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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Rock+Sole makes a splash at the 2019 Portland seafood and wine festival.

Only 15 minutes had passed since the doors opened for the 14th annual Portland Seafood and Wine festival, and already a crowd was forming around the Rock+Sole booth. Attracted by the bright design of the mock kitchen and the sight of delectable seafood samples being prepared, visitor’s faces lit up with curiosity and excitement as they approached. “Step up and try some 100% sustainable, healthy and delicious rockfish and sole!” shouted Jana Hennig, Executive Director of Positively Groundfish, a non-profit trade association whose mission is to promote fish species coming from the West Coast Groundfish trawl fishery.

As people tasted the samples of Rockfish Crudo and a Dover sole Brandade created by Chef Chris Bailey, I asked them, “Have you ever tried rockfish/sole before?” Many said, “Yes, of course, but not like this!” Over half of the approximately 3,000 visitors to the booth had never heard of rockfish or Dover sole. “Did you know these fish come from a certified sustainable fishery and are caught right off our coast?” The answer was often a surprised “No, but now that I know I will look for it.” Or, “Where do I find them? Where is your restaurant located?”

But you see, Rock+Sole isn’t a restaurant, it’s a movement to get U.S. consumers hooked on West Coast rockfish and sole.

Pacific rockfish (aka Pacific snapper) and soles, flatfish such as Dover and Petrale, were once some of the most commonly available seafoods on the west coast. They are caught as part of a multi-species trawl fishery targeting groundfish – fish living on or near the bottom of the sea. “The trawl fishery was active in every port from Morro Bay, CA to Neah Bay, WA, it’s what kept the lights on for the processors,” says Brad Pettinger, a long time commercial fisherman out of Brookings, Oregon and current Board member. Read More »

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Five takeaways from the World Small-Scale Fisheries Congress

Photo Credit: Alexis Rife

The hustle and bustle of a local fish market – usually seen in the pre-dawn dark, with bare-bulb lights illuminating what’s for sale and the shouts from sellers (usually in a language I don’t understand but with meaning clear enough to get out of the way of carts brimming with ice and fish) – is my favorite place to learn about small-scale fisheries. This is where it all comes together, with fishermen landing their catch, buyers (usually women) negotiating prices and customers buying products for that day’s meal or business. Here is where I am a learner and observer – hearing details about challenges these individuals face in maintaining their livelihoods, seeing the pride people have in their work and chatting about what we all can do to sustain the jobs, food, communities and ecosystems that are part of this system. Read More »

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China confronts the effects of climate change on fisheries

No nation on Earth is more central to the global seafood system than China. China’s influence on the production, processing, distribution and overall demand for seafood is unparalleled. Indeed, China alone is expected to account for around half of the growth in global seafood consumption over the coming decades.

This growing demand for seafood will require new solutions not only for managing how much fish is caught, but how to adapt as climate change begins to impact China’s ocean ecosystem.  EDF recently convened an international workshop with the China Academy of Fisheries Sciences (CAFS) with the goal of aligning global efforts to identify pressing challenges and solutions to climate change.

As China confronts these impacts, it’s clear that global climate change is a critical stressor that threatens to undermine its hard work on fisheries reforms. China’s government and scientific community recognize this threat, and are beginning to address it. The challenge is not trivial, given that China’s coastline spans 18,000 km, stretching across diverse ecosystems from warm tropical to cool temperate seas.

EDF is working in China not only because of its global importance, but also because we believe the country is in a unique moment for transformative change. China has made ambitious commitments under the 13th Five-Year Plan to improve fisheries management. These include improving the scientific foundation for fisheries management, monitoring fishing activity and catch, enhancing the responsibilities and incentives of fishing fleets and communities and strengthening protection of marine ecosystems. Read More »

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