We shouldn't ignore these conservation threats in fish bills

This year has featured a flurry of fisheries-oriented bills, many with provisions that threaten to undermine the significant progress the United States has made in reducing overfishing and rebuilding overfished fisheries.  Understandably, much of our attention as conservationists has been on the threats to annual catch limits, accountability, and rebuilding requirements.  But this focus risks missing other aspects of the bills that also threaten conservation without providing any real benefit to commercial fishermen, anglers or seafood consumers.

A closer look at the catch share, reallocation, and exempted fishing permit (EFP) provisions of H.R. 200 and S. 1520 reveals that they would hamstring effective conservation and management.  While controversies, complexities, and pressures have led to a push for action on these bills, in the always-complex world of fisheries management, the provisions discussed below are all risk and no reward. Read More »

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Science shows that fish are moving, but can fishermen adapt to warming waters?

Europe is already witnessing first-hand shifts in commercially important species such as mackerel, herring and cod. The International Council for the Exploration of the Seas (ICES) recently documented that 16 out of 23 key commercial species in European waters are shifting management areas, with eight of these species moving outside their historic zones.

The North East Atlantic is not immune to the shifts caused by climate change. These waters are home to some of Europe’s most sustainable fisheries as well as complex, highly developed scientific and governance systems. With these complex systems and challenges in mind, the European community is coming together to understand and find effective solutions to the problems being caused by climate change in their fisheries. To spur collaborative action, EDF released a new report outlining tools and approaches to address climate change impacts already being felt in the North East Atlantic region. Read More »

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New research quantifies growing threat plastics pose to coral reefs

Alamy Richard Whitcombe

Plastic waste in the ocean poses a wholly unexpected and serious threat to coral reefs.  The results from new research published in Science are sobering, but there is hope if we act now to mitigate the most significant threats facing corals and the vulnerable communities who depend on healthy coastal ecosystems for food and livelihoods.

As one of the co-authors, I was greatly surprised at the elevated risk of disease to corals caused by plastic: from 4% in corals without plastic, to 89% in corals with plastic.  Given that the study estimated that there are already more than 11 billion plastic items on reefs across the Asia-Pacific region, and that plastic loads in the ocean are expected to grow radically, this is bad news indeed. Read More »

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Healthy oceans take center stage in China

I have been fortunate to work on fisheries science and policy across the globe, from my home in New England to the opposite end of the earth in Australia, from the rugged and rocky coast of Chile to the warm tranquil waters of Cuba, and beyond. Each place has a unique story of how lives, communities, and history are shaped by the sea. Recently, I’ve had the privilege of joining exciting efforts rising to reform fishery management in the People’s Republic of China.

China plays an outsized – and growing – role in world affairs.  This is certainly the case when it comes to the blue economy, in which China is the dominant actor in the global seafood supply chain, among the top five maritime shipping nations, and poised to see growth in ocean energy development, mining, and tourism.

With such significant economic activity tied to the oceans, China exerts considerable influence on the health of the marine environment. With that influence comes a responsibility to enhance environmental stewardship, one that is taking on an increasing focus in the evolution of China’s national policy. Read More »

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Four lessons from European fisheries to consider in 2018

Almost a year ago, my colleague Erik Lindebo (now walking the corridors of power at the European Commission) wrote this prescient piece on the 'interesting times' facing Europe and its fisheries.

This seems like a good moment, as we start the New Year, to reflect on what we've learnt during these interesting times, and how those lessons will shape EDF’s work in 2018. Read More »

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Cuban communities forging an innovative path to marine conservation

Celeste, Dafnet, Evelin, Fidel, Laura, Maikel, Patricia, Rafael, Valentín and Yudier. These are not the names of hurricanes, but the names of Cubans whose ideas and innovative actions have the constructive energy of a hurricane.

The energy of these people has been key to advancing marine sustainability in Cuba. Moreover, they are not alone. Across the island, there are up-and-coming initiatives that share common visions. They owe part of their success to the momentum of already established learning networks that facilitate the exchange of information and experiences. Learning networks help bring people together to solve complex problems. They are designed to create and disseminate information, to align common visions to facilitate collective action and therefore these problems. Read More »

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