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Oceana Appoints Hugo Tagholm as New Leader in the United Kingdom


05 Sep 2022

Oceana, the largest international advocacy organisation dedicated solely to ocean conservation, announced today it has appointed ocean campaigner Hugo Tagholm as Executive Director of its newly expanded policy campaigns in the United Kingdom.

“The United Kingdom’s waters are highly productive with roughly 1.5 million tonnes of fish caught every year, yet only one-third of its fish stocks are currently considered healthy. All the while, destructive bottom trawling is allowed in all but five of the UK’s offshore marine protected areas,” said Oceana CEO Andrew Sharpless. “With both Oceana and Hugo’s track records of success, we will win policy victories in the UK that rebuild depleted fisheries, end destructive fishing inside marine protected areas, curb ocean plastic pollution, and much more.”

Almost 90% of the world’s marine fish are caught by just 29 countries and the European Union. Oceana campaigns for policy changes in nine of these countries and the EU because of the outsized role they play in the overall health of the global ocean. On a country-by-country basis, Oceana has won more than 225 policy victories and protected nearly 4 million square miles (more than 10 million square kilometers) of ocean.

Post-Brexit, the UK’s exclusive economic zone is ranked among the top 15 fishing areas in the world, yet only 37% of the UK’s fish stocks are considered healthy. Last year, destructive bottom-towed fishing gear was used in over 90% of the UK’s offshore MPAs. Under Tagholm’s leadership, Oceana will campaign to fully protect all UK marine protected areas from bottom-towed fishing gear, and to ensure that all commercial fish stocks around the UK, including those shared with the EU, are fished within responsible, science-based levels.

“We know that when the right measures are put in place, fish populations bounce back. With science-based policies, we can restore the UK’s seas to abundance, protect important marine habitat, promote nutritious food, and provide livelihoods to those who depend on these critical resources,” Sharpless added.

“After 14 incredible years at Surfers Against Sewage, I’m thrilled to be joining Oceana to lead the UK team in this most crucial ocean decade. Building on the great work that Oceana has delivered, I look forward to building new campaigns that will drive results to protect marine ecosystems, fight pollution, and restore fish populations in UK seas,” Tagholm said. “From fighting plastic pollution to challenging industrial exploitation, the ocean needs our help more than ever. Delivering targeted campaigns to allow marine life to flourish is becoming increasingly urgent by the day. Oceana in the UK will play an essential role defending and restoring UK seas, engaging policy makers, business leaders and the public with the need for rapid action.”

Prior to joining Oceana, Tagholm served as Chief Executive of Surfers Against Sewage, one of the UK’s leading marine conservation and campaigning charities that has been instrumental in campaigning for the introduction and enforcement of legislation that protects our seas from pollution. He also led partnerships and fundraising at The Climate Coalition and served as Programme Director at Theirworld, among other roles. Tagholm is a TEDx speaker, columnist for Oceanographic Magazine, and avid surfer. In 2022, Tagholm was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Science for his services to marine conservation by Exeter University.

Oceana’s expansion in the UK will tackle the country’s need for more effective policies and management, including cooperation with the EU as they share over 70 commercial fish stocks. Oceana’s work in the UK is funded in part by the Becht Foundation. The Becht Foundation’s ongoing partnership helps to protect and restore marine biodiversity in the UK and around the world.

Oceana is the largest international advocacy organization dedicated solely to ocean conservation. Oceana is rebuilding abundant and biodiverse oceans by winning science-based policies in countries that control one-third of the world’s wild fish catch. With more than 225 victories that stop overfishing, habitat destruction, pollution, and the killing of threatened species like turtles and sharks, Oceana’s campaigns are delivering results. A restored ocean means that 1 billion people can enjoy a healthy seafood meal, every day, forever. Together, we can save the oceans and help feed the world. Visit to learn more.