The Blog Aquatic

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The Blog Aquatic

News, opinions, photos and facts from Ocean Conservancy

About Ellen Bolen

Ellen Bolen is Ocean Conservancy's Director of Fishery Conservation.

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Don’t Mess With Success

Posted On July 23, 2013 by

fishermen load scallops onto a boatThanks to the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, our nation now benefits from dozens of rebuilt fish populations. But even as we have seen remarkable progress made, we have also seen an increase in political challenges that threaten this crucial law.

This vital US. fishing law is due to be reauthorized this year, and this morning the Senate will hold a hearing to discuss the progress made under the law and next steps for U.S. fisheries management.

Lawmakers should strengthen the law to ensure continued progress in transitioning our fisheries to long term sustainability. Just one example of recent efforts: last week’s historic decision to increase red snapper catch limits in the Gulf due to success in restoring the population back to healthy levels.

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10 Key Facts About Red Snapper

Posted On May 20, 2013 by

Red snapper (Lutjanus campechanus) are one of the Gulf of Mexico’s signature fish.  They are extremely popular among recreational fishermen and a prized offering at restaurants and seafood markets, as well as a top predator in the Gulf ecosystem. Recently there has been a great deal of debate about the health and management of this important fish. Ocean Conservancy, along with Pew Charitable Trusts, has released a report about the law that is saving American fisheries, including red snapper. Here are few handy facts about this iconic fish:

  1. Red snapper can grow to about 40 inches, weigh up to 50 pounds and live more than 50 years.
  2. Red snapper begin to reproduce when they are about two years old, spawning from May to October along rocky ledges or coral reefs.
  3. Fertilized eggs float on the surface and hatch within a day. Only a month later, the young fish settle out of the water column in shallow waters, and as they get older, they move to structured habitat where they will mature and eventually move to the deeper waters of the Gulf. Continue reading »

Trash Talk on Capitol Hill

Posted On December 17, 2012 by

That’s not an oil slick — it’s debris from last year’s Japanese tsunami that washed into the ocean. Credit: U.S. Pacific Fleet flickr stream

There’s plenty of trash talk on Capitol Hill these days – but probably not the kind you are thinking about. It’s not talk about the fiscal cliff or the elections, it’s all the recent talk on the Hill about ocean trash. Recently we heard that the government of Japan gave the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration $5 million to address the ongoing problem of marine debris that resulted from the 2011 tsunami, the President’s disaster request for Superstorm Sandy included a request for funds to assess marine debris and, perhaps the trashiest conversation of all, the House and Senate passed the Marine Debris Reauthorization Act.

Last Wednesday night, after months of hard work by staff in both chambers – and on both sides of the aisle – the Senate passed the Marine Debris Reauthorization Act as part of the Coast Guard Reauthorization bill.  The House passed the bill last week.  Perhaps you are wondering what reauthorization even means. (I’m not sure schoolhouse Rock covered this portion of lawmaking.)

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Pirate Fishing Bill Could Help U.S. Fishermen Protect Their Booty

Posted On June 20, 2012 by


See below to learn how to make your own pirate fish. Credit: Digitprop.

A hearing was held yesterday on a bill being considered by the House Natural Resources Committee that could improve protections for fish across the globe and for fishermen here in the United States.

The bill, HR 4100, would strengthen enforcement mechanisms to stop illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing – also known as pirate fishing. While this term may conjure up an image of Captain Hook or Treasure Island, pirate fishing poses a serious threat to global fisheries and could jeopardize the successes we have made in U.S. fisheries.

You may be surprised to learn that up to 20 percent of all fish caught worldwide are taken illegally or in unregulated waters – that’s one in every five fish caught. This bill would strengthen the ability of the United States to combat this problem. Continue reading »

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Fish Populations Making Comeback, NOAA Report Says

Posted On May 22, 2012 by

Coho salmon are one of six populations of fish that NOAA has officially declared rebuilt in 2011. Credit: Soggydan Flickr stream

With a lot of hard work, a new trend is beginning to emerge for America’s fisheries: Good news.

A new report from NOAA shows that six populations of fish have been officially declared rebuilt in 2011, bringing that total number to 27. Fifty-one others are in process of rebuilding, while six are having plans put together now.

Of the 258 marine fish populations managed by the National Marine Fisheries Service, only 36 are currently subject to overfishing. Forty-five are overfished, but due to the precise (read: weird) nature of fishery science, a fish population can be considered overfished while recovering.

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