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 »

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We shouldn't ignore these conservation threats in fish bills

This year has featured a flurry of fisheries-oriented bills, many with provisions that threaten to undermine the significant progress the United States has made in reducing overfishing and rebuilding overfished fisheries.  Understandably, much of our attention as conservationists has been on the threats to annual catch limits, accountability, and rebuilding requirements.  But this focus risks missing other aspects of the bills that also threaten conservation without providing any real benefit to commercial fishermen, anglers or seafood consumers.

A closer look at the catch share, reallocation, and exempted fishing permit (EFP) provisions of H.R. 200 and S. 1520 reveals that they would hamstring effective conservation and management.  While controversies, complexities, and pressures have led to a push for action on these bills, in the always-complex world of fisheries management, the provisions discussed below are all risk and no reward. Read More »

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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 »

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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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