Selected category: International

Bold commitments to sustainable fisheries at the United Nations will help Belize achieve sustainable oceans goals

The government of Belize has just made major voluntary commitments at the United Nations Oceans Conference that, once implemented, will secure Belize’s fisheries as an engine for sustainable development.

Healthy oceans and sustainable fisheries are crucial for poverty alleviation, food security and generating economic growth in low and middle income countries. This goal is reinforced by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals which declare a target to “conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development.” The health and vibrancy of Belize’s coastal communities, where 15,000 people depend on fisheries for their livelihoods, depend on this target becoming a reality.

Last week, fisheries ministers, fishermen, community leaders and the conservation community from around the world gathered at the United Nations Oceans Conference to share experiences and strategies for achieving this vision, and declare voluntary commitments for good stewardship of the oceans.

The Government of Belize, representatives of Belize’s fishing community, Environmental Defense Fund, Wildlife Conservation Society, Toledo Institute for Development and Environment and The Nature Conservancy presented Belize’s major achievements in sustainable fisheries at the conference. At the gathering of leaders and experts in fisheries management from around the world, Belize’s Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries, Forestry, the Environment, Sustainable Development & Climate Change, Minister Omar Figueroa, highlighted the major step Belize took in partnership with Belize’s fishing and conservation community to end open access fisheries, and implement the world’s first national system of multispecies fishing rights for a small-scale developing world fishery, called managed access. In some fishing areas, this system is already yielding benefits as fishermen are reporting higher catch, and illegal fishing has dropped 60%. Read More »

Also posted in Belize, Policy| Tagged , , | Comments are closed

Science, warnings and the plight of coral reefs

A tragedy is unfolding on the Great Barrier Reef, the largest living organism on the planet.  The non-Hollywood ending is a surprise to many, but it was clearly foreshadowed decades ago by a small group of scientists who were criticized as false prophets of doom and dismissed.

Large sections of the reef are dead.  The reef has been remarkably resilient over the last 8000 years, weathering devastating outbreaks of voracious crown-of-thorns starfish, pollution, fishing and coral bleaching.  The establishment of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority no doubt contributed to that resilience, reducing impacts from some of these threats, especially land-based pollution and fishing pressure.  Recent research by EDF and others shows that managing fisheries is crucial for maintaining healthy coral reefs. Read More »

Also posted in Science/Research| Tagged , , , , | Comments are closed

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 »

Also posted in Europe, Policy| Tagged , , , , | Comments are closed

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 »

Also posted in Mexico| Tagged , , , , , | Comments are closed

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 »

Also posted in Mexico| Tagged , , , , | Comments are closed

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 »

Also posted in Global Fisheries, Science/Research| Tagged , , , , , | Comments are closed
  • About this blog

    EDFish is the voice of oceans experts at EDF working around the world to create thriving oceans that provide more fish in the water, more food on the plate and thriving fishing communities.

    Follow us on Twitter


    Join us on Facebook

  • Get new posts by email

    We'll deliver new blog posts to your inbox.

    Subscribe via RSS

  • Categories

  • Comments Policy

    We reserve the right to modify or delete any comments that we deem as inappropriate.