By: Erica Cunningham
Brazil represents one of South America’s most important countries in terms of small-scale fisheries. The country boasts one of the longest coastlines on the continent and more than 60 percent of landings come from artisanal fishing. In addition, 98 percent of registered fishers in Brazil are small-scale. However, the country remains a net importer of seafood and 80 percent of all fishing activities are considered to be unsustainable in terms of management. Beyond the science, there is real urgency to addressing this issue. Billions of people in Brazil and around the world, often the poorest and most marginalized, depend on fish for protein. The combination of these factors make Brazil a perfect country for the Fish Forever partnership. Read More
Photo credit: Carlos Aguilar
2015 looks to be the year Mexico takes significant action to improve the sustainability of its fisheries.
Mexico is the world’s 16th largest fishing nation and one of the globe’s richest in marine biodiversity. The productive waters of both of Mexico's coastlines teem with a wide array of species that sustain commercially important fisheries. These include hundreds of commercially valuable species of finfish, clams, squid, sardines, and tuna that share the waters of the Pacific, Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean with wildlife such as whales, dolphins, seabirds, and turtles.
This year, Mexico's Federal Fisheries Commission (CONAPESCA) and Federal Fisheries Institute (INAPESCA), are working together with fishing communities and state authorities to implement stronger measures to protect marine biodiversity and ensure sustainable fishing livelihoods. Read More
Fishing shack along a mangrove channel, Brazil
I recently visited Brazil for the first time to work with our partners in Fish Forever to choose sites to work in over the next several years, with the goal of turning fisheries with declining yields and profits into success stories for fishermen, their communities, and the environment. Fish Forever is a partnership between Rare, the University of California at Santa Barbara, and the Environmental Defense Fund.
Brazil’s 300,000 square mile shelf produced about 550,000 tons of seafood in 2011, worth over $US 1.5 billion, and employs about 1 million people according to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). Read More
Many fishermen in Europe and around the world have been forced to dump fish, often dead and dying, overboard for decades. This practice, “discarding,” is one that is abhorred by both the fishing industry and environmental groups. While the exact scale of discarding is unknown, it’s estimated that each year roughly 6.8 million tons of fish are discarded globally.
In January 2013, the European Union agreed on a new set of fisheries laws as part of a reformed Common Fisheries Policy (CFP). The most significant and perhaps the most challenging of these is Article 15, known as the landing obligation, which bans the practice of discarding in European fisheries. It is a challenge to require fishermen to record, land and account for all fish that make it aboard their boats requiring a huge operational change for most fleets. Environmental Defense Fund is committed to working with fishery stakeholders to find smart solutions to challenges they face, which is why we’ve just released a free manual to help fisheries meet the landing obligation without losing the social and economic benefits of fish. Read More
Healthy sponge in the Gardens of the Queen, Cuba. Photo: Noel Lopez Fernandez
Coral reefs seem delicate, but when they are healthy they can take a lot of abuse. I’ve seen corals recover from severe hurricanes and even volcanic eruptions. But coral reefs can also transition suddenly from colorful, vibrant ecosystems to mere shadows of themselves. Decades of scientific investigation have shed a lot of light on this, and in a recent publication, my colleagues and I summarize a lot of the data that have been collected on Caribbean coral reefs to identify where these dangerous “tipping points” are. This work is part of the Ocean Tipping Points project, a collaboration between several institutions aimed at finding tipping points in all kinds of marine ecosystems so that managers can implement measures that will keep these ecosystems well away from the brink. Read More
Fishing boats in Chatham, MA. Photo: Tim Connor
What every fishing port in New England has long feared has now come true: the iconic cod fish is disappearing in our waters. If our shared goal is to rebuild a sustainable fishery for years to come, then we need to better understand what is happening to the fish stocks. This calls for better science, which has been the subject of discussion for years.
A key foundation of better science is better catch monitoring. Inadequate catch data is the Achilles heel of the groundfish fishery in New England – particularly with cod – and the only way to improve this in a cost-effective way is through a comprehensive monitoring system that uses video technology. Read More