Responsible Fishing

Initiative: Oceana Campaigns
Partner / Beneficiary: Oceana

Responsible Fishing

Oceana campaigns around the world to create responsible fishing policy and stop overfishing through the establishment of science-based catch limits, ending harmful fishing subsidies and reducing illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing.


Overfishing is rapidly depleting many of the world’s fish populations. The global fish catch peaked in the late 1980’s and has been declining ever since. Meanwhile, roughly 1 billion people, many of them poor, already depend upon fish as a primary source of animal protein.  Oceana works to reduce overfishing by advocating for science-based catch limits, reducing harmful fishing subsidies and stopping illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing.

Setting and enforcing science-based limits to govern how much fish is allowed to be taken out of the seas has been shown time and again to allow fish populations to remain healthy and, in many cases, dramatically increase in size. Oceana seeks to win policy victories around the world that put in place and enforce science-based catch limits.

Overfishing is exacerbated by harmful fishing subsidies. These payments cause too many boats to be on the water and encourage fishing beyond sensible reason. Oceana works in Europe and elsewhere to limit these subsidies.

In addition, many commercial fishing vessels also operate unlawfully in the worlds’ oceans, engaging in IUU fishing. Without knowing how much fish fishing vessels catch, and which types of species they are landing, scientists cannot create scientifically-based fishing quotas that can allow species to be fished at responsible levels while continuing to grow the size of their populations.

By promoting responsible fishing practices — like setting science-based catch limits, tracking IUU fishing and eliminating fishing subsidies — Oceana is safeguarding fisheries as a valuable source of food and jobs for the future. If managed sustainably, the oceans can provide enough fish to feed more than a billion people a healthy seafood meal each day.



What Oceana Does


Chile is on track to dramatically rebuild its fisheries, thanks to new science-based fishing quotas for important species, including common hake, anchoveta, sardines and jack mackerel, all of which are overfished. Following a 2013 reform to the Chilean Fisheries Law, the Chilean government announced the country’s first science-based fisheries quotas for 2014, set with required advice from scientific committees. The government reduced the quota for common hake by 55 percent, for anchoveta by 65 percent in specific regions and for sardines by 29 percent in specific regions. The only increased quota was for the jack mackerel fishery, which is recovering after previous quota reductions. Reducing quotas will allow these seriously overfished species time to recover and rebuild, to the benefit of fishermen and ocean health.



The European Union Fisheries Council adopoted new fisheries laws that, if implemented, could increase European fish populations by as much at 40 percent. Oceana is campaigning to ensure that European policy makers follow through and use science and other responsible fishing tools to ensure that Europe can rebuild its fisheries and become a net exporter of seafood one day.