern, mercury free technology and eliminate mercury from its plant operation in Augusta, GA. Oceana has been pushing for these actions since 2005. Olin’s plant in Tennessee is the largest remaining mercury-based chlorine plant of the four plants in the U.S. that had refused to make the switch to safer, more efficient technology.
December 2010 - The U.S. House of Representatives approved the Senate version of the Shark Conservation Act, clearing the final hurdle to ending shark finning in U.S. waters. The Shark Conservation Act improves the existing law originally intended to prevent shark finning. It also allows the U.S. to take action against countries whose shark finning restrictions are not as strenuous, labelling the U.S. as a continued leader in shark conservation.
ICCAT Improves Conservation Measures for Sharks and Sea Turtles
November, 2010 - Though failing to improve protections for bluefin tuna, the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) increased the number of shark species prohibited for retention in ICCAT fisheries. Specifically, the group improved conservation measures for oceanic whitetip sharks, hammerhead sharks and shortfin mako sharks. In addition, ICCAT put in place new measures to reduce sea turtle mortality, such as the use of sea turtle dehooking and disentangling gear as well as mandatory collection and submission of sea turtle bycatch data.
Chile Creates Marine Reserve Around Sala y Gómez Island
October, 2010 - Chile’s President Sebastián Piñera announced the creation of Sala y Gómez Marine Park, a no-take marine reserve of 150,000 square kilometers around Sala y Gómez island. The decision came after a preliminary expedition to Sala y Gómez by Oceana, National Geographic and the Waitt Foundation, in which they found abundant populations of vulnerable species such as sharks and lobsters and unexpectedly high biodiversity in deeper waters.
The new park expands Chile’s total marine protected area more than 100 times, from 0.03% to 4.41%.
Chile Reduces Jack Mackerel Overfishing
October, 2010 - The Chilean government announced a drastic reduction in the fishing quota for jack mackerel and other fisheries, starting in 2011. The decision came after Oceana sent the Minister of Economy a report analyzing the annual quota set for jack mackerel during the past 10 years.
The study, put together with data that Oceana obtained through Chile’s Freedom of Information Act, shows that between 2003 and 2010 the National Fisheries Council set the annual quota for jack mackerel at higher catch limits than was recommended by the Institute for Fisheries Development. In fact, in 2009 the quota was 87 percent higher than what was recommended by the agency.
Turkey Pledges to Eliminate Driftnets
September, 2010 - Following intense campaign work by Oceana Europe, Turkey announced it will stop using drifnets in 2011. Oceana estimates that more than 500 vessels have been operating illegally in the Mediterranean, some with nets up to 12 miles long.
In 2009, Oceana identified at least 30 Turkish vessels using driftnets in the Aegean and Mediterranean to target swordfish and bonito, and there are an estimated 70 to 150 vessels operating in the country.Chilean Senate Recommends MPA Around Sala y Gómez Island
August, 2010 - The Chilean Senate’s Fisheries Committee unanimously agreed that the Chilean government should establish a 200 nautical mile marine protected area around the Island of Sala y Gómez, near Easter Island. Oceana and National Geographic have been promoting the protection of this area, which still remains virtually unexplored, and which may well be one of the last pristine vulnerable marine ecosystems in the Pacific
Coal-fired Power Plant Defeated in Northern Chile
August, 2010 - Two days after the Regional Environmental Committee of Chile's Coquimbo Region approved the construction of a coal-fired power plant, Chilean President Sebastiàn Piñera, responding to immense grassroots opposition, requested that Suez Energy relocate it. In addition, he asked his cabinet to review all the industrial projects being considered in the country to see whether they could affect protected areas.
Alongside local organizations, Oceana has been working to prevent the approval of the thermoelectric coal-fired power plant due to its environmental impacts on nearby marine ecosystems and on the quality of life of adjacent communities.Inch by inch, step by step. We can come to the end of the year gratified in the knowledge that some significant progress has been made. But there's much more to be done.
Read more details on these important accomplishments at Oceana.org.