EDFish

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 »

Also posted in Global Fisheries, International / Tagged , | Comments are closed

Science shows that fish are moving, but can fishermen adapt to warming waters?

Europe is already witnessing first-hand shifts in commercially important species such as mackerel, herring and cod. The International Council for the Exploration of the Seas (ICES) recently documented that 16 out of 23 key commercial species in European waters are shifting management areas, with eight of these species moving outside their historic zones.

The North East Atlantic is not immune to the shifts caused by climate change. These waters are home to some of Europe’s most sustainable fisheries as well as complex, highly developed scientific and governance systems. With these complex systems and challenges in mind, the European community is coming together to understand and find effective solutions to the problems being caused by climate change in their fisheries. To spur collaborative action, EDF released a new report outlining tools and approaches to address climate change impacts already being felt in the North East Atlantic region. Read More »

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

New research quantifies growing threat plastics pose to coral reefs

Alamy Richard Whitcombe

Plastic waste in the ocean poses a wholly unexpected and serious threat to coral reefs.  The results from new research published in Science are sobering, but there is hope if we act now to mitigate the most significant threats facing corals and the vulnerable communities who depend on healthy coastal ecosystems for food and livelihoods.

As one of the co-authors, I was greatly surprised at the elevated risk of disease to corals caused by plastic: from 4% in corals without plastic, to 89% in corals with plastic.  Given that the study estimated that there are already more than 11 billion plastic items on reefs across the Asia-Pacific region, and that plastic loads in the ocean are expected to grow radically, this is bad news indeed. Read More »

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Healthy oceans take center stage in China

I have been fortunate to work on fisheries science and policy across the globe, from my home in New England to the opposite end of the earth in Australia, from the rugged and rocky coast of Chile to the warm tranquil waters of Cuba, and beyond. Each place has a unique story of how lives, communities, and history are shaped by the sea. Recently, I’ve had the privilege of joining exciting efforts rising to reform fishery management in the People’s Republic of China.

China plays an outsized – and growing – role in world affairs.  This is certainly the case when it comes to the blue economy, in which China is the dominant actor in the global seafood supply chain, among the top five maritime shipping nations, and poised to see growth in ocean energy development, mining, and tourism.

With such significant economic activity tied to the oceans, China exerts considerable influence on the health of the marine environment. With that influence comes a responsibility to enhance environmental stewardship, one that is taking on an increasing focus in the evolution of China’s national policy. Read More »

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