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Focus Area

The Ocean Ecosystem

Earthjustice is restoring our ailing ocean ecosystem by using the law to establish sustainable fisheries, protect marine species and build resilience to climate change.
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After Earthjustice spent years working alongside east coast fisherman and built a groundswell of public support, in 2012 the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission finally imposed the first-ever coast-wide cap on the catch of menhaden—one of the most important fish in the sea.


Overfishing, pollution and habitat fragmentation are wearing down the health of our oceans. Add to that ocean acidification—a process caused by increased carbon emissions that can degrade coral reefs and corrode the shells of sea creatures—and warming, and it's not surprising that ocean ecosystems are rapidly collapsing.


We're Restoring Ocean Health, One Fish at a Time.

VICTORY! In 2011, more than a decade of Earthjustice litigation resulted in better protections for seal lions’ primary food sources. Our landmark court victories closed Steller sea lion rookeries to industrial-scale trawling gear, marking one of the first times fishing was reduced to provide prey needed for an endangered marine species’ survival. In July 2013, the 9th Circuit upheld additional fisheries closures of cod and mackerel in areas where sea lions forage for food.

"Since we began working on the oceans, we've had significant wins in the courts that set precedents with respect to how the federal government manages ocean resources in a sustainable way." – Steve Roady, Managing Attorney for Oceans

By the Numbers

Ocean Hours Infographic

Number of hours that Earthjustice attorneys spent with coastal communities, international stakeholders and policymakers to build more sustainable oceans in the first eight months of 2013 alone.

Spotlight Features

Coral and Parrotfish: A Love Story

Go diving, in a video with attorney Andrea Treece as she explores the role parrotfish play in protecting the Caribbean coral reef ecosystem.

Oceans: Stormy Waters

Our oceans face a multitude threats—pollution, habitat loss, overfishing and climate change—but Earthjustice litigation is stemming the tide against these dangers.

Down to Earth: Steve Roady on Protecting the Oceans

For more than a decade, Managing Attorney Steve Roady has been litigating cases that help protect our oceans from pollution, overfishing and habitat loss. Earthjustice is also ramping up efforts to mitigate climate change impacts to the ocean, such as sea level rise and ocean acidification.


Letters sent by Earthjustice supporters opposing an industry attempt to strip endangered species protections from Puget Sound’s orcas.