Monthly Archives: September 2012

Court Upholds West Coast Catch Share Program

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the ninth Circuit this week upheld a prior court’s ruling that the West Coast Groundfish individual transferable quota system—a form of catch share—complies with the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act and the National Environmental Policy Act. The court found that the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) had adequately considered  the impacts of the program and taken  the proper steps to accomplish its goals, including environmental conservation, increasing economic benefits and holding fishermen accountable for staying within catch limits.

In dismissing the plaintiff’s arguments challenging inadequate consideration of environmental impacts, the court held that the program “may actually decrease trawling’s dominance by consolidating the trawling fleet, allowing trawlers to switch to fixed gear, and allocating more fish to non-trawlers than they have caught in recent years.” In fact, according to a mid-year update from NMFS on the status of the fishery, the IFQ program continues to generate significant conservation benefits. To read more about the decision click here.

Posted in Pacific, Policy / Read 1 Response

Bridging the Gulf Report: Preparing for Offshore Oil and Gas Exploration in Cuba

Oil Rig, Photo Credit: Vidar Løkken

Reprinted with Permission from Center for Democracy in the Americas Center for Democracy in the Americas (September 7, 2012)

The following article was written by Dan Whittle, EDF’s Cuba Program Director for the Oceans Program, and featured on In the article, Dan discusses our new report, Bridging the Gulf, which gives great insight into the roadblocks that existing U.S. foreign policy on Cuba has on making environmental protection progress. The article also dives into the constructive conversations the two countries have been having about ways to improve communications and policy keeping the best interest of the environment in mind.

The Environmental Defense Fund recently released a report called Bridging the Gulf, in which we concluded that “current U.S. foreign policy on Cuba creates a conspicuous blind spot” that is detrimental to the interests of both countries.  A failure to cooperate on oil spill planning, prevention, and response in the Gulf of Mexico could result in devastating environmental and economic impacts on a scale greater than the 2010 BP oil disaster.

Recently, I witnessed a potential bright spot in US-Cuba relations that could lead to real and meaningful cooperation in protecting Cuban and American shores from future oil spills. Read More »

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September Closures Will Bring Heartache to Fishermen in the Southeast

Beginning on September 8, 2012, a series of closures will begin for commercial fishermen in the South Atlantic.  Closures have become all too commonplace for fishermen in the region that spans from North Carolina all the way down the Atlantic coast of Florida.

The upcoming closures will include a number of species:



Closure Begins


Yellowedge grouper, blueline tilefish, silk snapper, misty grouper, queen snapper, sand tilefish, black snapper, blackfin snapper

 September 8, 2012

Gray triggerfish

Gray triggerfish

 September 11, 2012


Jolthead, knobbed, saucereye, whitebone, scup

September 8, 2012

Yellowtail snapper

Yellowtail snapper

 September 11, 2012

Command and control management that dominates the South Atlantic fisheries isn’t working for fish or for fishermen.  Stocks are continuing to suffer and fishermen are barely hanging on.  We continue to hear reports from fishermen that many are ready to leave the fishing business, some have had to look to government assistance to feed their families and many face a serious mountain of debt.  Being off the water for months at a time and working in constant fear of closures is no way to run a business.These species are crucial to many commercial fishermen in the region.  The closure of the gray triggerfish and yellowtail snapper fisheries are unprecedented. With spawning closures taking place at the beginning of 2013, this could mean more than six months off the water for many commercial snapper-grouper fishermen. Read More »

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Another Good Summer for Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtles

Kemp's Ridley tracks on a beach in Mexico

Tracks from Kemp’s ridley sea turtles can be seen on a stretch of beach near Rancho Nuevo, Mexico earlier this year. Photo courtesy of LightHawk.

Kemp’s ridley sea turtle nesting season is winding down for the summer, and I’m happy to report that nest numbers are still on the rise!  While the Kemp’s ridleys still are the world’s most critically endangered sea turtle, they are making a huge come back in recent years.

Until half a century ago, tens of thousands of Kemp’s ridleys would surge onto Mexico’s Gulf of Mexico beaches in a few large nesting events each year to lay their eggs. At the turn of the 20th century, turtle meat and eggs became popular delicacies, causing the turtle’s population to crash.  Later, accidental catches in fishing gear kept their population from recovering.

Today, Kemp’s ridleys are rebounding due to protections that government, fishing industry, EDF and other conservation groups helped win.  These unprecedented actions included protecting Mexico beaches where the turtles nest, monitoring hatchlings at an incubation site, and establishing the headstart program and a second nesting site in Texas.  The initial recovery program spanned from 1978-1988.  During this time, over 22,000 eggs were transported from Playa de Rancho Nuevo in Mexico to Padre Island National Seashore in Texas.  Once hatched, the turtles were exposed to the Padre Island sand and surf, and then captured and transported to the National Marine Fisheries Service Laboratory in Galveston, Texas, where they were reared in captivity for 9-11 months. This “head-start” program allowed the turtles to grow large enough to be tagged for future recognition and to avoid most natural predators.    It was hoped that this exposure would imprint the turtles to the National Seashore so they would return year after year to nest at adulthood. Read More »

Posted in Gulf of Mexico, Mexico / Tagged , | Comments are closed