Sea changes: The ‘interesting times’ facing European fisheries

By: Erik Lindebo

Calm seas or stormy waters? Well, we are only three months into 2017 and, for a number of reasons, it's already looking like a tumultuous year – calling to mind the ancient Chinese curse “may you live in interesting times”.

Around the world, we are seeing dramatic political shifts. In Europe, Brexit has sent shockwaves through political establishments and, regardless of the final outcomes, we now face years of political uncertainty, and highly complex and no doubt emotive negotiations. Brokering a deal around fisheries will certainly be no exception, if past is prologue; only time will tell how access to waters, resources and markets will look in a divorce settlement with the EU. These changing times require new, adaptive ways of thinking about fisheries management.  Read More »

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Fishing gear innovations creating great results for fish, fishermen and habitat

Trawl gear modifications produce reductions in bycatch, fuel use and seafloor contact – all with increased catching efficiency.

Over the past couple of years EDF’s Pacific team has been privileged to work with fishermen, scientists, fishing net manufacturers and many others on a three-stage project to demonstrate the feasibility of improved trawl net designs on the West Coast. The video shown here describes the amazing progress we’ve made together and indicates a path-forward for disseminating our results to fishermen everywhere.

Read More »

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It's risky to start curvina season in the Upper Gulf without sufficient protections for vaquita


Before curvina fishing starts, the Government and fishing sector must urgently adopt additional measures to differentiate legal and orderly fishing from illegal activities, and to demonstrate that the curvina fishery does not interact with neither vaquita nor totoaba.

Fishing for curvina could start earlier than expected in the Upper Gulf of California, without the necessary management measures in place to demonstrate that this fishery does not affect the critically endangered vaquita. EDF has advocated (2016, 2017) for significantly improving management measures, has advised officials and has offered help with implementation. Allowing any fishing activity in the Upper Gulf without necessary measures in place has serious implications. We urge the Government of Mexico and the fishing communities to adopt them as soon as possible. Read More »

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No time to lose: Solutions needed to protect the environment and economy of the Upper Gulf

montandoThis piece was originally published in Spanish on February 5, 2017 in El Universal.

The future of the vaquita – a porpoise endemic to the Upper Gulf of California – and the jobs of thousands of people living in the region are in jeopardy.

In recent weeks numerous reports have made public that rampant illegal poaching of the endangered totoaba fish continues – sought for its valuable swim bladder and sold for thousands of dollars in the Chinese black market.

Experts in fishing and environmental issues concur that totoaba poaching in the region is not only threatening the endangered totoaba, but is also the main source of mortality of the vaquita, which is on the brink of extinction. Environmental Defense Fund is seriously concerned about this situation and the equilibrium of the marine ecosystem in the Upper Gulf. Read More »

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Protecting imperiled ocean travelers

Photo: Noel Lopez-Fernandez

Photo: Noel Lopez-Fernandez

By: Katie Westfall & Melissa Mahoney

Across the globe, populations of many highly migratory species of fish, turtles and marine mammals have hit dangerously low levels. For example, Western Pacific leatherbacks have declined more than 80 percent, and their Eastern Pacific counterparts have declined by more than 97 percent. Many of these species play vital roles in maintaining balanced ocean ecosystems full of diversity and life. As we work to reverse these declines, environmentalists have to ensure that everything we do has the greatest positive impact. This means that we’ll need smart management at home and solutions that protect highly migratory species wherever they roam.

New research suggests that well-intentioned U.S. regulations designed to help species like sharks and sea turtles may actually create a net harm to imperiled sea life.

This unintentional negative dynamic can occur when a country, like the United States, unilaterally adopts a regulation to protect an imperiled species such as sea turtles or sharks caught as bycatch. If the regulation leads to decreased fishing domestically and shifts fishing internationally to countries where bycatch rates are higher, the net result can be a higher number of bycatch deaths for the very species the regulation intended to protect. This phenomenon has been called the “transfer effect.” Read More »

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New wave of Electronic Monitoring projects in U.S. fisheries highlighted at national workshop

emThe second national electronic monitoring workshop was held in Seattle, Washington late last year. Hosted by NOAA Fisheries, the goal was to bring together fisheries monitoring and management experts to share what’s working in EM implementation projects, what’s not, and to develop solutions and paths forward.

The workshop was also a celebration of significant progress taking place. Since the first national workshop held in January 2014, there has been a large scale EM regulatory program implemented in the Atlantic HMS fishery and regulations authorizing EM programs developed through Regional exempted fishing permit and cooperative research projects are scheduled for implementation in 2017 and 2018 in several different fisheries around the country.

These new programs all provide examples of one or more ‘best practices’ for EM, such as user-centered design approaches, clear goals established at the outset, and consistent collaboration among stakeholders. Read More »

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