EDFish

New hope for Indigenous fishing communities in Chile

On a cold morning, we descend a bumpy dirt road through a forest of ancient alerce trees. As the forest clears, we arrive at a rugged coastline, dotted with fishing villages. The smell of smoke rises through the fog and combines with a salty sea breeze as villagers warm bread over their wood stoves, and fishers ready their boats for a day on the water. For centuries, these Indigenous Mapuche villages have lived off the thriving marine life of the Humboldt Current, a cold upwelling on Chile’s west coast that delivers abundance and a source of food and livelihood from the sea to the whole nation.

Photo credit Luciano Hiriart-Bertrand, Costa Humboldt

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Can marine conservation be more effective by cooperating across boundaries?

This week, world leaders are convening in Bali, Indonesia for the Our Ocean Conference. This event is dedicated to conserving and protecting ocean ecosystems so that the world’s swelling population can continue to rely on oceans for food and livelihoods for generations to come. The timing and location of this week’s conference are particularly acute following recent confirmation by the IPCC that nations must act quickly and in cooperation to limit climate change. This is especially important in Asia, where most of the world’s fish are produced and consumed, and fishing is rapidly accelerating to meet growing demands.

Meeting marine conservation challenges that are shared across many nations in Asia can be done more efficiently, effectively, and quickly if we work together across national boundaries. Read More »

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The Mesoamerican Reef: A shared vision for prosperity and conservation

Working with the next generation of conservation leaders in the MAR

Transformative change on an ecosystem scale is extremely challenging. But in the Mesoamerican Reef (MAR)— stretching 600 miles of coral reefs, mangrove forests and seagrass beds along the coasts of Mexico, Belize, Guatemala and Honduras—sustaining a rich array of biodiversity and thousands of local people, it is happening. Leaders from all four countries recently convened on a shared vision for prosperity and empowered coastal communities—setting a new course for sustainable fishing and ecotourism in the region.

The complex balance of the coral reefs, mangroves and seagrasses protect and nurture more than 500 species of fish—essential in these countries for food security, economic development, and poverty alleviation. The beauty of the reefs attract visitors and ecotourism dollars to local communities. Read More »

Posted in Belize, International, Mexico / Tagged , , , | Comments are closed

A better way to fish: How to give anglers more choices, more value

New research published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America finds that current management of marine recreational fishing in the U.S. could be leaving over a billion dollars per year in potential economic value on the table.

Many recreational fisheries are struggling with outdated management that relies on season, size, and bag limits to control catch of recreational fish. These policies promote a “race to fish” with catch often exceeding sustainable limits, resulting in even tighter regulations and fishing seasons closed for much of the year. These regulations are intended to help achieve a fishery’s biological goals, but experience shows they fail to deliver and ultimately impose significant economic costs. This is true in commercial and recreational fishing alike. In recreational fishing, economic values are squandered because season closures limit choice for anglers and exclude many from the fishing experience. Read More »

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What do Cuban and Belizean fishers have in common? More than meets the eye.

Cuba and Belize are connected by more than ocean currents. They share critical ecosystems like mangroves and coral reefs, and both countries have made major strides in fisheries management and coral reef conservation and are currently working to renew and strengthen their fisheries laws and policies. They also share challenges facing their fisheries—including managing complex fisheries that catch dozens of species all together—rather than targeting just one or two.

I was excited to join partners from both countries at a recent intensive four day Fisheries Exchange where they learned from each other and discussed new ways to collaborate on solutions to shared challenges, including different management strategies for the ecosystem overall and for important species like lobster, conch, and many species of finfish.

The Exchange included learning both in the classroom, and on the water—with the goal of showcasing how diverse partnerships working together improves science and compliance, involves and educates more stakeholders, creates opportunities for community development and leads to better managed fisheries and protected areas that benefit users for the long term.

We know from our work with fishing communities around the world that often the best way to solve shared challenges is to connect groups of likeminded fisheries stakeholders to share experiences and solutions. Read More »

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Are plastic eating bacteria the solution to ocean pollution? Science shows it’s not that simple

Recent reporting on the discovery and enhancement of plastic-dissolving enzymes in bacteria made me stop and think about what this might mean for the plastic pollution problem that is plaguing the oceans, including the world’s coral reefs.

While this development is interesting, and draws necessary focus to the immense problem of plastic pollution in the ocean, it is premature to guess whether these kinds of enzymes might provide an effective “silver bullet” for treating plastics floating in the five great gyres of the sea.

There is so much more we need to understand about the complex relationships between plastics and marine ecosystems before we can take draconian action. In other words, it’s too soon to start spraying the ocean with so-called plastic-eating bacteria. Read More »

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