The ocean rejuvenates, inspires, and restores us. It gives us so much, but any ocean-related news is too often depressing. One of the reasons I love the nonprofit group Oceana is that it does something about the depressing news. Members receive notifications of petitions to sign and the group works with lawyers and politicians to create real environmental change. So for some good news, here are a few ocean victories that came about this year:
1. Nearly 40,000 people signed an Oceana petition asking Alibaba.com to stop selling leather products made from manta rays. The company listened and the products were removed from the website.
2. The first permanent safe haven in continental U.S. waters for the endangered Pacific leatherback turtle was established when the government designated about 42,000 square miles off the West Coast as critical habitat.
3. The European Parliament approved a ban on shark finning. The EU is the world’s largest exporter of shark fins to Hong Kong and China. This new rule is a step toward the protection and conservation of sharks around the world.
4. New laws passed by the Chilean senate will close all of Chile’s 118 seamounts to bottom trawling, impose science-based fishing quotas, and improve monitoring on Chilean fishing vessels to drastically reduce untargeted catch or bycatch.
5. Responding to petitions filed by Oceana, the government announced that it will consider the West Coast population of great white sharks for listing under the federal Endangered Species Act by June 2013. This unique population of sharks may only have a few hundred adults remaining.