EDFish

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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Science is at the core of the sustainable management and conservation of Mexico’s marine resources

What if scientists, governments and citizens had access to a database that held everything we know about our oceans? This snapshot of the current state of science would be invaluable to understand the state of ocean health, would help build scientific solutions to climate-driven ocean problems and could spur new collaboration and amplify current conservation efforts.

Luckily for all of us passionate about the oceans in Mexico, this amazing database is not just a fantasy. It is now a reality in Mexico thanks to the collaborative efforts of Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) and Mexican researchers from several institutes including the University of British Columbia and the Mexican National Commission for the Knowledge and Use of Biodiversity (CONABIO). 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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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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