Oceans help feed the world, provide a living for millions of people, and are home to most of the life on the planet.

NRDC works to protect our seas from pollution and exploitation. We help implement laws that allow overfished species to rebound, and we fight to protect coastal communities from offshore drilling. We work to ban destructive fishing practices, conserve ocean treasures, and improve stewardship of the world’s shared oceans, which generate trillions of dollars in economic activity.

Our Priorities

Ocean Protection

Oceans are threatened by overfishing, oil and gas drilling, mining, and other industrial activities.

Ocean Threats

Oceans are damaged every day by oil and gas drilling, pollution, and other industrial activities.

Sustainable Fishing

Populations of tuna, swordfish, and other large species have fallen by 90 percent.

Ocean Noise

The amount of noise in the ocean has doubled each decade since the 1950s.

What's at Stake

What you can do

Protect Marine Life

Urge NOAA to strengthen its plan to reduce industrial ocean noise.

10 Ways to Reduce Plastic Pollution

What you need to know about ocean acidification

Stop Trump and Pruitt’s escalated anti-environment assault

Follow these eco-friendly beach tips on your next vacation

China's New Direction in Domestic Fisheries Management
Sarah Chasis

There’s good news from China about management policies that aim to strengthen domestic fisheries management in China’s ocean waters. These new policies, which aim to control the total domestic marine catch, are a promising step forward, and an exciting opportunity for China to create resilient fisheries. Restoration of domestic fisheries would help take some of the pressure off distant water fisheries.

Photo: amanderson2 / Flickr

China has been the world’s largest producer of wild fish for over two decades. Yet some more troubling numbers have lurked behind this seemingly stable statistic. For example:

These figures, along with issues of ocean pollution and the degradation of ecosystems, have raised concern over the resilience and sustainability of China’s ocean fisheries.

In previous decades, China worked to stem depletion by adopting a series of fishery reform measures, including input control measures such as fishing vessel and horsepower control rules, the moratorium on summer fishing, and technical restrictions. It also announced output controls such as “zero-growth” and “minus growth” policies in 1999 and 2000 in order to limit catches. In 2006, China issued the Programme of Action on Conservation of Living Aquatic Resources of China, which for the first time sets a goal of cutting catches to 10 million by 2020. However, these policies did not provide specific measures to attain their goals.

In January 2017, China’s Ministry of Agriculture announced bold new reforms. In addition to reiterating the goal of cutting total domestic marine fishing output to less than 10 million tons by 2020 (down from 13 million tons in 2015) and thereafter matching production to the carrying capacity of marine fishery resources, the new policy sets out three priority measures that will contribute to that goal:

  1. Strengthen fishery resource surveys, monitoring and assessment to understand species composition, distribution and migration patterns, and the biological characteristics and abundance of commercially important species;
  2. Strengthen catch monitoring and data collection; and
  3. Conduct Total Allowable Catch (TAC) management pilots for individual species in the coastal provinces, with expansion over time.

The first two national TAC pilots were launched  in March, setting the course for establishing China’s TAC management scheme.  The pilots present an important opportunity for restructuring the fisheries management system of China. The goal is to carefully implement this program to minimize negative effects on established fishing communities.

We cheer China’s new direction in fisheries management, and are excited to see the country develop more resilient fisheries in the years to come. 

The Real Lowdown: The Trump and Congressional Republican Assault on Our Environment, Vol. 10
NRDC

Filip Fuxa/Shutterstock

We bid farewell this week to a particularly pernicious period in President Trump’s and the congressional Republicans’ double-barreled assault on public health and our environment.

The window finally closed on their legal ability to annul a handful of Obama-era safeguards through an obscure measure known as the Congressional Review Act.

Moreover, we ended the week with a notable victory, one that may bode well for our chances against other harmful proposals expected to surface soon, such as an antiregulatory measure that would virtually shut down any “future health, consumer, or environmental safety protections for Americans,” said NRDC President Rhea Suh.

That win on Wednesday, on May 10—when the Senate failed to approve a CRA measure blocking Obama-era limits on dangerous methane pollution—served as a reminder that a raft of anti-health, anti-environment executive orders signed by the president cannot be pushed through simply by fiat. There’s often an extensive administrative process, public engagement period, and rulemaking required. All that takes months, even years, to complete. Much can also be slowed, stopped, and reversed, as illustrated by some key legal challenges that NRDC and our allies have already initiated to thwart this dangerous agenda.

But make no mistake. After nearly four months in office, both Trump and the GOP-controlled Congress have more than lived up to their growing reputation as perpetrators of the worst-ever environmental assault in U.S. history.

One more win for energy—for now

In the we’ll-see-how-it-plays-out category, Congress preserved funding for key clean energy programs that create jobs and save people money. Elizabeth Noll, legislative director in NRDC’s Energy & Transportation program, writes that the just-passed fiscal year 2017 budget sustains funding for efficiency standards, advanced research, renewable energy deployment, and other important clean energy initiatives.

It’s unthinkable, Noll wrote, that such effective clean energy programs could ever be slashed. “Sadly, under the current administration no federal clean energy effort is safe, which is why we will be watching closely when lawmakers turn to the budget for 2018,” she said.

CRA actions approved

Other moves under the CRA were bad news right out of the gate. After Trump’s inauguration, the GOP-led Congress approved and sent Trump more than a dozen CRA measures to sign, including some addressing the environment.

On February 16, Trump approved rolling back the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Stream Protection Rule, freeing Big Coal to bury pristine streams beneath toxic waste. In early March, a Congress-passed CRA repealed a federal effort to improve management of the ecological and economic resources of 247 million acres of public land under the Bureau of Land Management’s oversight. And in mid-February, a Congress-passed CRA made it easier for oil, gas, and coal companies to bribe foreign governments without accountability, noted Franz Matzner, director of NRDC’s Beyond Oil Initiative.

NRDC’s latest lawsuit: Pruitt’s ethics

Since he was sworn into office, NRDC has worked to hold Trump accountable by filing 18 lawsuits to try to reverse his administration’s moves against clean air and water, air pollution, protected oceans, toxic chemicals, and climate action. The latest dropped in federal district court for the Southern District of New York on May 10.

NRDC’s suit asks the court to order the release of records pertaining to whether U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt is meeting his ethical obligations and whether he’s favoring industry. The EPA, under Pruitt, appears to be acting like an industry cheerleader rather than fulfilling its mission as a public health agency, said NRDC senior attorney Jon Devine.

Pruitt purges scientists, climate info for kids

On May 8, news broke that 9 of the 18 outside experts on the EPA’s Board of Scientific Counselors wouldn’t serve a second three-year term. “Trump EPA, afraid of science, dismissive of climate change, purges EPA science advisory board,” tweeted John Walke, director of NRDCs Clean Air Project.

Another mad May act: On the May 8, the EPA shut down its website that helped educate kids about climate change. Just another reckless revamp of the agency’s website to scrub all things climate.

Paris pullout postponed―again

Several White House meetings have revealed deep divisions within Trump’s cabinet and among key advisers over his longstanding promise to pull the United States out of the Paris climate agreement. A decision now looks delayed for several more weeks.

Meanwhile, supporters of the climate accord pile up. More than 1,000 businesses—including heavyweights like Walmart, ExxonMobil, and Apple―are on record in favor of staying in the agreement, NRDC International Program Director Jake Schmidt observed.

And Reagan-era Secretary of State George Shultz and Climate Leadership Council President Ted Halstead wrote in a May 9 New York Times op-ed: “If America fails to honor a global agreement that it helped forge, the repercussions will undercut our diplomatic priorities across the globe, not to mention the country’s global standing and the market access of our firms.”

In this era in which our health and environment are under assault by Trump and congressional Republicans, NRDC has prepared a list of other far-ranging threats. And we will be vigilantly monitoring and reporting on the administration’s attack on the environment through Trump Watch.

Trump Watch: NRDC tracks the Trump administration’s assaults on the environment.

Blog Post

In a series of legal actions, NRDC and our allies have thrown up significant legal blocks to slow, and possibly derail, Trump's environmental runaway train.

Blog Post

The Republican-controlled Congress was on spring break, but that hardly deterred President Trump and EPA AdministratorScott Pruitt from pressing full speed ahead with their assault on public health and the environment.

Blog Post

Paris climate agreement at risk, the EPA gets an earful, methane and coal are coming back—again.

Blog Post

More pro-polluters appointed, a barrage of dangerous bills advanced, and Bears Ears under threat—again. But there’s one bright spot: bold climate action in Virginia.

Blog Post

A budget that puts our health and environment last, reopening the door to highway pollution, and more attempts to squash progress on climate action.

Blog Post

A day that will go down in history as the time America turned its back on the world, plus more climate denial and attacks on our health from the EPA.

Blog Post

While America was riveted by former FBI director Comey’s testimony, the Trump administration put marine mammals and sage grouse at risk, continued to lie about climate change, and changed the DOI’s mission statement to favor polluters.

Science Matters: Taking It to the Streets
Christina Swanson

I was honored to stand up and speak out for science at the March for Science in San Francisco on April 22, 2017. The following is my speech for the event. Science is for everyone—and our future depends on it. Let’s get to work to turn this march into a movement!

Hello everyone! It is so great to be here with you on this beautiful day!

I am here today because I believe that science is the essential tool for protecting our environment, helping people, and saving lives. I am also here to participate in this growing community of people who care about how we, as a society, value science.

Like all of us, I was born a scientist. I conducted my first formal experiment in 5th grade, for the local science fair. I had some guppies, a small prolific tropical aquarium fish, and I wanted to know if, over time, their population size would level off at some stable number. It didn’t really work out, I was forced me to reject my hypothesis—and I ended up with many, many more guppies than I started with. Maybe not an auspicious beginning—but I was hooked on science and on fish.

Me and NRDC colleagues at the San Francisco March for Science

Tommy Hayes

However, much as I like fish, I feel even more strongly about people and our environment. That’s why, almost two decades ago, with a doctorate in biology and after several years of research and teaching, I shifted gears to work in the science and policy arena. I wanted a job where it was my job to get science applied.  

I took this path for the same reasons that we are all here today. Science is telling us that we have some really big, really urgent problems—pollution, degraded natural ecosystems, climate change and all of the threats to human health that these problems bring. Because of science, we know what is causing these problems and we know what has to be done to solve them. We’re not here today not just because we have a personal preference for science-based policies. We’re here because we know—we have learned from experience—that policies that are not based on science, facts and evidence don’t work. They don’t solve the problems. And that hurts all of us.  

On top of that, we are here today because we see that, unbelievably, science (of all things!) is under attack. Because science is the essential tool to solve problems, this is perhaps the greatest threat to our future and to the world where our children and grandchildren will live.

We have our work cut out for us. So to help and encourage you get and stay involved, I wanted to share with you some of the lessons I learned on my journey to become a scientist advocate.

Great crowd and great signs! More photos are available on the SF March for Science website.

Neil Parkin

The first piece of advice I’ll offer is—do your homework and understand the context for the issue you want to talk about. This isn’t just about who your audience is, it’s about what they care about. What policy makers, elected representatives and public officials want to know is how your research, your knowledge or your experience can help them do their jobs—and their job is to make good decisions. They want answers, not more questions. So help them out.

Second—communication style and content matter. It’s more than avoiding incomprehensible jargon, it’s about respecting and giving something of value to your audience. To illustrate this, I want to share my favorite quote from Van Jones. He was recounting advice given to him by his father, who told him “There are only two kinds of smart people in this world … there are those smart people who take simple things and make them sound complicated, to enrich themselves. And there are those who take complicated things and make them sound simple, to empower and uplift other people.” This is my inspiration and aspiration—and I hope you may be inspired too.

Finally—just as science is most impactful when it is a collaborative effort supported by diverse partners, so is science advocacy. Rather than trying to go it alone, think about who else you can work with. At NRDC, not only do our scientists, policy experts, attorneys and communicators all work together, we also work with universities, other non-profits, community and environmental justice groups, entrepreneurs and trade groups, artists and students. Our work is strengthened and enriched—yours can be too.

Today’s marches, in Washington DC, here in San Francisco and across the country and world, are an indication of how many of us care about science. But we can’t stop here—we are going to have to turn this march into a movement. It’s going to take all of us—and more. So, to support and advance science for the good of all of us and our planet, let’s get to work! 

Thank you all so much!

Coastal Rallies in Response to Trump's Offshore Order
Franz Matzner

Millions of Americans spoke out over the last several years to urge then-President Barack Obama to protect our oceans. And he did, to large extent, by permanently withdrawing nearly all of the Arctic Ocean and sensitive areas of the Atlantic from consideration for oil and gas leasing, removing both oceans entirely from the 5-year leasing plan (covering 2017 through 2022), and limiting seismic exploration that substantially harms marine mammals. Today, President Trump is initiating his attempt to undo those measures and Americans will speak out again. The communities of our southeastern seaboard mobilized en masse to preclude the oil industry from drilling off their coasts. Many of those communities are acting quickly this week to respond to the threat Trump’s Executive Order poses to their very livelihoods.

Below is list of events being held in coastal southeastern states. It will be continuously updated as more details become available and more event plans are solidified. So please check back if you live in this region!

VIRGINIA (1)

WHEN: Friday, 4/28 @ 1:15 PM
WHERE: Neptune Park, 31st St. on the boardwalk in Va. Beach
WHO (Speakers): Laura Wood Habr (Founding Member, BAPAC; Vice President, VBRA; Owner, Croc’s 19th St. Bistro); Joseph Bouchard, Ph.D. (Captain, U.S. Navy (Ret.); Others TBA

NORTH CAROLINA (2-3)

WHAT: NO Oil Drill Press Conference/Rally
WHEN: Saturday, 4/29 @ 10:00 AM
WHERE: 10th St. Boat Ramp in Morehead City at the Bogue Sound end of the street (at the corner of 10th and Shepard St.)

WHAT: DontDrillNC press conference before OBX Peoples Climate March
WHEN: Saturday, 4/29 @ 9:00 AM
WHERE: Jockey's Ridge; 300 W. Carolista Drive, Nags Head, NC 27959

Another event in Wilmington, TBA

SOUTH CAROLINA (3-4)

WHAT: Beaufort Press Conf
WHEN: Friday, 4/28 @ 11:00 AM
WHERE: Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park, Bay St, Beaufort, SC 29902
WHO: Mayor Keyserling as primary speaker

WHAT: Myrtle Beach Press Conf
WHEN: Thursday, 5/4 @ 10:00 AM
WHERE: Damons Restaurant, 2985 S Ocean Blvd, Myrtle Beach, SC 29577

WHAT: Charleston Press Conf
WHEN: Friday, 4/28 @ 2:00 PM
WHERE: Charleston Maritime Center, 10 Warfside St. Charleston SC 29401
WHO: Mayor Tecklenberg speaking

Pages

Subscribe to RSS - Oceans