© Oceana/Eduardo Sorensen
Beginning in 1995, the RBF and the Pew Charitable Trusts collaborated on reforming U.S. fishery management in response to the overfishing of almost every monitored species in U.S. waters. Despite innovative legislation passed in 1976, called the Magnuson Act, federal oversight had largely failed to conserve marine resources. The RBF and Pew designed a strategy to democratize the system by supporting regional voices in all eight regional fishery management councils to advocate for sustainable management. To this end, they supported the Alaska Conservation Foundation, the Conservation Law Foundation, Environmental Defense Fund, the Center for Marine Conservation and others, which galvanized efforts by conservationists and conservation-minded fishermen to rally for improved management. Together the RBF and Pew hired consultants in several regions, convened strategy meetings in Washington and at Pocantico, and worked closely with other interested funders. These efforts produced improved management in the regions, formed alliances across regions, and attracted new funders to a growing national network of regionally based advocacy efforts, known as the Marine Fish Conservation Network. Collectively these groups also supported efforts to strengthen the heretofore ineffective Magnuson Act. Today fisheries are rebounding and more stringent management practices that include the creation of mandatory rebuilding plans are proving highly effective. The RBF’s fishery management work not only protected ocean biodiversity, but also established a civil society model for participative management. As a direct outcome of this work Pew, the RBF and others established Oceana, now an independent research and advocacy organization to carry on the work across the U.S. and around the world protecting fish stocks and communities dependent on them for their livelihoods and protein.