As the largest of Earth’s five oceans, the Pacific alone covers about 30 percent of the planet’s surface. While the enormity of its presence impresses, there is a delicate balance that has been torn asunder in recent decades. The effects of modern offshore fish farming and pollutants such as carbon dioxide emissions and mercury emitted by land-based industrial plants are causing coral reefs to disappear, which in turn jeopardizes the entire ocean ecosystem.
The Washington, DC–based marine conservation charity Oceana is undertaking a leading role in protecting and restoring the health, diversity, and resilience of the California Current ecosystem while maintaining vibrant coastal communities. With a strong support base in Los Angeles, Oceana boasts a long list of celebrity supporters including Ted Danson, Dennis Haysbert, Laura Dern, and Leonardo DiCaprio.
“Oceana is a global organization, so in addition to our important work in California, we are operating throughout the U.S. and in Chile, Belize, Brazil, Europe, and The Philippines,” says Oceana CEO Andy Sharpless. “Oceana is committed to working at a national level – country by country – to make the oceans healthy and more abundant.”
Oceana has solid state and federal policies in place to improve oceans and has already protected more than 1 million square miles of sea floor habitats from destructive fishing practices. The non-profit even helped secure a West Coast legislative ban on shark fin trade in Washington, Oregon, and California.
Now Oceana is protecting the California Current food web, restoring shark populations, and protecting thousands of marine mammals, corals, sponges, and endangered sea turtles. By promoting sustainable fisheries, the cause is also regulating harmful pelagic long lines and drift gill nets that kill sea turtles.
The organization is sponsoring California state legislation (Senate Bill 1138, introduced by Alex Padilla (D-CA) that would require all seafood in the state to be accurately labeled by species common name. Retail facilities would also be required to label seafood wild-caught or farm-raised and domestic or imported.
“By focusing on the 25 most productive countries, which control 90 percent of the world’s wild fish catch, we can realistically make the oceans more bio diverse and capable of feeding a billion people everyday,” says Sharpless. “It’s a practical goal that everyone can get behind.”
All Aboard the Hemisphere
In August, Oceana held its 7th Annual SeaChange Summer Party and live auction in Laguna Beach. One bidder won an eight-day, seven-night, six-star charter for 10 guests, with a full crew, to the Great Barrier Reef in Australia aboard Hemisphere, the world’s largest (145-foot) luxury sailing catamaran.
Long-time environmental advocate Leonardo DiCaprio was honored at the event. In early 2014, the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation made a $3 million grant to Oceana. This is the fourth year that the Hemisphere has been part of the fundraiser. To date the vessel has raised $400,000 for Oceana.
Winning Bid $175,000
Donors Yacht and crew by owner, professional yachting services by Summer Osterman, BURGESS Los Angeles
Evening Raised $1.4 million