What We Do: Protecting Our Oceans

Dive into Greenpeace's Oceans campaign and learn how you can help us stop overfishing, end commercial whaling, and create worldwide marine reserves - including the Bering Sea.

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Greenpeace has celebrated many victories for the oceans, their inhabitants, and the people who depend upon it.

Great progress has been made in protecting marine reserves, ending whaling and promoting sustainable seafood.

Here are few of our highlights:

Marine Reserves

2014 has been an encouraging year so far for marine reserves. In September 2014, the US Government set aside almost 500,000 square miles in the remote Pacific to create the world’s largest fully protected reserve.

That’s a good first step and Greenpeace, our supporters, and our allies will continue to pressure world leaders to protect more global ocean areas.

Bering Sea

Greenpeace’s vision to protect the Bering Sea and its remarkable underwater canyons is for those officials tasked with managing it to introduce measures for long-term protection from destructive fishing practices and other threats. Greenpeace has teamed with other marine experts including  The most influential body in this vision is the North Pacific Fishery Management Council, tasked with managing this region’s fisheries including the Bering Sea.

Greenpeace celebrated a big moment in 2013 when our Bering Sea team headed to the North Pacific Fishery Management Council meeting in Juneau, Alaska. We carried the voices of more than 100,000 people who signed petitions asking for protection of the Bering Sea and its canyons. We also took the opportunity to fly our thermal airship during the meeting with a message of Bering Sea protection.

The NPFMC heard our message loud and clear. The Council voted unanimously to move forward with a short-term plan to identify known areas of coral concentration for potential protection and initiate a Fishery Ecosystem Plan for the Bering Sea.

Greenpeace paved the way for this decision with cutting edge science, grassroots pressure, relentless lobbying, support from indigenous populations and the endorsement of major retailers. Months prior, Greenpeace presented information to a packed NPFMC meeting showing the importance of the coastal shelf break and Bering Sea canyons as habitat for fish populations, further making the case for protecting these areas from industrial fishing.

The Bering Sea team will continue to pressure the NPFMC, with the support of other allied groups and sectors, to apply stronger protection for the Bering Sea Canyons and all those who depend on its health.

Saving Whales

Greenpeace remains determined in our vision to save whales and other important ocean life all over the world.

It all started when the International Whaling Commission issued a moratorium on whaling in 1982, but we had so much continued work to do to save whales. Our major highlights during recent years in ocean wildlife protection include:

  • In 2012, South Korean Prime Minister Kim Hwang-sik announced the country would abandon plans for scientific whaling after more than 100,000 people from around the world sent messages to Hwang-sik asking for whale protection.
  • After Greenpeace demonstrated outside of one of the company’s headquarters in Portland, Maine, three major shipping companies-  Evergreen, Eimskip and Samskip- announced they would no longer carry Icelandic whale meat.

  • Following major public outcry, the California Coastal Commission denied the Navy permission to conduct dangerous bomb and sonar tests in the Pacific Ocean, protecting countless wildlife including several species of whales and dolphins. The Commission also recently ended nuclear seismic testing by California energy company P&G. These decisions saved the lives of Pacific Ocean whales, sea otters, dolphins and dozen of other marine life.

Ensuring Sustainable Seafood

Greenpeace works to promote sustainable fishing practices that protect the health of our oceans, its inhabitants and those who depend on both.

  • For the first time, three supermarket retailers - Whole Foods, Safeway, and Trader Joe’s - scored GREEN on Greenpeace’s annual seafood scorecard, Carting Away the Oceans. Of the 20 retailers profiled, 18 achieved passing scores, and former campaign target Trader Joe’s shot up 12 places since the last scorecard due to significant improvements in its seafood sourcing policies, elimination of 6 red list items, and support for Bering canyons protections. That’s a lot of good news for our oceans.

  • Greenpeace continues to celebrate as we hear of more and more brands offering a tuna product that is not only sustainable, but affordable. Most recently, Costco, the bulk-buying mecca, announced its Kirkland brand of skipjack tuna will not use the Fish Aggregating Devices that kill countless sharks, turtles, rays and other marine wildlife. Costco joined Safeway, Whole Foods and Wal-Mart for selling a tuna product sourced responsibly.

  • With pressure from Greenpeace, Senegal, a country that depends heavily on a healthy fishing industry, has made great strides to support local and sustainable fishing. The country canceled all permits for foreign “pelagic trawlers,” large fishing vessels that drag nets below the surface of the ocean. Senegal's new president Macky Sall followed Greenpeace's advice, fulfilled his election promises and kicked 29 foreign fish trawlers out of Senegal's waters. As a result, the catches by local fishermen's have been on the increase.