EDFish

Whales, ships and climate change

In all the years I’ve been studying the ocean, whales have provided some of my fondest memories. I remember those humpbacks singing to each other off Maui; the baby gray whale I saw rolling around in the surf near Bodega Bay; and the blue whales that left me awestruck during trips to the Channel Islands.

Lately, I’ve been studying natural ocean processes that remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, searching for ways to restore or accelerate them so that we can safely slow down the rate of global warming. Whales might be part of the solution.

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Seaweeds to the rescue, redux

Recently, there has been a great deal of interest and even excitement about how seaweed might be able to help save us from climate change.

I appreciate the newfound exuberance for seaweed, and wholeheartedly agree that seaweeds do a lot for society and the planet. A similar awakening to the wonders of seaweed occurred in the 1980s, but it is now a distant memory. Let’s revisit the past so we can figure out how to create the conditions that will drive the restoration of seaweed forests and the expansion of seaweed farming at scale so they can contribute to carbon drawdown while benefiting people and nature. Read More »

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The return of the blob: How can we help fisheries adapt to warming waters?

Editor’s note: This is the seventh in a multi-part blog series, Fisheries for the Future, examining the impacts from climate change on global fisheries and the opportunities to address these emerging challenges. Throughout the series, we’ll be investigating how climate change will impact the world’s supply and distribution of fish and what we can do to ensure the most sustainable future for ourselves and our planet. Learn more about this work: Resilient Seas

There’s a lot we don’t know about how climate change will unfold. Unexpected events will occur, and when they do we will need to adapt and learn from those experiences. Here’s a story about one of these climate surprises: the “warm blob” in the Pacific Ocean. Read More »

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The promise and peril of manufactured seafood

Credit: Marco Verch via Flickr Creative Commons

Today, there are only two ways to produce seafood: fishermen can catch wild fish, or fish can be farmed in a process called aquaculture. Both methods have many benefits, but also can have adverse impacts on the environment. A growing number of companies are trying to develop alternative ways to produce “seafood,” like “tuna” made by growing tuna cells in a lab.

Will these alternatives make it commercially? If they do, will that result in big environmental benefits or contribute to food security? Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) recently looked into these questions. Read More »

Posted in Global Fisheries, Seafood / Tagged , | Read 1 Response

Science, warnings and the plight of coral reefs

A tragedy is unfolding on the Great Barrier Reef, the largest living organism on the planet.  The non-Hollywood ending is a surprise to many, but it was clearly foreshadowed decades ago by a small group of scientists who were criticized as false prophets of doom and dismissed.

Large sections of the reef are dead.  The reef has been remarkably resilient over the last 8000 years, weathering devastating outbreaks of voracious crown-of-thorns starfish, pollution, fishing and coral bleaching.  The establishment of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority no doubt contributed to that resilience, reducing impacts from some of these threats, especially land-based pollution and fishing pressure.  Recent research by EDF and others shows that managing fisheries is crucial for maintaining healthy coral reefs. Read More »

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New process helps managers make informed decisions, even in data poor fisheries

The coast of Galicia, Spain where octopus, goose barnacles, and many other species are harvested by small scale fishermen and women.

The coast of Galicia, Spain where octopus, goose barnacles, and many other species are harvested by small-scale fishermen and women.

Fishery managers, scientists and NGOs from all over Spain gathered in Madrid on a warm spring morning at a workshop convened by EDF and World Wildlife Fund Spain, eager to learn about how to collect, analyze, and use data to manage fishing mortality so that they could achieve their goal of good yields sustained over many years and even generations.

Like many people struggling to improve fishery outcomes around the world, the participants in this workshop felt like they couldn’t use the complex fishery assessment models they had learned in school because the data they actually had in hand were quite limited – and the models required rich streams of data.  The vast majority – probably over 80% – of the world’s fisheries appear to be in this situation.  The participants also felt like they had to make important management decisions with limited expertise by wading through a mass of technical papers on a variety of topics, none giving clear and specific guidance for the specific fisheries they care so much about.

Over the course of three intense days, participants worked together to synthesize guidance from the literature and from other fisheries on how to monitor fisheries, choose appropriate analytical methods and use the results to manage fisheries.  Together, we worked out how this guidance could be applied to specific fisheries.

We were thrilled to read the evaluations afterward.  Participants got a tremendous amount out of the workshop, but many of them said that it was too short (even though most of us were exhausted by the long days of thinking hard and practicing various skills).  They wanted to dig deeper and build on the skills that they had learned.  It would have been great to have a large body of international expertise on monitoring, data analysis and how to adjust fishing mortality to achieve fishery management goals in one convenient place that could be tailored to the fisheries that they care most about.

FishPath: Guiding managers in complex, data poor fisheries

Fortunately, a working group of international stock assessment experts convened by the Science for Nature and People program foresaw this need and developed a process called FishPath that does exactly that.  FishPath  elicits key information about a specific fishery and then uses that information to identify monitoring, assessment and harvest control options that will likely be appropriate for that fishery.  Read More »

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