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DocWatch
overfishing
Twitterit?
News stories about "overfishing," with punchlines: http://apocadocs.com/d.pl?overfishing
Related Scary Tags:
hunting to extinction  ~ ecosystem interrelationships  ~ predator depletion  ~ stupid humans  ~ ocean warming  ~ ocean acidification  ~ massive die-off  ~ short-term thinking  ~ food crisis  ~ sixth extinction  ~ smart policy  



Thu, Oct 23, 2014
from The Independent (UK):
Small ocean fish are thriving while humans eat up all their predators
Little fish have never had it so good, according to research showing how mankind's taste for big fish such as tuna and shark is allowing the anchovy and sardine to flourish.... Industrialised fishing practices are causing a revolution in the world's oceans, with numbers of predator fish - which also include swordfish, grouper, North Atlantic cod and salmon - tumbling by 54 per cent in the past four decades. These fish sit at the top of the food chain and are more popular with humans than the smaller species because people find them tastier. Their volume - by weight - has fallen by 67 per cent in the past century, a University of British Columbia study has found.... The volume by weight of smaller fish has more than doubled in the past century. The biggest increases are to be found in those fish that are less popular with humans, such as sticklebacks and Gobies, the research found. Over the same period, the volume of predators fell by 67 per cent.... The meteoric rise of herbivorous sea urchins as their predators such as sea otters have declined is one example of how the changes are undermining ecosystems. The sea urchins destroy the forests of kelp seaweed that host numerous species such as crabs and jellyfish. ...


It's just smaller fish, all the way down.

ApocaDoc
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Thu, Oct 2, 2014
from University of Exeter, via EurekAlert:
Study shows sharks have personalities
Some sharks are 'gregarious' and have strong social connections, whilst others are more solitary and prefer to remain inconspicuous, according to a new study which is the first to show that the notorious predators have personality traits. Personalities are known to exist in many animals, but are usually defined by individual characteristics such as how exploratory, bold or aggressive an individual is. Research led by the University of Exeter and the Marine Biological Association of the UK (MBA) has shown for the first time that individual sharks actually possess social personalities, which determine how they might interact with group mates in the wild. ...


I thought it was only nice things we slaughtered that had personalities -- y'know, like dolphins and whales.

ApocaDoc
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Fri, Aug 15, 2014
from BBC:
Giant prehistoric Amazon fish 'locally extinct' due to overfishing
A 10ft (3m) long fish which used to dominate the Amazon river has been fished to extinction in a number of areas, scientists have revealed. Arapaima populations were found to be extinct in eight of the 41 communities studied, and extremely low on average.... Previously, bio economic theory predicted that fishing does not cause extinctions because fishermen inevitably move away from depleted resources. Scientists, led by Dr Leandro Castello, from Virginia Tech, US, wanted to know how healthy the arapaima populations in the Lower Amazon region were. They also wanted to find out whether these fisheries supported bio economic predictions, or the alternative fishing-down theory which predicts that large, high-value, easy-to-catch fish will be fished to extinction.... Almost a quarter of the fishermen in each community fished arapaima regardless of the population's status. The research team say the results contradict conventional economic thinking and instead support "fishing-down" predictions. ...


Bio-economics: The dismal bioscience.

ApocaDoc
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Fri, Jul 25, 2014
from Global Oceans Commission, via DesdemonaDespair:
Global fishing fleet capacity and productivity, 1975-2005
The main drivers leading to overfishing on the high seas are vessel overcapacity and mismanagement. However, measures to improve management alone will not succeed without solving the problem of overcapacity caused by subsidies, particularly fuel subsidies. Overcapacity is often described as "too many boats trying to catch too few fish". Indeed, the size of the world's fleet is currently two-and-a-half times what is necessary to sustainably catch global fish stocks. But it is not only the number of vessels that is of concern, it is also the type of vessel. Many argue that having fewer vessels, when they have larger engines and use more-destructive industrial fishing gear, is of equal weight to the number of vessels fishing as a driver of overcapacity. ...


We call that "aspirational infrastructure."

ApocaDoc
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Tue, Jul 8, 2014
from Reuters, via HuffingtonPost:
Pope Francis Calls Exploitation Of Nature The Sin Of Our Time
"This is one of the greatest challenges of our time: to convert ourselves to a type of development that knows how to respect creation," he told students, struggling farmers, and laid-off workers in a university hall. "When I look at America, also my own homeland (South America), so many forests, all cut, that have become land ... that can longer give life. This is our sin, exploiting the Earth and not allowing her to her give us what she has within her," the Argentine pope said in unprepared remarks. Francis, who took his name from Francis of Assisi, the 13th century saint seen as the patron of animals and the environment, is writing an encyclical on man's relationship with nature. ...


You mean God didn't place us on the earth to use it up as fast as possible?

ApocaDoc
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Wed, May 7, 2014
from Science, via CBS News (2006):
Salt-Water Fish Extinction Seen By 2048
The apocalypse has a new date: 2048. That's when the world's oceans will be empty of fish, predicts an international team of ecologists and economists. The cause: the disappearance of species due to overfishing, pollution, habitat loss, and climate change. The study by Boris Worm, PhD, of Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, -- with colleagues in the U.K., U.S., Sweden, and Panama -- was an effort to understand what this loss of ocean species might mean to the world. The researchers analyzed several different kinds of data. Even to these ecology-minded scientists, the results were an unpleasant surprise. "I was shocked and disturbed by how consistent these trends are -- beyond anything we suspected," Worm says in a news release. "This isn't predicted to happen. This is happening now," study researcher Nicola Beaumont, PhD, of the Plymouth Marine Laboratory, U.K., says in a news release. "If biodiversity continues to decline, the marine environment will not be able to sustain our way of life. Indeed, it may not be able to sustain our lives at all," Beaumont adds. ...


Whales and orcas aren't really "fish," you know.

ApocaDoc
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Tue, Jan 28, 2014
from Guardian:
Warmer seas 'are making fish smaller'
A decline in the size of some species of fish in the North Sea could be due to a rise in water temperatures, according to research. Scientists found that the maximum length of haddock, whiting, herring, Norway pout, plaice and sole decreased by as much as 29 percent over a 38-year period when temperatures in the North Sea increased by between 1C and 2C. The availability of food and an increase in fishing could also be factors in the reduction in length but the "synchronised" fall in size across a range of species led the fisheries scientists at the University of Aberdeen to identify climate change, and particularly higher water temperatures, as a common theme.... Dr Baudron added: "The increase in temperature of the North Sea is actually quite subtle - approximately 2C - yet this appears to be having a detectable impact on growth rates of fish. ...


I know we need something to replace the vanishing phytoplankton, but isn't this the wrong way to go about it?

ApocaDoc
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Wed, Jan 8, 2014
from Florida State University:
Snowball Effect of Overfishing Highlighted
Florida State University researchers have spearheaded a major review of fisheries research that examines the domino effect that occurs when too many fish are harvested from one habitat. The loss of a major species from an ecosystem can have unintended consequences because of the connections between that species and others in the system. Moreover, these changes often occur rapidly and unexpectedly, and are difficult to reverse. "You don't realize how interdependent species are until it all unravels," said Felicia Coleman, director of the Florida State University Coastal and Marine Laboratory and a co-author on the study. ...


It's as if ecosystems evolved interdependently!

ApocaDoc
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Sun, Nov 10, 2013
from Foreign Affairs, via WitsEndNJ:
The Devolution of the Seas: The Consequences of Oceanic Destruction
Of all the threats looming over the planet today, one of the most alarming is the seemingly inexorable descent of the world's oceans into ecological perdition. Over the last several decades, human activities have so altered the basic chemistry of the seas that they are now experiencing evolution in reverse: a return to the barren primeval waters of hundreds of millions of years ago.... Over the last 50 years -- a mere blink in geologic time -- humanity has come perilously close to reversing the almost miraculous biological abundance of the deep. Pollution, overfishing, the destruction of habitats, and climate change are emptying the oceans and enabling the lowest forms of life to regain their dominance. The oceanographer Jeremy Jackson calls it 'the rise of slime': the transformation of once complex oceanic ecosystems featuring intricate food webs with large animals into simplistic systems dominated by microbes, jellyfish, and disease. In effect, humans are eliminating the lions and tigers of the seas to make room for the cockroaches and rats. ...


So, you environmentalists have become 'cockroaches and rats'-ists?

ApocaDoc
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Thu, Oct 17, 2013
from Washington Post:
Study links warmer water temperatures to greater levels of mercury in fish
In a lab experiment, researchers adjusted temperatures in tanks, tainted the killifish's food with traces of methylmercury and watched as the fish stored high concentrations of the metal in their tissue. In a field experiment in nearby salt pools, they observed as killifish in warmer pools ate their natural food and stored metal in even higher concentrations, like some toxic condiment for larger fish that would later prey on them. The observation was part of a study showing how killifish at the bottom of the food chain will probably absorb higher levels of methylmercury in an era of global warming and pass it on to larger predator fish, such as the tuna stacked in shiny little cans in the cupboards of Americans and other people the world over. "The implication is this could play out in larger fish . . . because their metabolic rate is also increasing," said Celia Chen, a professor at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire and one of six authors of the study. "Methylmercury isn't easily excreted, so it stays. It suggests that there will be higher methylmercury concentrations in the fish humans eat as well." ...


Finally! Something to solve the problem of overfishing!

ApocaDoc
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Tue, Oct 15, 2013
from University of Sydney:
Evidence of Unsustainable Fishing in the Great Barrier Reef
Sea cucumber fishing in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park shows worrying signs of being unsustainable. Many species being targeted are endangered and vulnerable to extinction, as determined by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.... "Sea cucumbers play a vital role in reef health and our previous research indicates that they may help reduce the harmful impact of ocean acidification on coral growth. The viability of their numbers may well be crucial to the condition of coral reef ecosystems." ...


Nothing tastier than a sea cucumber sandwich!

ApocaDoc
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Tue, Oct 1, 2013
from The Guardian:
Jellyfish clog pipes of Swedish nuclear reactor, forcing plant shutdown
A huge cluster of jellyfish forced the Oskarshamn plant, the site of one of the world's largest nuclear reactors, to shut down by clogging the pipes conducting cool water to the turbines. Operators of the plant on the Baltic coast in south-east Sweden had to scramble reactor No 3 on Sunday after tons of jellyfish were caught in the pipes.... The species that caused the Oskarshamn shutdown is known as the common moon jellyfish. "It's one of the species that can bloom in extreme areas that ... are over-fished or have bad conditions," said Moller. "The moon jelly likes these types of waters. They don't care if there are algae blooms, they don't care if the oxygen concentration is low. The fish leave ... and [the moon jelly] can really take over the ecosystem." ...


Moon jellies? Lunacy.

ApocaDoc
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Mon, May 6, 2013
from Agence France-Press:
Hong Kong risks losing its pink dolphins
Conservationists warned on Monday that Hong Kong may lose its rare Chinese white dolphins, also known as pink dolphins for their unique colour, unless it takes urgent action against pollution and other threats. Their numbers in Hong Kong waters have fallen from an estimated 158 in 2003 to just 78 in 2011, with a further decline expected when figures for 2012 are released next month, said the Hong Kong Dolphin Conservation Society. ...


With whom will the blue dolphins mate?

ApocaDoc
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Want more context?
Try reading our book FREE online:
Humoring the Horror of the Converging Emergencies!
More fun than a barrel of jellyfish!
Fri, Apr 19, 2013
from Canadian Press, via HuffingtonPost:
Canada Overfishing: Cod Stock, Other Species May Never Bounce Back, Study Says
The recovery of overexploited fish populations such as cod has been slower than expected and many depleted stocks may never be able to bounce back, a new study says. The study, to be published Friday in the journal Science, was compiled by researchers who examined 153 fish and invertebrate stocks from around the world. Most fish species are resilient enough to recover within a decade if swift action is taken to reduce pressure on depleted stocks, the researchers say. "But when you don't take action rapidly ... not only does it result in a much longer potential recovery time, but the uncertainty as to whether recovery will happen at all increases exponentially," said Jeff Hutchings, a professor of biology at Dalhousie University and one of the authors of the study.... "Our study really suggests that recovery is quite unlikely now for cod because of our failure to act when we could have." ...


I suppose those "experts" think there's some lesson to be learned.

ApocaDoc
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Tue, Apr 16, 2013
from FuelFix.com:
Report: Seismic research on East Coast could harm 140,000 whales & dolphins
Nearly 140,000 whales and dolphins could be injured if the Obama administration allows energy companies to conduct seismic research aimed at identifying oil and gas along the Atlantic Coast, according to a new report issued Tuesday. The assessment by the conservation group Oceana shines a light on the potential casualties of seismic studies that energy companies use to map the ocean floor and the underground geology of a region. Air guns used in the process send off pulses of sound that penetrate through the ocean and under the seafloor before bouncing back with clues about what lies below. Along the way, Oceana said, the sound waves could devastate marine life, including some of the 500 critically endangered North Atlantic right whales estimated to still exist. Air gun blasts also could cause widespread whale displacement and disrupt loggerhead sea turtles along the Atlantic Coast, Oceana concluded. ...


Nature is that which is in the way of what we are doing.

ApocaDoc
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Wed, Mar 20, 2013
from New York Times:
Quest for Illegal Sea Cucumbers at the Sea Bottom Divides Fishing Communities
Whispers of high-speed boat chases, harpoon battles on the open sea and divers who dived deep and never re-emerged come and go around here like an afternoon gale. The fishermen eye strangers -- and one another -- with deep suspicion. "We'll tear them apart," said one, Jorge Luis Palma, squinting into the horizon at a boat he did not recognize. What has wrapped this village in such hostility? Sea cucumbers. The spiky, sluglike marine animals are bottom feeders that are not even consumed in Mexico, but they are a highly prized delicacy half a world away, in China, setting off a maritime gold rush up and down the Yucatan Peninsula.... With a growing Chinese middle class, demand for sea cucumbers has soared, depleting populations in Asian and Pacific waters because of overfishing. "Sea cucumber fever," as residents call it, has taken a toll here, too. Of the estimated 20,000 tons available in 2009, only 1,900 tons are left, according to Felipe Cervera, secretary of rural development in Quintana Roo State. ...


I didn't know sea cucumbers had tusks.

ApocaDoc
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Mon, Feb 11, 2013
from Reuters:
New group seeks to save near-lawless oceans from over-fishing
The high seas that cover almost half the Earth's surface are a treasure trove with little legal protection from growing threats such as over-fishing and climate change, according to a new international group of politicians. "High levels of pillage are going on," David Miliband, a former British foreign secretary, told Reuters. He will co-chair the Global Ocean Commission, which will start work this week and give advice to the United Nations on fixing the problems. Over-fishing and environmental mismanagement cost the world economy $50 billion a year and about three-quarters of world fish stocks are over-fished or fished to the maximum, according to World Bank and U.N. data. ...


So much for there being so many fish in the sea.

ApocaDoc
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Sun, Feb 3, 2013
from CNN:
Historic cod fishing cuts threaten centuries-old industry in New England
... An advisory council voted Wednesday to slash cod catch rates by 77 percent in the Gulf of Maine, a region roughly the size of Indiana that extends from Cape Cod up through Nova Scotia. That move, analysts predict, is expected to decimate fishing communities across the region and have a domino effect on seafood processors, wholesalers, distributors and retailers who all make a living off the water. "The impact will be severe," said John Bullard, the regional administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, who voted in favor of the cuts. "It wasn't easy, but it was necessary." ...


I suppose next you'll be saying that we need that same attitude elsewhere!

ApocaDoc
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Thu, Dec 27, 2012
from Agence France-Press:
China's boom savages coral reefs: study
China's economic boom has seen its coral reefs shrink by at least 80 percent over the past 30 years, a joint Australian study found Thursday ... Scientists from the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies and the South China Sea Institute of Oceanology said their survey of mainland China and South China Sea reefs showed alarming degradation... Coastal development, pollution and overfishing linked to the Asian giant's aggressive economic expansion were the major drivers, the authors said, describing a "grim picture of decline, degradation and destruction". ...


There's no sense of corality when it comes to mindless growth.

ApocaDoc
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Mon, Dec 24, 2012
from Guardian, via BusinessGreen:
EU fishing quotas defy scientific advice, say conservationists
Fishing fleets will be allowed to extract more fish from European waters than scientists advise is safe next year, after two days and nights of negotiations in Brussels on the EU's fishing quotas. But there may be fewer discards, if predictions by fisheries ministers are correct. Nearly half of the quotas set were in excess of the best scientific advice, according to the sea conservation organisation Oceana.... The final quota for the cod catch will not be decided until January, in talks with Norway. The European Commission has proposed a 20 per cent cut in the cod quota, but the UK opposes that. In the Celtic Sea, a proposed 55 per cent cut to the haddock quota was reduced to a 15 per cent cut, and an increase of 29 per cent of the whiting catch, while in the west of Scotland a proposed 40 per cent cut to the megrim catch was changed to a seven per cent cut. Quotas for the channel fleet were increased by 26 per cent on plaice and six per cent on sole, and in the west of Scotland there was an 18 per cent increase in the prawn catch. ...


Thank God I grew up in the era of plenty -- before anybody even asked about quotas!

ApocaDoc
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Mon, Nov 5, 2012
from Yale Environment 300:
How Fishing Gear is Killing Whales in the North Atlantic
In early August, a small minke whale washed up on a beach in Chatham, Massachusetts. It was less than nine months old, not even weaned, and the cause of death soon became clear to Michael Moore, a veterinarian and biologist with Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, who came to perform a necropsy. Fishing line snarled the whale's snout, threading in and out of its baleen. Skull-bone fractures indicated that it had struggled in the rope underwater.... Entanglement has become a fact of life for large whales. Scientists examining scars on whale skin estimate that 82 percent of North Atlantic right whales and about half of endangered humpbacks between Cape Cod and Nova Scotia have become entangled at least once. Each year an unknown number die. Many of them manage to free themselves. ...


Fear gear.

ApocaDoc
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Thu, Sep 27, 2012
from PhysOrg:
Sea of the living dead
The world's coral reefs have become a zombie ecosystem, neither dead nor truly alive, and are on a trajectory to collapse within a human generation according to an academic from The Australian National University. Professor Roger Bradbury, an ecologist from the Crawford School of Public Policy in the ANU College of Asia and the Pacific, said overfishing, ocean acidification and pollution are pushing coral reefs into oblivion. "The scientific evidence for this is compelling and unequivocal, but there seems to be a collective reluctance to accept the logical conclusion--that there is no hope of saving the global coral reef ecosystem," he said. "There is no real prospect of changing the trajectory of coral reef destruction in less than 20 to 50 years. In short, these forces are unstoppable and irreversible. "By persisting in the false belief that coral reefs have a future, we grossly misallocate the funds needed to cope with the fallout from their collapse. Money isn't spent to study what to do after the reefs are gone." ...


Braaaaaaains... someone give us braaaaaaains....

ApocaDoc
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Fri, Sep 14, 2012
from New York Times:
U.S. Declares a Disaster for Fishery in Northeast
The Commerce Department on Thursday issued a formal disaster declaration for the Northeastern commercial groundfish fishery, paving the way for financial relief for the battered industry and the communities that depend on it.... [NOAA] found that the population of Gulf of Maine cod -- a critical commercial species here -- was about 20 percent of its rebuilding target.... "This year has been the worst I've ever seen it," said John Our, who has caught only 500 of the 180,000 pounds of cod he was allotted this year and has shifted his focus to dogfish instead. "It is a disaster, I'll give them that. I just don't see any fish being landed." ...


Cod damn it!

ApocaDoc
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Fri, Sep 7, 2012
from AP, hosted on Google:
Report: 'Time is running out' for Caribbean coral
An international conservation organization is painting a grim picture of the Caribbean's iconic coral reefs. The International Union for Conservation of Nature says the Caribbean's reefs are in sharp decline, with live coral coverage down to an average of just 8 percent. That's down from 50 percent in the 1970s. The non-governmental organization released a report Friday at an international environmental conference in Korea. The causes include overfishing, pollution, disease and bleaching caused by rising global temperatures. The group says the situation is somewhat better in some places, including the Dutch islands of the southern Caribbean and the British territory of the Cayman Islands, with up to 30 percent cover in places. But the union concludes that "time is running out" and new safeguards are urgently needed. ...


What an opportunity! Nanocoral™ anyone? How 'bout micro-robotic coral?

ApocaDoc
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Thu, Sep 6, 2012
from LA Times:
Bottom trawling flattens seafloor
Fishing trawlers that scrape the seafloor with nets are altering the submarine landscape and may affect sensitive marine ecosystems, according to researchers. Likening the effect of bottom trawling to agriculture plowing or forest clear-cutting on land, marine scientists say the practice has flattened undersea slopes across the globe. In the process, the fishing equipment threatens the diversity of sea life by altering their habitat. ...


Mountaintop mining, deep-sea trawling... soon the Earth will be the smooth billiard ball that consumers demand!

ApocaDoc
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Mon, Jul 16, 2012
from Texas A&M University:
Antarctica at Risk from Human Activities
The continent of Antarctica is at risk from human activities and other forces, and environmental management is needed to protect the planet's last great wilderness area, says an international team of researchers, including a Texas A&M University oceanographer, in a paper published in the current issue of Science magazine.... Antarctica faces growing threats from global warming, loss of sea ice and landed ice, increased tourism, over-fishing in the region, pollution and invasive species creeping into the area. One of the longer-term concerns that may present the greatest threat overall is the potential for oil, gas and mineral exploitation on the continent and in the surrounding ocean... ...


Why should anywhere on the planet be immune from this virus called humanity?

ApocaDoc
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You're still reading! Good for you!
You really should read our short, funny, frightening book FREE online (or buy a print copy):
Humoring the Horror of the Converging Emergencies!
We've been quipping this stuff for more than 30 months! Every day!
Which might explain why we don't get invited to parties anymore.
Mon, Apr 30, 2012
from University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science:
Scientists Provide First Large-Scale Estimate of Reef Shark Losses in the Pacific Ocean
Many shark populations have plummeted in the past three decades as a result of excessive harvesting -- for their fins, as an incidental catch of fisheries targeting other species, and in recreational fisheries. This is particularly true for oceanic species... The numbers are sobering. "We estimate that reef shark numbers have dropped substantially around populated islands, generally by more than 90 percent compared to those at the most untouched reefs," said Marc Nadon, lead author... "In short, people and sharks don't mix." ...


Oh yeah? Try telling that to my reef shark ladyfriend.

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Tue, Apr 24, 2012
from CBC News:
Arctic fishing moratorium needed, thousands of scientists say
A group of more than 2,000 scientists from 67 countries has called for a moratorium on commercial fishing in the Arctic until more research can be completed on waters that were once covered by ice year-round. The scientists said the loss of permanent sea ice has opened up as much as 40 per cent of the Central Arctic Ocean during recent summers, making industrial fishing viable for the first time. But they said such activities should be prohibited until there's a better understanding of the area and sustainable fishing quotas can be set. "The ability to fish is not the same as having the scientific information and management regimes needed for a well-managed fishery," the scientists said in an open letter released Sunday by the U.S.-based Pew Environment Group.... "In the absence of this scientific data and a robust management system, depletion of fishery resources and damage to other components of the ecosystem are likely to result if fisheries commence." ...


But it's brand new territory to suck dry! I can't resist!! Gold rush!!!

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Tue, Mar 27, 2012
from Fox News:
Hammerhead shark 'twin' means species is rarer than formerly thought
Scientists recently confirmed that endangered scalloped hammerhead sharks have a fishy twin -- a newfound species, still unnamed, that is distinct, yet very closely resembles the threatened sharks. The case of mistaken identity indicates that scalloped hammerhead sharks are even more scarce than once thought, according to some researchers. Since it's very hard to tell the two species apart -- only differences in their DNA and number of vertebrae reveal their true identities -- it's likely that previous assessments of scalloped hammerhead sharks exaggerated their numbers because the counts likely included the look-alike sharks. "It's a classic case of long-standing species misidentification that not only casts further uncertainty on the status of the real scalloped hammerhead, but also raises concerns about the population status of this new species," Nova Southeastern University Oceanographic Center professor Mahmood Shivji said in a statement. ...


Let's just pretend we didn't know that. It's working so far everywhere else!

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Wed, Mar 7, 2012
from New York Times:
Shark Fins Are Loaded With a Neurotoxin, Study Finds
Shark fins contain high levels of a potent neurotoxin that scientists have linked to neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's, according to a recent study published in the journal Marine Drugs.... The study provides another reason not to eat shark fins or shark fin soup, an expensive delicacy prized in Asia for its taste and supposed health benefits. Growing demand for the product drives a global hunt that kills an estimated 73 million sharks a year; the animals are often brutally definned and tossed back into the water to slowly die. Several species are on the brink of extinction, and the loss of so many sharks spells trouble for marine ecosystems. ...


I myself have always avoided shark fins.

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Thu, Feb 2, 2012
from OnEarth:
A Safer Fish: NOAA Lists Atlantic Sturgeon as Endangered
After years of disagreement, NOAA's Fisheries Service has decided to list the Atlantic sturgeon as an endangered species. The listing will include five distinct populations of the fish -- four are endangered, and one will be listed as threatened. The action comes in response to an NRDC listing petition filed in 2009. Since 1998, the government has banned fishing for these ancient creatures -- they haven't changed much in 85 million years -- but recent studies have suggested the ban hasn't effectively protected them. Some scientists and advocates say the endangerment listing will be the extra push the fish need to rebound. Sturgeon were overfished for years for their roe. ...


Maybe we're beginning to respect our very, very, very, very, very elders.

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Wed, Jan 25, 2012
from New York Times:
In Jack Mackerel's Plunder, Hints of Epic Fish Collapse
Eric Pineda, a dock agent in this old port south of Santiago, peered deep into the Achernar's hold at a measly 10 tons of jack mackerel -- the catch after four days in waters once so rich they filled the 17-meter fishing boat in a few hours.... "It's going fast," he said as he looked at the 57-foot boat. "We've got to fish harder before it's all gone." Asked what he would leave his son, he shrugged: "He'll have to find something else."... Stocks have dropped from an estimated 30 million metric tons to less than a tenth of that in two decades. The world's largest trawlers, after depleting other oceans, now head south toward the edge of Antarctica to compete for what is left.... "This is the last of the buffaloes," he said. "When they're gone, everything will be gone."... Meanwhile, industrial fleets bound only by voluntary restraints compete in what amounts to a free-for-all in no man’s water at the bottom of the world. From 2006 through 2011, scientists estimate, jack mackerel stocks declined 63 percent. ...


Clearly, we don't know Jack.

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Fri, Jan 6, 2012
from Inter-Research:
Modelling the effects of fishing on the biomass of the world's oceans from 1950 to 2006
Using primary production, sea surface temperature, transfer efficiency, fisheries catch and TL of species, the model was applied on a half-degree spatial grid covering all oceans. Estimates of biomass by TLs were derived for marine ecosystems in an unexploited state, as well as for all decades since the 1950s. Trends in the decline of marine biomass from the unexploited state were analyzed with a special emphasis on predator species as they are highly vulnerable to overexploitation. This study highlights 3 main trends in the global effects of fishing: (1) predators are more affected than organisms at lower TLs; (2) declines in ecosystem biomass are stronger along coastlines than in the High Seas; and (3) the extent of fishing and its impacts have expanded from north temperate to equatorial and southern waters in the last 50 yr. More specifically, this modelling work shows that many oceans historically exploited by humans have seen a drastic decline in their predator biomass, with approximately half of the coastal areas of the North Atlantic and North Pacific showing a decline in predator biomass of more than 90 percent. ...


Without predator species, there's no need for fear!

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Thu, Jan 5, 2012
from TED, via The Oil Drum:
Jeremy Jackson talks about How We Wrecked the Ocean

Jeremy Jackson is the Ritter Professor of Oceanography and Director of the Center for Marine Biodiversity and Conservation at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. ...


You can tell me, but you can't force me to see!

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Tue, Dec 6, 2011
from Canadian Press, via Huffington Post:
Marine Predators Decline, As Overfishing Takes Toll: University Of British Columbia Study
Overfishing is taking a heavy toll on marine predators such as sharks, tuna and swordfish, says a new study by scientists at the University of British Columbia. The study, published online Monday in the journal Marine Ecology Progress Series, says predator species in north Pacific and Atlantic waters have dropped by more than 90 per cent since the 1950s. The study found that predator species are also experiencing a dramatic decline in the south seas as those species are caught and sent to northern markets for consumption.... She also said fishing is a huge driving force in the deterioration of the marine ecosystem, noting that the removal of fish from the ocean can be compared to clearcuts in the Amazon. "After running out of predator fish in the north Atlantic and Pacific, rather than implementing strict management and enforcement, the fishing industry pointed its bows south," co-author Daniel Pauly said in a media statement. "The southern hemisphere predators are now on the same trajectory as the ones in the northern hemisphere. What happens next when we have nowhere left to turn?" ...


One direction is always available: down.

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Tue, Nov 29, 2011
from YouTube:
FADs: Helicopter Pilot Blows Whistle On Tuna Industry
A shocking Greenpeace video has revealed the appalling slaughter of marine life during tuna fishing. A tuna industry whistleblower spoke out to expose the routine killing of whales, dolphins and manta rays. The never-before-seen footage shows graphic images shot aboard a Pacific fishing vessel. The ship uses fishing aggregated devices (FADs), man-made floating objects used to attract fish. ...


I can see why this FAD is so popular.

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Wed, Nov 23, 2011
from AP, via PhysOrg:
Far more bluefin sold than reported caught: Pew report
More than twice as many tonnes of Atlantic bluefin tuna were sold last year compared with official catch records for this threatened species, according to a report released on Tuesday. This "bluefin gap" occurred despite enhanced reporting and enforcement measures introduced in 2008 by the 48-member International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT), which sets annual quotas by country, it said. Trade figures showed that real catches of bluefin in 2009 and 2010 totaled more than 70,500 tonnes, twice ICCAT's tally for those two years, according to the report compiled by Washington-based Pew Environment Group. "The current paper-based catch documentation system is plagued with fraud, misinformation and delays in reporting," said Roberto Mielgo, a former industry insider and author of the report. "Much more needs to be done." ...


It's the miracle of the loaves and the bluefins!

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Mon, Nov 14, 2011
from McClatchy:
Can the oceans continue to feed us?
Yet tuna still aren't fished sustainably, something that conservationists and big U.S. tuna companies are trying to fix. This illustrates one part of the pressure on the world's oceans to feed a growing global population, now 7 billion. It also underscores the difficulties people have in balancing what they take against what must be left in order to have enough supplies of healthy wild fish.... "It's serious. On a global basis, we've pretty much found all the fish we're going to find," said Mike Hirshfield, chief scientist at the advocacy group Oceana. "There's not a lot of hidden fish out there. And we're still heading in the wrong direction, taken as a whole." Some 32 percent of the world's fish are overfished, up from 10 percent in the 1970s and 25 percent in the early 1990s, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization. ...


Teach a man to fish, and his great-grandchildren will be hungry.

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Thu, Oct 20, 2011
from Guardian:
Shark massacre reported in Colombian waters
Colombian environmental authorities have reported a huge shark massacre in the Malpelo wildlife sanctuary in Colombia's Pacific waters, where as many as 2,000 hammerhead, Galápagos and silky sharks may have been slaughtered for their fins. Sandra Bessudo, the Colombian president's top adviser on environmental issues, said a team of divers who were studying sharks in the region reported the mass killing in the waters surrounding the rock-island known as Malpelo, some 500 kilometres from the mainland. "I received a report, which is really unbelievable, from one of the divers who came from Russia to observe the large concentrations of sharks in Malpelo. They saw a large number of fishing trawlers entering the zone illegally," Bessudo said. The divers counted a total of 10 fishing boats, which all were flying the Costa Rican flag.... The sanctuary covers 8,570 square kilometres of marine environment that provides a habitat for threatened marine species - in particular sharks. Divers have reported sightings of schools of more than 200 hammerhead sharks and as many as 1,000 silky sharks in the protected waters, one of the few areas in the world where sightings of short-nosed ragged-toothed shark, known locally as the "Malpelo monster," have been confirmed. In 2006 Unesco included the park on its list of World Heritage sites. ...


Why do you rob sanctuaries? 'Cause that's where the fins are.

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Tue, Oct 4, 2011
from Los Angeles Times:
Big catches mask dwindling numbers of sea bass
As reliably as masses of sea bass gather off the Southern California coast each summer, boatloads of anglers arrive to reel them in. But their bountiful catches are an illusion, scientists say. The populations of kelp bass and barred sand bass, two of the most popular -- and easy to catch -- saltwater fishes in Southern California, have plummeted 90 percent since 1980, according to a study led by a researcher at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego. Overfishing and warmer ocean temperatures are blamed for the stunning decline. ...


A bass exodus.

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Wed, Sep 7, 2011
from Marine Conservation Biology Institute, via EurekAlert:
Deep-sea fish in deep trouble
A team of leading marine scientists from around the world is recommending an end to most commercial fishing in the deep sea, the Earth's largest ecosystem. Instead, they recommend fishing in more productive waters nearer to consumers. In a comprehensive analysis published online this week in the journal Marine Policy, marine ecologists, fisheries biologists, economists, mathematicians and international policy experts show that, with rare exceptions, deep-sea fisheries are unsustainable.... Some deep-sea fishes live more than a century; some deep-sea corals can live more than 4,000 years. When bottom trawlers rip life from the depths, animals adapted to life in deep-sea time can't repopulate on human time scales. Powerful fishing technologies are overwhelming them. "The deep sea is the world's worst place to catch fish" says marine ecologist Dr. Elliott Norse... "Deep-sea fishes are especially vulnerable because they can't repopulate quickly after being overfished."... The deep sea provides less than 1 percent of the world's seafood.... Orange roughy take 30 years to reach sexual maturity and can live 125 years. Compared with most coastal fishes, they live in slow-motion. Unfortunately for them and the deep-sea corals they live among, they can no longer hide from industrial fishing. ...


Looks like we're floundering in the deep end of deep shit.

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Sun, Jul 31, 2011
from Telegraph.co.uk:
One-third of freshwater fish threatened with extinction
Among those at the greatest risk of dying out are several species from UK rivers and lakes including the European eel, Shetland charr and many little known fish that have become isolated in remote waterways in Wales and Scotland. Others critically endangered include types of sturgeon, which provide some of the world's most expensive caviar, and giant river dwellers such as the Mekong giant catfish and freshwater stingray, which can grow as long as 15 feet. The scientists have blamed human activities such as overfishing, pollution and construction for pushing so many species to the brink of extinction. They also warn that the loss of the fish could have serious implications for humans. In Africa alone more than 7.5 million people rely on freshwater fish for food and income.... "Sadly, it is also not going to get any better as human need for fresh water, power and food continues to grown and we exploit freshwater environments for these resources."... "We have to find ways of reducing impacts on these ecosystems while allowing people to continue to use the resources that freshwater environments have to offer." ...


Only thirty percent? That means we haven't even reached "peak biodiversity" yet!

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Wed, Jul 27, 2011
from London Guardian:
Sea Shepherd could be forced to sell Steve Irwin in bluefin dispute
The Sea Shepherd director has been convicted in absentia in Norway, spent 80 days in a Dutch prison, and has had the Japanese, Icelandic and Danish navies trying to arrest him for trying to defend whales, seals and fish. But now the animal rights and environmental activist Paul Watson faces the ignominy of having the flagship of his fleet, the Steve Irwin, sold by Scotland unless he raises nearly £1m in the next two weeks. Watson, a co-founder of Greenpeace and the director of the Sea Shepherd conservation society based in California, was about to leave Lerwick in the Shetland isles en route for the Faroes last week when Maltese company Fish and Fish lodged a complaint against him in the Scottish courts over alleged damage sustained when Sea Shepherd freed hundreds of bluefin tuna from the company's nets in a a clash off the coast of Libya last year. The Steve Irwin was impounded by the court on 15 July and now the man described by the Japanese as a pirate has just days left to post a bond for £860,000. ...


The Steve Irwin has been stung by the stingray of capitalism.

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Mon, Jul 18, 2011
from GiltTaste:
The Most Important Fish in the Sea
With two smaller boats at its side, the Reedville encloses a school of fish in a stiff black purse seine net. With practiced efficiency, workers onboard hoist a vacuum pump into the net and suck tens of thousands of small silvery fish out of the water. It looks like an unusual way to catch fish; it's all the more unusual when you realize that this particular industrial catch is actually banned by every state on the East Coast. Every state, that is, save for one: Virginia. The fish going up the tube are Atlantic menhaden, known to ocean ecologists as the "breadbasket of the ocean," though some prefer to call them "the most important fish in the sea." Because there's money to be made, menhaden, all the fish that rely on them for food, and the entire ocean ecosystem are in trouble. Found in estuarine and coastal waters from Nova Scotia to Florida, menhaden are oily, bony, and inedible to humans, which is why you've probably never heard of them. But their nutrient-packed bodies are a staple food for dozens of fish species you have heard of, as well as marine mammals and sea birds. Located near the bottom of the food chain, menhaden are the favored prey for many important predators, including striped bass and bluefish, tuna and dolphin, seatrout and mackerel.... This is the "menhaden reduction" process, the basis for a lucrative industry controlled, on the East Coast, by exactly one company: Omega Protein, Inc. ...


Isn't that Nature's purpose -- to make us money?

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Mon, Jul 11, 2011
from George Monbiot, in the Guardian:
Have jellyfish come to rule the waves?
Last year I began to wonder, this year doubt is seeping away, to be replaced with a rising fear. Could it really have happened? Could the fishing industry have achieved the remarkable feat of destroying the last great stock? Until 2010, mackerel were the one reliable catch in Cardigan Bay in west Wales. Though I took to the water dozens of times, there wasn't a day in 2008 or 2009 when I failed to take 10 or more. Once every three or four trips I would hit a major shoal, and bring in 100 or 200 fish: enough, across the season, to fill the freezer and supply much of our protein for the year.... I pushed my kayak off the beach and felt that delightful sensation of gliding away from land almost effortlessly - I'm so used to fighting the westerlies and the waves they whip up in these shallow seas that on this occasion I seemed almost to be drifting towards the horizon. Far below me I could see the luminous feathers I used as bait tripping over the seabed. But I could also see something else. Jellyfish. Unimaginable numbers of them. Not the transparent cocktail umbrellas I was used to, but solid, white rubbery creatures the size of footballs. They roiled in the surface or loomed, vast and pale, in the depths. There was scarcely a cubic metre of water without one. Apart from that - nothing. It wasn't until I reached a buoy three miles from the shore that I felt the urgent tap of a fish, and brought up a single, juvenile mackerel. ...


In every gaping void there is an opportunity, right? Right?

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Mon, Jul 11, 2011
from The Independent:
Annual demand for fish empties British waters in just six months
Britain's coastal waters are so overfished that they can supply the nation's chip shops, restaurants and kitchens for little more than six months of every year, research has shown. Overfishing has caused so much damage to fish stocks across Europe that the quantity landed each year to satisfy the public appetite has fallen by 2 per cent on average every year since 1993. So great is demand that next Saturday, 16 July, has been dubbed Fish Dependence Day - the day on which imports would have to be relied upon because native supplies would have run out if only home-caught fish had been eaten since 1 January. Last year it fell on 3 August, almost three weeks later, and in 1995 it was six weeks later. ...


We'll just import from that spare Earth I've heard tell about, right?

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Thu, Jun 23, 2011
from University of York, via EurekAlert:
Ban on discards 'will boost fisheries', says new research
Banning fisheries discards in the North Sea will promote fish stock recovery and increase fishermen's incomes, according to new research by scientists at the University of York. In the North Sea up to 75 per cent of fish are currently dumped after being caught, with the result that many fisheries are now badly overfished. In comparison, discards were banned in Norwegian waters in the late 1980s and their fisheries are now some of the most prosperous in the world.... But Dr Beukers-Stewart says: "Discards simply squander valuable resources. Our research demonstrates that while there may be some short-term costs, a ban on discards is essential if European fish stocks are to become sustainable in the long term." ...


I think he's saying "thank you." Or is that "took you long enough"?

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Wed, Jun 1, 2011
from Associated Press:
Sturgeon's death highlights threat to ancient fish
...Sturgeon have thrived in the Danube for 200 million years, migrating from feeding grounds in the Black Sea to Germany 2,000 kms (1,200 miles) upstream... Fishermen, unrestrained after the collapse of order in eastern Europe in 1989, caught them in huge numbers as they began their migration, trapping them before they could reproduce. Pollution from agricultural run-off and expanding cities put them under further pressure, although the construction of water treatment plants in the last decade has lessened the flow of filth. Now environmentalists are trying to head off the latest threat: a European Union plan to deepen shipping channels in the Danube that they fear could eliminate the last shallows where the sturgeon deposit their eggs, which would doom the fish to vanish in its last stronghold in Europe. ...


What God hath fashioned, man can fucketh up pretty fast.

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Thu, May 19, 2011
from PNAS, via Ars Technica:
Fisheries collapse in a pattern unlike that seen on land
Conservationists desperately want to minimize the impact of overfishing on the oceans and their inhabitants. Doing so requires defining which species are most at risk, and so far, that has not been done on a global level. In terrestrial ecosystems, large-bodied species and top predators seem to be the most susceptible to human impacts; it has been assumed that the same holds true in the water. However, a recent report in PNAS indicates that this is not the case.... Contrary to what they expected, they found that almost twice the percentage of smaller, low trophic-level fish stocks had collapsed compared to large top predators. They could not find a correlation between collapse and any of the life history traits they examined, in any combination. Small fish that live near the surface tend to have rapid growth rates and are highly catchable, so are particularly at risk of being overfished. They can also have a "fast" life history strategy that led people to erroneously believe they were less vulnerable to overfishing. Perhaps this disparity with the situation on land is precisely because fisheries had been targeting these smaller fish, assuming that their populations were more resilient than they actually are. ...


No correlation does not imply no causation.

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Mon, May 9, 2011
from New Scientist:
Unnatural selection: Fish growing up fast
If we humans are good at hunting, we excel at fishing. As we vacuum up stupendous numbers of fish from oceans, rivers and lakes, the nature of the ones that get away is changing at an astonishing rate. In particular, the targeting of big animals drives the evolution of smaller fish or ones that become sexually mature at a younger age, or both. Many fish populations are changing dramatically, with average size shrinking by 20 per cent and average life histories 25 per cent shorter (PNAS, v 106, p 952). Harvested species show the most abrupt trait changes ever observed in wild populations, Michael Kinnison of the University of Maine and colleagues reported recently.... There is also no doubt about the plausibility of such rapid evolution. A decade-long study of Atlantic silversides kept in tanks has shown that intense targeting of large individuals can halve average size in just four generations. ...


Pretty soon fish will die before they're born.

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Tue, May 3, 2011
from New York Times:
One Fish, Two Fish, False-ish, True-ish
Two University of Washington scientists have just published a study in the journal Conservation Biology in collaboration with colleagues from Rutgers University and Dalhousie University arguing that the gloomiest predictions about the world's fisheries are significantly exaggerated. The new study takes issue with a recent estimate that 70 percent of all stocks have been harvested to the point where their numbers have peaked and are now declining, and that 30 percent of all stocks have collapsed to less than one-tenth of their former numbers. Instead, it finds that at most 33 percent of all stocks are over-exploited and up to 13 percent of all stocks have collapsed. It's not that fisheries are in great shape, said Trevor Branch, the lead author of the new study; it's just that they are not as badly off as has been widely believed.... But Dirk Zeller, a scientist at the University of British Columbia who is on the other side of the debate, doesn't buy all of Dr. Branch's arguments.... "Where their argument falls down is that they extrapolate that pattern to global fisheries, and then say global fisheries aren't doing that bad," he said. "They totally ignore the fact that all of Asia, all of South America, all of Africa are not included."... “I have no argument with the point that with stocks that are well managed you can have sustainable fisheries,” Dr. Zeller said.... Dr. Branch, for his part, says that catch data has value for some uses as long as it is handled with care. ...


One fish, two fish, zero fish, nothing rhymes.

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Tue, Apr 19, 2011
from AP, via CBC:
Mediterranean fish in peril: study
A new study suggests that more than 40 fish species in the Mediterranean could vanish in the next few years. The study released Tuesday by the International Union for Conservation of Nature says almost half of the species of sharks and rays in the Mediterranean and at least 12 species of bony fish are threatened with extinction due to overfishing, pollution and the loss of habitat. Commercial catches of bluefin tuna, sea bass, hake and dusky grouper are particularly threatened, said the study by the Swiss-based IUCN, an environmental network of 1,000 groups in 160 nations.... The IUCN study, which began in 2007 and included 25 marine scientists, is the first time the group has tried to assess native marine fish species in an entire sea. The study blames the use of highly effective trawlers and driftnets for the incidental capture and killing of hundreds of marine animals with no commercial value. But it also concluded there's not enough information to properly assess almost one-third of the Mediterranean's fish.... The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization says fish stocks continue to dwindle globally despite increasing efforts to regulate catches and stop overfishing. ...


Thank goodness it's only a microcosm!

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Fri, Apr 15, 2011
from BBC:
Exploring the 'oceans crisis'
What marked this week's event - convened by the International Programme on the State of the Ocean - as something a bit different was the melange of expertise in the same room. Fisheries experts traded studies with people studying ocean acidification; climate modellers swapped data with ecologists; legal wonks formulated phrases alongside toxicologists. They debated, discussed, queried, swapped questions and answers. Pretty much everyone said they'd learned something new - and something a bit scary.... It's fairly well-known now, for example, that the impacts of climate change on coral reefs can be delayed by keeping the reef healthy - by preventing local pollution, keeping fish stocks high and blocking invasive species. So a policy to reduce climate impacts can mean curbing fishing or pollution, which might in turn mean changing farming practices to prevent fertiliser run-off. In places, filter-feeding fish are apparently living in sediments containing so many particles of plastic that it makes up half of each mouthful. Other pollutants such as endocrine-disrupting ("gender-bending") chemicals gather on the plastic surfaces - which obviously can be harmful to the fish. So a "healthy fisheries" policy might again involve regulating pollutants.... Josh Reichert, head of the Pew Environment Group, likening the current situation to... "... driving towards the edge of a cliff while taking copious notes along the way. "For years the science has gotten better, and the problem has become worse. Better science will enhance our understanding of the dilemma we face but will not resolve it - we depend on government to do that, and the challenge we face is getting government to act." ...


Notes? That drive is being digitally recorded!

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Tue, Mar 29, 2011
from Science News:
Big Fishing Yields Small Fish
Sharks, billfish, cod, tuna and other fish-eating fish -- the sea's equivalents to lions on the Serengeti -- dominated the marine world as recently as four decades ago. They culled sick, lame and old animals and kept populations of marine herbivores in check, preventing marine analogs of antelopes from overgrazing their environment. But the reign of large predators now appears over -- probably forever. ...


There's plenty of (small) fish in the sea.

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Mon, Mar 21, 2011
from Daily Mail:
Slaughtered for the market place: Huge rise in ray hunting threatens ocean's 'gentle giants'
They are known as the ocean's gentle giants, but an alarming rise in manta and mobula ray hunting could threaten the very existence of the species. From India to Ecuador, manta and mobula fishing has become big business for fisheries who are selling their gills to be used in soups and traditional Chinese medicine. Conservationists have warned that demand could soon rival that of the controversial shark fin trade. The rays are pulled from the ocean, either with fine gill nets or spears, and slaughtered to meet growing demand, mainly from the Chinese market.... A single fishing fleet can easily wipe out a local manta population in weeks or months, with little chance of stocks replenishing given their slow reproduction, limited local populations and lack of migration for some of the species. Their slow maturation and reproductive cycles have raised serious concerns for the future of these species.... No international laws and only a handful of national laws exist to prevent ray fishing. ...


C'mon! There's always more rays in the sea!

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Mon, Mar 14, 2011
from PhysOrg:
Source of nutrients for ecosystem lost as coastal fisheries decline
A new study by researchers at the University of Georgia and Florida International University has found that the elimination of large marine predators through overfishing and habitat alteration removes a vital source of nutrients for coastal ecosystems.... "When you eliminate these large predators, you also eliminate a major source of nutrients for algae and plants in the food web, especially in tropical and sub-tropical coastal areas."... Allgeier said that tropical and sub-tropical coastal waters are typically low in nutrients. "That's why places like the Bahamas have such clear water," he said. "That's also why the fish are so important there. They recycle the nutrients they take in from the food that they eat, making them available for lower-level organisms, like algae, that form the base of the food web." The researchers found significantly higher fish densities at the sites that experienced no human impacts, which led to much higher quantities of nutrients being recycled at these sites: 4.6 times more nitrogen and 5.4 times more phosphorus.... In a related paper currently in review in the journal Ecology, Allgeier and Layman continue their investigation into the mechanisms by which fish excretion enhances algal growth through a series of experiments using artificial reef habitats. ...


What a load of shark shit.

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Thu, Mar 10, 2011
from Telegraph.co.uk:
Bottom-trawling makes for skinny cod
Trawling the sea floor for bottom-dwelling fish is making cod skinnier, scientists have found. The study looked at the size of cod, lemon sole, megrim and haddock in the Celtic Sea south of Ireland. It found these fish tended to be smaller in heavily trawled areas and in worse general health.... Writing in the journal, Proceedings of the Royal Society B, they warned that the study "implies that bottom trawling can reduce habitat-carrying capacity". The practice "is likely to further diminish fisheries productivity and impair the recovery of threatened stocks and ecosystems." ...


What kinda thing is "habitat carrying capacity"? It's too hard to say.

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Fri, Mar 4, 2011
from WorldFishingToday.com:
Considering moratorium on Caspian sturgeon fishing
As per media report the coastal nations of Caspian Sea are ready for a moratorium on sturgeon fishing in the sea. The Azerbaijani ecology minister said that the moratorium will apply to commercial fishing only. He also added that Azerbaijan fully supported the proposal, which had been welcomed by President Ilham Aliyev. Azerbaijan has already stopped fishing for two types of sturgeon - Fringebarbel and beluga. It agreed a sturgeon fishing quota of 84 tonnes for 2010, which broke down into 46 tonnes of Russian sturgeon and 38 tonnes of starry sturgeon. The quota was agreed at a meeting of the Caspian Commission on Aquatic Bioresources in Tehran in June last year. The quota year runs from 1 March 2010 to 28 February 2011 in order to reflect the fishing season. According to the Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources, the government is stepping up its work to tackle corruption. He said that tough measures have been taken against forestry wardens from Sheki to Shamakhi. Over 120 forestry wardens have been sacked. At the last meeting, six senior people - a national park director, his deputy and the heads of forestry warden departments - lost their jobs. ...


Moratoriums are easy when there's not much left.

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Mon, Feb 21, 2011
from Washington Post:
Predator fish in oceans on alarming decline, experts say
Over the past 100 years, some two-thirds of the large predator fish in the ocean have been caught and consumed by humans, and in the decades ahead, the rest are likely to perish, too. In their place, small fish such as sardines and anchovies are flourishing in the absence of the tuna, grouper and cod that traditionally feed on them, creating an ecological imbalance that experts say will forever change the oceans. ...


The answer to the prey's prayers.

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Fri, Feb 18, 2011
from Guardian:
Eat more anchovies, herring and sardines to save the ocean's fish stocks
Cut back on tuna and salmon and load your plate instead with herring and sardines if you want to help save the world's fish. So says the scientist who led the most comprehensive analysis ever carried out of fish stocks in the world's oceans and how they have changed over the past century. The study by Villy Christensen of the University of British Columbia's Fisheries Centre confirmed some previous indications that populations of predator fish at the top of the food chain, such as cod, tuna and groupers, have suffered huge declines, shrinking by around two-thirds in the past 100 years. More than half that decline occurred in the past 40 years. Christensen found that the total stock of "forage fish", such as sardines, anchovy and capelin, has more than doubled over the past century. These are fish that are normally eaten by the top predators. "You remove the predator, you get more prey fish," said Christensen. "That has not been demonstrated before because people don't measure the number, they don't go out and count them." ...


A little fish told me.

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Sun, Feb 6, 2011
from Miami Herald:
Florida Keys fishermen won't endorse controversial federal catch share program
Keys fishermen said a resounding "no" at a public workshop Thursday in Key Largo to a controversial federal proposal to use catch shares to manage the commercial snapper-grouper fishery in the South Atlantic. The South Atlantic Fishery Management Council says nine stocks of snapper-grouper from North Carolina to the East Coast of Florida are either overfished or about to be depleted to unhealthy levels. Since 2008, the council has been discussing the use of catch shares as a tool to stop overfishing and boost stocks. Already in place in the Gulf of Mexico, Alaska and New England, catch shares mean allocating a percentage of a fisheries quota to individuals, fishing groups, or communities. The aim, federal fisheries managers say, is to eliminate "derby" fishing, where harvesters rush to catch their quota during shortened fishing seasons, and instead spread the harvest out, keeping markets stable and making seafood available year round. ...


I don't think it's very controversial with the fish.

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Thu, Feb 3, 2011
from AIBS, via EurekAlert:
Oysters at risk: Gastronomes' delight disappearing globally
A new, wide-ranging survey that compares the past and present condition of oyster reefs around the globe finds that more than 90 percent of former reefs have been lost in most of the "bays" and ecoregions where the prized molluscs were formerly abundant. In many places, such as the Wadden Sea in Europe and Narragansett Bay, oysters are rated "functionally extinct," with fewer than 1 percent of former reefs persisting. The declines are in most cases a result of over-harvesting of wild populations and disease, often exacerbated by the introduction of non-native species.... Beck's team examined oyster reefs across 144 bays and 44 ecoregions. It also studied historical records as well as national catch statistics.... The survey team argues for improved mapping efforts and the removal of incentives to over-exploitation. It also recommends that harvesting and further reef destruction should not be allowed wherever oysters are at less than 10 percent of their former abundance, unless it can be shown that these activities do not substantially affect reef recovery. ...


"O Oysters," said the Carpenter,/ "You've had a pleasant run!/ Shall we be trotting home again?'/ But answer came there none--/ And this was scarcely odd, because/ They'd eaten every one.

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Sun, Jan 16, 2011
from Mongabay:
Italy and Panama continue illegal fishing, says new report
On Wednesday, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) issued its biennial report identifying six countries whose fisheries have been engaged in illegal, unreported, or unregulated (IUU) fishing during the past two years. The report comes at a time when one-fifth of reported fish catches worldwide are caught illegally and commercial fishing has led to a global fish stock overexploitation of an estimated 80 percent.... The countries listed in the report - Colombia, Ecuador, Italy, Panama, Portugal, and Venezuela - have fishing vessels which engaged in practices such as fishing during closed seasons, using banned driftnets, and possessing undersized bluefin tuna. Other violations included illegal gear modifications, fishing without proper authorization, and problems with vessel registry lists. The identified nations will have two years to comply with mandates against IUU fishing or risk economic sanction. ...


Why worry? Mama told me there's always more fish in the sea.

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Fri, Jan 14, 2011
from Yale360:
Massive Outbreak of Jellyfish Could Spell Trouble for Fisheries
Among the spineless creatures of the world, the Nomura's jellyfish is a monster to be reckoned with. It's the size of a refrigerator -- imagine a Frigidaire Gallery Premiere rather than a hotel minibar -- and can exceed 450 pounds. For decades the hulking medusa was rarely encountered in its stomping grounds, the Sea of Japan. Only three times during the entire 20th century did numbers of the Nomura's swell to such gigantic proportions that they seriously clogged fishing nets. Then something changed. Since 2002, the population has exploded -- in jelly parlance, bloomed -- six times. In 2005, a particularly bad year, the Sea of Japan brimmed with as many as 20 billion of the bobbing bags of blubber, bludgeoning fisheries with 30 billion yen in losses.... Now, researchers fear, conditions are becoming so bad that some ecosystems could be approaching a tipping point in which jellyfish supplant fish.... Fish and jellyfish "interact in complex ways," says Kylie Pitt, an ecologist at Griffith University in Australia. Overfishing can throw this complex relationship out of kilter. ...


Every "out of kilter" relationship is an economic opportunity. Somehow.

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Sun, Jan 9, 2011
from AP, via Google:
Is overfishing ended? Top US scientist says yes
For the first time in at least a century, U.S. fishermen won't take too much of any species from the sea, one of the nation's top fishery scientists says. The projected end of overfishing comes during a turbulent fishing year that's seen New England fishermen switch to a radically new management system. But scientist Steve Murawski said that for the first time in written fishing history, which goes back to 1900, "As far as we know, we've hit the right levels, which is a milestone." "And this isn't just a decadal milestone, this is a century phenomenon," said Murawski, who retired last week as chief scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Fisheries Service.... Murawski said the U.S. is the only country that has a law that defines overfishing and requires its fishermen not to engage in it. "When you compare the United States with the European Union, with Asian countries, et cetera, we are the only industrialized fishing nation who actually has succeeded in ending overfishing," he said.... The science is far from perfect, Marciano said. Regulators believed fishermen were overfishing pollock until new data last year indicated scientists had badly underestimated its population, he said. And some stocks, such as Gulf of Maine cod, have recovered even when fishermen were technically overfishing them. "To say you can't rebuild stocks while overfishing is occurring is an outright lie. We did it," Marciano said. ...


You say you believe that science-based regulations made a difference -- but you're a fish!

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Thu, Jan 6, 2011
from Guardian:
Sustainable fish customers 'duped' by Marine Stewardship Council
The body which certifies that fish have been caught sustainably has been accused of "duping" consumers by giving its eco-label to fisheries where stocks are tumbling. The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) manages the labelling system that tells consumers which species of fish they can buy safe in the knowledge they aren't destroying stocks. It recently celebrated the 100th award of its eco-label - to the Barents Sea cod fishery - but a series of decisions allowing controversial fisheries to be granted the prized MSC label has prompted severe criticism of the organisation.... Among the most controversial rulings is the award of an MSC label to the Ross Sea Antarctic toothfish fishery which is still regarded by scientists and the industry as an exploratory fishery. The species is so little understood that researchers still do not know even basics such as where the fish spawns. Others include krill in the Antarctic, tuna and swordfish off the US coast, pollock in the Eastern Bering Sea where stock levels fell 64 percent between 2004 and 2009, and Pacific hake which suffered an 89 percent fall in biomass since 1989. ...


How will we know how much there was, if we don't use it up? Hunh?

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Wed, Jan 5, 2011
from BBC:
Bluefin tuna sets new price record in Japan
A tuna has sold at auction for a record 32.49m yen in Tokyo, nearly $400,000... The fish was a blue fin, a variety prized for making the finest sushi. It was bought by a joint Japanese and Chinese bid. The first auction in January at Tokyo's Tsukji fish market is a cherished part of Japan's New Year celebrations, and record prices are often set. Japan is the world's biggest consumer of seafood. After bells rang at 0500 local time (2000 GMT on Tuesday) to start the sale, bidding was brisk.... Traders at Tsukiji market say growing Chinese demand for sushi is also helping to push up prices. ...


The inexorable law of supply and consume in action. Wait, is that it?

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Tue, Jan 4, 2011
from Aquatic Toxicology:
The effect of carbon dioxide on growth of juvenile Atlantic cod Gadus morhua L.
All water quality parameters were within the range of what might normally be considered acceptable for good growth, including the CO2 levels tested. Weight gain, growth rate and condition factor were substantially reduced with increasing CO2 dosage. The size-specific growth trajectories of fish reared under the medium and high CO2 treatments were approximately 2.5 and 7.5 times lower (respectively) than that of fish in the low treatment. Size variance and mortality rate was not significantly different amongst treatments, indicating that there was no differential size mortality due the effects of hypercapnia, and the CO2 levels tested were within the adaptive capacity of the fish. In addition, an analysis was carried out of the test CO2 concentrations reported in three other long-term hypercapnia experiments using marine fish species. The test concentrations were recalculated from the reported carbonate chemistry conditions, and indicated that the CO2 concentration effect threshold may have been overestimated in two of these studies. Our study suggests that juvenile Atlantic cod are more susceptible to the chronic effects of environmental hypercapnia than other marine fish examined to date. ...


So we didn't overfish the Atlantic cod. They just got smaller and smaller and smaller...

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Sat, Jan 1, 2011
from DesdemonaDespair:
50 Doomiest Graphs of 2010
The Graph of the Day feature comprises Desdemona's assault on the left hemisphere of the brain, in the quixotic quest against delusional hope. This post complements the media barrage on the right hemisphere, 50 Doomiest Photos of 2010. 2010 yielded a torrent of new scientific data that documents the accelerating destruction of the biosphere, and Desdemona managed to capture a few graphs from the flood. Here are the most doom-laden graphs of 2010, chosen by scope, length of observational period, and sleekness of presentation. Open up your left hemisphere and drink in the data. ...


Now put both hemispheres together, and get busy! 2011 must be a year of change.

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Sat, Jan 1, 2011
from Associated Press:
Japanese whalers, activists clash off Antarctica
SYDNEY - Japanese whalers shot water cannons at anti-whaling activists on Saturday, the conservationist group's founder claimed, hours after the activists tracked down the hunting fleet in the remote and icy seas off Antarctica. The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society is chasing the fleet in the hopes of interrupting Japan's annual whale hunt, which kills up to 1,000 whales a year. The two sides have clashed violently in the past, including last year, when a Sea Shepherd boat was sunk after its bow was sheared off in a collision with a whaling ship.... New Zealand-based Glenn Inwood, spokesman for Japan's Tokyo-based Institute of Cetacean Research, which sponsors the whale hunt, said he had no comment. ...


I'd like to do a little "research" on their asses.

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Thu, Dec 30, 2010
from NOAA, via Mongabay:
Growing Atlantic dead zone shrinks habitat for billfish and tuna, may lead to over-harvest
A dead zone off the coast of West Africa is reducing the amount of available habitat for Atlantic tuna and billfish species, reports the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in a study published in Fisheries Oceanography. The zone is growing due to rising water temperatures and is expected to cause over-harvest of tuna and billfish as the fish seek higher levels of oxygen in areas with greater fisheries activity.... "The hypoxic zone off West Africa, which covers virtually all the equatorial waters in the Atlantic Ocean, is roughly the size of the continental United States, and it's growing," said Dr. Eric D. Prince, a NOAA Fisheries Service research fishery biologist who led the study. "With the current cycle of climate change and accelerated global warming, we expect the size of this zone to increase, further reducing the available habitat for these fish."... Tuna and billfish - a catch-all category which includes marlin, swordfish, and sailfish species - are already experiencing global declines due to pressure from fisheries. The habitat loss caused by the dead zone is expected to push Atlantic stock down even further as fish escape to near-shore areas with more fishing activity. The increase in catch rates will make it appear that stocks are up when really they're just concentrated in a smaller area. This may lead to over-harvest. ...


That's just Nature's way of helping us out!

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Sun, Dec 26, 2010
from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration via ScienceDaily:
Growing Hypoxic Zones Reduce Habitat for Billfish and Tuna
Billfish and tuna, important commercial and recreational fish species, may be more vulnerable to fishing pressure because of shrinking habitat, according to a new study published by scientists from NOAA, The Billfish Foundation, and University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science. An expanding zone of low oxygen, known as a hypoxic zone, in the Atlantic Ocean is encroaching upon these species' preferred oxygen-abundant habitat, forcing them into shallower waters where they are more likely to be caught. ...


...as if we'd planned it all along.

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Mon, Dec 13, 2010
from Huffington Post:
South Korean Fishing Boat Sinks Off Antarctica
A South Korean fishing boat sank in the Antarctic Ocean's frigid waters Monday, with 22 sailors feared killed in the open sea where vessels trawl for deep-water fish.... Many fishing vessels ply the remote seas to haul in deep-water fish such as the Patagonian toothfish, also known as Chilean sea bass, to sell to restaurants around the world. With world consumption of seafood increasing, commercial fleets have begun to operate farther offshore to meet demand. ...


And how much "farther offshore" can we go, exactly, and for how long?

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Sat, Dec 11, 2010
from TIME:
Red Sea Shark Attacks: Killing Spree Puzzles Scientists
It began 10 days ago when the normally pristine tropical waters turned a murky red, after sharks mauled three Russians and a Ukrainian over a two-day period. With the world-renowned snorkel and dive center heading into the holiday high season, local governor Mohammed Shosha closed off the beaches for 48 hours, during which time the authorities killed two sharks. He then declared the all clear and reopened the beaches. But within 24 hours, in keeping with the Jaws story line, it became brutally clear that Shosha had been wrong: a German woman standing chest-deep in the water was killed by another shark.... More startling still is that the clear, coral-rimmed waters off Sharm el-Sheikh aren't exactly shark central. "The last sharks I saw were maybe four or five months ago," says Sherrif Khairat, a local dive instructor, who leads two or three dives a day. A shark sighting is considered "lucky," he says, because the animals are so rare.... But he cautions against overanalyzing, because sharks are still just big predators with little brains. "They're not connect-the-dots kind of animals," he says. "They're basically swimming, sensory machines." Sometimes, a killing spree, however rare, could be explained by little more than a convergence of the right variables. "Sometimes we make mistakes, sometimes they make mistakes. And sometimes we just happen to be in the wrong place at the right time - for them." ...


What would sharks have against humans, I wonder?

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Thu, Dec 9, 2010
from The ApocaDocs:
2010 Year in Review from the ApocaDocs
The shocking truth ripped from the headlines! An appalling sense of humor in full display! The TOP 100 STORIES selected from the 1600+ news items archived and bequipped by the ApocaDocs in 2010, our The Year in Review displays not just the most holy shit, death-spiral-ish stories of the year, but also many of our favorite quips ("holy shit" stories tend to bring out the quipsters in both of us). All displayed in staggering CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER to help recap the year. You'll find yourself asking "What, all this, and it's only June!?!" Groans, grimaces, and guffaws abound in this rollercoaster reprise of a most eventful year. ...


How could you keep it to only a hundred?

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Sat, Dec 4, 2010
from New York Times:
Shrugging Off Criticism, Europe Will Keep Trawling
European nations will keep trawling the deep sea bottom, officials said this week, confounding hopes that they would honor commitments made to the United Nations General Assembly to stop the destructive practice. The Council of Fisheries Ministers, made up of officials from the 27 member nations of the European Union, said on Monday that there would be little change in deep-sea quotas for the next two years, despite strong objections from the conservationist camp.... A British study published in September found that bottom trawling commercial fishing fleets have a more negative impact on the seafloor than all other major human activities combined. ...


Scraping the very bottom of the barrel of earth.

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Wed, Nov 24, 2010
from AFP, via DesdemonaDespair:
More than a million Atlantic sharks killed yearly
At least 1.3 million sharks, many listed as endangered, were harvested from the Atlantic in 2008 by industrial-scale fisheries unhampered by catch or size limits, according to a tally released Monday. The actual figure may be several fold higher due to under-reporting, said the study, released by advocacy group Oceana on the sidelines of a meeting of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT).... Of the 21 species found in the Atlantic, three-quarters are classified as threatened with extinction. North Atlantic populations of the oceanic white tip, for example, have declined by 70 percent, and hammerheads by more than 99 percent, according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).... Regional studies have shown that when shark populations crash the impact cascades down through the food chain, often in unpredictable and deleterious ways. ...


A little shark's-fin soup never hurt me!

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Sun, Nov 21, 2010
from AFP, via DesdemonaDespair:
Fading fish stocks driving Asian sea rivalries
Maritime incidents in the East and South China Seas, such as the one that sparked a major row between China and Japan, could intensify in a fight over dwindling fish stocks, experts say. Past incidents have been sparked by regional competition for strategic sea routes and the search for oil, but fishermen from Japan, China, Taiwan, South Korea, the Philippines and Vietnam are increasingly heading outside their own territorial waters -- and into disputed areas -- to earn a living.... "Fish stocks are depleting very rapidly in eastern Asia and there is a scramble for fish," Jonathan Holslag, a researcher at the Brussels Institute of Contemporary Chinese Studies, told AFP.... Fish has become "a kind of new gold in Asia", he said.... "China is consuming more and more fish, and global fish stocks are down, especially in that region -- it makes perfect sense that Chinese boats are going to go farther and farther" and into disputed waters, he added. ...


It's strangely as if the more we overfish, the more reason there is for overfishing.

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Sun, Nov 21, 2010
from EnvironmentalResearchWeb:
Widely adopted indicator of fisheries health questioned
The most widely adopted measure for assessing the state of the world's oceans and fisheries led to inaccurate conclusions in nearly half the ecosystems where it was applied. The new analysis was performed by an international team of fisheries scientists, and is reported in this week's issue of the journal Nature. "Applied to individual ecosystems it's like flipping a coin; half the time you get the right answer and half the time you get the wrong answer," said Trevor Branch, a University of Washington (UW) aquatic and fisheries scientist.... In 1998, the journal Science published a groundbreaking paper that was the first to use trends in the trophic levels of fish that were caught to measure the health of world fisheries. The trophic level of an organism shows where it fits in food webs, with microscopic algae at a trophic level of one and large predators such as sharks, halibut and tuna at a trophic level around four.... An example of the problem with the measure is in the Gulf of Thailand where the average trophic level of what is being caught is rising, which should indicate improving ecosystem health according to proponents of that measure. Instead, it turns out fish at all levels have declined tenfold since the 1950s because of overharvesting. "The measure only declines if fisheries aimed for top predators first, but for the Gulf of Thailand the measure fails because fisheries first target mussels and shrimp near the bottom of the food web, before shifting to fish higher up," Branch said. ...


So half the time the cream I'm skimming is at the bottom of the barrel?

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Mon, Nov 8, 2010
from Huffington Post:
Bluefin Tuna Black Market: How A Runaway Fishing Industry Looted The Seas
The rapid demise of Eastern Atlantic bluefin tuna, the source of prized sushi around the world, is due to a $4 billion black market and a decade of rampant fraud and lack of official oversight, according to Looting the Seas, a new investigation by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. As regulators gather in Paris this month to decide the fate of the threatened bluefin, ICIJ's investigation reveals that behind plummeting stocks of the fish is a supply chain riddled with criminal misconduct and negligence, from fishing fleets to sea ranches to distributors. Each year, thousands of tons of fish have been illegally caught and traded, the seven-month investigation found. At its peak - between 1998 and 2007- this black market included more than one out of every three bluefin caught, conservatively valued at $400 million per year. "Everyone cheated," said Roger Del Ponte, a French fishing captain. "There were rules, but we didn't follow them."... The widely hunted bluefin has also become a bellwether, the latest threatened species in a feeding frenzy that has seen the disappearance of as much as 90 percent of the ocean's large fish. ...


Rules? We're talkin' the rules of the marketplace!

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Thu, Oct 21, 2010
from CBC:
Canada's marine ecosystems face threat: report
A multi-year study by the federal government has produced a troubling report card on the health of Canada's marine environments, with major changes detected in all three oceans. Vanishing sea species, warming water temperatures and a new wave of contaminants have struck Canada's marine ecosystems, according to the document from the federal Fisheries Department. The 38-page report was released, without fanfare, this summer.... "What we do know, from a biodiversity trend perspective, is that things have been getting worse -- much worse," said Dalhousie University's Jeff Hutchings, who reviewed a draft of the report card for Environment Canada. "What we don't know, to be fair, is what the consequences of those reductions will always be. But we have reasonable evidence in some instances to know that they're not going to be good."... Overfishing has caused numerous commercial fish stocks to plummet. For example, the report said that one Pacific herring stock is "at record low levels of abundance." In the Canadian Arctic Archipelago, warming ocean temperatures have decimated ivory gull populations by more than 80 per cent since the 1980s. ...


They told me Canada would benefit from global warming.

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Thu, Oct 21, 2010
from Mongabay:
World needs to protect 32 million square kilometers of ocean in two years
According to goals set in 2002 by the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the World Summit on Sustainable Development, nations must spend the next two years catching-up on creating ocean reserve. Currently, about 1.17 percent of the ocean is under some form of protection, but the 2002 goal was 10 percent by 2012. That means protecting over 32.5 million square kilometers of the ocean, twice the size of Russia. According to a recent report, Global Ocean Protection by the Nature Conservancy, not only is the world failing on its goals to protect a significant portion of the ocean, it's also failing to protect 10 percent of various marine ecosystems. "Overall the shortfall in our achievements is quite shocking," says Mark Spalding with The Nature Conservancy and an editor of the report. "We attained only one tenth of our target. Even that statistic is buoyed up by a handful of giant marine parks, leaving a greater shortfall in many areas where the pressures are most intense. We need to realize that marine protection isn't just about nature, it's about ourselves. If we can't manage and sustain our seas in their entirety, humans will be high on the list of losers." ...


These aren't the management practices taught in B-school.

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Mon, Oct 4, 2010
from PhysOrg:
Climate change, overharvesting affects horseshoe crab numbers
The horseshoe crab is often regarded as a living fossil, in that it has survived almost unchanged in terms of body design and lifestyle for more than 400 million years. Crabs similar to today's horseshoe crabs were walking the Earth long before the dinosaurs. "Examining the genetic variation in populations of horseshoe crabs along the east coast of America has enabled us to track changes in population size over time," says Matthias Obst from the Department of Zoology at the University of Gothenburg, one of the authors of the study published in Molecular Ecology. "We noted a clear drop in the number of horseshoe crabs at the end of the Ice Age, a period characterised by significant global warming." "Our results also show that future climate change may further reduce the already vastly diminished population. Normally, horseshoe crabs would have no problem coping with climate change, but the ongoing destruction of their habitats make them much more sensitive." ...


Y'know, nobody rides horses anymore anyway.

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Fri, Sep 17, 2010
from PLOS-One, through DesdemonaDespair:
Bottom trawling more damaging to sea floor than all other human activities combined
Scientists have for the first time estimated the physical footprint of human activities on the deep seafloor of the North East Atlantic. The findings published in the journal PLoS ONE reveal that the area disturbed by bottom trawling commercial fishing fleets exceeds the combined physical footprint of other major human activities considered.... Using available data for the year 2005, they mapped and estimated the spatial extent of intentional human activities occurring directly on the seafloor as well as structures and artefacts present on the seafloor resulting from past activities.... Even on the lowest estimates, the spatial extent of bottom trawling is at least ten times that for the other activities assessed, with a physical footprint greater than that of all the others combined. ...


You're implying that something I can't see is more important than things I ignore?

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Fri, Sep 10, 2010
from Planet Green / Discovery:
More Than Half of Penguin Species are Under Threat
More than 180 scientists and government officials have recently gathered in Boston for the 7th International Penguin Conference. The conclusions of the conference are rather alarming: the scientists warn that 10 of the 18 penguin species are experiencing population decline and that a variety of things are threatening their long-term survival, with some of these species facing extinction by the end of the 21st century. Four main factors are threatening penguins. The first is over-fishing: Because of the rapid increase in fishing operations in the past decades, penguins are now competing with us for food, and our industrial fishing fleets are simply more effective at catching fish. "The large scale harvesting of anchovy and sardine stocks have directly reduced the prey available to many penguin species including Macaroni and Chinstrap penguins in the South Atlantic" Thousands of penguins are also killed when they are caught in fishing nets. The second factor is climate change: Many penguin species are highly dependent on small schooling fish for food. The changing climate can affect the migratory patterns of these fish, making it harder for penguins to find food.... ...


Death March of the Penguins.

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Wed, Sep 8, 2010
from Scientific American:
Report: 21 percent of Africa's freshwater species threatened with extinction
More than a fifth of Africa's freshwater species are threatened with extinction, and their disappearance could threaten livelihoods across the continent, according to a new study by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The study, conducted for the IUCN's Red List of Threatened Species, assessed 5,167 African freshwater species over a five-year period. Two hundred scientists contributed to the report, which covers fish, mollusks, crabs, aquatic plants and aquatic insects such as dragonflies and damselflies.... [A]n introduced species (the Nile perch, Lates niloticus) have caused a reduction in the lake's native species over the last 30 years and as a result threatened traditional fisheries that any in the region depend upon for their livelihoods and food supplies. According to the study, 45 percent of the 191 fish species in Lake Victoria are threatened or even thought to already be extinct. Lake Victoria is located between Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. Sometimes overfishing is the problem, thanks to Africa's growing population. In Lake Malawi (located between Malawi, Mozambique and Tanzania), the population of one important fish species, Oreochromis karongae, has declined 70 percent in just the past 10 years. The IUCN has listed the species as endangered since 2004. ...


Why, that glass is three-quarters full!

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Thu, Sep 2, 2010
from Mother Jones:
12 Most Toxic Fish (For Humans and the Planet)
1. King crab: Even though crab is abundant in some parts of the US, imports from Russia -- which aren't well regulated -- are much cheaper and more common. 2. Caviar, especially from beluga and other wild-caught sturgeon: Overfishing and poaching of this coveted species is very common. 3. Atlantic bluefin tuna: Extreme overfishing, plus concerns about mercury and PCB contamination. 4. Orange roughy: May contain mercury and "is particularly vulnerable to overfishing due to its long lifespan and slow maturation." 5. Atlantic flatfish (e.g. flounder, sole and halibut): Seriously overfished. 6. American eel: Concerns about mercury and PCBs. 7. Atlantic Cod: Overfished, and also has major bycatch problems. 8. Imported catfish: Much of it comes from Southeast Asia, "where use of chemicals and antibiotics is barely regulated." 9. Chilean seabass: Concerns about mercury, plus illegal fishing in Chile damages marine life and seabirds. 10. Shark: May contain mercury, also overfished. 11. Atlantic and farmed salmon: Concerns about contamination with PCB, pesticides, and antibiotics. Also, waste and germs from salmon farms often leaches out of the cages and can harm the surrounding marine life. 12. Imported shrimp: About 90 percent of it comes from countries where the seafood industry (waste control, chemical use, and labor) isn't well regulated. ...


What about FishStix™?

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Fri, Aug 27, 2010
from CBC:
Pursuing the mystery herring loss near Nova Scotia
Scientists from the Bedford Institute of Oceanography are on a mission to find out why herring fishermen in Nova Scotia are reporting fewer and smaller fish this season. The researchers are using sounders and sonars to count the number of herring in an area known as the German Bank, off the southwestern coast of Nova Scotia. The count may help explain why the catches have been coming up smaller this year. "When the fishermen don't land fish, people think that there may not be fish," said Gary Melvin, a research scientist. "There can actually be fish. But we want to be sure, one way or the other." Some fishermen said they believe the catches are smaller because the fish are avoiding warmer water temperatures near the surface and diving deeper, thereby eluding the large nets used to catch them. ...


Avoiding warmer temperatures would be a smart survival strategy.

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Wed, Aug 25, 2010
from BBC Magazine:
Why is Britain braced for a mackerel war?
Britain is said to be bracing itself for a re-run of its Cod Wars with Iceland - except this time the fish being fought over is mackerel. Yet, until recently, few were interested in a fish regarded as unclean. As far as fishing is concerned, relations between the UK and Iceland have been as turbulent as the waters of the North Atlantic where their disputes have been played out. So it is perhaps no surprise to see a British MEP, Conservative Struan Stevenson, calling for an EU-wide blockade of Icelandic boats - along with those from the Faroe Islands - in a row over quotas. However, while rows in the past have been over the coveted and dwindling stocks of cod, this time the nations are clashing over mackerel.... Iceland, which landed practically no mackerel before 2006, has allocated itself a 130,000-tonne quota. The Faroes, a collection of islands 250 miles north of Scotland, has tripled its usual entitlement.... "The mackerel stock has been sustainably managed for many years ensuring that all those involved in the fishery have benefited," he says. "The actions of Iceland and the Faroe Islands could undo all the good work in a matter of months."... But a recent fall in the the island's herring catch means [mackerel] has been "like a Godsend to us". ...


Why? Because every bigger fish has already been fished out!

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Mon, Aug 16, 2010
from Telegraph.co.uk:
Price of red meat likely to push more people towards fish and vegetarian diet
Fish is likely to become a larger part of the British diet because it is one of the few foodstuffs that has fallen in price in recent years, research suggests. The price of fish has fallen by eight per cent over the past three years as the cost of meat has surged by 10 per cent. The trend reflects the high price of grain and fossil fuels, which are needed to raise pigs and cattle. In comparison, fishing the oceans requires no feed input and less fuel. Health and environmental concerns are also contributing to the changing consumption patterns. A newly published retail index shows fish is one of the few grocery products that has become cheaper. The price of staples such as bread and eggs increased by 18 per cent since 2007 and tea is up 30 per cent, according to figures compiled by price comparison website mySupermarket.co.uk. ...


A little fish told me that they're going to get more expensive all too soon.

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Wed, Aug 4, 2010
from Telegraph.co.uk:
What Lies Beneath The Sea: Census of Marine Life
The Census of Marine Life also points to the effect of so-called "alien species" being found in many of the world's marine ecosystems. The Mediterranean has the largest number of invasive species - most of them having migrated through the Suez Canal from the Red Sea. So far, more than 600 invasive species have been counted, almost 5 per cent of the total marine creatures in the Mediterranean. Those annoying jellyfish on the Spanish holiday beaches may be sending us a message, or at least a warning. In recent years there have been other jellyfish "invasions". In 2007, 100,000 fish at Northern Ireland's only salmon farm were killed by the same "mauve stingers" that are affecting the Spanish beaches. The swarming jellies covered 10 square miles of water. In 2005, and again last year, Japanese fishermen battled swarms of giant Nomura jellyfish, each measuring six feet across and weighing 200kg. Once seen infrequently, they now regularly swarm across the Yellow Sea, making it impossible for Japanese boats to deploy their nets. One fishing boat capsized after the jellyfish became entangled in its nets. There is evidence that the global jellyfish invasion is gathering pace. As Mediterranean turtles lose their nesting sites to beach developments, or die in fishing nets, and the vanishing population of other large predators such as bluefin tuna are fished out, their prey is doing what nature does best: filling a void. Smaller, more numerous species like the jellyfish are flourishing and plugging the gap left by animals higher up the food chain. According to the Spanish environment ministry: "Jellyfish blooms have been increasing in recent years, and one of the suggested causes is the decline in natural predators - as well as climate change and pollution from land-based sources." ...


I'm so happy that I can choose to believe that our actions don't have consequences.

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Tue, Aug 3, 2010
from University of Cambridge, via PhysOrg:
Trawl fishing surviving through sale of previously discarded fish
Although good for the fishermen, scientists warn that the prolonged trawl fishing along certain areas will lead to an 'ecological catastrophe' and the 'permanent loss of livelihoods for fishers' as well as other individuals who work in the industry.... A paper published in the current issue of the journal Conservation Letters by researchers from the University of Cambridge shows that the drivers for the use of this once discarded resource are twofold: declining shrimp stocks and profits, and the development of alternative markets, which include the rapidly growing poultry-feed industry. Trawl fishing is a technique employed the world over in which a fishing vessel drags a gaping net along the ocean floor. Unfortunately, though trawlers target a limited number of species such as shrimp and some fish, trawl nets capture anything in their path and seriously damage the seafloor as well. It's been estimated that trawlers in the tropics capture an average of 10 kilos of bycatch for every kilo of shrimp.... Looking to the policy implications of the study, Lobo says: "If appropriate measures are not taken immediately to limit overfishing then the outcomes could be catastrophic for the ecosystem and result in the permanent loss of livelihoods for the fishers in the region." ...


I don't think of it as "scraping the bottom of the barrel." I think of it as "stirring the pot."

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Thu, Jul 29, 2010
from BBC:
Hundreds of Dead Penguins Washed Up in Brazil
Scientists are still investigating what could have caused the death of around 500 animals found on the shores of Sao Paulo state. They say autopsies carried out on some of the carcasses suggest they could have starved to death, as their stomachs were completely empty. They are now trying to establish if strong currents and colder temperatures may be to blame. Thiago do Nascimento of the Peruibe Aquarium says the cooler than usual temperatures off the coast could have driven away the fish and squid the penguins feed on. But he did not rule out that overfishing could have decimated the penguins' food sources. Mr Nascimento said between 100 and 150 penguins showed up on the beaches every year, but that they were normally alive, with only around 10 washed up dead in an average year. "What worries us this year, is the absurdly high number of penguins that have appeared dead in a short period of time," he told the Associated Press news agency. ...


"Absurdly high"? Beckett: What are we doing here? Ionesco: Exit the King.

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Mon, Jul 12, 2010
from Wall Street Journal:
Restaurants Mobilize to Save Fisheries
he world's rising appetite for seafood is on a collision course with its wild fisheries, leaving restaurant companies and other big buyers caught in the middle. Amid reports the world's oceans are in danger of being emptied of some fish, companies such as McDonald's Corp., Long John Silver's owner Yum Brands Inc. and Red Lobster parent Darden Restaurants Inc. have embraced the growing movement toward more eco-friendly seafood-buying practices. They are working with scientists and nonprofit groups to ensure the fish they buy is sustainable, meaning caught in a way that doesn't damage the ability of the species to reproduce. "We know if we go raping and pillaging it today, there's nothing left for tomorrow," says Ken Conrad, the owner of the chain of 10 Libby Hill seafood restaurants in North Carolina and Virginia and chairman of the National Fisheries Institute, a seafood-industry trade group. ...


This guy kinda lost me with the "raping" part.

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Mon, Jul 5, 2010
from Greenwich Time:
Local lobstermen say no to moratorium
Once a thriving industry that provided seafaring men a comfortable existence, Long Island Sound's lobstermen have been virtually wiped out over the past 10 years. A new recommendation by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission to prohibit lobstering in the Sound for the next five years will ensure their demise, they say. The commission is calling for a five-year moratorium on lobstering from Cape Cod, Mass., to Cape May, N.J., under a plan it hopes would allow the lobster population to recover. ...


As go lobsters... so go the lobstermen.

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Sun, Jun 27, 2010
from Xinhua:
Illegal fishing endangers Red Sea marine life
Looking at the dead fish on the Ras Mohammed nature reserve shores of the Red Sea, Mohammed Salem said those who murdered the fish were criminals and should be put behind bars. "During the last few days, we found a large amount of dead fish, killed by the explosions by fishermen," Salem, general director of the national parks in South Sinai province, told Xinhua. Fishing by means of explosions at the Ras Mohammed National Park, some 25 km southwest of the Egyptian resort of Sharm El- Sheikh, has led to the death of rare fish and dolphins. Last week, local police arrested 16 fishermen who used dynamite to fish in the nature reserve. They had already been fined 1 million Egyptian pounds (about 177,000 U.S. dollars) for the damage they caused to the coral reefs. They might also be sentenced to at least three-year jail terms according to Egyptian law. The Red Sea boasts a rich and diverse ecosystem. More than 1, 200 species of fish have been recorded in the area. And 10 percent of them are native, including 42 species of deepwater fish. ...


If they just used miles-long hooked nets, they wouldn't be so loud.

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Wed, Jun 23, 2010
from 3News New Zealand, from DesdemonaDespair:
Squid-fishing industry starving whales of food
Mr O'Shea has been studying beached whales for seven years and their food source, squid, for 20 - and he doesn't like what he's seeing. Around 10,000 whales have died on New Zealand beaches in the last 30 years. Research by marine biologist Steve O'Shea shows many of these whales now beaching are in such a poor state of health he believes they may be starving. "We're exploring the possibility that these animals are hungry, are both hungry and thirsty in fact, because they get all of their food and their water from squid and if you take the squid out of the food chain there's obviously going to be cascading effects," he says. Mr O'Shea's team will take samples from the dead whales' stomachs; almost 100 percent of the whales they've studied so far have had ulcers.... The young pilot whales at Raglan have worn teeth, a sure sign they're eating the wrong food - in their case that's anything other than squid. ...


Whattaya expect? They're stealing our squid!

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Sun, Jun 6, 2010
from Daily Press:
Eel population slipping away?
They don't receive the same attention as oysters and blue crabs, but American eels helped Chesapeake Bay watermen pay their mortgages. Reviled for its snake-like appearance, the fish -- yes, it is a fish -- is prized in overseas sushi markets and locally as bait for cobia anglers. Yet the fishery declined dramatically the past two decades. As a result, scientists for the first time are taking a hard look at eels. Environmentalists want to make it illegal to catch them. And another once robust fishery is in danger of folding.... "It ain't like it used to be," said Maurice Bosse, who operates George Robberecht's Seafood Inc. along the Potomac River.... Scientists aren't sure what caused the decline, but they speculate it's due to shifting ocean currents, pollution, overfishing and loss of habitat. ...


That certainly narrows it down.

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Tue, May 18, 2010
from UN, via AFP/Yahoo:
Ocean fish could disappear in 40 years: UN
The world faces the nightmare possibility of fishless oceans by 2050 unless fishing fleets are slashed and stocks allowed to recover, UN experts warned. "If the various estimates we have received... come true, then we are in the situation where 40 years down the line we, effectively, are out of fish," Pavan Sukhdev, head of the UN Environment Program's green economy initiative, told journalists in New York. A Green Economy report due later this year by UNEP and outside experts argues this disaster can be avoided if subsidies to fishing fleets are slashed and fish are given protected zones -- ultimately resulting in a thriving industry.... Environmental experts are mindful of the failure this March to push through a worldwide ban on trade in bluefin tuna, one of the many species said to be headed for extinction. Powerful lobbying from Japan and other tuna-consuming countries defeated the proposal at the CITES conference on endangered species in Doha. But UNEP's warning Monday was that tuna only symbolizes a much vaster catastrophe, threatening economic, as well as environmental upheaval.... According to the UN, 30 percent of fish stocks have already collapsed, meaning they yield less than 10 percent of their former potential, while virtually all fisheries risk running out of commercially viable catches by 2050. ...


But wasn't I taught "there's always another fish in the sea"?

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Wed, May 5, 2010
from BBC:
'Profound' decline in fish stocks shown in UK records
Over-fishing means UK trawlers have to work 17 times as hard for the same fish catch as 120 years ago, a study shows. Researchers used port records dating from the late 1800s, when mechanised boats were replacing sailing vessels. In the journal Nature Communications, they say this implies "an extrordinary decline" in fish stocks and "profound" ecosystem changes. Four times more fish were being landed in UK ports 100 years ago than today, and catches peaked in 1938. "Over a century of intensive trawl fishing has severely depleted UK seas of bottom living fish like halibut, turbot, haddock and plaice," said Simon Brockington, head of conservation at the Marine Conservation Society and one of the study's authors.... "If you get a 50 percent increase from 2 percent of a species' former abundance, you get to 3 percent of its former abundance, so you shouldn't celebrate too hard," he said. "That's why this perspective is important." ...


Peak Ocean? How do we geoengineer our way out of that?

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Sun, Apr 18, 2010
from TrueSlant:
A Dying African Lake, Polluted, Overfished; Bad And Getting Worse
It was shortly after daybreak and a long, wooden fishing skiff crunched up on the stony beach here along Lake Victoria. Women who sell fish in the market in nearby Kisumu swarmed the boat. They grabbed slippery Nile perch and tilapia and tossed them into their plastic baskets. Then they began haggling. The catch that day was meager, and one woman came away with nothing. "The fishermen don't get enough fish," said Salin Atieno, 37. She has been buying fish at the Dunga landing for seven years. "There are not that many fish now." Lake Victoria, one of the largest fresh water lakes in the world, is suffering. It is polluted with raw sewage and it is muddy from the erosion of soil from nearby hills that have lost trees and shrubs to people in search of firewood. Like Lake Chad in West Africa and a few other lakes around the world, it has also been shrinking. Parts of Lake Victoria are clogged with hyacinths and algae. All of this has been thinning out the fish. "The lake is dying," said Dr. Raphael Kapiyo, the head of environmental studies at Maseno University in Kisumu, an East African trading post of a city with about 400,000 people. ...


Can we introduce some more invasive species? Ones that eat raw sewage, water hyacinth, and algae?

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Thu, Mar 18, 2010
from Guardian:
Bluefin tuna fails to make UN's list of protected fish
Japan, Canada and scores of developing nations opposed the measure on the grounds that ban would devastate fishing economies.... Global talks on the conservation of endangered species have rejected calls to ban international trade in bluefin tuna, raising new fears for the future of dwindling stocks. Countries at the meeting of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites) in Qatar voted down a proposal from Monaco to grant the fish stronger protection. The plan drew little support, with developing countries joining Japan in opposing a measure they feared would hit fishing economies. ...


It's clear the long-term interests of the economy are in good hands.

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Thu, Mar 18, 2010
from CBC:
Bluefin tuna export ban opposed by Japan
Opposition grew Wednesday against a proposal to ban the export of Atlantic bluefin tuna, with several Arab countries joining Japan in arguing it would hurt poor fishing nations and was not supported by sound science. Other countries, including Australia and Peru, have expressed support for a weakened proposal, which is expected to be introduced Thursday at the 175-nation Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, or CITES. They want the trade regulated for the first time by CITES but not banned outright as demanded by conservationists, who contend the Atlantic bluefin is on the brink of extinction. "Most Mediterranean countries are afraid because they export this tuna," said Ahmed Said Shukaili, a delegate from the Persian Gulf country of Oman, whose nation will follow the Arab League position opposing the ban. ... "The big players will continue fishing," Miyahara said. "If necessary, let's stop fishing using ICCAT measures. Then everyone must give up the fishing. But here, it is very unfair." Critics, however, argue that ICCAT consistently ignores its own scientists in setting quotas and does little to stop countries from exceeding already high quotas or cracking down on widespread illegal fishing. ...


Don't make me shoot myself -- I'd rather do it on my own!

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Fri, Mar 5, 2010
from Freeport Tribune:
'Too great a risk for the Bahamas'
The commercial fishing of Yellow-fin Tuna using purse seine nets in Bahamian waters poses too great a risk for the Bahamas, fisheries conservationist Dr David Philip warned. He is urging the government not to permit the use of this technique - in which, he says, large game fish, dolphins, sea turtles, and other species are likely to be caught and killed along with the tuna in the large nets. "This is a huge issue and the Bahamas should take leadership and stand to be leaders in this manner and say no to this kind of fishing," said Dr Philips, a representative of the Fisheries Conservation Foundation.... Craig Riker, president of the Grand Bahama Dive Association, says no one wins with purse seine fishing. "If you take the big fish out of the ocean, what fills its place is jellyfish. Jellyfish eat baby fish and fish eggs, and even if you leave some fish to breed they can't because the jellyfish get them. "Once that happens there is very little chance of getting fish back. It is a very dangerous slope to jump off," he said. ...


You want to take away my freedom to fish just to save the ecosystem?

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Fri, Mar 5, 2010
from Bozeman Daily Chronicle:
Scientist: 'There's still time' to save the oceans
"There's a great opportunity to take action to save what we can while we still can, but we first have to understand what is going on," Earle said in the Montana State University Friends of Stegner Lecture at the Ellen Theatre on Thursday evening. "What is going on," according to Earle, includes the deterioration of the world's coral reefs, the overfishing and poaching of important ocean carnivores like the blue fin tuna and increased pollution of the sea, largely a result of Western abundance and overindulgence. Due to industrialized nations' insatiable appetite for tuna, a 200-kilogram tuna can be sold for $100,000, Earle said, making it one of the most overfished species in the world.... "We take 100 million tons of wildlife out of the sea every year," she said, "and most of it is just bycatch," caught unintentionally by fishermen after the big-ticket fish.... "This is a moment in time, maybe a decade, when there's still a chance," she said. ...


Eminent scientists do great standup.

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Thu, Mar 4, 2010
from Boston Globe:
US backs ban on bluefin tuna trade
The US government announced yesterday that it supports prohibiting international trade of Atlantic bluefin tuna, a move that could lead to the most sweeping trade restrictions ever imposed on the highly prized fish. Sushi aficionados in Japan and elsewhere have consumed bluefin for decades, causing the fish's population to plummet. In less than two weeks, representatives from 175 countries will convene in Doha, Qatar, to determine whether to restrict the trade of bluefin tuna -- valued for its rich, buttery taste -- and an array of other imperiled species under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species.... Japan, the world's largest bluefin consumer, opposes the idea of trade restrictions, while the European Union has yet to take a formal position.... Over the past 40 years, the adult population of eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean bluefin tuna has declined 72 percent. In the western Atlantic, the population has dropped 82 percent. The declines occurred even though bluefin fishing was being governed by an international panel that sets catch quotas and is supposed to curtail illegal fishing. ...


I see "scientific bluefin fishing" in Japan's future.

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Fri, Feb 26, 2010
from Stony Brook, via EurekAlert:
New research shows fishery management practices for beluga sturgeon must change
A first-of-its-kind study of a Caspian Sea beluga sturgeon (Huso huso) fishery demonstrates current harvest rates are four to five times higher than those that would sustain population abundance. The study's results, which will be published in an upcoming issue of the journal Conservation Biology, suggest that conservation strategies for beluga sturgeon should focus on reducing the overfishing of adults rather than heavily relying upon hatchery supplementation.... Populations of beluga sturgeon have declined by nearly 90 percent in the past several decades due to the high demand for black caviar, inadequate management, and habitat degradation. Black caviar, the unfertilized roe (eggs) of the beluga sturgeon, is the most valuable of all caviar, and can be sold for as much as $8,000 for one kilogram (2.2 pounds). There has been grave concern about increasingly dwindling numbers of this already depleted species, which has gone extinct in the Adriatic Sea and is on the brink of extinction in the Azov Sea. ...


But without caviar, how is life worth living?

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Mon, Feb 1, 2010
from WWF:
French Guiana set to tackle bycatch
A new law requiring French Guianese shrimp fishers to use special devices that reduce unwanted fish catch will help better protect marine turtles and other vulnerable marine species in the region. As of Jan. 1, the country's fishing fleet under the new law now has to use a device called the Trash and Turtle Excluder Device, or TTED, to limit accidental capture of larger marine species. Widespread use of this device, which took three years to develop, will greatly reduce bycatch among shrimp trawlers. In French Guiana, tropical shrimp fisheries represent a major source of undesired bycatch. Without a bycatch reduction device in place, shrimp represents only 10 to 30 percent of the total catch, meaning the rest is made up of other marine species. Nearly half of the world's recorded fish catch is unused, wasted or not accounted for, according to estimates in an April scientific paper co-authored by WWF. ...


TTEDs rule -- and I bet the French acronym is much cooler!

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Mon, Jan 18, 2010
from BBC (UK):
Biodiversity nears 'point of no return'
Much greater concerted effort is needed to stop the plunder of our ecosystems.... Overfishing has reduced blue fin tuna numbers to 18 percent of what they were in the mid-1970s. The burning of Indonesia's peat lands and forests for palm oil plantations generates 1.8bn tonnes of greenhouse gases a year, and demand is predicted to double by 2020 compared to 2000. More than seven million hectares are lost worldwide to deforestation every single year. The restoration of our ecosystems must be seen as a sensible and cost-effective investment in this planet's economic survival and growth. ...


Come on -- how many species do we really need, anyway?

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Thu, Jan 14, 2010
from Albany Times-Union:
Shad fishing ban crucial to survival of the species
We have monitored the health of the Hudson River shad stock for more than 30 years and the data collected show a dramatic decline in the health of the stock. Most alarmingly, 2009 marked the eighth consecutive year that measures of juvenile American shad were so low that DEC classified the stock as exhibiting "recruitment failure." In plain language, this means that not enough juvenile shad are being produced to ensure the continued survival of the stock. We have reached a point where every fish counts in the fight for the continued existence of Hudson River shad. ...


Wouldn't the Hudson be cleaner without shad shit?

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Sat, Jan 2, 2010
from London Daily Telegraph:
We're losing the riches of the world
Species are now going extinct at between 1,000 and 10,000 times the natural rate. The consequences will be disastrous... Another year, another Year. After the official 2009 International Year of Natural Fibres -- following my favourite, the International Year of the Potato in 2008 -- we are now two days into the UN-designated International Year of Biodiversity. And though the celebrations of spuds and sisal may have happily passed you by, this one, I would suggest, is worth noticing. For a start, it marks one of the most spectacularly broken, but least-known, of all environmental promises. In 2001, EU heads of governments said they would aim to "halt" human destruction of the world's wildlife and wild places by 2010, and the next year world leaders, meeting at the Johannesburg Earth Summit, committed themselves to "a significant reduction" in the rate of loss by the same date. ...


Oops! Spaced out THAT one!

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Thu, Dec 24, 2009
from The Providence Journal:
Paula Moore: Invasion of jellyfish a sign of trouble
World leaders who attended the U.N. climate conference in Copenhagen probably did not discuss the invasion of the jellyfish, but perhaps they should. While it might sound like the stuff of a B horror movie, millions of jellyfish -- some the size of refrigerators -- are swarming coastlines from Spain to New York and Japan to Hawaii. Last month, these marauders sank a 10-ton fishing trawler off the coast of Japan after the boat's crew tried to haul in a net containing dozens of huge Nomura jellyfish -- up to 450 pounds each. The best way to fight this growing menace is with our forks. Scientists believe that a combination of climate change, pollution and overfishing is causing the boom in jellyfish populations. Leaving animals, including fish, off our dinner plates will combat all three problems. ...


You'd think a knife would be more effective.

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Wed, Dec 16, 2009
from Agence France-Presse:
Koalas, penguins at risk of extinction: study
Climate change threatens the survival of dozens of animal species from the emperor penguin to Australian koalas, according to a report released Monday at the UN climate summit. Rising sea levels, ocean acidification and shrinking polar ice are taking a heavy toll on species already struggling to cope with pollution and shrinking habitats, said the study from the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), an intergovernmental group. "Humans are not the only ones whose fate is at stake here in Copenhagen -- some of our favourite species are also taking the fall for our CO2 emissions," said Wendy Foden, an IUCN researcher and co-author of the study. ...


To hell with our not-so-favourite ones.

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Fri, Dec 4, 2009
from BBC (UK):
Galapagos Islands are transformed
The Galapagos archipelago has already been transformed by global climate changes and human activity, a report has concluded. A series of events, including the 1982 El Nino, overfishing and the appearance of urchins that destroy coral, has altered the islands' marine ecosystems. At least 45 Galapagos species have now disappeared or are facing extinction. That suggests future climate change driven by human activity will have an major impact on the islands' wildlife.... All live on the Galapagos, and most are found nowhere else. These 45 species include five mammals, six birds, five reptiles, six fishes, one echinoderm, seven corals, six brown algae and nine red algae. Among those is the coastal-living Mangrove finch, a species once studied by Charles Darwin. ...


Humans: the only evolutionary pressure that matters.

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Sat, Nov 28, 2009
from Agence France-Presse:
Top French chefs take bluefin tuna off the menu
Top French chefs this week pledged to keep bluefin tuna and other threatened fish species off the menu, whatever the cost. With half of the fish eaten in Europe dished up in restaurants, it was high time for the food-loving nation's leading chefs to take a stand, said one of the country's greatest chefs, Olivier Roellinger. Roellinger, celebrated for his fish and seaweed fare in western Brittany, took bluefin tuna -- aka red tuna -- off the menu five years ago. "We have a responsibility towards all those who are in charge of feeding others, cooks but also mothers and even fathers, and must show them the way," he told AFP. ...


We could order off menu!

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Mon, Nov 23, 2009
from The Economist:
Socked
A mysterious decline in the numbers of spawning salmon has become one of the rites of autumn in British Columbia, bringing worries of financial and job losses, threats of extinction and a perplexing lack of answers. This season only 1.7m of the 10.4m sockeye salmon that were forecast to return to the Fraser river in fact made it -- a 50-year low. That prompted Stephen Harper, Canada's prime minister, to ask Bruce Cohen, a justice of British Columbia's Supreme Court, to hold an inquiry into the causes of the sockeye's decline. Applause was muted. Four other federal inquiries held over the past three decades have failed to halt the decline. ...


The sockeyes have been coldcocked.

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Mon, Nov 16, 2009
from BBC (UK):
Tuna management body fails yet again
The body responsible for managing Atlantic bluefin tuna has decided not to suspend the fishery in response to concerns over dwindling stocks. The International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (Iccat) instead decided to lower the annual catch quota by about one third. Conservation groups said the decision would encourage illegal fishing. Iccat scientists said recently that bluefin numbers were at about 15 percent of pre-industrial-fishing levels. They also said that drastic limits on fishing now would facilitate the growth of a more profitable industry in years to come, as stocks became more plentiful. ...


Why act now, when the future is uncertain?

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Tue, Nov 10, 2009
from BBC (UK):
'Last chance' for tuna authority
The annual meeting of the body charged with conserving Atlantic tuna opens on Monday to warnings that this is its "last chance" to manage things well. The International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (Iccat) is criticised for setting high quotas and not tackling illegal fishing. Stocks of bluefin tuna are at about 15 percent of pre-industrial fishing levels.... "We'd like to have science-based management that has a good chance of stopping overfishing and rebuilding the stock, with effective compliance and monitoring."... It is estimated that the illegal take adds about 30 percent to the legal catches. ...


Last chance... otherwise we may have to give you a different acronym.

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Sat, Oct 31, 2009
from BBC (UK):
Bluefin tuna ban 'justified' by science
Banning trade in Atlantic bluefin tuna is justified by the extent of their decline, an analysis by scientists advising fisheries regulators suggests. The International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas' (ICCAT) advisers said stocks are probably less than 15 percent of their original size. The analysis has delighted conservation groups, which have warned that over-fishing risks the species' survival.... Last year, an independent report concluded that ICCAT's management of tuna was a "disgrace", blaming member countries for not accepting scientific advice and for turning a blind eye to their fleets' illegal activities.... ICCAT's scientific committee considered different ways of analysing the decline - whether to start from estimates of how many bluefin there were before industrial fishing began, or from the largest stocks reliably recorded, and according to different rates of reproduction. They concluded that whichever way the data is cut, it is 96 percent likely that numbers in the east Atlantic and Mediterranean are now less than 15 percent of their pre-industrial-fishing size. ...


Any way you slice it, it's still sushi.

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Fri, Oct 30, 2009
from Washington Post:
Eels Slip Away From Europe's Dishes
They may be slimy, snakelike and a distinct turn-off for many people, but eels have formed an integral part of European cuisine since the time of the ancient Greeks. Yet without urgent action, scientists fear this mysterious beast could disappear from the continent's waterways and dinner tables for good. European eel stocks have fallen to below 10 percent of 1970s levels, according to the International Council for the Exploitation of the Sea in Copenhagen. In parts of the Baltic and Mediterranean 99 percent of the stocks are believed to have vanished. ...


No more meels!

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Thu, Oct 29, 2009
from Agence France-Presse:
Hong Kong's ghostly seas warn of looming global tragedy
...Having overfished and polluted its own waters to the point where they are home mainly to great ghosts of the past, Hong Kong now imports up to 90 percent of its seafood. The problem with that, scientists say, is that Hong Kong is a microcosm of a marine disaster in which wild fish are being eaten out of existence worldwide... "Unless the current situation improves, stocks of all species currently fished for food are predicted to collapse by 2048," the WWF reports, quoting a controversial scientific survey. ...


2048? Could you please be more specific?

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Sun, Oct 18, 2009
from Toronto Star:
European cod stocks collapsing
Cod is slipping closer to disappearing from key European fishing grounds, officials warned Friday, saying that only steep catch cuts will prevent the disappearance of a species prized for centuries for its flaky white flesh. The European Union's executive body called for sharp cuts in the amount of cod fisherman can catch next year -- up to 25 per cent in some areas. The European Commission said recent studies showed cod catches in some areas are far outstripping the rate of reproduction of a fish that fed coastal communities for centuries. ...


Cod help us all.

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Fri, Oct 16, 2009
from ABC News (Australia):
Bluefin tuna stocks close to collapse
The prized southern bluefin tuna industry, worth hundreds of millions of dollars to Australia, could be heading for a major collapse unless a moratorium on fishing the species is adopted.... The global marine program leader for TRAFFIC, Glenn Slant, puts the situation more bluntly: "The southern bluefin tuna is at an all-time low, below 10 per cent of its original population size, and what that means is at any time it could collapse."... Australian tuna fishermen are angry the benefits that should have flowed from large cuts to the quota in 1990, and then by 50 per cent in 2006, were cancelled out by years of illegal overfishing by Japan. Several years ago, the Japanese Government admitted it had illegally taken more than 120,000 tonnes of tuna above their total allowable catch (TAC). The figure is believed to be closer to 200,000 tonnes. ...


I weep at the rising cost of bluefin sushi.

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Tue, Oct 13, 2009
from PhysOrg.com:
Overfishing: Are there really plenty of fish in the sea?
Worldwide fishing catches grew 400 percent between 1950 and 1994, following centuries of increasingly intensive commercial fishing, but it couldn't last forever. Big fisheries began crashing by the late 20th century, and global production leveled off in 1988. U.S. catches peaked six years later at 5.2 million tons, more than double the country's 1950 total, and by 2008 they had fallen back down to 4.1 million, despite rising demand.... When Newfoundland's cod fishery collapsed in 1992 and Canada closed it for rehabilitation, many expected a quick recovery since cod reproduce so prolifically. But something went wrong, and Newfoundland cod still haven't returned to their pre-collapse numbers, despite a decade-long moratorium on fishing that was upgraded to outright closure in 2003.... "That's not to say the U.S. doesn't have challenges and problems, but there has been steady improvement in recent years," he says. "The chronic overfishing problems we've had will be addressed in the next few years. We should see several of those stocks come off the list." ...


I can see the corner from here! It's just up ahead...

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Mon, Oct 12, 2009
from Treehugger.com:
What do Sharks Have to do With Sustainable Seafood?
So, if you're not eating sharks, why do you have to worry about shark safe food? The Center for Oceanic Awareness, Research and Education developed their Shark Safe Certification Program so that businesses and restaurants can demonstrate their commitment to shark protection to their customers. Members of the program must demonstrate that they are not selling any shark products and that seafood that is offered, be cause with shark safe techniques, such as no "longlines, fish aggregating devices, gillnets or trawl netting." Applicants to the program, which was developed by scientists and researchers around the globe based on the Monterey Aquarium's Seafood Watch Program, must undergo an application process to document their non-use or sale of shark products.... Sharks are at the top of the food chain, which means that they have few predators. Therefore sharks mature slower than other species and have fewer young, making them easier to wipe out. ...


But... sharks are s-s-s-scary!

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Fri, Oct 9, 2009
from New York Times:
Report on Future Fish Catches: everything will be okay, just different
Global warming will not necessarily change the amount of fish caught half a century from now, but it will shift catches away from the tropics toward the poles, researchers reported. The researchers, from the University of British Columbia and elsewhere, used a computer model including environmental factors and data on 1,066 fish species ranging from sharks to shrimplike creatures at the bottom of the food chain. Together those species accounted for most of the world's catch from 2000 to 2004. The findings were reported in the journal Global Change Biology. By 2055, the scientists predicted, countries like China, Chile, Indonesia and the United States (excepting Alaska and Hawaii) will see catches decline, while catches off Alaska, Greenland, Norway and Russia will rise. ...


Make that two orders of shark-fin soup!

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Wed, Oct 7, 2009
from Journal of San Juans, in DesdemonaDespair:
Derelict fishing nets in Puget Sound kill 30,000 marine birds, 110,000 fish and 2 million invertebrates a year
"Lost" gill nets are never really lost. Fishing boat operators cut loose snagged nets and get their boats free and head for port. The derelict nets remain where they were snagged -- often for decades -- catching and killing marine life.... Since 2001, the foundation's Derelict Net Survey and Removal Project has removed 1,300 gill nets covering 280 acres through June of this year. The effort was stalling for lack of money. ...


Let's just call them "static micro-ecosystems" and be done with it.

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Sat, Sep 26, 2009
from Telegraph.co.uk:
World goes into 'ecological debt'
The global recession meant "ecological debt day" on September 25 fell a day later than the previous year for the first time in 20 years as less resources were used. However environmental groups said the slow down was not enough to make a difference to the environmental damage being caused by over consumption, the burning of fossil fuels and intensive farming.... "Debt-fuelled overconsumption not only brought the financial system to the edge of collapse, it is pushing many of our natural life-support systems towards a precipic," he said. "Politicians tell us to get back to business as usual, but if we bankrupt critical ecosystems no amount of government spending will bring them back. "We need a radically different approach to 'rich world' consumption. While billions in poorer countries subsist, we consume vastly more and yet with little or nothing to show for it in terms of greater life satisfaction." ...


If debt is the last growth industry, I wonder how I can profit from it?

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Fri, Sep 25, 2009
from Bangor Daily News:
Herring catch limits could plummet
The availability of herring along the coast of Maine, where much of the catch is used as bait for the state's $250 million lobster industry, is a little bit better this fall than it was last year. Next year, however, could be a different story.... The scientists who reviewed this summer's stock assessment for Atlantic herring came up with a lower recommendation of the allowable catch than regulators and officials had made in prior years. As a result, the annual overall quota for herring in 2010 likely is going to be 90,000 metric tons, which is 104,000 metric tons less than this year's limit of 194,000 metric tons. That larger quota is parceled among four fishing areas that include both inner and outer areas of the Gulf of Maine, one directly south of the gulf, and another west of Nantucket. ...


We'll just switch to himming, eh?

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Thu, Sep 24, 2009
from Agence France-Presse:
World will need 70 percent more food in 2050: FAO
World food production must increase by 70 percent by 2050, to nourish a human population then likely to be 9.1 billion, the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation forecast Wednesday... "Nearly all of the population growth will occur in developing countries. Sub-Saharan Africa's population is expected to grow the fastest (up 108 percent, 910 million people), and East and South East Asia's the slowest (up 11 percent, 228 million). "Around 70 percent of the world population will live in cities or urban areas by 2050, up from 49 percent today," the document said. The demand for food is expected to grow as a result of rising incomes as well as population growth, the discussion paper added. ...


I'll be really old and stringy... but I volunteer!

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Fri, Sep 11, 2009
from New York Times:
Filet-O-verfished
The world's insatiable appetite for fish, with its disastrous effects on populations of favorites like red snapper, monkfish and tuna, has driven commercial fleets to deeper waters in search of creatures unlikely to star on the Food Network. One of the most popular is the hoki, or whiptail, a bug-eyed specimen found far down in the waters around New Zealand and transformed into a major export. McDonald's alone at one time used roughly 15 million pounds of it each year.... Without formally acknowledging that hoki are being overfished, New Zealand has slashed the allowable catch in steps, from about 275,000 tons in 2000 and 2001 to about 100,000 tons in 2007 and 2008 -- a decline of nearly two-thirds.... Scientists say its fate represents a cautionary tale much like that of its heavily harvested forerunner, orange roughy. That deepwater fish reproduces slowly and lives more than 100 years. Around New Zealand, catches fell steeply in the early 1990s under the pressures of industrial fishing, in which factory trawlers work around the clock hauling in huge nets with big winches. ...


I thought it was... y'know... fish. Not, like, a species.

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Wed, Sep 9, 2009
from Telegraph.co.uk:
North Sea cod 'doomed by climate change'
Species of plankton, on which cod larvae feed, have moved away in search of cooler waters. The decline in cod stocks has led to an explosion in the populations of crabs and jellyfish, on which the adult fish feed. The shortage of predators at the top of the food chain has had a knock-on effect on flat fish, such as plaice and sole, whose offspring are eaten by crabs.... The researchers studied the distribution of surface-dwelling copepod plankton on which young cod feed. Copepod's numbers have declined by more than 60 per cent as the sea has warmed over the last four decades. Dr Kirkby said: "The plankton that young cod usually eat during March, April and May, a species of copepod that is the size of a grain of rice, prefer cold water and so they have become much less frequent as the North Sea has warmed.... "As top predators such as cod are declining, this appears to have had a cascading effect on the whole ecosystem." ...


What's that? You don't like crab 'n' chips?

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Tue, Sep 8, 2009
from PNAS, via EurekAlert:
Half of the fish consumed globally is now raised on farms, study finds
Aquaculture, once a fledgling industry, now accounts for 50 percent of the fish consumed globally, according to a new report by an international team of researchers. And while the industry is more efficient than ever, it is also putting a significant strain on marine resources by consuming large amounts of feed made from wild fish harvested from the sea, the authors conclude.... To maximize growth and enhance flavor, aquaculture farms use large quantities of fishmeal and fish oil made from less valuable wild-caught species, including anchoveta and sardine. "With the production of farmed fish eclipsing that of wild fish, another major transition is also underway: Aquaculture's share of global fishmeal and fish oil consumption more than doubled over the past decade to 68 percent and 88 percent, respectively," the authors wrote. ...


See? We don't even need Nature. Uh -- wait, they're fed fishmeal?

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Fri, Sep 4, 2009
from San Francisco Chronicle:
Herring season canceled
State wildlife regulators canceled the San Francisco Bay herring fishing season for the first time Thursday, hoping to rebuild a population that has plunged dangerously low.... The drop is blamed on environmental factors, not on overfishing. But John Mello, a senior biologist with the state Department of Fish and Game, said the herring population has now "reached a point where any fishing mortality inhibits the rebuilding of the stock." Fishers are primarily interested in herring roe [eggs], which is prized as a delicacy in Japan. Herring are also an important part of the food chain, supporting birds, larger fish and marine mammals. ...


Guess the Japanese will have to shift to "paté of scientifically slaughtered whale"

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Thu, Sep 3, 2009
from Connecticut Post:
Lobster population decline prompts stricter protections
Gus Bertolf Jr. and his father returned to their Cos Cob dock last week with about $200 worth of conch, their new cash crop in the continued aftermath of a lobster die-off that began in the late 1990s, they said. Since 1998, they have found few lobsters large enough to catch legally while trolling from the New York state line to the western end of Stamford. The futility sometimes causes them to question their investment in diesel fuel, bait and time. "We caught one legal-sized lobster today, but we threw it back," Gus Bertolf Sr. said, standing on the deck of the boat Island Girl. "What's going on is discouraging." To restore a lobster population decimated in the die-off, the Bertolfs said more aggressive intervention is needed to eliminate what they believe is the illegal harvesting of egg-bearing female lobsters and curb damage caused by commercial clam dredges disturbing the sea floor. "How are lobsters supposed to breed with the dredges coming through every day?" the younger Bertolf said. "The state has to take greater action to protect the resource, and the clamming industry has to find a better way besides the dredge. ...


Not to worry! There's plenty of lobster somewhere else.
Right?

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Wed, Aug 26, 2009
from Reuters, via DesdemonaDespair:
Illegal fishing evades U.N. crackdown
Illegal fishing is depleting the seas and robbing poor nations in Africa and Asia of resources, but a lack of global cooperation is undermining efforts to track rogue vessels, an environmental group said on Tuesday. The Pew Environment Group, a Washington-based think-tank, has found that a United Nations scheme to oblige ports to crack down on illegal fishing boats is handicapped by a lack of accurate information, implementation and participation.... Pew estimates that a fifth of all fish landed come from illegal, unregulated or unreported vessels -- and this figure rises to around half for valuable species like blue fin tuna. ...


Let them eat kelp.

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Fri, Aug 14, 2009
from Reuters:
Millions of salmon disappear from Canadian river
Millions of sockeye salmon have disappeared mysteriously from a river on Canada's Pacific Coast that was once known as the world's most fertile spawning ground for sockeye. Up to 10.6 million bright-red sockeye salmon were expected to return to spawn this summer on the Fraser River, which empties into the Pacific ocean near Vancouver, British Columbia. The latest estimates say fewer than 1 million have returned. The Canadian government has closed the river to commercial and recreational sockeye fishing for the third straight year, hitting the livelihood of nearby Indian reserves. "It's quite the shocking drop," said Stan Proboszcz, fisheries biologist at the Watershed Watch Salmon Society. "No one's exactly sure what happened to these fish." ...


That's the very definition of "decimation"!

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Mon, Aug 10, 2009
from BBC (UK):
Greenpeace in anti-trawling move
Greenpeace has begun sinking boulders in EU-protected cod fishing grounds to prevent what it says are destructive forms of fishing in the area. The environmental group says it will drop 180 boulders off the Swedish and Danish coasts to prevent fishing boats from dragging nets along the sea bed. Greenpeace says the bottom-trawling fishing method destroys both the sea bed and the marine environment. Sweden's government described the group's action as "unnecessary".... The Greenpeace project highlights the ongoing debate over the environmental damage caused by over-fishing, in which the size of catches is not the only concern for campaigners. The environmental impact of different methods of fishing is also a major issue, correspondents say. ...


Wait -- you mean there are ecosystems at the bottom of the ocean? I thought it was just food.

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Thu, Aug 6, 2009
from Desdemona Despair:
Dramatic Decline in SE Coastal Sharks
The eastern seaboard’s longest continuous shark-targeted survey (UNC), conducted annually since 1972 off North Carolina, demonstrates sufficiently large declines in great sharks to imply their likely functional elimination. Declines in seven species range from 87 percent for sandbar sharks (Carcharhinus plumbeus); 93 percent for blacktip sharks (C. limbatus); up to 97 percent for tiger sharks (Galeocerdo cuvier); 98 percent for scalloped hammerheads (Sphyrna lewini); and 99 percent or more for bull (C. leucas), dusky (C. obscurus), and smooth hammerhead (S. zygaena) sharks (Fig. 1 and table S5). Because this survey is situated where it intercepts sharks on their seasonal migrations, these trends in abundance may be indicative of coastwide population changes. ...


What happens when there are no sharks left to jump?

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Fri, Jul 31, 2009
from Communication Partnership for Science and the Sea via ScienceDaily:
New Hope For Fisheries: Overfishing Reduced In Several Regions Around The World
Scientists have joined forces in a groundbreaking assessment on the status of marine fisheries and ecosystems. The two-year study, led by Boris Worm of Dalhousie University and Ray Hilborn of the University of Washington and including an international team of 19 co-authors, shows that steps taken to curb overfishing are beginning to succeed in five of the ten large marine ecosystems that they examined.... The work is a significant leap forward because it reveals that the rate of fishing has been reduced in several regions around the world, resulting in some stock recovery. Moreover, it bolsters the case that sound management can contribute to the rebuilding of fisheries elsewhere. ...


This news floats my bobber!

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Thu, Jul 23, 2009
from CBC (Canada):
Cod expert: Don't boost harvest yet
Newfoundland and Labrador's leading expert on cod said Tuesday that while there are strong signs northern cod is starting to make a comeback, fishermen should still leave it alone. Inshore fishermen have noticed an increase in the number of cod, and say there should be an increase in the amount they're allowed catch. George Rose, a former federal fisheries scientist and the research chair in fisheries science at Memorial University, said there has been a big turnaround recently in the fish's population -- a big change from even three or four years ago. "Nowhere near back to what they were historically, but they're starting to look better and better each year. So there's been some amazing changes in the last couple of years," he said. Rose linked some of the change to the recent reappearance of caplin, the main food for cod at this time of the year. However when it comes to increased catch allowances, Rose argued that if ever there was a time for caution, it's now. "We are at a critical time, and we're not at all certain that with an increase [in] the fishery that's substantial, we couldn't knock this back down," he said. ...


That crazy not fishing idea -- it just might work!

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Wed, Jul 22, 2009
from University of British Columbia, via EurekAlert:
Modest fisheries reduction could protect vast coastal ecosystems: UBC research
A reduction of as little as five per cent in fisheries catch could result in as much as 30 per cent of the British Columbia coastal ecosystems being protected from overfishing, according to a new study from the UBC Fisheries Centre.... Using B.C.'s coastal waters as a test case, the study affirms that small cuts in fishing -- if they happen in the right places -- could result in very large unfished areas. For example, a two per cent cut could result in unfished areas covering 20 per cent of the B.C. coast, offered real conservation gains.... "With the current rates of progress, there is no chance of meeting our 2012 targets," says Ban. "Given that fishers recognize the problem of overfishing but often regard marine protected areas as serving only to constrain them, another approach must be found. That's why we undertook this study." ...


Presuming, of course, that there are fish left to catch....

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Wed, Jul 22, 2009
from SouthCoast Today:
NOAA's chief poses 'grand' ocean challenge
"In our fisheries, the rich biodiversity of life swimming in and flying above the oceans, and our own well being all depend upon the actions we take this year and this decade," said Lubchenco, a marine ecologist who taught at Oregon State University before President Barack Obama appointed her as head of NOAA. "Too much is at stake to continue on our present path," she said. "Too much is at risk if we ignore either oceans or climate change."... Changes in ocean temperature could cause fish species to migrate northward and could throw current predator-prey relationships out of balance. Ocean acidification related to the buildup of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere could make it difficult for scallops, oysters, mussels, clams, lobsters and other shellfish to produce and maintain hard shells or skeletons. "This is a relatively recently uncovered problem," she said. "And we don't yet know how every single species will respond. But for most species it will be increasingly challenging for them." ...


You're saying "our present path" is unsustainable? Haven't you heard that "the American way of life is non-negotiable"?

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Wed, Jul 22, 2009
from Sea Around Us, via DesdemonaDespair:
Ocean Biomass Depletion, 1900-2000
This frightening graphic (http://www.seaaroundus.org/flash/NorthAtlanticTrends.htm) demonstrates the "high trophic-level" biomass depletion of the last century. Most estimates are between 80 to 90 percent loss, and the rate of continuing depletion between three and four times faster than are reborn. Note: "high trophic-level" means they are fish-eating fish, not plankton-eating fish, nor bottom-feeding fish -- which have also suffered dramatic declines. [The 'Docs] ...


Biomass? We don't need no stinkin' biomass. We need fish!

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Tue, Jul 21, 2009
from Telegraph.co.uk, via DesdemonaDespair:
Giant jellyfish bloom hits Sea of Japan
"The arrival is inevitable," Professor Shinichi Ue, from Hiroshima University, told the Yomiuri newspaper. "A huge jellyfish typhoon will hit the country." The vicious creatures, which would not be out of place in a sci-fi adventure, poison fish, sting humans and have even been known to disabling nuclear power stations by blocking the seawater pumps used to cool the reactors. Nomura's jellyfish first arrived in Japanese waters in 2005 when fisherman out looking for anchovies, salmon and yellowtail began finding large numbers of the gelatinous creatures in their nets. The larger specimens would destroy the nets while the fish caught alongside them would be left slimy and inedible.... Scientists believe the influx could be caused by overfishing, pollution or rising ocean temperatures which have depleted the kinds of fish that normally prey on Nomura's jellyfish at the polyp stage, thereby keeping down numbers. Another theory suggests that seas heated by global warming are better suited for breeding, multiplying the creature's numbers. ...


What an ugly canary!

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Tue, Jul 7, 2009
from Christian Science Monitor:
Will we empty the oceans?
Early European explorers to the Americas encountered an astounding abundance of marine life. White beluga whales, now limited to the arctic, swam as far south as Boston Bay. Cod off Newfoundland were so plentiful that fishermen could catch them with nothing more than a weighted basket lowered into the water. As late as the mid-19th century, river herring ran so thick in the eastern United States that wading across certain waterways meant treading on fish. And everywhere sharks were so numerous that, after hauling in their catches, fishers often found them stripped to the bone. So how did we get from that world, where the oceans teemed with marine life, to the growing aquatic wasteland we see today? The answer: One catch at a time. ...


Miles-long driftnets, factory fishing, and trawlers might have had something to do with it.

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Thu, Jul 2, 2009
from BBC:
World 'still losing biodiversity'
An unacceptable number of species are still being lost forever despite world leaders pledging action to reverse the trend, a report has warned. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) says the commitment to reduce biodiversity loss by 2010 will not be met. It warns that a third of amphibians, a quarter of mammals and one-in-eight birds are threatened with extinction. The analysis is based on the 44,838 species on the IUCN Red List. "The report makes for depressing reading," said co-editor Craig Hilton Taylor, manager of the IUCN's Red List Unit. "It tells us that the extinction crisis is as bad, or even worse than we believed. ...


"Still"? Heck, we're just gettin' started!

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Sat, Jun 27, 2009
from BBC:
Whale chief mulls ending hunt ban
The outgoing chair of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) has suggested whale conservation could benefit from ending the commercial hunting ban. Dr William Hogarth's remarks came at the end of this year's IWC meeting, which saw pro- and anti-whaling nations agree to further compromise talks.... The 1982 commercial whaling moratorium is one of the conservation movement's iconic achievements, and environment groups and anti-whaling nations are, at least on the surface, lined up four-square behind it. But Dr Hogarth, a US fisheries expert who led the compromise talks for the last year, suggested it could now be a problem for whale conservation. "I'll probably get in trouble for making this statement, but I am probably convinced right now that there would be less whales killed if we didn't have the commercial moratorium," he told BBC News immediately after the meeting ended. ...


I'm "probably convinced" you're in the pocket of the whaling industry.

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Tue, Jun 9, 2009
from TIME Magazine:
What Is Killing Chile's Coastal Wildlife?
First, in late March the bodies of about 1,200 penguins were found on a remote beach in southern Chile. Next came the sardines -- millions of them -- washed up dead on a nearby stretch of coastline in April, causing a stench so noxious that nearby schools were closed and the army was called in to shovel piles of rotting fish off the sand. Then it was the turn of the rare Andean flamingos. Over the course of approximately three months, thousands of them abandoned their nests on a salt lake in the Atacama Desert in the far north of Chile. Their eggs failed to hatch, and all 2,000 chicks died in their shells. Finally, in late May came the pelicans -- nearly 60 of them, found dead on the central Chilean coast. No one knows exactly what has caused these four apparently unrelated environmental disasters in as many months. Global warming has been blamed, as has overfishing, pollution and disease. ...


All canaries, all coal mines, all the time.

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Mon, Jun 8, 2009
from London Guardian:
Pirate fishing causing eco disaster and killing communities, says report
Pirate fishing is out of control, depriving some the most world's most vulnerable communities of food and leading to ecological catastrophe, a three-year investigation has found. "Illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing is one of the most serious threats to the future of world fisheries. It is now occurring in virtually all fishing grounds from shallow coastal waters to deep oceans. It is believed to account for a significant proportion of the global catch and to be costing developing countries up to $15bn a year," says the report by the Environmental Justice Foundation. Unscrupulous Chinese, European and Latin American companies, using flags of convenience, are operating illegal gear, fishing in sea areas they are not allowed and are not reporting their catches, the investigators found. In addition, ships are laundering illegally caught fish by transferring them at sea to legal boats making it impossible to identify catches. ...


Figuring out the acronym is half the battle!

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Mon, Jun 8, 2009
from Philadelphia Inquirer:
Pa. orders all rescued bats to be destroyed
Seeking to halt the spread of a disease ravaging bat populations in the Northeast, the Pennsylvania Game Commission laid down the law: All bats collected by wildlife rescuers - regardless of whether they were sick or injured - would have to be euthanized. The order, issued in response to white-nose syndrome, a highly contagious fungal disease, came just before the busy spring season when baby bats take flight. It has angered bat advocates, who consider the Game Commission's response extreme. "It's a draconian approach," said Laura Flandreau, a volunteer from Chestnut Hill who launched a petition drive urging Gov. Rendell to persuade the commission to lift the ban. She says none of the other eight states where the disease has been found has banned rescue and release efforts. In New Jersey, she said, efforts are under way to treat infected bats in a research facility. But Game Commission officials say they issued the bat-release ban to protect thousands of bats from the fatal and, so far, untreatable disorder. ...


Kind of calls into question the whole idea of "rescue."

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Thu, Jun 4, 2009
from University of Maryland, via EurekAlert:
Study: Illegal fishing harming present and future New England groundfish fisheries
Weak enforcement combined with fishermen facing serious economic hardships are leading to widespread violations of fisheries regulations along the Northeastern United States coast. This pattern of noncompliance threatens the success of new fisheries management measures put in place to protect and restore fish stocks, according to a new study published online this week in the journal Marine Policy.... nearly a doubling of the percent of total harvest taken illegally over the last two decades in the Northeast multispecies groundfish fishery (NEGF).... "To many fishermen, the current situation has reached an economic and moral tipping point where the potential economic gains from illegal fishing far outweigh the expected cost of getting caught." ...


When your kids are hungry, you eat your seed corn.

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Thu, May 28, 2009
from Telegraph.co.uk:
An Inconvenient Truth for Fish
The End of the Line looks to be the biggest environmental film since An Inconvenient Truth.... Charles Clover, a former Daily Telegraph journalist, outlines the threat to the oceans. He makes the assertion that if the fishing industry is not regulated, the world will be out of seafood around 2048. This would result in starvation for 1.2 billion people, as fish is a key part of their diet -- unless you want to survive on jellyfish burgers.... As Mr Clover says, fish is no longer a guilt-free meal: "Trolling (using drag nets along the bottom of the ocean) is like ploughing a field seven times a year." ...


I can still feel a pulse... but it's faint... Regulations! Stat!

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Thu, May 28, 2009
from New Scientist:
Turbo-evolution shows cod speeding to extinction
Fishing is causing cod to evolve faster than anyone had suspected it could, fisheries scientists in Iceland have discovered. This turbo-evolution may be why the world's biggest cod fishery, the Grand Banks of Newfoundland, crashed in 1992 and has yet to recover. The Icelandic cod fishery, almost the only large cod fishery left anywhere in the world, is about to go the same way unless urgent conservation measures are applied, the scientists warn.... Fisheries are known to exert selective pressure on fish. In some cases this has led to the evolution of smaller fish. This was thought to be a slow process. "Previous workers have concluded that evolutionary changes are only observable on a longer timescale, of decades," Arnason says. "The changes we observe are much more rapid." ... "Man the hunter has become a mechanised techno-beast," the team writes. "Modern fisheries are uncontrolled experiments in evolution." ...


A "mechanized techno-beast"? How dare you question the Borg?

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Tue, May 26, 2009
from Toronto Globe and Mail:
Bad news, and good news, in our emptying oceans
Global study finds dramatic drops in marine life over the centuries, but it also finds hope that some depleted populations can recover... Today, there are 85 to 90 per cent fewer fish and marine mammals than there once were, said Poul Holm, professor of environmental history at Trinity College Dublin and the global chair of the History of Marine Animal Populations project. "We can now confirm this is a global picture, fairly consistent in the developed and developing world," he said. He is chairing a conference in Vancouver this week where paleontologists, archeologists, historians, ecologists and other researchers will present their individual findings and start to synthesize them for a report that will be published next year. ...


Bad news = species collapse in ocean takes the planet with it; good news = less swimming accidents.

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Mon, May 25, 2009
from London Times:
The Living Seas
...It is man's predatory overfishing that has emptied the seas, a relentless destruction that has gathered pace in the past century and brought much marine life to the brink of extinction. A conference that opens in Vancouver tomorrow will present a Census of Marine Life, which has reconstructed from old ship logs, tax accounts, legal documents and even mounted trophies the vast populations of fish and marine mammals that once populated the oceans of the world. Before 1800, the sea between Australia and New Zealand supported around 27,000 right whales -- roughly 30 times the population of today. But rampant whaling so decimated the population that by 1925 only an estimated 25 were left. ...


Gonna be one fun buncha folks at THIS conference.

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Mon, May 25, 2009
from London Times:
Manta rays next on restaurant menus as shark populations plummet
Conservationists fear a falling shark population is prompting Asian chefs to look for manta and devil rays to help meet the voracious demand for shark fin soup. Found in coastal waters throughout the world, rays present an easy target as they swim slowly near the surface with their huge wings. So far, they have escaped commercial exploitation and have been hunted only by small numbers of subsistence fishermen, who traditionally catch them using harpoons.... Until now, getting caught in nets intended for other fish has been the biggest threat to rays, listed as "near threatened" on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List. ...


Manta rays will now officially be listed as "near screwed."

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Wed, May 20, 2009
from Greenpeace:
The suicidal tendencies of the Turkish tuna fishery
The Turkish government has set its own catch limit for the endangered Mediterranean bluefin tuna -- in total disregard for internationally agreed quotas and scientific advice. The existing management plan for bluefin tuna is bad enough. By pressuring politicians to ignore the warnings of scientists, the Mediterranean tuna industry has created a suicide pact, not a management plan. Now Turkey, by objecting to even those inadequate restrictions, is telling its legal fleet to fish for everything it can before it's all gone. And to add insult to absurdity, there's still the illegal catch to consider -- and Turkey just got caught red-handed with an illegal landing of between 5 and 10 tons of juvenile bluefin tuna in the Turkish port of Karaburun.... Since 2006, scientists have been sounding the alarm on the dire state of the bluefin tuna stock. They have advised not to fish above a maximum of 15,000 tons, and to protect the species’ spawning grounds during the crucial months of May and June. But the spawning grounds are ravaged by industrial fleets every year and the actual haul has been estimated at a shocking 61,100 tons in 2007, twice the legal catch for that year, and more than four times the scientifically recommended level. ...


Gettin' while the gettin' is good is a good way to gettin' gone.

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Sun, May 3, 2009
from Washington Post:
MD Men Who Overfished Rockfish Sentenced to Prison
Three fishermen accused of dramatically underreporting their rockfish harvests received prison terms last week, as federal prosecutors continued a crackdown on a black market fish trade involving more than a dozen people, including several in St. Mary's County, authorities said.... The three men sentenced last week overfished about $2.15 million worth of striped bass. Crowder was responsible for about $956,000; Dean, $100,000; and Quade, $151,000, prosecutors said.... Golden Eye Seafood, a Southern Maryland fish wholesaler and check-in station, and its owner, Robert Lumpkins, 55, of Piney Point, were also charged last month with violating federal fishing laws. ...


Ahh, rockfish, we hardly knew ye.

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Mon, Apr 27, 2009
from London Guardian:
Call for 20-year fishing ban in a third of oceans
One third of the world's oceans must be closed to fishing for 20 years if depleted stocks are to recover, scientists and conservation groups have warned. Callum Roberts, professor of marine conservation at the University of York, has reviewed 100 scientific papers identifying the scale of closure needed. "All are leaning in a similar direction," he said, "which is that 20-40 percent of the sea should be protected." Friends of the Earth, the Marine Conservation Society and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds all support the idea of a 30 percent closure. ...


Can't you just see it? Giant No Fishin' signs placed all over the planet!

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Sun, Apr 26, 2009
from The East African:
International firms stand accused of fish piracy
Lawlessness off the Somalia coast involving overfishing and toxic-waste dumping is being ignored amidst the uproar over attacks on international shipping, some analysts are charging. For years, Somalis had complained to the United Nations and the European Union "when the marine resources of Somalia were pillaged, when the waters were poisoned, when the fish was stolen, creating poverty in the whole country," Kenyan writer Mohamed Abshir Waldo, told a national radio audience in the United States last week. "They were totally ignored." Beth Tuckey, an activist with the African Faith and Justice Network in Washington, wrote in a recent commentary that focusing solely on one kind of piracy – “holding ships and people for ransom” – distorts the actual situation of Somalis living on the coast. "Having over-fished in their own oceans, many European, Middle Eastern and Asian fishing companies perceived the 1991 state collapse in Somalia as an opening to begin business in foreign waters," Ms Tuckey said. "Large trawlers appeared off the coast, scraping up $300 million worth of seafood every year, depriving coastal Somalis of their livelihood and subsistence. Foreign corporations also saw it as a great location to discreetly dump barrels of toxic waste, thereby causing death and disease among the Somali population." ...


Whattaya expect? Piracy on the open sea is so much more photogenic!

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Sun, Apr 19, 2009
from Baltimore Sun:
Bay survey shows blue crabs rebounding
The number of blue crabs in the Chesapeake Bay has increased significantly over the past year, Maryland and Virginia officials announced Friday, saying that harvest limits designed to combat steep declines in the population appear to be working. Results of the 2008-2009 winter dredge survey show that the number of female crabs in the bay doubled in the past year. Catch restrictions were aimed at preserving females so they could survive to produce the next generation. Overall, the number of crabs in the bay increased from 280 million in 2007-2008 to more than 418 million in 2008-2009, officials estimate, a rapid and surprising rebound. The survey showed that the number of baby crabs held steady at 175 million. ...


Good they're rebounding -- now if they could only hit their jumpshots.

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Wed, Apr 1, 2009
from Vancouver Sun:
Not your ordinary fish story
"Fish are essential to human life in all kinds of ways, but we're losing them at such a rate that they'll never recover. I used to go fishing with my dad all the time and sit in a rowboat and catch cutthroat trout, we'd jig for halibut, and we could drop a line anywhere at the mouth of the Fraser and catch sturgeon," he says.... The worst-case scenario approaches science-fiction, he says, because as commercial over-fishing and climate change begin to change ecosystems, the quality of the oceans begins to change as well. Acidity levels are rising and carbon dioxide levels are at the point of maximum saturation. If we continue on the same track, Suzuki says within 50 years waterfront homes will be as desirable as a yurt on a garbage dump as the water becomes slick, acidic, stinky and laden with jellyfish. ...


And what's so wrong with a yurt?

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Sun, Mar 29, 2009
from San Francisco Chronicle:
Fish tales, sad ones, from S.F. fishermen
But the runs of salmon back to the rivers to spawn went into a sharp decline, and last year, for the first time in 150 years, the state banned fishing for salmon. Seven years ago, 800,000 salmon returned to the Sacramento River to spawn, part of a mysterious ancient cycle; in 2007, only 68,000 were counted. Dams and water diversions were blamed, overfishing, warming waters in the ocean, mismanagement of the fishery. Whatever the reasons, it is almost certain the salmon season will be closed again this year.... "What we have is two lost salmon seasons in a row, plus the worst crab season in 40 years," said Pete Kellogg, who is 47 and has been fishing out of San Francisco for 30 years. "The first day of crab season was a disaster," said Don Ashwin. "And then it got worse." ...


We need to retrain these fishermen for something practical, like credit default swaps and derivative hedging.

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Fri, Mar 27, 2009
from Amandala (Belize):
Cherishing Belize's fisheries
Officials of the Environmental Defense Fund, a US-based NGO with an international network, hosted a presentation and discussion Wednesday morning at the training room of the Coastal Zone Management Authority's office in Belize City to talk about a program they are implementing in Belize. The program involves a concept known as “catch shares,” which the group describes as an incentive-based management of fisheries.... Sustainable management of fisheries works better if the interests of government and fishermen are aligned towards sustainability for both parties, Bonzon said.... She demonstrated (using a PowerPoint presentation) that when catch shares are implemented (1) over-fishing stops, (2) wastage or the taking of unnecessary by-catch declines, and (3) revenues to fishermen increase remarkably by as much as 170 percent in the fifth year of implementation. ...


This cooperation smacks of socialism. How is it possible that everyone benefits?

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Mon, Mar 23, 2009
from National Academy of Sciences, 2008:
Brave New Ocean
Finally, Jennings and Blanchard (2004) used the theoretical abundance-body mass relationship derived from macroecological theory to estimate the pristine biomass of fishes in the North Sea in comparison with the size and trophic structure of heavily exploited populations in 2001. The estimated total biomass of all fishes 64 g to 64 kg declined 38 percent while the mean turnover time of the population was estimated to have dropped from 3.5 to 1.9 years. Large fishes 4-16 kg were estimated to have declined by 97.4 percent, and species 16-66 kg were estimated to have declined by 99.2 percent. The great importance of these calculations is that they are entirely independent of all of the assumptions and controversies surrounding fisheries catch data and models, and yet lead to predictions entirely consistent with the most extreme estimates of fishery declines. ...


You mean theory is matching reality?
Again?

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Thu, Mar 19, 2009
from New Scientist:
Fish numbers drop as reefs take a bashing
The battering taken by Caribbean coral reefs is finally taking its toll on the fish that dwell in them, a large new study suggests. "We are seeing striking declines that are amazingly consistent across a huge area and very different types of fish," says Michelle Paddack of Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, Canada. "The losses affect both large fish that are hunted by fishers and small fish that aren't."... Starting from the mid 1990s, in all regions covered by the studies, fish numbers have fallen by between 2.7 and 6 percent per year. Paddack suspects that as well as overfishing, coral demise from disease and bleaching is to blame, together with pollution from coastal development. ...


I say we just hoover them all up and start over. Let evolution sort 'em out.

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Tue, Mar 17, 2009
from Globe and Mail (Canada):
Give up seafood, save the planet?
Although negative views about fish consumption are almost never expressed, a group of medical and fisheries experts is making an argument against eating the seafood in the Canadian Medical Association Journal. In an analysis being released Tuesday, they say that the purported benefits of fish for such things as cardiovascular health have been overstated, while the growing demand among health aficionados for the food is destroying global fish stocks.... "The demand for fish is higher than what oceans can supply," said Rashid Sumaila, acting director of the University of British Columbia's Fisheries Centre, who predicted that many of the world's most important fisheries are going the way of Newfoundland's exhausted cod stocks. ...


But I love sea bass!

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Tue, Mar 10, 2009
from CBC News (Canada):
Low salmon run expected on Yukon River again this year
"There was no commercial fishery, no domestic fishery, no sport fishery either. And we had a voluntary reduction in the First Nations fishery as well," Frank Quinn, the department's area manager for the Yukon, said Monday. Early-season projections are calling for another poor salmon run this year. Quinn said he expects fishing restrictions will be as tough as they were last year, if not tougher. Quinn said contractors have been hired to speak to people in villages on the Alaska side of the Yukon River, to "let them know that there will be serious conservation measures needed to be taken this year and to allow them to prepare for that." ...


Who's the Saint of Fishes and how do I pray to him?

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Mon, Mar 2, 2009
from The Canadian Press:
Large fish going hungry as supplies of smaller species dwindle: report
HALIFAX, N.S. -- Dolphins, sharks and other large marine species around the world are going hungry as they seek out dwindling supplies of the small, overlooked species they feed on, according to a new study that says overfishing is draining their food sources. In a report released Monday, scientists with the international conservation group Oceana said they found several species were emaciated, reproducing slowly and declining in numbers in part because their food sources are being fished out. "This is the first time that we're seeing a worldwide trend that more and more large animals are going hungry," Margot Stiles, a marine biologist at Oceana and the author of the report, said from Washington, D.C. "It's definitely starting to be a pattern." ...


And humans can be so good at reproducing patterns.

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Sun, Mar 1, 2009
from Tribune Democrat (PA):
Pollution pinches Chesapeake crabs
The blue crab population is at an all-time low, and two factors are to blame: Pollution and overfishing. There are six sub-basins of the 444-mile Susquehanna that feed the bay. Acid-mine drainage is blamed for pollution from this region, while farm runoff is the main culprit to the east. There is less crab food, less crab habitat and too much catching of fish the crabs feed on. In 2007, watermen suffered the worst crab harvest since Chesapeake Bay recordkeeping began in 1945. Last year was even worse in Virginia, and only slightly better in Maryland, causing more than $640 million in losses, reports show. ...


Even with all that armor, they're still going the way of the trilobite.

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Fri, Feb 20, 2009
from SciDev.net:
World's fisheries face climate change threat
Researchers examined the fisheries of 132 nations to determine which were the most vulnerable, based on the potential environmental impact of climate change, how dependent their economy and diet were on fisheries, and the capacity of the country to adapt. Climate change can affect the temperature of inland lakes, the health of reefs and how nutrients circulate in the oceans, the researchers say. They identified 33 countries as "highly vulnerable" to the effects of global warming on fisheries. These countries produce 20 per cent of the world's fish exports and 22 are already classified by the UN as "least developed". Inhabitants of vulnerable countries are also more dependent on fish for protein -- 27 per cent of dietary protein is gained from fish, compared with 13 per cent in other countries. Two-thirds of the most vulnerable nations identified are in tropical Africa. ...


Surely Nature operates on the same supply/demand laws that the economy does: it'll just produce more fisheries. Because poor people demand it.

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Thu, Feb 19, 2009
from Desdemona Despair:
Dramatic decline in size of trophy fish
Archival photographs spanning more than five decades reveal a drastic decline of so-called "trophy fish" caught around coral reefs surrounding Key West, Florida.... large predatory fish have declined in weight by 88 percent in modern photos compared to black-and-white shots from the 1950s. The average length of sharks declined by more than 50 percent in 50 years, the photographs revealed. The study mirrors others that reveal stark changes to animal sizes caused by hunting or fishing, in which the largest of a species are often sought as trophy specimens. ...


So those old fishermen holding their arms out wide weren't telling fish tales?

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Tue, Feb 17, 2009
from New Era (Namibia):
Overfishing Threatens Global Shrimp Industry - FAO
WINDHOEK -- Reducing fishing capacity and limiting access to shrimp fisheries are likely to mitigate over-fishing, by-catch and seabed destruction, which the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations said are some of the major economic and environmental side effects of shrimp fishing.... [S]hrimp fishing is also associated with over-fishing, the capture of juveniles of ecologically important and economically valuable species, coastal habitat degradation, illegal trawling, and the destruction of sea-grass beds.... Estimates are that shrimp trawl fishing, particularly in tropical regions, produces large amounts -- if not the greatest amount -- of discards, or 27.3 percent (1.86 million tonnes) of discards. The environmental impact of trawling -- and including shrimp trawling -- has been likened to forest clear-cutting and accused of being the world's most wasteful fishing practice. ...


Shift to prawns, ASAP!
Oh... wait...

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Sun, Feb 15, 2009
from Stanford University, via EurekAlert:
When fish farms are built along the coast, where does the waste go?
All those fish penned up together consume massive amounts of commercial feed, some of which drifts off uneaten in the currents. And the crowded fish, naturally, defecate and urinate by the tens of thousands, creating yet another unpleasant waste stream. The wastes can carry disease, causing damage directly. Or the phosphate and nitrates in the mix may feed an algae bloom that sucks the oxygen from the water, leaving it uninhabitable, a phenomenon long associated with fertilizer runoff. It has been widely assumed that the effluent from pens would be benignly diluted by the sea if the pens were kept a reasonable distance from shore, said Jeffrey Koseff, a professor of civil and environmental engineering and co-director of Stanford's Woods Institute for the Environment. But early results from a new Stanford computer simulation based on sophisticated fluid dynamics show that the icky stuff from the pens will travel farther, and in higher concentrations, than had been generally assumed, Koseff said. ...


"It has been widely assumed" that such assumptions are asstupid.

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Sun, Feb 15, 2009
from Desdemona Despair:
Greenland fishing villages abandoned as fish are driven to colder water
Coastal fishing villages such as Ikateq used to be home to families who relied on regular catches of Arctic char, a fish closely related to salmon. But warmer ocean temperatures in recent years have forced the char to migrate north to cooler waters, ending a way of life. Traditional villages are now ghost towns, with dogsleds and fish-drying racks lying unused outside abandoned houses. With no way to support themselves, villagers have been forced to move to urban centres the largest city and capital, Nuuk, has a population of about 15,000. Ms Smirk says most of the displaced have no other way to earn a living and rely on social welfare. ...


The folks in Newfoundland learned these lessons after the Atlantic Cod were wiped out by overfishing, twenty years ago. Do we need a Northern Union of Concerned Humans, or something?

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Fri, Feb 13, 2009
from BBC:
Bleak forecast on fishery stocks
The world's fish stocks will soon suffer major upheaval due to climate change, scientists have warned. Changing ocean temperatures and currents will force thousands of species to migrate polewards, including cod, herring, plaice and prawns. By 2050, US fishermen may see a 50 percent reduction in Atlantic cod populations.... "The impact of climate change on marine biodiversity and fisheries is going to be huge," said lead author Dr William Cheung, of the University of East Anglia in the UK. "We must act now to adapt our fisheries management and conservation policies to minimise harm to marine life and to our society." ...


The fish have ... gone fishin'...

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Fri, Feb 6, 2009
from CBC News (Canada):
World's fish at risk as countries flout fishing code, study finds
The time has come for responsible fishing guidelines to be enforced as law internationally because the voluntary code of conduct currently in place has failed to save the world's fish from being depleted, fisheries researchers say. A recent study found "dismayingly poor compliance" among countries around the world with the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries developed by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations in 1995, said a commentary published this week in Nature.... "Overall, compliance is poor, with room for improvement at every level in the rankings," the commentary said, adding that even top-ranking countries such as Canada were given "fail" grades for certain practices and none achieved a "good" ranking. Only Norway, the U.S., Canada, Australia, Iceland and Namibia received overall compliance scores of 60 per cent, and 28 countries that haul in 40 per cent of the global catch had "unequivocal fail grades overall," the study said.... It added that while it may have been necessary 13 years ago to make the agreement voluntary, there is more widespread agreement now that continued overfishing is hurting ecosystems and threatening food supplies, and something needs to be done. ...


"Something needs to be done" indeed. Can we just fund Greenpeace to the max and let it be the watchdog?

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Mon, Feb 2, 2009
from Telegraph.co.uk:
North Sea sees recovery of cod stocks
New figures from the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (Ices) show that the number of adult fish in the North Sea is expected to increase by 42 per cent this year, the largest rise in almost 30 years. Significantly, the quantity of fish capable of reproducing is this year expected to exceed 70,000 tons -- the number set by scientists to mark the lowest level possible to ensure the species' long term survival. It is the first time in a decade that the stock has risen above this milestone. The recovery is likely to lead to further calls from British fishermen to increase the quota of cod they are permitted to catch. ...


Ok, so good, the cod may be beginning to recover. Don't you dare overfish them to extinction!

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Tue, Jan 27, 2009
from AP News:
Tougher rules to end overfishing in US waters
NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- Ocean conservationists are hailing former President Bush for passing tough rules to end the overfishing of 40 struggling marine species before he left the White House. The rules were issued on Jan. 15 by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which oversees U.S. oceans policy. Passage of the rules garnered little attention as President Barack Obama prepared to take power. Under the new rules, the nation's eight regional fishery management councils will be forced to draw up measures to end overfishing by 2010. In most instances, this would involve putting caps on how many fish can be caught each year. Fishery managers will need to establish catch limits and goals for each overfished stock. The rules provide for "strong accountability measures" to enforce catch limits, NOAA said. ...


I never thought I'd see conservationists "hailing" W with anything but stones.

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Wed, Jan 21, 2009
from New York Times:
Growing Taste for Reef Fish Sends Their Numbers Sinking
KOTA KINABALU, Malaysia -- ... The fierce appetite for live reef fish across Southeast Asia — and increasingly in mainland China — is devastating populations in the Coral Triangle, a protected marine region home to the world’s richest ocean diversity, according to a recent report in the scientific journal Conservation Biology. Spawning of reef fish in this area, which supports 75 percent of all known coral species in the world, has declined 79 percent over the past 5 to 20 years, depending on location, according to the report.... She added, "From a very practical perspective, loss of the aggregations ultimately means loss of the associated fishery, so it makes good practical sense to change our attitude." ...


The money to be made only increases as the reef fish rarity increases. This is the "invisible hand" of the free market throttling Mother Nature.

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Thu, Jan 15, 2009
from AFP:
Indonesia to allow trawling despite overfishing fears
Indonesia will allow trawling in selected areas for the first time in 30 years despite concerns about overfishing, an official said Thursday. Trawling, in which boats tow long nets that scoop up everything in their path, would be permitted this year off four areas of Borneo island's east Kalimantan province, maritime ministry official Bambang Sutejo said. He dismissed concerns about overfishing but acknowledged that illegal trawling was already rampant in the area. "There will not be overfishing this time as we're only allowing small boats to trawl, and it's not allowed in other parts of Indonesia," he said, adding that legalising trawling would help fight illegal trawlers. ...


Yeah -- let's burn that ecosystem to save it.

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Wed, Jan 14, 2009
from Glouster Daily Times:
NOAA: Six nations illegally caught bluefin
The federal government yesterday identified six foreign countries it said engaged in illegal fishing during the last two years, including the illicit harvesting of valuable and endangered stocks of Atlantic bluefin tuna. The six nations named in a report by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration -- France, Italy, Libya, Panama, China and Tunisia -- were the first the United States has ever specifically identified as violators of international fishing regulations. The six nations now face potential trade sanctions from the United States, including a possible ban on the sale of their seafood in this country.... The majority of violations identified in the NOAA report involved illegal or unregulated catches of bluefin tuna, a fish prized for its use as sushi and which has been severely depleted because of its popularity. ...


France!? Time for "freedom sushi."

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Fri, Jan 9, 2009
from Cheboygan News:
Biologist on the case of dipping smelt population
For years now, the spring smelt runs have been shadows of their former selves. Gone are the days when rivers and streams would run black, teaming with billions of migrating smelt. With only a few dips of the net, garbage cans could be filled with the tasty, bite-sized fish. Runs like those haven't been experienced in years.... From predatory demand to the introduction of zebra and quagga muscles to climate change, each theory has merit but needs some explaining.... "Based on my field observations, I can say this situation will not change any time soon," said Schaeffer. "We recorded very few smelt and the ones we did get were very small, too small for anglers to keep." ...


Based on our field observations, many situations will not change any time soon.

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Fri, Jan 2, 2009
from The Economist:
Troubled waters -- the ocean collapse
The evidence abounds. The fish that once seemed an inexhaustible source of food are now almost everywhere in decline: 90 percent of large predatory fish (the big ones such as tuna, swordfish and sharks) have gone, according to some scientists. In estuaries and coastal waters, 85 percent of the large whales have disappeared, and nearly 60 percent of the small ones. Many of the smaller fish are also in decline. Indeed, most familiar sea creatures, from albatrosses to walruses, from seals to oysters, have suffered huge losses. All this has happened fairly recently. Cod have been caught off Nova Scotia for centuries, but their systematic slaughter began only after 1852; in terms of their biomass (the aggregate mass of the species), they are now 96 percent depleted. The killing of turtles in the Caribbean (99 percent down) started in the 1700s. The hunting of sharks in the Gulf of Mexico (45-99 percent, depending on the variety) got going only in the 1950s. ...


You mean the ocean is a finite resource? Why didn't anyone tell me?

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Wed, Dec 31, 2008
from The Economist:
A sea of troubles -- an ocean wrapup
The worries begin at the surface, where an atmosphere newly laden with man-made carbon dioxide interacts with the briny. The sea has thus become more acidic, making life difficult, if not impossible, for marine organisms with calcium-carbonate shells or skeletons. These are not all as familiar as shrimps and lobsters, yet species like krill, tiny shrimp-like creatures, play a crucial part in the food chain: kill them off, and you may kill off their predators, whose predators may be the ones you enjoy served fried, grilled or with sauce tartare. Worse, you may destabilise an entire ecosystem.... And then there are the red tides of algal blooms, the plagues of jellyfish and the dead zones where only simple organisms thrive. All of these are increasing in intensity, frequency and extent. All of these, too, seem to be associated with various stresses man inflicts on marine ecosystems: overfishing, global warming, fertilisers running from land into rivers and estuaries, often the whole lot in concatenation. ...


Concatenation, concentration, feedback loops, the underwater stripmining of biomass.... Lucky we can't see it, or we'd be adding our tears to the salt in the sea!

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Mon, Dec 15, 2008
from Telegraph.co.uk:
Jellyfish on the menu as edible fish stocks become extinct
Fish stocks around Britain have been reduced to 10 per cent of what they were 100 years ago due to overfishing. Common skate and angel fish are already extinct while favourites like cod are in danger of being wiped out.... However scientists have said that unless the system is completely overhauled fish stocks will continue to deplete to the point of extinction by 2048, leaving consumers little option but to eat jellyfish or the small bony species left behind at the bottom of the ocean. ...


Deep-fried, those jellyfish are a little tough. If only the phytoplankton sauce wasn't so bitter!

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Mon, Dec 15, 2008
from Innovations Report (Germany):
Climate change: a dark future for migratory fish
In Europe, most migratory fish species completing their cycle between the sea and the river are currently in danger.... This study has shown that for most species the situation will deteriorate. For example, the smelt and the Arctic char will lose approximately 90 percent of the watersheds that are favourable for reduced or null gains. Only two species, the thinlipped mullet and the twaite shad, will be able to expand their territory towards the north, beyond their initial distribution area. Finally, in accordance with the predictions, the southern watersheds risk losing most of their species. ...


Maybe if you'd just stop moving around so much you'd have a chance to build a family.

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Sat, Dec 13, 2008
from NSF, via EurekAlert:
New online report on massive jellyfish swarms released
Massive swarms of stinging jellyfish and jellyfish-like animals are transforming many world-class fisheries and tourist destinations into veritable jellytoriums that are intermittently jammed with pulsating, gelatinous creatures. Areas that are currently particularly hard-hit by these squishy animals include Hawaii, the Gulf of Mexico, the east coast of the U.S., the Bering Sea, the Mediterranean Sea, Australia, the Black Sea and other European seas, the Sea of Japan, the North Sea and Namibia.... From large swarms of potentially deadly, peanut-sized jellyfish in Australia to swarms of hundreds of millions of refrigerator-sized jellyfish in the Sea of Japan, suspicion is growing that population explosions of jellyfish are being generated by human activities. ...


Refrigerator-sized jellyfish in the hundreds of millions? Is it possible they are now predator-free?

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Fri, Dec 12, 2008
from WWF:
Another fisheries commission throws the science overboard
The Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) today over-rode the advice of its science committee and rejected the recommendations of its chair in choosing only minor reductions in catch for bigeye and yellowfin tuna and watering down or deferring most measures for achieving reduced catches.... Measures adopted by the WCPFC will see a catch reduction of less than seven per cent for 2009 on WWF estimations, well down on a recommendation of a 30 percent cut which it was conceded would still not have eliminated overfishing. Among the discarded, delayed or reduced measures were high seas fishing closures, restrictions on gear types, and important initiatives to better record and verify catches and crack down on rampant illegal fishing. ...


Why use predictive information when business interests are involved?

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Wed, Dec 10, 2008
from Telegraph.co.uk:
Fisherman land 30 per cent increase in North Sea cod quotas
Scottish fishermen have won a 30 per cent increase in the amount of cod they are allowed to land next year in return for signing up to tough new regulations.... Previously any fish under a certain size had to be discarded in a bid to preserve stocks, but under the new deal it will be prohibited to throw back any fish that is "marketable". Bertie Armstrong, chief executive of the Scottish Fishermen's Federation, warned the new regulations could be burdensome, depending on the small print. ...


Talk to the Nova Scotians and Newfoundlanders about their former cod, you freakin' idiots -- and here's some small print for you: YOU'RE FISHING UNSUSTAINABLY!

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Mon, Dec 8, 2008
from Science Daily (US):
California's Deep Sea Secrets: New Species Found, Human Impact Revealed
Scientists from Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego returning from research expeditions in Mexico have captured unprecedented details of vibrant sea life and ecosystems in the Gulf of California, including documentations of new species and marine animals previously never seen alive. Yet the expeditions, which included surveys at unexplored depths, have revealed disturbing declines in sea-life populations and evidence that human impacts have stretched down deeply in the gulf.... Large schools of fish documented in earlier expeditions at locations such as El Bajo seamount have vanished.... "We have lots of evidence of ghost nets with trapped animals at many depths, along with pollution, including beer cans, in each deep location we studied." ...


Ghost nets drink beer and pollution?

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Mon, Dec 8, 2008
from Telegraph.co.uk:
Ban fishing in third of UK seas, says Marine Conservation Society
For the past few decades fish stocks in the oceans around Britain have been depleting due to overfishing, causing a knock-on effect to other species. Once-common species are now facing extinction, including the common skate, angel shark, sturgeon and leatherback turtle which are all critically endangered. In order to protect the wildlife that is left, the Marine Conservation Society (MCS) want a third of UK waters to be designated as "no-take" nature reserves by 2020 as part of the Marine Bill currently going through Parliament.... In addition to the 30 per cent of the seas that should be protected as broad habitats, specialist areas such as sea grass beds and reefs should be safeguarded, he added. ...


Now we're talkin' -- a fish-free ocean just does not appeal to me.

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Thu, Dec 4, 2008
from Underwater Times:
Study: One-third Of World's Fish Catches Are Being Wasted As Animal Feed; 'It Defies Reason'
An alarming new study to be published in November in the Annual Review of Environment and Resources finds that one-third of the world's marine fish catches are ground up and fed to farm-raised fish, pigs, and poultry, squandering a precious food resource for humans and disregarding the serious overfishing crisis in our oceans.... "We need to stop using so many small ocean fish to feed farmed fish and other animals," Alder said. "These small, tasty fish could instead feed people. Society should demand that we stop wasting these fish on farmed fish, pigs, and poultry." Although feeds derived from soy and other land-based crops are available and are used, fishmeal and fish oil have skyrocketed in popularity because forage fish are easy to catch in large numbers, and hence, relatively inexpensive. ...


We're taking all the "forage fish" away from the foragers -- we may see a "forage riot" from the large marine animals before long.

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Sat, Nov 29, 2008
from NPR:
Bluefin Tuna On Edge Of Collapse, Scientists Say
Many of the world's fish are heading toward commercial extinction. The next one to go could be the majestic Atlantic bluefin tuna. This week, an international committee meant to protect the species approved fishing levels that far exceed what scientists say is sustainable. Conservationists fear that in just a few years, the remaining stocks of bluefin tuna in the Western Atlantic and Mediterranean could collapse completely. ...


The spokestuna for the bluefin is heart-breakingly eloquent. Listen in!

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Sat, Nov 15, 2008
from Toronto Sun:
Got a spare Earth anywhere?
If the world continues to pillage and plunder Earth's natural resources at the rate we are now, by 2030 we will need two planets to support us. If everyone on Earth consumed the equivalent resources of Canadians, it would take three Earths to meet the demand. Since the late 1980s, we have been in overshoot -- meaning our ecological footprint has exceeded Earth's biocapacity to sustain our rate of consumption -- by about 30 percent.... Deforestation and land conversions in the tropics, dams, diversions, climate change, pollution and over-fishing are killing species off, the reverberations of which are felt along the food chain. ...


I don't think NASA is ready to terraform Mars just yet.

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Thu, Nov 13, 2008
from The Economist:
The population of bluefin tuna is crashing
Yet Raul Romeva, a green MEP from Spain, says this summary is a "sanitised" version. He believes the full report has been suppressed by the commission at the request of national governments because its contents are so embarrassing. The full report is said to contain details about the scale of infringements, including which countries are responsible. One-third of inspections, says Mr Romeva, led to an apparent infringement, such as inadequate catch documentation. The commission, he says, is covering this up. ...


That pink in the sushi? That's from embarrassment.

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Mon, Nov 10, 2008
from Guardian (UK):
European fishing fleets may have catches cut by one-quarter
European fishing fleets could see their catches cut by up to a quarter next year if EU ministers sign up to recommendations aiming to protect overfished species such as cod and haddock. The European Commission today proposed deep cuts in 2009 catches for almost 30 species and a ban on fishing for several others across the northeastern Atlantic.... "I know this will be hard on the fleets affected," he said. "But there is no other choice if we want to restore the ecological basis for a truly viable European fishing industry," he added. ...


Cut catches now, or we'll be having phytoplankton-'n'-chips later.

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Sat, Nov 8, 2008
from Census of Marine Life via ScienceDaily:
Overfishing Threatens European Bluefin Tuna
Bluefin tuna disappeared from Danish waters in the 1960s. Now the species could become depleted throughout the northeast Atlantic and Mediterranean, according to analyses by the Technical University of Denmark (DTU Aqua) and University of New Hampshire. The species is highly valued as sushi. ...


If I can't get my sushi, I'll sue!

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Tue, Nov 4, 2008
from Bay Journal:
NOAA takes stock of assessment scientists and comes up short
Now, it turns out that there's a shortage of scientists to tell us that there's a shortage of fish. A new federal report warns that the nation is facing a critical shortage of stock assessment scientists, the specialists who crunch numbers from various surveys to estimate the abundance of various fish populations.... Miller noted that many important species that live entirely in the Chesapeake have never had stock assessments, including such species as oysters, soft clams, razer clams, horseshoe crabs, catfish and white perch, "All would be eminently suitable candidates for an assessment, but there simply are not the staff around to do it," he said. ...


That's the law of supply and demand. Unless we demand it, they won't be supplied.

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Sun, Nov 2, 2008
from Conservation International, via EurekAlert:
Eastern Pacific tuna hang in the balance
Whether this 16-nation Commission will act to protect declining tuna stocks, or once again demonstrate their impotence to do so, remains to be seen. The fate of Pacific tuna stocks hangs in the balance. Tuna populations are showing signs of trouble in the eastern tropical Pacific. Bigeye tuna populations are falling to low levels, the average size of captured yellowfin tuna is in decline and high levels of very small juvenile tuna are being caught accidentally. The Commission's own scientific staff have issued repeated warnings about these signs and urged nations to collectively adopt measures that include establishment of closure periods for overall stock recoveries, special closure areas where fish are most reproductively active and limits on annual catches. Despite five attempts in two years, the Commission has yet to agree on a single measure to address overfishing. ...


If only there was a Viagra for Commissions like this.

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Tue, Oct 28, 2008
from Reuters:
Europe cracks down on fishing for deep-sea species
Europe's exotic deepwater fish, some of which can live up to 150 years, won more protection from the European Union on Monday as fisheries ministers agreed to hefty quota cuts for the next two years. Bearing names like forkbeard, black scabbardfish, greater silver smelt and roundnose grenadier, Europe's deep-sea fish grow and reproduce far more slowly than fish in shallower waters and are far more vulnerable to overfishing.... With the depletion of mainstay commercial fish such as cod and hake in recent years, they have become an attractive catch as trawlers switch from their regular fishing grounds. ...


We've got to get something to make fishmeal with. Otherwise what'll we feed those cows?

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Mon, Oct 27, 2008
from All About Feed:
Most fish goes into animal feed
A nine-year study by the University of British Columbia has found that 90 percent of small fish caught in the world's oceans every year such as anchovies, sardines and mackerel are processed to make fishmeal and fish oil. Factory-farmed fish, pigs and poultry are consuming 28 million tonnes of fish a year, or roughly six times the amount of seafood eaten by Americans, according to the study.... The institute's executive director, Dr Ellen Pikitch, said: "It defies reason to drain the ocean of small, wild fishes that could be directly consumed by people in order to produce a lesser quantity of farmed fish." ...


We're denuding the ocean to slop our hogs?

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Thu, Oct 23, 2008
from findingDulcinea:
Dead Humboldt Squid Wash Up on Oregon, Washington Beaches
The Oregonian reports that beaches along Oregon's northern coast have seen an influx of dead Humboldt squid washing ashore over the past few days. The squid are typically about 3 1/2 feet long, and thrive in the warmer waters of Southern California and Mexico. However, these squid swam north in search of food.... "The fact this is happening in both hemispheres could be a sign it is tied in with global warming," but noted that pieces of the puzzle were still missing. There are possible explanations other than global warming. Some biologists suggest that overfishing of the squid's "natural predators, including tuna, sharks and swordfish" has allowed Humboldt squid to swim further. ...


There are so many tentacles to this problem.

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Wed, Oct 15, 2008
from Daily Press:
Still no answers: A new study doesn't tell us what to do about oysters and the bay
The study's failure to endorse the Asian oyster is bound to disappoint those who think it's the salvation of an industry that has been devastated right along with the creature it depends on. Once so abundant that heaps of oysters broke the surface of local waters, the native oyster has become rare indeed, due to disease, poor water quality and over-fishing. ...


No pearls of wisdom from the scientists.

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Tue, Oct 14, 2008
from Guardian (UK):
Bleak warning that UK fish face extinction
A hidden catastrophe is unfolding off the coasts of Britain which could leave our seas filled with only algae and jellyfish, a leading conservation organisation warns today. The Marine Conservation Society says severe overfishing is the biggest environmental threat facing Britain and is having a profound effect on marine ecosystems. The warning comes in Silent Seas, a report released as the government prepares its marine bill for parliament.... Simon Brockington, head of conservation at the MCS, said: "There's a moral imperative: we simply shouldn't be living in such a way that drives species to extinction." ...


Not only other species, Simon: ourselves, too.

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Thu, Oct 9, 2008
from Bloomberg News:
World Fisheries Waste $50 Billion as Stocks Decline, UN Says
The damage to fish stocks through over-fishing has resulted in larger fleets chasing fewer resources, the report said. The waste amounts to 63 percent of the $80 billion worth of fish caught each year, the UN said in a summary of the report. Scientists say the world's fisheries may collapse by 2048 if catch levels are maintained. Government subsidies have reduced incentives for change, the UN-World Bank report said. Reducing fleet capacity would increase profitability and allow fish stocks to recover, increasing yields, the report said. ...


We're killing the ocean in order to harvest it.

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Wed, Oct 8, 2008
from Fiji Times:
Pacific fishing collapse predicted
The collapse of commercial fishing in the Pacific has been predicted within five years by Greenpeace. The comment accompanies the close of the fourth meeting of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commissions Technical and Compliance Committee, reports Radio New Zealand. Greenpeaces Pacific Oceans campaigner, Lagi Toribau said big fishing companies are depleting the fisheries there in the same way as they have others. Toribau said the commission, which was set up four years ago, has failed to address the extent of pirate fishing. ...


Time to devise krill nets.

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Sat, Oct 4, 2008
from Science Daily (US):
Atlantic Wolffish: Fearsome Fish That Deserve Protection?
... seeking endangered species protection for the Atlantic wolffish, a fish threatened with extinction due to years of overharvesting and habitat loss due to modern fishing gear. If the petition is successful, this will be the first listing of a marine fish as an endangered in New England.... According to federal statistics, the number of wolffish landed by commercial fishermen has dropped 95 percent from over 1,200 metric tons in 1983 to just 64.7 metric tons in 2007. More critically, wolffish have virtually disappeared from the annual scientific research trawls that take place twice a year in the state and federal waters of the Atlantic Ocean off the New England coast. In addition to fishing, habitat alterations are also suspected as a major threat to the wolffish. One scientist has estimated that virtually every inch of the seafloor in New England's ocean waters was impacted by commercial trawling (in which football field-sized nets are dragged through the ocean) between 1984 and 1990. ...


aaaooooOOOOOOOOO!

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Fri, Oct 3, 2008
from Texas A&M, via EurekAlert:
Atlantic tuna return thousands of miles to birthplace to spawn
New research findings reported in Science have critical implications for how bluefin tuna are managed on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean.... Despite the high level of mixing, the team also observed that over 95 percent of adult bluefin tuna returned to their place of origin in either the Gulf of Mexico or Mediterranean Sea to spawn.... "Rates of homing reported here are extremely high and comparable to Pacific salmon, which are known to return to the streams in which they were initially spawned, with very high frequency," according to co-author Barbara Block from Stanford University. ...


Hey! That's my breeding stock you're overfishing!

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Thu, Sep 25, 2008
from AFP:
Greenland economy shudders as shrimp stocks shrink
Dwindling shrimp stocks off Greenland's coast have local fishermen and authorities fretting that one of the island's main sources of income, known here as "pink gold", could soon vanish.... "We really don't know why the shrimps are becoming rarer," Siegstad said, venturing however to speculate that "it could be due to a combination of global warming and the fact that predators like ... cod are moving back into Greenland waters.... There is not enough cod to [explain] the possible losses from shrimp, and there will not be for five to 10 years," she said. "And if we aren't careful, if we do not give it time to build up its stocks, we will make the cod disappear," she said, blasting a government decision to set an annual catch quota of 15,000 tonnes of cod instead of banning all fishing of the species. ...


Dumbheads -- you want the cod to return and prosper, to a sustainable level. You won't be able to make up the economic loss through seaside Sandals franchises for at least a decade.

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Tue, Sep 23, 2008
from SeaWeb via ScienceDaily:
Solution To Global Fisheries Collapse? 'Catch Shares' Could Rescue Failing Fisheries, Protect The Ocean
A study published in the September 19 issue of Science shows that an innovative yet contentious fisheries management strategy called "catch shares" can reverse fisheries collapse. Where traditional "open access" fisheries have converted to catch shares, both fishermen and the oceans have benefited... The results of the study are striking: while nearly a third of open-access fisheries have collapsed, the number is only half that for fisheries managed under catch share systems. Furthermore, the authors show that catch shares reverse the overall downward trajectory for fisheries worldwide, and that this beneficial effect strengthens over time. ...


The fish consider it a kindler, gentler approach to killing them.

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Sat, Sep 20, 2008
from Dutch Harbor Fishermen:
'Fish, baby, fish' isn’t responsible management
As it had happened with perch, the catch of pollock rose gradually through 1980 when a large spawning aggregation was discovered in the waters off of Kodiak Island. Over the next five years the spawning aggregation was heavily exploited and the fishery peaked and collapsed. Trites states that the same picture can be painted for fisheries in the Bering Sea. Yellowfin sole catches rose from 1954 to 1961 until the stock declined due to overfishing. As the yellowfin sole declined, the fishery moved to pollock. ...


Too bad we can't see what we're destroying in the ocean. Wait... we can see what we're doing elsewhere. Hasn't helped much, has it?

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Thu, Sep 18, 2008
from Daily Express (Malaysia):
The clams are nearly gone
Giant clams in Sabah waters have been severely depleted due to overfishing, Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS) Borneo Marine Research Institute Director Professor Dr Saleem Mustafa said. He said these unique clams were being harvested for their adductor muscle considered a delicacy and massive shells which are used for making handicrafts.... "Giant clams are essentially coral reef animals, and since corals are bleaching as a result of destructive fishing practices and climate change, the effect is evidently brought to bear on the giant clams." ...


This clam is an open-and-shut case.

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Sun, Sep 14, 2008
from Global Public Media:
Seriously: emptying the ocean
Daniel Pauly, director of the UB Fisheries Centre, interview transcript, from 2003: "Generally it takes about 10-15 years from the discovery of a fish population of large fish, for it to be reduced by a factor of 10 and less to a smaller amount."... "[T]hat's why most species of fish have collapsed to less than one or two or three percent of the original biomass in the 50's." ... "So overfishing, in a sense, is subsidized by these enormous prices." ... "If you look at the modern fishing vessel, you will find a level of technical sophistication on deck and its mind boggling. It's like an airplane. It has eco-sound... that tells you where every fish is, where you are, how the grounds look like, extremely detailed.... So if you deploy this technology to catch fish, the fish lose. They invariably lose." ...


There is nothing funny to say about this. Nothing.

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Wed, Sep 10, 2008
from Associated Press:
Freshwater fish in N. America in peril, study says
About four out of 10 freshwater fish species in North America are in peril, according to a major study by U.S., Canadian and Mexican scientists. And the number of subspecies of fish populations in trouble has nearly doubled since 1989, the new report says. One biologist called it "silent extinctions" because few people notice the dramatic dwindling of certain populations deep in American lakes, rivers and streams. ...


In the water
no one can hear you scream.

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Wed, Sep 10, 2008
from Telegraph.co.uk:
Over-fishing, not climate change, is greatest danger to world's oceans
He said: "Across the 21 different ecosystems we have looked at, direct human actions have long been exceeding -- and will long continue to exceed -- the effects of climate change in almost every case. "That is not to say that climate change isn't happening or is unimportant. "Coral reefs are threatened by oceanic warming and the release of carbon frozen and buried in wetlands has major implications for the Earth. "But the demise of fish stocks through fishing and decline of rivers through excessive off-take are just two dramatic examples of how people are directly changing aquatic ecosystems and threatening the natural services that they deliver." ...


Heck, that's just a natural cycle.
Oh, and just a theory.

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Sun, Sep 7, 2008
from United Nations University, via EurekAlert:
Experts meet on need for new rules to govern world's fragile polar regions
Problems forecast for the Arctic as its ice recedes include: Overfishing; Pollution from ships and offshore extraction of oil and gas; Oil spills; and Invasion of alien species carried by ships' ballast water. "Overfishing, the result in part of illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, is already occurring in the Okhotsk and Bering Seas," says conference presenter Dr. Tatiana Saksina of the World Wildlife Fund's International Arctic Programme. "Agreements are needed now to regulate shared and straddling fish stocks and to protect fish migrating to higher latitudes in search of colder waters," she says. ...


Thinking ahead, instead of reacting after the fact? What are we doing, evolving?

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Fri, Aug 29, 2008
from Murray Valley Standard (Australia):
Fish 'n' chips that last forever
The society's "Australia's Sustainable Seafood Guide" ... divides species into three categories: "Say no", "Think twice" and "Better choice". Species to avoid include those that have been over-fished, such as shark and orange roughy (or deep sea perch). Deep sea species are vulnerable to over-fishing because they tend to be slow-growing and long-living. The method by which a fish is caught is also important. Catching by handline is better for the environment than bottom trawling, the equivalent of using a nuclear bomb to catch rabbits. There are several methods in between. ...


I'll have that "Think Twice"
with tartar sauce, please.

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Thu, Aug 28, 2008
from Innovations Report (Germany):
Overfishing Pushes Baltic Cod to Brink of Economic Extinction
"It's such an overfished system," Limburg said. "The big concern is that overexploitation is causing the fish to evolve. The finding that humans can actually cause evolution of fish populations, which in turn can drive their degradation, is relatively new and is drawing a lot of attention. "Some fisheries, including that for cod, are now known to cause 'juvenescence,' or the evolution of younger, smaller adult fish. The ecological and economic consequences both appear to be negative," she said. ...


How surprising: if only the small ones survive, only small ones reproduce.
Duh.

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Tue, Aug 26, 2008
from The Scotsman:
Prize-winning author warns humans could be headed for extinction
Margaret Atwood, the novelist, has warned that the planet is at a "crisis moment" and the human race could be headed towards extinction.... The Canadian said although the "cockroaches will always be fine", humans may not.... Atwood said she thinks the crisis involves climate change, deforestation, overfishing, declines in bird populations and production of energy. ...


But for now, let's keep on partying!

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Tue, Aug 26, 2008
from Utne Reader Online:
Fish or Foul
The world's oceans are being transformed, and not for the better.... Scientists now know that the eating habits of a single species, Homo sapiens, are driving these changes. By knocking out the chain's upper levels (which include predatory fish like tuna, swordfish, and shark) through violent overfishing, and skimming off the middle and bottom for industrial use, we are changing, perhaps permanently, the structure of an environment that nourishes us. ...


Overfishing is just a theory.
The ocean still looks the same to me.

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Wed, Aug 20, 2008
from Divemaster (UK):
Shark numbers worry over fin export
The WWF says 230 tonnes of shark fin have been exported from Australia in the past 13 months.... Conservationists say they have major concerns about Australia's contribution to the shark fin industry. WWF's Dr Gilly Llewellyn says the appetite for shark fin overseas which Australia appears to be feeding, is insatiable, and in the past 13 months 230 tonnes of shark fin have been exported from our shores, mainly to Asian markets. "Using a really conservative estimate using the largest possible size of shark, using a low fin to weight ratio, that's still 10,000 sharks that would have needed to be killed for that amount of fin," she says. ...


"Insatiable" -- until there are no sharks left. Burp.

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Wed, Aug 20, 2008
from Christian Science Monitor:
New sea change forecasts present a slimy picture
Earth's oceans are on the brink of massive change. You see it in such details as the hordes of Pacific mollusks that researchers have identified as ready to invade the North Atlantic as a thawing Arctic Ocean opens the way. You also see it in broad trends: A new overview warns that such relentless human impacts as overfishing or agricultural pollution -- as well as global warming -- threaten mass extinctions of marine life. Jeremy Jackson at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, who made that overview, notes that this is "not a happy picture." He says that "the only way to keep one's sanity and try to achieve real success is to carve out sectors of the problem that can be addressed in effective terms and get on with it as quickly as possible." ...


Other ways to keep one's sanity:
denial, rose colored glasses, blaming the victim, changing the subject.

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Wed, Aug 13, 2008
from The Daily Mirror (UK):
Tuna company John West blamed for death of sharks in nets
Britain's best-selling brand of tinned tuna is responsible for killing thousands of rare sharks and turtles every year, a new report claims.... Tuna stocks have dwindled so much due to over-fishing in recent years that the industry is already on the brink of collapse. A John West spokesman said last night: "We take our responsibility to the marine environment extremely seriously. Our selection procedure in appointing suppliers is very rigorous." ...


May the industry collapse
before those species do.

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Mon, Aug 11, 2008
from Inter Press Service News Agency:
West Africa: Overfishing Linked to Food Crisis, Migration
According to a recent report by the nongovernmental organisation ActionAid, West African seas are being devastated by legal and illegal overfishing, while local fishing industries decline. Moreover, the economic partnership agreements in their currently proposed form only exacerbate this problem. The overfishing of West African coastal waters, often by large European trawlers and sometimes by "fishing pirates" who trawl without any authorisation, has largely depleted local fish stocks. This has a direct impact on the rising rate of unemployment and on the ever-increasing flow of West Africans who embark on perilous journeys to Europe, in search of a better life. ...


No more picturesque fishermen?
There goes the tourist trade.

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Sat, Aug 9, 2008
from Der Spiegel:
Globalization Is Destroying the World's Oceans
"...About one-fourth of all known fish populations are already overfished to the brink of extinction, including once-abundant species cod and tuna. According to the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), another 50 percent are considered completely exploited. No one can, or is even willing, to predict the consequences for the complex ecosystem, and yet it is clear that the oceans are gradually being ravaged." ...


Look on the bright side: As Arctic ice melts, that's even more ocean to ravage!

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Sat, Jul 26, 2008
from Globe and Mail (Canada), via Taras Grescoe:
Finny finis?
Stern trawlers the size of destroyers, purse-seiners that can encircle a dozen nuclear submarines, sonar, spotter planes, GPS and DuPont's nylon monofilament netting become the norm. Equipped with the latest technology, the fishing fleets of the world become armadas facing enemies with brains the size of chickpeas. By the turn of the millennium, 90 per cent of the world's predator fish - tuna, sharks, swordfish - have been removed from the ocean; leading marine ecologists to project that, because of pollution, climate change and overfishing, all the world's major fisheries will collapse within the next 50 years. The saga ends where it began, in North Atlantic fishing towns, where the locals are reduced to catching slime eels and tourists in search of the quaint get served farmed-in-China tilapia at local seafood shacks. ...


Phytoplankton curry, anyone?

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Wed, Jul 23, 2008
from TIME:
When Jellyfish Attack
Beaches from Marseille to Monaco have been plagued this summer by millions of the gelatinous invaders, whose burning stings have sent scores of holiday-makers fleeing the surf with yelps of pain since large numbers of jellyfish were first sighted along France's coast in June. And those menacing the shorelines are simply the outriders of giant shoals that marine biologists have identified hovering between Corsica and France's southern shores.... Overfishing and other destructive human activity have prompted the prolific multiplication of jellyfish by decimating their natural predators: tuna, sharks and turtles. ...


A new status symbol:
"Oh yes, I got these stings swimming off Monaco."

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Fri, Jul 11, 2008
from Science:
Warming Spells Trouble for Fish
"Global warming of the oceans will likely cause the extinction by 2050 of dozens of fish species that cannot migrate to colder waters, according to a study presented here yesterday at the 11th International Coral Reef Symposium. "The loss of biodiversity will be considerable, and replacing them with new species would take millions of years," says co-author Daniel Pauly of the University of British Columbia (UBC) in Vancouver, Canada." ...


I know! Let's break off even more of the Antarctic ice shelf to cool the waters of the ocean.

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Wed, Jul 9, 2008
from Guardian (UK):
More pressure on global fish stocks as scientists warn of underreporting of catches
The implication is that global fish stocks, already widely acknowledged to be under heavy pressure, are in far more in danger than thought. The underreporting particularly threatens the hundreds of millions of poor people around the world who rely on fish for subsistence. A reconstruction of actual catches in 20 places around the globe showed that fish landings that were not reported were at least as high as the declared catch, and sometimes more than 16 times higher. "This is underreporting of such magnitude that it boggles the mind," said Professor Daniel Pauly, of the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. ...


Didn't Enron use that kind of accounting?

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Mon, Jul 7, 2008
from University of Exeter, via EurekAlert:
Study shows rise in Cornwall's dolphin, whale and porpoise deaths
The research team analysed records of cetacean strandings from 1911 to 2006 from around Cornwall's north and south coasts and the Isles of Scilly. They found a marked increase from the early 1980s, with common dolphins and harbour porpoises being the worst-affected species. In total, fewer than 50 cetacean strandings a year occurred in Cornwall in the 1980s but numbers since 2000 have ranged from 100 to 250 per annum.... The researchers analysed records of 2,257 cetaceans, 862 of which were common dolphins. They found that, since 1990, at least 61 percent of incidents in Cornwall are the result of fishing activity, with animals being caught up in nets in a phenomenon known as 'bycatch'. The seas around Cornwall are known to be a major hotspot for large scale fisheries, with many vessels coming from other EU nations. ...


I thought that was called
collateral damage.

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Tue, Jul 1, 2008
from Xinhua (China):
Crustaceans, squid found where once there were fish
Researchers are pointing fingers at global warming again, saying it has caused dramatic shifts in some aquatic communities in which fish populations die off and crabs, lobsters and squid take over. The finding comes from a new analysis of 50 years worth of fish-trawling data collected in Narragansett Bay and adjacent Rhode Island Sound but may apply elsewhere, researchers said.... "We think there has been a shift in the food web resulting in more of the productivity being consumed in the water column," Collie explained. "Phytoplankton are increasingly being grazed by zooplankton, which are then eaten by planktivorous fish, rather than the phytoplankton sinking to the bottom and being consumed by bottom fish. It's a rerouting of that production from the bottom to the top." ...


A warming tide lifts all phytoplankton.
It's morning in the top layer.
The "trickle up" theory in action.

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Wed, Jun 25, 2008
from The Monitor, via AllAfrica:
East Africa: Saving the 'Fish Basket' From Drying Up
While Lake Victoria remains the most productive fishery in Africa, with annual fishery yields fluctuating around 600,000 tonnes, valued at $350 - 400m, catches of Nile perch are steadily declining. In 2001, boats caught an average 160 kilos of Nile perch each trip, today they catch less than 20. At the same time, catches of lower valued species, such as the silver-coloured mukene are steady, if not increasing. ...


The Nile Perch was intentionally inserted into Lake Victoria in the 50s. A voracious predator of desirable fish, it has driven many of them to extinction. It may have finally gobbled up most of the surplus good stuff: "peak fish for the Nile Perch."

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Tue, Jun 17, 2008
from CTV (Canada):
Supermarkets contribute to failing fisheries by selling 'Red List'
North American supermarkets can be blamed for contributing to the looming global fisheries collapse, according to a report authored by Greenpeace.... "As key players in the seafood supply chain, retailers have an important role to play in ensuring their customers only have one seafood choice: fair and sustainable products," says the report. ...


Hey, there's a market for this stuff!

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Thu, Jun 12, 2008
from Telegraph.co.uk:
Sharks 'functionally extinct' in Mediterranean
Researchers used fishermens' notes and archives to show that numbers had declined by as much as 99 per cent in the last two centuries.... The scientists who conducted the study said that 47 species of sharks live in the Mediterranean, but that many of them had not been seen for decades. They added that other predators, such as whales, turtles and large fish such as tuna, "had declined similarly" and that the entire ecosystem of the Mediterranean was at risk. Sharks help control the populations of various fish and keep the food chain balanced. ...


That's winning the war on terror.

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Sun, Jun 8, 2008
from Weekend Post (South Africa):
Species being fished into oblivion, researchers warn
Anglers in the Eastern and Southern Cape are fishing the region's line fish into oblivion and researchers warn it could spell the end of line fish altogether if authorities don't act decisively to enforce quotas.... "These [line fish] are slow-growing, and what was abundant initially has now been exploited." Cowley described the trend as "serial exploitation". As one popular line fish reached near-extinction, anglers switched to the next more abundant species, [leading to] 80 per cent of the fish which would occur naturally already fished out. ...


Serial exploitation:
now in reruns.

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Thu, Jun 5, 2008
from StraightGoods:
Climate change casts marine science adrift
Climate change is altering the world's oceans in so many ways scientists cannot keep pace, and as a result there is no comprehensive vision of its present and future impacts, say experts. Rising sea levels, changes in hurricane intensity and seasonality, declines in fisheries and corals are among the many effects attributed to climate change. In an attempt to put some order to their disconcerting findings, more than 450 scientists from some 60 countries gathered in the northern Spanish city of Gijón for the symposium "Effects of Climate Change on the World's Oceans...." ...


On the surface, it looks
the same as it ever was.

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Thu, Jun 5, 2008
from Pew Institute for Ocean Science, via ScienceDaily:
Quotas Allow More Caviar Export, Further Jeopardize Endangered Sturgeon
[M]ore caviar will be exported from Caspian Sea and Amur River states this year as a result of unacceptably permissive new trade quotas... Most sturgeon species are endangered and some, like beluga sturgeon, are threatened with extinction. These quotas will further damage this ancient fish's chance of recovery and survival, since sturgeon must be killed to harvest their prized eggs which are then processed into caviar, the group says.... "Sturgeon have been on earth since the time of the dinosaurs, but are being wiped out because of inadequate international and domestic controls. We urge consumers to protest with their wallets by not purchasing any wild-caught caviar." ...


Once they're gone, we'll just have to find another exotic item to value to extinction, lovey. Turtle tongues, anyone?

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Fri, May 23, 2008
from Aquatic Conservation, via EurekAlert:
Over 50 percent of oceanic shark species threatened with extinction
The experts determined that 16 out of the 21 oceanic shark and ray species that are caught in high seas fisheries are at heightened risk of extinction due primarily to targeted fishing for valuable fins and meat as well as indirect take in other fisheries. In most cases, these catches are unregulated and unsustainable. The increasing demand for the delicacy 'shark fin soup', driven by rapidly growing Asian economies, means that often the valuable shark fins are retained and the carcasses discarded. Frequently, discarded sharks and rays are not even recorded. ...


If only sharks were warm and fuzzy and cute.

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Thu, May 15, 2008
from Metro.co.uk (Great Britain):
Alarm over dramatic wildlife decline
There are almost a third fewer animal, bird and fish species today than three decades ago, an alarming new report has revealed. According to the WWF's Living Planet Index, land-based, marine and freshwater species fell overall by 27 per cent between 1970 and 2005. The report comes ahead of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity next week, which will discuss aims to achieve a "significant reduction" in the current rate of biodiversity loss by 2010. ...


That means the glass is
more than two-thirds full!

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Sun, May 11, 2008
from The London Observer:
How the world's oceans are running out of fish
"...Is anyone not aware that wild fish are in deep trouble? That three-quarters of commercially caught species are over-exploited or exploited to their maximum? Do they not know that industrial fishing is so inefficient that a third of the catch, some 32 million tonnes a year, is thrown away? For every ocean prawn you eat, fish weighing 10-20 times as much have been thrown overboard. These figures all come from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), which also claims that, of all the world's natural resources, fish are being depleted the fastest. With even the most abundant commercial species, we eat smaller and smaller fish every year - we eat the babies before they can breed... Once stocks dip below a certain critical level, the scientists believe, they can never recover because the entire eco-system has changed." ...


Give a man a fish and he'll eat for a day. Teach him industrial fishing and he'll waste 32 million tonnes of fish a year.

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Thu, May 8, 2008
from Environmental Science and Technology:
Metal pollution is toxic for endangered eels
"One of the world's most bizarre creatures is vanishing. Freshwater eel populations began crashing worldwide in the 1980s. The decline has been rapid, and scientists think eels are probably succumbing to a variety of ills, including overfishing, habitat loss, pollution, and eel-chewing hydropower turbines." ...


The wh/eels are coming off this species.

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Sun, May 4, 2008
from National Oceanic And Atmospheric Administration via ScienceDaily:
Salmon Fishery 'failure'
"Secretary of Commerce Carlos M. Gutierrez has declared a commercial fishery failure for the West Coast salmon fishery due to historically low salmon returns. Hundreds of thousands of fall Chinook salmon typically return to the Sacramento River every year to spawn. This year, scientists estimate that fewer than 60,000 adult Chinook will make it back to the Sacramento River....NOAA's Fisheries Service issued regulations to close or severely limit recreational and commercial salmon fishing in the area." ...


Woe to the roe: these prodigal fish no longer returneth.

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Mon, Apr 21, 2008
from Science Daily (US):
Fishing Throws Targeted Species Off Balance, Study Shows
Research led at Scripps with a distinguished team of government and international experts (including two chief scientific advisors to the United Kingdom) demonstrates that fishing can throw targeted fish populations off kilter. Fishing can alter the "age pyramid" by lopping off the few large, older fish that make up the top of the pyramid, leaving a broad base of faster-growing small younglings. The team found that this rapidly growing and transitory base is dynamically unstable-a finding having profound implications for the ecosystem and the fishing industries built upon it.... Fishing typically extracts the older, larger members of a targeted species and fishing regulations often impose minimum size limits to protect the smaller, younger fishes. "That type of regulation, which we see in many sport fisheries, is exactly wrong," said Sugihara. "It's not the young ones that should be thrown back, but the larger, older fish that should be spared. Not only do the older fish provide stability and capacitance to the population, they provide more and better quality offspring." ...


One fish, two fish. Big fish, small fish.
Big fish: more big fish.
Small fish: more small fish.

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Sat, Apr 12, 2008
from Jamai Cascio (Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies):
The Big Picture: Resource Collapse
We (the human we) have pushed the limits of many of the resources our civilization has come to depend upon. Oil is the most talked-about example, but from topsoil to fisheries, water to wheat, many of the resources underpinning life and society as we know it face significant threat. In many cases, this threat comes from simple over-consumption; in others, it comes from ecosystem damage (often, but not always, made worse by over-consumption). ...


What a challenge, "ethics" and "emerging technologies" -- since most any technologies that makes money get promoted.

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Sat, Apr 5, 2008
from Corvallis Gazette Times:
Salmon decline impacts research
A projected shortage of fish is putting salmon research by Oregon State University in jeopardy. Ironically, the study, which enlists commercial fishermen as collaborators, is designed to help protect weak salmon stocks. ...


I fear there'll be lots more declining critters for researchers to have trouble studying.

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Mon, Mar 24, 2008
from Guardian (UK):
Krill fishing threatens Antarctic species
The Antarctic, one of the planet's last unspoilt ecosystems, is under threat from mankind's insatiable appetite for harvesting the seas. The population of krill, a tiny crustacean, is in danger from the growing demand for health supplements and food for fish farms. Global warming has already been blamed for a dramatic fall in numbers because the ice that is home to the algae and plankton they feed on is melting. Now 'suction' harvesting which gathers up vast quantities has been introduced to meet the increased demand. It threatens not just krill, but the entire ecosystem that depends on them, say environmental campaigners. Krill are also believed to be important in removing the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide by eating carbon-rich food near the surface and excreting it when they sink to lower, colder water to escape predators. ...


"But Page warns: 'What we don't want to do is what we have done in pretty much every fishery in the world. We thought the natural resources of the sea were unlimited; we have proved time and time again that's not the case.'"
Once again with the
evidence-based reality thing.

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Sat, Mar 22, 2008
from FishUpdate.com:
North Sea protected area network would devastate industry, claims trade body
According to the WWF UK report, published today, a network of marine reserves, that cover at least 30 per cent of the North Sea, is needed to help rebuild populations of many fish species, and protect the habitats upon which these, and other species depend. In the report, 'A Return to Abundance: A Case for Marine Reserves in the North Sea', WWF-UK suggests a network of five experimental marine reserves that it says will improve the sustainability of fisheries, protect biodiversity, and help establish a healthy ecosystem....

Describing the proposals as "flawed", Bertie Armstrong, chief executive of the Scottish Fishermen�s Federation said "The sweeping assumption is made that very large fixed marine protected areas would prove beneficial in the North Sea based on evidence gained from elsewhere. Such an assumption cannot safely be made, given the unique nature of the mixed fisheries in the North Sea." ...


What a laughable concept: using evidence from elsewhere to protect a common resource.
Besides, the fish are getting more valuable all the time!

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Mon, Mar 17, 2008
from USA Today:
Belize coral reef: gorgeous but threatened
A potent mix of coastal development, tourism, overfishing, pollution and climate change has damaged an estimated 40 percent of the Belize reef system, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that attracts more than a third of Belize's 850,000 annual visitors. A recent string of "bleaching events" — where vibrantly hued coral turn a skeletal white — occurred when a spike in water temperatures that scientists associate with global warming expelled symbiotic algae living inside corals. Worldwide, experts calculate that nearly 50 percent of coral reefs are under imminent or long-term threat of collapse through human pressures; 20 percent have been destroyed.... But the island's dense mangroves and coastal forests, onetime shelters for jaguars, crocodiles and juvenile fish bound for the coral reef a half-mile offshore, are giving way to condos and resorts that have drawn the likes of John Grisham and the stars of the 2001, Ambergris-based reality show Temptation Island. ...


Belize? Belize? That's supposed to be untouched paradise!
What is going on in this world!?

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Fri, Mar 14, 2008
from Sacramento Bee:
Officials shut salmon fishing in seven coastal areas of California, Oregon
"Wildlife officials moved Wednesday for early closure of seven coastal salmon fishing zones in California and Oregon, a sign of dire conditions facing the Central Valley chinook. The action came in a conference between fisheries managers gathered in Sacramento for a series of meetings by the Pacific Fisheries Management Council. Officials representing California, Oregon and the federal government opted to close the seven zones to protect salmon that remain alive in the ocean. ...


Keep your chins up you chinooks!

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Sat, Mar 8, 2008
from NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service:
Mysterious Eel Fishery Decline Blamed On Changing Ocean Conditions
"American eels are fast disappearing from restaurant menus as stocks have declined sharply across the North Atlantic. While the reasons for the eel decline remain as mysterious as its long migrations, a recent study by a NOAA scientist and colleagues in Japan and the United Kingdom says shifts in ocean-atmosphere conditions may be a primary factor in declining reproduction and survival rates." ...


No more eels for meals? What other fish dish will fill my bummy tummy?

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Sun, Mar 2, 2008
from Guardian (UK):
Scientists warn of new plague of jellyfish in Spain
"The problem seen on the beaches is not the main concern for scientists," said Professor Gili, "For us the major worry is the global disequilibrium in the sea caused by over-fishing." As a result of over-fishing, the jellyfish do not have to face their usual predators and competitors, which usually regulate population growth. Numbers of large fish such as swordfish and red tuna, which eat jellyfish, have been drastically reduced by bad fishing practices, as have the smaller fish, such as sardines and whitebait, which compete for food with the stingers.... "Spectacular growth has been found in jellyfish populations in Japan, Namibia, Alaska, Venezuela, Peru, Australia ... this is an international ecological problem," Gili said. ...


Perhaps we have to figure out
how to make jellyfish gumbo.
Mmmm.

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Mon, Feb 25, 2008
from Concord Monitor (NH):
River herring decline has widespread effect
"The Taylor River system, which lies largely in Hampton Falls and Hampton, had 400,000 river herring return from the sea annually in the 1980s. That number is now down to less than 1,000, the state Department of Fish and Wildlife estimates.... You wouldn't eat one on a bet, so what's it matter? Oh, but it does. The little fish are food, not just for humans, but for striped bass, cod, haddock, mackerel, salmon, porpoises, seals, dolphins and whales as well as terns, puffins and other seabirds. When their food supply shrinks, fish populations crash, prices rise, fishing restrictions are put in place and the fishing industry suffers." ...


The herring-bone's connected to the ... lifebone.

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Tue, Feb 19, 2008
from Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council:
Sharks In Peril: Ocean
"Sharks are disappearing from the world's oceans. The numbers of many large shark species have declined by more than half due to increased demand for shark fins and meat, recreational shark fisheries, as well as tuna and swordfish fisheries, where millions of sharks are taken as bycatch each year." ...


Play the theme from Jaws in your head as you read this story ... then weep.

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Wed, Jan 23, 2008
from Marianas Variety (Micronesia):
2008 is International Year of the Coral Reef
"DIFFERENT environmental groups and government agencies gathered on Friday at the SandCastle of the Hyatt Regency Hotel Saipan to declare 2008 as the International Year of the Coral Reef.... The symposium also recognized the medicinal value of reef organisms, and the different threats to coral reefs such as improper watershed development, sedimentation, marine debris, over-fishing, global warming, among other problems." ...


Not unlike the Lifetime Achievement Awards they give to great underappreciated actors, hopefully before they die. Note: 2007 was "International Polar Year."

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Thu, Jan 17, 2008
from Christian Science Monitor:
On emptying seas, a vanishing way of life
"Cabras, Italy - Seven hours after setting out into the inky 3 a.m. blackness, the Crazy Horse's two-man crew pulls back into port with the fruits of their morning's labor: just a few small buckets of fish, worth maybe $60. "That's the average now," sighs Gianni Pisanu, whose boat is docked nearby, as he helps his neighbors tie up. "The sea is impoverished now." For more than 50 years, the nearly two dozen countries bordering the Mediterranean have struggled to jointly manage the shared bounty of the sea, whose uniqueness makes managing this crisis both unusually difficult and extremely important." ...


ApocHaiku:
the fisherman calls
the sea "impoverished" and
all the seas face death

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Wed, Jan 16, 2008
from University of Southern California:
Greenhouse Ocean May Downsize Fish, Risking One Of World
"The last fish you ate probably came from the Bering Sea. But during this century, the sea's rich food web -- stretching from Alaska to Russia--could fray as algae adapt to greenhouse conditions. "All the fish that ends up in McDonald's, fish sandwiches--that's all Bering Sea fish," said USC marine ecologist Dave Hutchins, whose former student at the University of Delaware, Clinton Hare, led research published Dec. 20 in Marine Ecology Progress Series. At present, the Bering Sea provides roughly half the fish caught in U.S. waters each year and nearly a third caught worldwide." ...


ApocHaiku:
Not even Bering
Sea is able to bear rise
in temperature

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Sat, Jan 12, 2008
from Sacramento Bee (US):
Fish: Delta drop sparks fears of ecological shift
"Five Delta fish species continue marching toward extinction, according to new data released Wednesday, a result that some observers warn may signify a major ecological shift in the West Coast's largest estuary.... record-low numbers for three species: longfin smelt, Sacramento splittail and American shad. Two others, Delta smelt and striped bass, posted near-record lows." ...


That's ok! We'll just eat some other fish!
One telling quote: "I've always maintained that a world that is not safe for fish is probably not long safe for little boys and girls."
True, that.

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Sat, Dec 29, 2007
from Current Biology (Cell Press):
Deep-sea species' Loss Could Lead To Oceans' Collapse, Study Suggests
"In a global-scale study, the researchers found some of the first evidence that the health of the deep sea, as measured by the rate of critical ecosystem processes, increases exponentially with the diversity of species living there." ...


Sometimes this all just seems like the Science of the Obvious. Question is: What motivates action? Does Angelina Jolie need to read this study's findings aloud to the masses? I'll curl up at her feet.

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Thu, Dec 27, 2007
from ScienceDaily:
Scientist On Quest For Disappearing Eel
"Biology professor Peter Hodson and his team of toxicologists and chemists have received a grant from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) to solve the mystery of Lake Ontario's disappearing eel population. Declared a "species of concern" under Canada's new Species at Risk Act, American eels have until recently supported a multi-million-dollar historic fishery in Ontario and an even larger industry in Quebec. But with rapidly decreasing numbers of eels, the Ontario fishery has been closed and the Quebec fishery is in serious decline." ...


Is a "species of concern" anything like a "person of interest"?

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