Success Stories

Barbuda Blue Halo Sustainable Fisheries Initiative

Date: 06/02/2014 Description: Barbuda Blue Halo Initiative © Waitt Foundation

The Barbuda Blue Halo Initiative is funded by the Waitt Institute, and is working to develop a comprehensive, community-driven, science-based plan for the island to use its coastal waters sustainably, profitably, and enjoyably. The Initiative is a pilot project for the newly refocused Waitt Institute, which now has the mission of “empowering communities to restore their ocean.” In collaboration with the citizenry and the government of Antigua and Barbuda, the Initiative aims to establish new fisheries management regulations, create a zoning plan for the coastal waters, augment local enforcement and scientific monitoring capabilities, and develop a long-term financing strategy.

The local government’s draft regulations include setting aside 33% of Barbuda’s coastal waters as sanctuary zones (closed to fishing) in order to replenish fish populations and restore a healthy ecosystem around the island. The Waitt Institute plans to launch a partnership with another Caribbean island before the end of 2014 and then continue to partner with a new country each year, with a 5-year commitment to each site. (Photo Source: Waitt Foundation, Barbuda Blue Halo Initiative)

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California Academy of Sciences Marine Expedition Highlights Marine Protected Areas

Date: 05/18/2014 Description: From April to June 2014, the California Academy of Sciences (CAS) partnered with Philippine institutions including the University of the Philippines, De La Salle University, and the National Fisheries Research and Development Institute to conduct groundbreaking biodiversity research. © California Academy of Sciences (CAS)

From April to June 2014, the California Academy of Sciences (CAS) partnered with Philippine institutions including the University of the Philippines, De La Salle University, and the National Fisheries Research and Development Institute to conduct groundbreaking biodiversity research in the Philippines’ Verde Island Passage (VIP), the most bio-diverse marine habitat in the world. CAS scientists also conducted extensive outreach on marine conservation for Filipino audiences. Among other events, CAS scientists gave the Ambassador a tour of a coastal reef, where he saw firsthand the extraordinary biodiversity of the VIP. CAS researchers explained that, because of the unique current conditions, temperature, and diversity of the VIP, corals there are more resilient to climate change and ocean acidification – specifically bleaching episodes – than in the rest of the Coral Triangle, raising hopes that the VIP could repopulate other areas which may suffer climate-related coral die-offs. They emphasized that this fact raises the stakes for protecting this unique ecosystem. The trip included a tour of a small municipal “Marine Protected Area” (MPA), where CAS scientists helped develop a “no anchor” mooring buoy system and a locally enforced fishing ban has resulted in a significant increase in fish populations.

Coiba Island Marine Reserve and National Park in Panama

Coiba National Park is part of a 430,825 acre national park and marine reserve maintained by Panama’s Environmental Authority (ANAM) off Panama’s Pacific coast. The park was created in 2004 and has been recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2005 and is a popular tourist destination. A fishery management plan for the park was created with assistance from the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) scientists in January. The park could be considered a case study about balancing tourism and conservation, and the importance of international support and public-private partnerships for conservation efforts in developing nations. For example, there was a cleanup project a few years ago that done with the cooperation of local businesses, ANAM, and STRI.

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El Salvador and Turtle Excluder Device (TED) Sea Turtle Protection

Date: 06/02/2014 Description: Turtle swims underwater from nets. © NOAA

CENDEPESCA, El Salvador’s Fish and Aquiculture Development Center, has been very dedicated to improving its oversight of the local shrimp industry, and the technical compliance rate has now gone from 33% to 75%. El Salvador’s success has led to discussions about CENDEPESCA, with help from NOAA, holding a regional “TEDs University” to help train other countries in the region.




Glacier Bay National Park in Alaska and Francisco Coloane Marine Protected Area in Chile

In 2011, the Glacier Bay National Park and Francisco Coloane Marine Protected Area signed a sister park partnership in 2011 to establish a framework for increased park rangers exchanges and sharing of best practices. Through this framework, the National Park Service sent a Glacier Bay ecologist to Francisco Coloane on a 6-month detail to help the Chilean protected area develop protocols to better understand humpback whale movements within and around the marine protected area and ultimately minimize the threat of ship strikes on whales, a major concern in the increasingly heavily trafficked Straits of Magellan. Additionally, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration recently deployed an expert to assist with a project for the International Whaling Commission to monitor Blue Whale populations near the island of Chiloe.

Guanabara Bay - Chesapeake Bay Partnership

In December 2013, Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley joined then Rio de Janeiro Governor Sergio Cabral Filho in launching a partnership to share best practices for keeping both the Chesapeake Bay and Rio’s Guanabara Bay clean, healthy and sustainable. Facilitated by EPA and supported by a technical cooperation grant from the Inter-American Development Bank, the partnership aims to connect the more than three decades of experience Maryland has in restoring the Chesapeake Bay with the current challenges that Rio faces with improving the water quality of Guanabara Bay as one of the Rio 2016 Olympics legacy benefits. The partnership between the States of Rio and Maryland will support the creation of a new governance structure for the Guanabara Bay and demonstrates the critical role that subnational governments can play in promoting the health of oceans.

Health of the Salish Sea Ecosystem

Date: 06/14/2010 Description: Map of the Salish Sea 

 © U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

An initiative launched in 2000 under the Statement of Cooperation on the Salish Sea Ecosystem (between EPA Region 10 and Environment Canada Pacific Yukon) that highlights the extensive transboundary cooperation occurring on the west coast between the U.S. and Canada. They are studying the trends for ten interconnected environmental indicators that help give us a better picture of the current environmental, economic, and social well-being of the Salish Sea watershed, a marine ecosystem that extends from the north end of the Strait of Georgia in British Columbia, Canada, to the south end of Puget Sound in Washington in the U.S., and west to the mouth of the Strait of Juan de Fuca where it meets the Pacific Ocean.

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Photo Caption: Map of the Salish Sea

Photo Source: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency




NOAA: ‘Like putting headlights on a car’- Pacific Oysters Gain from IOOS Data

Ocean acidification is having devastating effects on economies in the Pacific Northwest regions of the United States that are supported by oyster farming – oyster farming creates more than 3,000 jobs and makes up more than $84 million of the West Coast shellfish industry. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Ocean Acidification Program and the U.S. Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS) conducted research monitoring and analyzing of ocean acidity levels. Offshore buoys were used to help alert oyster farm owners of acidic water conditions allowing them to harvest their oysters during time periods with low acidity levels in the water.

NOAA and Peru – Joint Research on Sustainable Management of Fisheries/Conservation

NOAA is researching experimental fishing gear in Peru to reduce the by-catch of sea turtles. NOAA has had positive results on studies completed in Northern Peru last year, and is now preparing to conduct additional trials to transfer this by-catch reduction technology into the broader Peruvian fisheries sector. The technology has also had positive effects on reducing sea bird and sea horse by-catches. NOAA has several drift gillnet fishermen lined up to begin testing by this summer.

NOAA: “Sustainable Fisheries – A U.S. Success Story”

Date: 03/16/2012 Description: The commercial fishing piers at Cape May © NOAA Photo Library

For almost four decades, the United States has been working to produce a successful system for managing fisheries in U.S. waters. Together, NOAA Fisheries, U.S. Regional Fishery Management Councils, partners, and stakeholders have achieved very significant success in ending overfishing, rebuilding fish stocks and ensuring long-term economic stability. Since 2000, more than 30 fish stocks have been rebuilt. Additionally, in large part due to catch limits and accountability measures, the number of overfished stocks is at all-time lows for known stocks. Improving fisheries management has also led to real economic benefits; in 2012, NOAA estimates showed that commercial fishermen landed 9.6 billion pounds of seafood valued at $5.1 billion. U.S. commercial and recreational saltwater fishing generated more than $199 billion in sales impacts, contributed $89 billion to GDP, and supported 1.7 million U.S. jobs. (Photo Caption: The commercial fishing piers at Cape May Source: NOAA Photo Library)

No-Fishing Zones and Coral Reef Planting in Bonaire

Date: 03/16/2012 Description: Coral reef and fish swimming through them. © NOAA, National Ocean Service Image Gallery

Bonaire represents one of the most successful models of coral reef protection and restoration, including a multi-decade track record of conservation efforts with outstanding results. This set of best practices, including severe limitations on fishing on protected areas can be emulated in other regions.

Photo Caption: Coral reef

Photo Source: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), National Ocean Service Image Gallery


Palau International Coral Reef Center Research on Marine Protected Areas

Date: 04/20/2012 Description: Coral reef with schools of angel fish. © NOAA Flickr

The Palau International Coral Reef Center helped to create a system that helps to monitor marine protected areas (MPAs) across Palau, which was officially adopted by the Palau Ministry of Natural Resources, Environment, and Tourism in April 2012. In 2012, the Palau International Coral Reef Center continued their research and observed four MPAs and other sites that were not protected. Results from the research project consisted of: groupers accounted for 78% of the total abundance of fish present and 85% of total biomass in the two protected MPAs and groupers comprised less than 1% of the total abundance and biomass in the unprotected areas. After this research was conducted, the Palau National Congress passed a law that extended the ban on grouper fishing from 4 months to 7 months. (Photo Caption: Coral reef Photo Source: NOAA Flickr)

Pellet Spill Cleanups in Hong Kong

A wide range of citizen groups and NGOs teamed up with Sinopek, a Chinese oil and gas company, to clean up roughly 150 metric tons of plastic pellets that spilled off a ship during Typhoon Vicente in July 2012. To help address the spill, the Hong Kong Plastic Pellet Patrol was formed. Different organizations took on responsibility for helping clean up specific areas of Hong Kong. Thousands of people participated in the pellet-focused beach clean ups, including staff from the U.S. Consulate General Hong Kong. As a result, the effort successfully collected and removed about 92 tons of pellets from the beaches.

Project Catalyst

Project Catalyst is a partnership between WWF, the Coca-Cola Foundation, Natural Resource Management Groups, State and Federal governments, and over 70 sugarcane growers in Queensland, Australia that is pioneering innovative farming practices to improve water quality by reducing pollution runoff into the ocean and the Great Barrier Reef.

The Great Barrier Reef, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is the world’s largest coral reef system stretching for over 1,400 miles off the coast of Queensland Australia. Project Catalyst has introduced modern farming practices such as more precise applications of inputs and reduced the amount of nutrient pollution by 60%. Herbicide pollution has been reduced by 95% and satellite-controlled machinery has reduced the runoff from heavy clay soils by 20%. The project began in 2009 and fast-tracks innovative ideas by providing funding, technical expertise and other resources to farmers who have developed breakthrough ideas, but do not have the resources to develop and implement them.

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Date: 04/14/2014 Description: Gerry Deguara, a second-generation sugarcane farmer in Mackay's Whitsunday, Australia. © World Wildlife Fund

Photo Caption: Gerry Deguara, a second-generation sugarcane farmer in Mackay's Whitsunday, Australia

Photo Source: World Wildlife Fund

Shangri-La Announces Sustainable Seafood Policy And Discontinuing Use Of All Shark Fin Products in 81 hotels and resorts

In 2012, the hotel and resort group Shangri-La joined this campaign by announcing its removal of shark fin products within the year from its hotels as part of its new “Sustainable Seafood Policy”. Shangri-La, which operates 83 hotels, first initiated this removal in 2010 when it began to remove shark finitems from the menu of its owned restaurants.

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Shark Conservation Campaign, Papa Bois Conservation

Using film and video, Papa Bois Conservation is raising consciousness about environmental issues, including a campaign to replace sharks with the invasive lionfish as a popular beachfront snack.

For video relating to the project, visit

Sustainability of Chilean Hake

The World Wildlife Fund, through a grant from the Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs, is funding a project to put the Chilean Hake (Merluza) on a path to sustainability. The project works with Chilean academic, government, and industry stakeholders to 1) identify and promote environmentally friendly fishing gear and practices, 2) identify and propose legally binding catch schemes and complementary market-based tools to improve traceability of fish products and to combat illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing, 3) capacity building for government officials and fisherman, and 4) propose fishery regulations and financial mechanisms. All of this in the framework of the future Fishery Management/Recovery Plan.

Tangaroa Blue Foundation/Australian Marine Debris Clean-up Initiative

Date: 05/13/2014 Description: Tangaroa volunteers  © Tangaroa Blue Foundation

Photo Caption: Tangaroa volunteers

Photo Source: Tangaroa Blue Foundation

Tangaroa Blue Foundation is a nonprofit organization focusing on the health of the marine environment. Since 2004, the Foundation’s approximately 30,000 volunteers and partners have removed 217 tons of debris consisting of 2.7 million items in approximately 1,100 cleanup sites. 

Date: 05/13/2014 Description: Australian marine debris initiative © Tangaroa Blue Foundation

The Foundation coordinates with the Australian Marine Debris Initiative, which brings together volunteers, communities, schools and organizations from around Australia to monitor the impacts of marine debris, participate in cleanup events and host workshops on mitigation strategies of marine debris. The Initiative also maintains a database to identify what items are 

having the most impact on Australia’s coast, then determines where these items are coming from and finally engages all concerned to implement practical changes which stop the flow of debris into the environment in the first place.

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Underwater Cleanup in Ploce, Croatia

Date: 05/15/2014 Description: U.S. Embassy Zagreb funded an underwater cleanup project in May 2014 off the shores of Ploce town in southern Croatia. © U.S. Embassy Zagreb

U.S. Embassy Zagreb funded an underwater cleanup project in May 2014 off the shores of Ploce town in southern Croatia. The Global Underwater Awareness Association (GUWAA) organized the event, bringing professional divers to the location. They removed approximately 1.5 tons of garbage from the seabed immediately next to the coastline.

Photo Source: U.S. Embassy Zagreb

Date: 05/15/2014 Description: U.S. Embassy Zagreb funded an underwater cleanup project in May 2014 off the shores of Ploce town in southern Croatia. © U.S. Embassy Zagreb They even found two unexploded hand grenades, which Croatian police divers were called in promptly to remove. There was an important educational component to the action as well. As an integral part of the program, GUWAA experts spoke to young people about the importance of keeping the seas and waters of our planet clean. Approximately 70 pre-school kids and 65 junior high students attended.

Photo Source: U.S. Embassy Zagreb

U.S. Embassy Manila’s Beach Cleanup Partnerships

Date: 06/02/2014 Description: Volunteers collected nearly 150 bags of plastic, Styrofoam, and other trash from the beach. © U.S. Embassy Manila

For Earth Day 2013, International Coastal Cleanup Day 2013, Earth Day 2014, and World Oceans Day 2014, U.S. Embassy Manila partnered with NGOs and shipping companies to do volunteer beach cleanups. Cleanup sites have included the historic island of Corregidor and the the Las Pinas-Paranaque Critical Habitat and Ecotourism Area, one of the last remaining stands of mangroves in the Metro Manila area.

Photo Caption: Volunteers collected nearly 150 bags of plastic, Styrofoam, and other trash from the beach.

Photo Source: U.S. Embassy Manila

Date: 06/02/2014 Description: Economic Counselor Joel Ehrendreich braves shark-infested waters for Earth Day. © U.S. Embassy Manila

Partners include U.S. shipping firm OSG Shipping, Philippine shipping firm Magsaysay Inc., the Corregidor Foundation, the Homer Foundation, and U.S. exchange alumni. Over 100 embassy employees have participated in these events.

Photo Caption: Economic Counselor Joel Ehrendreich braves shark-infested waters for Earth Day.

Photo Source: U.S. Embassy Manila

United States: Magnuson-Stevens Act

Date: 09/09/2011 Description: Fisherman examines day's catch of fish from net. © National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

In the U.S., for example, science-based fisheries management has proven its value. After 38 years under the Magnuson-Stevens Act, all U.S. federally managed fish stocks have annual, enforced catch limits. Since 2000 more than 30 stocks have been rebuilt, and the known status of overfishing and overfished stocks is at an all-time low.

Source: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)


WildAid’s Campaign Helps Reduce Shark Fin Demand

In 2006, WildAid, a nonprofit organization devoted to ending the illegal wildlife trade, launched a campaign on shark fin that has led to dramatic changes in awareness, legislative action and reduced demand. Focused in Asia, where demand is highest, the campaign features Yao Ming and other celebrities in with engaging public service announcements and education initiatives to persuade consumers not to consume shark fin. Media and trade reports estimate a 50-70% decline in shark fin soup consumption in China since 2011. In Hong Kong, the Census and Statistics Department cited a 70% decline in shark fin imports through 2012 and a further 35% decline through 2013. Major traders in Guangzhou, China reported that they are planning to leave the business because it is no longer profitable and cite the “Yao Ming campaign” as a primary reason for the reduced demand. In West Africa and Indonesia, prices for shark fin are now so low that some fishermen have stopped hunting sharks.

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