EDFish

The promise and peril of manufactured seafood

Credit: Marco Verch via Flickr Creative Commons

Today, there are only two ways to produce seafood: fishermen can catch wild fish, or fish can be farmed in a process called aquaculture. Both methods have many benefits, but also can have adverse impacts on the environment. A growing number of companies are trying to develop alternative ways to produce “seafood,” like “tuna” made by growing tuna cells in a lab.

Will these alternatives make it commercially? If they do, will that result in big environmental benefits or contribute to food security? Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) recently looked into these questions. Read More »

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Will calamari play an important role in future climate-resilient fisheries?

Global reported squid catches (Millions of metric tons, 1950-2015). While squid catches have increased in recent years, year to year changes have also increased. Data accessed from FAO database. Plot by R. Boenish

Besides being the star in calamari appetizers, squid play the crucial roles of both predator and prey in marine ecosystems. Globally, squid can be found in nearly every ocean habitat from seagrass beds, to coral reefs, to the open ocean. Squid fisheries provide livelihoods and high-quality protein to communities, large and small all over the world. And as it turns out, studying squid can teach us valuable lessons about how to build climate-resilient fisheries. A new paper in Fisheries Research will help fishery managers predict where jumbo squid (Dosidicus gigas) populations might migrate under different scenarios of climate change, and help researchers understand why some species are more resilient than others.

While overall squid catches (all species combined) have increased in recent years, it is unclear what the future will hold in the face of climate change and other pressures. Healthy ecosystems depend on resilience from all links of the food chain. This research, which I contributed to along with a number of leading marine research organizations including Shanghai Ocean University, The University of Washington and The University of Maine, suggests that squid may play a more important role in improving climate resilience in the world’s fisheries than previously thought. Read More »

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Let’s embrace a new narrative for the ocean

Even though the world ocean is beset from every angle by serious threats – from overfishing to pollution, and from habitat loss to climate-driven warming and acidification – our ocean remains an essential life support system for planet Earth. Not only do more than three billion people depend upon the sea as an essential source of protein for their diet, but nearly 1.4 billion of them risk serious health consequences should they lose existing access to fish and other marine products. Recent science has made plain that if current threats continue, the chance for a more stable future becomes increasingly difficult for people and nature together.

Now, two of the world’s leading ocean experts, Dr. Jane Lubchenco and Dr. Steve Gaines have issued a clear call for change in the new edition of Science. For all who care about the future of the sea – and therefore humanity – Drs. Lubchenco and Gaines call on us to band together to ensure that the world ocean retains its vibrancy and potential, despite this uncertain future. Read More »

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Five takeaways from the World Small-Scale Fisheries Congress

Photo Credit: Alexis Rife

The hustle and bustle of a local fish market – usually seen in the pre-dawn dark, with bare-bulb lights illuminating what’s for sale and the shouts from sellers (usually in a language I don’t understand but with meaning clear enough to get out of the way of carts brimming with ice and fish) – is my favorite place to learn about small-scale fisheries. This is where it all comes together, with fishermen landing their catch, buyers (usually women) negotiating prices and customers buying products for that day’s meal or business. Here is where I am a learner and observer – hearing details about challenges these individuals face in maintaining their livelihoods, seeing the pride people have in their work and chatting about what we all can do to sustain the jobs, food, communities and ecosystems that are part of this system. Read More »

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China confronts the effects of climate change on fisheries

No nation on Earth is more central to the global seafood system than China. China’s influence on the production, processing, distribution and overall demand for seafood is unparalleled. Indeed, China alone is expected to account for around half of the growth in global seafood consumption over the coming decades.

This growing demand for seafood will require new solutions not only for managing how much fish is caught, but how to adapt as climate change begins to impact China’s ocean ecosystem.  EDF recently convened an international workshop with the China Academy of Fisheries Sciences (CAFS) with the goal of aligning global efforts to identify pressing challenges and solutions to climate change.

As China confronts these impacts, it’s clear that global climate change is a critical stressor that threatens to undermine its hard work on fisheries reforms. China’s government and scientific community recognize this threat, and are beginning to address it. The challenge is not trivial, given that China’s coastline spans 18,000 km, stretching across diverse ecosystems from warm tropical to cool temperate seas.

EDF is working in China not only because of its global importance, but also because we believe the country is in a unique moment for transformative change. China has made ambitious commitments under the 13th Five-Year Plan to improve fisheries management. These include improving the scientific foundation for fisheries management, monitoring fishing activity and catch, enhancing the responsibilities and incentives of fishing fleets and communities and strengthening protection of marine ecosystems. Read More »

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Three actions countries managing Tuna need to take this week

Whether you enjoy eating tuna in your lunchbox sandwich, have a stake in the long-term sustainability and livelihoods of Pacific tuna fishing nations, or simply care about the future of healthy oceans and fish populations—it’s worth taking note of an important convening this week that could decide the future of sustainable tuna.

The Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC), an international treaty organization of 35 member nations and territories charged with negotiating the management for tuna, sharks and rays, is meeting this week in Honolulu. These species are classified as highly migratory, meaning they swim through internationally managed waters, making collective management a necessity.

Tuna in particular, are highly valuable and face several thorny challenges that have resulted in less than optimal socioeconomic and biological performance, including weaknesses in current management that has allowed illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, interactions with sharks, as well as human rights abuses. That’s why decisions made at this forum are so important.

The ultimate goal is to manage for healthy tuna populations that can support both the livelihoods and food security for Pacific Islands fishing communities and a thriving global industry. To achieve both of these outcomes, nations must put politics aside and focus on putting science-based management in place to rebuild tuna populations to a level that can support sustainable harvesting by all users now and for the future. Read More »

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