Commercial whaling of great whales has been banned worldwide since 1986. The International Whaling Commission (IWC) has issued a moratorium that has saved the lives of hundreds of thousands of whales. It is one of the greatest achievements in species conservation. However, individual countries continue to kill whales. They disregard the ban, exploit regulatory loopholes or hunt small cetaceans. OceanCare is campaigning for the moratorium on whaling to be continued, for an end to the hunting of small cetaceans and for the IWC to be reformed.
Endangered and threatened species are being over-harvested as aquatic wildmeat, for either human consumption, traditional medicine use or as fishing bait. The issue is widespread across Southeast Asia, Western and Central Africa, the Pacific Islands Region, Latin America and other regions. One factor driving aquatic wild meat is the declining fisheries resources due to overfishing by various nations. Local fishermen return to shore with empty nets and are forced to turn to alternative sources of protein. Therefore, they resort to hunting dolphins, manatees, sea turtles, crocodiles, seabirds or sharks. In close collaboration with local environmentalists, scientists and communities, OceanCare campaigns for sustainable fishing practices on the ground.
Around 96.4 million tonnes of fish are caught from the sea each year. 34% of global fish stocks are overfished and 60% are maximally fished. Every year, hundreds of thousands of seabirds, turtles, fish, whales and dolphins die as bycatch in fishing nets. OceanCare is calling for a fundamental reform of global fisheries. Catches must be controlled, fish stocks protected, and sustainable fishing practices promoted. And furthermore: fish must be respected as living creatures that feel pain and suffering.
In many marine regions, ships cross the habitats of large whales. Ship collisions, are usually fatal for the animal. In fact, ship collisions are the most frequent cause of death of fin or sperm whales in the Mediterranean Sea. OceanCare works that shipping routes are moved away from whale habitats wherever possible and that ships reduce their speed. Together with partners, we have developed the first system to locate sperm whales in Greece. It warns ship captains when whales are close by so they can prevent a collision.
The ocean is a habitat full of natural sounds. Yet, humans generate deafening underwater noise. This has fatal consequences for marine life, which depends on hearing for orientation, communication or finding prey. Noise drives animals out of their habitat; it injures and can kill them. OceanCare has been an outspoken advocate for quieter seas since 2002. We make underwater noise audible to decision-makers and ensure that it is reduced.
Plastic pollutes the ocean long before we use it and long after. Plastics are harmful from the time of their production, to their use and right up to disposal. Around 9 million tonnes of plastic waste enter the sea every year. Millions of marine animals die because they mistake the plastics for food or get entangled. OceanCare tackles the problem at its roots and is works towards a globally legally binding plastics treaty that will control the entire life cycle of plastics.
The ocean is the blue lung of our planet. It stores around a third of the CO2 from the atmosphere generated by humans and produces half of the oxygen we breathe. The ocean also absorbs much of the excess heat that accumulates in the Earth’s system. But its capacity to combat the climate crisis is diminishing. Ocean conservation also means climate protection. OceanCare emphasises this fact regionally, nationally and internationally in its dialogues with governments.
Humans are responsible for the dumping of thousands of substances into the sea. Some of them take decades or longer to decompose. Sewage that enters the sea from industrial agriculture via rivers, the direct input of pollutants into the sea or oil spills, damage the marine ecosystem and its food supply chains over a long period of time. OceanCare is committed to stopping the release of toxic substances into the ocean.