EDFish

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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Want to save the Ocean? There’s an App for that

If I were an App I would probably be something simple and boring – but maybe with one or two tricks up my sleeve – like ‘Flashlight’ or ‘Compass’. (Side note: how cool is the level in Compass?)

Fortunately for you, I am neither an App nor an App developer. But I’ve had the privilege to learn more about both through my involvement as a judge for Fishackathon. Originally launched by the U.S. State Department as part of the Our Ocean conference, this one-of-a-kind biennial event brings together thousands of coders from all over the world to deploy their unique expertise towards improving the health of the oceans through novel software and hardware development. This year’s competition was hosted in 36 cities by my new best friends at HackerNest, and by some accounts it was the largest conservation-oriented hackathon in history. (Another side note: I’m pretty sure I’ve never said that combination of words out loud, but it sounds pretty cool.) Read More »

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How getting fishing right can help protect threatened ocean wildlife

It’s safe to say that a wide range of people are passionate about protecting the wild and wonderful creatures of the sea.  My most moving underwater experience – during twenty years and more than 1,200 scuba dives – was a prolonged close encounter off St. Croix, in the US Virgin Islands, with a juvenile humpback whale, which kept coming back to interact intimately with our small group, again and again.  I will never forget that gift from the sea, and have dedicated my career as a marine scientist to protecting ocean ecosystems and the people who depend on them. Read More »

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