EDFish

A conservation comeback is delivering big returns on the West Coast

 

By Shems Jud and Matt Tinning

Win-win outcomes, delivering results for the economy and the environment, can feel few and far between these days. But you don’t have to look further than the West Coast’s biggest fishery to see a remarkable example of mutually-beneficial progress. An announcement this week that a strong recovery in the fishery would now permit dramatic increases in harvest levels was celebrated by fishermen and conservationists alike, and provided further proof that a healthy ecosystem can go hand-in-hand with a profitable fishing industry and thriving coastal communities.

The Pacific groundfish fishery harvests petrale sole, lingcod, a number of rockfish varieties and a whole host of other species. It has seen some bleak times over the years, pushed to the brink of collapse and declared a federal disaster in 2000 as a result of profound management failures. Dramatic increases in harvest limits announced for the fishery this week are another key milestone in a hard-won turnaround. The most significant changes to harvest specifications are for rebuilt stocks like bocaccio, darkblotched rockfish, and Pacific ocean perch as well as for stocks with improved assessments such as lingcod, California scorpionfish, and yelloweye rockfish. NOAA estimates that harvest level increases will create 900 new jobs and $60 million in additional income for West Coast communities in 2019 alone.   Read More »

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New research sheds light on how to assess coral reef ecosystem health

 

Coral reefs play many important roles for marine ecosystems and communities, including for biodiversity, fishing, recreation and tourism. They are a source of livelihoods to communities all over the world. Their beauty and ecological importance inspire citizen scientists globally to get involved in reef health monitoring and projects that help ocean ecosystems.

However, coral reefs worldwide face an uncertain future, with many reefs reportedly transitioning from being dominated by corals, to being dominated by macroalgae. This transition threatens all of those who depend on healthy coral ecosystems around the world. This new research, which I contributed to, reveals that we may have more opportunities to save corals than previously thought. 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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The remarkable recovery of U.S. fisheries continues

Credit: John Rae

At a time when there is significant concern about the erosion of environmental protections, a new report card from the National Marine Fisheries Service confirms that one of the most important conservation success stories of our time remains on track. The turnaround of U.S. fisheries is a remarkable bipartisan success story. This week’s annual Status of U.S. Fisheries report documents how a recovery kick-started during George W. Bush’s time in office, then accelerated under President Obama, held pace during the Trump administration’s first year.

Getting fishery management right is incredibly complex, as illustrated by a history of failure in the United States that spanned decades. Those failures too often deprived saltwater anglers of abundant target stocks, removed local catch from restaurant menus and grocery stores, and created hardship for coastal communities. Yet it is increasingly clear that the United States has now built many of the laws, regulations and institutions needed to meet this complex challenge. If we stay the course, the dividends of our hard-won gains will only grow. Read More »

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Why should you care about fisheries? They can help feed the world.

Credit: Alexis Rife

By:  Doug Rader and Kristin Kleisner

Food security is a hot button topic for today’s world leaders, and rightly so as the population swells to 10 billion people by the middle of the century. Feeding that many people is a huge challenge – creating an urgent call to action for resources to be managed more sustainably and equitably – and wild seafood plays a big role.

Typically, these discussions focus on land-based agriculture, including the production of grains, seeds, crops and livestock that, while subject to droughts, diseases and shortages, are the main source of world food consumption as measured by total calories. However, food sources from our oceans, lakes and rivers also play a large part in feeding the world, and deserve their place in the discussion.    Read More »

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West Coast fishermen are having their fish and protecting habitat too

Decisions about protected areas can be contentious. It isn’t often that fishermen and environmentalists find ourselves celebrating new protected areas together, but on the West Coast we’re doing just that.

This week, I had the pleasure of being present as the Pacific Fishery Management Council voted to support a collaborative effort to reopen thousands of square miles of previously-closed West Coast fishing grounds, much of it in the Rockfish Conservation Area (RCA) while at the same time protecting 140,000 square-miles of highly valuable fish habitat. That’s bigger than the state of New Mexico! Read More »

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