Success stories

Milestones since 1989

Latests successes

2016

OceanCare becomes partner organisation of the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS).

OceanCare becomes partner organisation of the General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM), a regional agreement of the Food and Agriculture Organisation.

Dr. Silvia Frey is invited as an external expert to the Scientific Committee of the International Whaling Commission.

At the Conference of Parties to the Agreement on the Conservation of Cetaceans in the Mediterranean Sea (ACCOBAMS), OceanCare is instrumental in achieving a resolution on expanding measures to reduce noise in the Mediterranean.

The long-term efforts by OceanCare and NRDC pay off: Since December 2016, environmental impact assessments are mandatory prior to noise-intensive activities in EU waters.

Lora L. Nordtvedt Reeve, expert in law of the sea and environmental law, represents OceanCare at the first two rounds of negotiations on the new UN agreement on the conservation of the high seas.

Sigrid Lüber and Fabienne McLellan participate in the informal consultative process of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea regarding marine plastic pollution in New York and introduce important claims which are adopted for the final report directed to the UN General Assembly.

OceanCare and Dolphin Biology & Conservation ask the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) to declare the Gulf of Corinth in Greece an Important Marine Mammal Area.

OceanCare co-hosts a workshop with 40 renowned scientists compiling new data on the endangerment of common dolphins in a report. At the ACCOBAMS conference, OceanCare takes this report to call for the highest degree of protection for this dolphin species in the Mediterranean.

Undercover investigations by Stefan Austermühle, made possible also by OceanCare in 2013, prompt the Peruvian public prosecution authority to bring a charge against three fishermen who were filmed killing dolphins. A decree by the Peruvian government bans the harpoons that are used for killing dolphins.

A filming crew sent by OceanCare documents the trade in shark fins and the sale of baby sharks on local markets in Peru.

At the whaling conference, the EU condemns the escalating whaling and increasing whale meat trade by Norway and Iceland. OceanCare, Pro Wildlife and AWI had called for this vote, as initially the policies of these two countries had not been on the agenda of the conference.

OceanCare launches a new whale and dolphin research and conservation programme in Sicily. Sightings of rough-toothed dolphins are very valuable to science.

A poster designed by OceanCare and AWI is being distributed in Senegal, raising awareness for the threats to manatees and illustrating that poaching will be punished.

OceanCare presents a report on aquatic bushmeat as well as anti-poaching measures to the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species, establishing a basis for a resolution that will be voted on in 2017.

British Divers for Marine Life Rescue carry out more than 600 rescue operations. OceanCare supports further professionalizing of the field work through laminated manuals, first-aid kits and new ocean-going equipment.

The monk seal population at Cap Blanc in Mauritania grew further and is now estimated at 280 animals.

Already 70 airlines and cargo companies followed the call of a network of organisations including OceanCare and ban the transport of shark fins.

OceanCare supports beach cleaning activities by Archipelagos in the Greek islands of Samos and Agathonisi. 3000 booklets on plastic waste in Greek language have been distributed on the Aegean islands. An English version is used by 12 international schools in Greece for environmental education.

Migros Zurich and OceanCare launch a pilot project and sell reusable fruit and vegetable bags. The project also involves raising awareness for an environmentally sensitive use of plastics.

2015

OceanCare co-authors and presents the report “Overview of the Noise Hotspots in the ACCOBAMS Area” to the scientific committee of the Mediterranean cetacean conservation agreement. The report contains the first map showing where noise-producing activities accumulate and how these so-called “noise hotspots” overlap with important cetacean habitats in the Mediterranean Sea.

In June, the petroleum industry bows to massive protests against seismic explorations off the Balearic Islands. British petroleum company Cairn Energy withdraws four oil exploration applications for the Gulf of Valencia.

The US Navy gives in to the legal case brought by a coalition of NGOs, including NRDC and OceanCare and abstains from using active sonar and explosives in manoeuvres for three years in two particularly important marine habitats off Hawaii and California.

An information leaflet on plastic pollution and its consequences for marine wildlife is translated into Greek. It is now available in seven languages and is used for environmental education by local partner organisations on three continents.

There is a breakthrough for the High Seas Alliance: The UN General Assembly decides to draw up an international agreement on the conservation of biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction. OceanCare has been invited to participate in the UN working group that will participate in drafting the agreement within the next two years.

OceanCare and Peruvian organisation Mundo Azul produce the short film “Peru’s Blood Red Ocean” documenting the killing of dolphins and sharks in Peru. The film is sent to the Government of Peru, to all Peruvian Embassies worldwide, and to relevant secretariats of fisheries and species conservation agreements. The film is awarded a special jury prize at the renowned nature film festival in Eckernförde (Germany).

The coalition Dolphinaria-Free Europe (DFE) forms in the European Parliament. The first successful interventions are: Plans for a dolphin TV show in Portugal dropped; Poland’s Minister of the Environment rejecting the construction of a dolphinarium; the Government of the Republic of Cyprus dropping plans to lift the ban on whale and dolphin imports; and the EU Commission resuming a debate on dolphinaria.

Pressured by a huge number of activists and organisations worldwide, including OceanCare, the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA) decides to suspend the membership of the Japanese association JAZA as long as its members are involved in the dolphin drive hunt. JAZA reacts by immediately banning purchases of brutally caught dolphins from Taiji. The Taiji Whale Museum, hub for the dolphin trade, leaves JAZA and loses its certification.

OceanCare successfully rounds off the research project in southern France after 16 years. Data on whale and dolphin distribution in the Pelagos Sanctuary is fed into a public database. The research is being continued around Sicily from where our knowledge about cetaceans is very limited.

For five years, OceanCare and Dolphin Biology & Conservation have been studying dolphins in the Gulf of Corinth, resulting in an upward revision of the striped dolphin population size to 1,420 animals. The new data has been presented at the annual conference of the European Cetacean Society.

There is a continuing positive trend in the birth rates of Mediterranean monk seals in their refuge in Mauritania: 73 pups are the most recent ray of hope for the survival of the rare seal species. Ongoing growth of this last monk seal stronghold allowed downlisting the species from “critically endangered” to “endangered”.

OceanCare supports British Divers for Marine Life Rescue in compiling 13 first aid kits to be used by rescue teams in the UK for rescuing stranded marine mammals. In 2015 BDMLR operations included 410 seal rescues and 54 whale and dolphin strandings.

Already 31 airlines quit transporting shark fins. American Airlines and United Parcel Service (UPS) join by issuing a transport ban that OceanCare has been campaigning for within a network of species conservation organisations.

2014

The Parties to the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species (CMS) assign the highest conservation status to the Cuvier’s beaked whale, a deep-diving species particularly susceptible to marine noise, by including it in CMS Appendix I. OceanCare and partners campaigned for this conservation initiative.

OceanCare also successfully advocated for CMS protection of polar bears within their habitat. The king of the Arctic is now included in CMS Appendix II, providing the species with a special conservation status.

The 120 CMS Parties acknowledge that cetaceans have culture. A related resolution calls on the parties to ban live capture of small cetaceans for commercial keeping. OceanCare worked hard towards this resolution.

The Swiss National Council votes for an import ban on seal products. OceanCare and the Franz Weber Foundation have been campaigning for this ban since 2008.

Pressure from OceanCare and partner organisations prevents the use of dolphins as torch-bearers at the Winter Olympics in Sochi.

OceanCare becomes a founding member of the alliance Dolphinaria-Free Europe and is represented on the board by Silvia Frey.

OceanCare and partners in the Silent Oceans coalition protest against oil exploration off the Balearic Islands. Their actions trigger the Spanish Ministry of the Environment to extend the consultation period and, for the time being, to withhold approval from the petroleum company, Cairn Energy. More than 200,000 people joined the online protest.

Croatia’s Minister of the Environment announces that a Strategic Environmental Assessment will be carried out prior to licensing oil developments in Croatian waters. This follows an e-mail protest campaign set up by OceanCare and direct intervention with the Croatian authorities by OceanCare and partners in the Silent Oceans coalition.

The revised EU Directives requires that Environmental Impact Assessments must cover the exploration phase of the search for offshore oil and gas beneath the sea floor. These seismic survey activities expose marine wildlife to extreme levels of noise. OceanCare and partners have been systematically working towards this goal since 2013.

OceanCare becomes a member of the working group on the implementation of the EU Marine Strategy Framework Directive and focuses on the issue of underwater noise pollution.

Accredited NGOs, such as OceanCare, win approval to speak in the plenary and in working group meetings of the International Whaling Commission. OceanCare has been lobbying for this since 2002.

The edutainment video created by OceanCare and science illustrator Michael Stünzi on plastic pollution in the oceans is screened during flights of Swiss airline Edelweiss Air.

With the information event “Encountering marine animals respectfully: tips and trends” for Swiss travel agencies in the Volkshaus Zurich, Switzerland, OceanCare contributes to raising awareness in wildlife tourism.

2013

Information movies, photo virals, online reports and free filler advertisements in print media motivate many people to speak up for silent oceans as online activists at www.silentoceans.com.

More than 9,000 people send protest e-mails to the Croatian Government through www.silentoceans.com raising concern over the deafening search for crude oil off the Croatian coast. They demand strict measures are taken to reduce noise.

From Greece to Peru, OceanCare and partners provide information about the consequences of marine plastic pollution through flyers, presentations and information booths. Specific calls for action motivate people to rethink their plastic use.

OceanCare’s objective of a dolphinaria free Switzerland becomes reality as the Connyland dolphinarium closes down.

Thanks to efforts by OceanCare and others, the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration rejects the importation of 18 beluga whales, caught in Russian waters, for six US amusement parks.

As a part of the Species Survival Network, OceanCare contributes to the worldwide ban on commercial trade in manatees and manatee products.

OceanCare acts as an important intermediary between people who witness strandings and local stranding networks, to ensure that animals receive first aid as fast as possible.

For the first time, OceanCare supports a river dolphin project: for the protection of the Irrawaddy dolphins of Bangladesh.

By publishing a briefing about dolphin assisted therapy, OceanCare informs the public about the threats dolphins are exposed to by this costly business, and suggests alternatives.

2012

OceanCare and the Environmental Investigation Agency pressure Amazon Japan to remove all whale and dolphin meat from their online sales.

The Swiss Government follows OceanCare’s recommendation and supports a ban on the import of whales and dolphins.

Following an intervention by OceanCare and its partners, the Maldivian Government cancels permission for the construction of a new dolphinarium.

German oarswoman Janice Jakait arrives in Barbados after 90 days. With the slogan ‘Rowing for Silence’ on her boat, she crossed the Atlantic Ocean by herself to support OceanCare’s Silent Oceans campaign.

OceanCare’s strategy against the Japanese dolphin hunt proves to be effective. An increasing number of reports about the high levels of contamination in dolphin meat goes hand in hand with a steep drop in sales. While in 2008 about 1,800 dolphins were killed, the numbers decreased to 400 in 2012.

The International Whaling Commission meets a long-standing demand by OceanCare and obliges whaling countries to inform consumers about the health risks related to cetacean meat consumption.

As South Korea voices its intention to resume whaling, OceanCare joins international protests that make the government cancel these plans.

2011

OceanCare is granted Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations as special advisor for marine issues.

OceanCare hands in a petition with 77,776 signatures to the Swiss Parliament against the importation of dolphins into Switzerland and the construction of new dolphinaria.

OceanCare hands in 60,500 signatures to the European Union Ambassador in Berne against the importation of dolphins into the European Union and the construction of new dolphinaria.

The United Nations Task Force on Marine Biodiversity Beyond National Jurisdiction develops basic principles for the protection of international waters. OceanCare makes sure that the noise issue is accounted for.

The United Nations Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals demands that noise is reduced in marine protected areas and calls for effective protection of endangered whale and dolphin species by 2024.

Through the International Ocean Noise Coalition, OceanCare supports the International Organization for Standardization in developing standards for less noisy ship engines.

Based on OceanCare and Tethys scientific data, the European Union requires Greece to ban purse-seining and trawling in the area of Kalamos. Dolphins and fish shoals reappear around the island.

As a result of the transparency debate induced by OceanCare, the International Whaling Commission bans so called ’motivational gifts’.

OceanCare elaborates an action plan for the Agreement on the Conservation of Cetaceans of the Black Sea, Mediterranean Sea and Contiguous Atlantic Area (ACCOBAMS) for the protection of whales and dolphins in Moroccan waters.

ACCOBAMS Parties endorse the proposal by OceanCare and Pelagos to establish a protected area for sperm whales south of Crete. Implementation is in the hands of Greece.

A petition by OceanCare and the Franz Weber Foundation gaining 97,758 signatures against the import and trade of Canadian seal products supports a motion endorsed by 30 Members of Swiss Parliament.

Working through the Species Survival Network, OceanCare campaigns for a ban on trophy hunting polar bears and on the trade in polar bear hides.

As a member of the High Seas Alliance, OceanCare focuses on the protection of waters beyond national legislation (high seas).

2010

Following a legal demand by the OCEAN2012 Alliance, illegal fishing activities will face stiff fines.

OceanCare and Tethys support  coastal fishermen from the island of Kalamos urge the Greek Government to enforce existing fisheries law. Fishermen voluntarily enlarge the mesh size of their nets to allow small fish to pass, and spare fish during the spawning season.

Based on studies submitted by OceanCare, experts from the United Nations’ World Health Organization and the Food and Agriculture Organization investigate toxic contamination of whale and dolphin meat.

The United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity calls on Parties to elaborate measures to solve the marine noise issue.

In Ireland, OceanCare informs representatives of the oil and gas industry as well as of the shipping industry and the navy about the negative consequences of underwater noise.

ACCOBAMS Parties endorse plans to reduce noise in three specifically sensitive areas of the Mediterranean Sea and invite OceanCare to be part of the task force.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations investigates the impact of noise on fish stocks including the socioeconomic consequences of reduced fish catches.

OceanCare becomes a supporting organisation of the online platform www.planetwhale.com that aims to improve the quality of whale-watching worldwide.

In Mauritania, a monk seal gives birth to a pup on an open beach for the first time in 60 years. The number of seals has doubled to 200 since 1997.

2009

The Oscar-winning documentary ‘The Cove’ reveals the racketeering of Japan’s dolphin hunters and documents the work of the Save Japan Dolphins Coalition.

OceanCare forms an alliance of 49 environmental and consumer protection organisations (including the Consumers Union of Japan), to work towards a ban on selling contaminated whale and dolphin meat.

The work of OceanCare, the Franz Weber Foundation and IFAW bears fruit: the European Parliament introduces a trade embargo on seal products from Canada.

OceanCare and Pro Wildlife prove that whale meat contains more than 5,000 times the permissible amount of mercury and persuade the International Whaling Commission to collaborate with the World Health Organization.

As a member of the OCEAN2012 Coalition, OceanCare urges that the reform of the European Union Fisheries Policy to address pressing deficits.

OceanCare begins cooperation with CBD-Habitat to research and protect the endangered West African Manatee in Guinea-Bissau.

2008

A legal opinion by OceanCare on the participation of nongovernmental organisations in international fora prompts the International Whaling Commission to begin formally hearing civil society interventions.

OceanCare secures the tightening of rules for keeping whales and dolphins in Switzerland.

On application by OceanCare and Oceanomare Delphis, the Italian Government declares the waters north of Ischia a marine protected area for common dolphins.

The Faroese Health Administration recommends against the consumption of pilot whale meat because of its contamination load.

OceanCare saves the long-term research of the Pelagos Cetacean Research Institute from bankruptcy and supports the creation of a protected area for sperm whales in the waters south of Crete.

OceanCare becomes a member of the Save Japan Dolphins Coalition and campaigns alongside US dolphin activist Ric O’Barry for a ban on dolphin drive hunting.

2007

By stopping the governmental approval process, a US Navy sonar manoeuvre in Hawaiian waters is blocked.

A study by OceanCare and the Environmental Investigation Agency on mercury contamination prompts a Japanese supermarket chain to remove whale and dolphin meat from its product range.

As a result of an intervention by OceanCare and the Save Japan Dolphins Coalition, the Dominican Republic refrains from importing twelve dolphins from the Japanese dolphin drive hunt.

OceanCare and the Tethys Research Institute begin monitoring fisheries in the waters around the Greek Island of Kalamos, an important dolphin habitat.

Together with its partner organisations, OceanCare achieves protection of whales off the Chilean coast.

OceanCare president Sigrid Lüber is awarded the environmental prize ‘Trophée de femmes’ by the Yves Rocher Foundation.

OceanCare unites organisations committed to protecting whales and dolphins in the Mediterranean under the umbrella of the Cetacean Alliance.

2006

OceanCare contributes the chapter on underwater noise and its consequences for marine life to the United Nations Ocean Atlas.

OceanCare and Pro Wildlife influence debate within the International Whaling Commission with a catalogue of specific enforcement measures against illegal whaling.

The group of companies 7-Eleven removes all whale and dolphin meat from the shelves of its Japanese branches after intervention by OceanCare and the Environmental Investigation Agency.

Mexico bans the trade in dolphins after OceanCare and partners reveal a case of illegal importation.

OceanCare begins a successful partnership with CBD-Habitat to protect monk seals off the Mauritanian Atlantic coast.

2005

The United Nations General Assembly classifies underwater noise as one of the five biggest threats to marine mammals and as one of the ten biggest threats to the oceans as a whole.

OceanCare becomes a member of the international Shark Alliance for the protection of sharks.

2004

The European Parliament demands a moratorium on high frequency sonar. Spain bans the use of military sonar around the Canary Islands. Seismic tests are stopped in the Gulf of Mexico.

OceanCare begins to participate annually in the consultative debates on the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

OceanCare becomes a Partner of the Agreement on the Conservation of Cetaceans of the Black Sea, Mediterranean Sea and Contiguous Atlantic Area (ACCOBAMS).

2003

OceanCare co-founds the International Ocean Noise Coalition, which is joined by 150 organisations worldwide.

A petition by OceanCare urges NATO members to optimise military tests in order to minimise impacts on marine mammals.

2002

The Silent Oceans campaign against underwater noise is launched.

At the symposium ‘Whale Zone’ near Zurich, renowned scientists, politicians and marine protection activists discuss protection measures for marine mammals and oceans.

2001

With an international law report on vote buying, OceanCare obtains a historical resolution for political transparency within the International Whaling Commission.

A quality label, Dolphin Safe, is introduced nationwide for tuna products in Switzerland.

2000

OceanCare and the Japanese consumer protection organisation Safety First publish a study on toxic contamination of whales. Whale meat consumption in Japan declines.

Swiss supermarket chain Coop removes all shark products from its shelves as a result of OceanCare’s intervention.

Swiss dolphinarium Connyland closes a discotheque next to the dolphin basin after public pressure.

1999

The Swiss delegation at the International Whaling Commission presents a legal opinion, developed by OceanCare, that the IWC is also responsible for small cetaceans.

1998

In response to public pressure Knie’s Kinderzoo quits keeping dolphins.

Based on a study by OceanCare, the Faroese health administration recommends reducing consumption of contaminated pilot whale meat.

OceanCare pressures the International Whaling Commission to deal with whale health and risks to consumers who eat contaminated whale meat.

OceanCare is awarded the Elisabeth Rentschler animal protection prize for the organisation’s commitment against dolphin captivity.

1997

OceanCare begins its work within the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora against the illegal trade in protected marine mammals.

As a result of pressure by OceanCare, Jamaica withdraws a permit to the catch of two dolphins for Knie’s Kinderzoo in Rapperswil, Switzerland.

The project MedCet begins to research whales and dolphins off the French Mediterranean coast.

The Swiss Museum of Transport donates a sculpture of a humpback whale fluke to OceanCare, which is mounted at the Au peninsula in Lake Zurich.

As a member of the Species Survival Network, OceanCare urges that governments abide by laws against the trade in endangered species.

1995

OceanCare and partners prevent the construction of a salt mine in the nursery grounds of grey whales in the Gulf of California.

1993

Mexico approves a marine protected area for Vaquitas in the Gulf of California.

1992

OceanCare begins to participate in meetings of the International Whaling Commission.

In Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, OceanCare contributes to blocking the construction of a dolphinarium.

OceanCare wins the Dow President’s Environmental Care Award for dolphin protection.

1989

In Martigny, Switzerland, OceanCare blocks the construction of a new dolphinarium.