The Blog Aquatic http://blog.oceanconservancy.org News, opinions, photos and facts from Ocean Conservancy Fri, 24 Oct 2014 11:00:53 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.4.2 An Ounce of Prevention is Worth Tons of Future Harvests http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2014/10/24/an-ounce-of-prevention-is-worth-tons-of-future-harvests/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2014/10/24/an-ounce-of-prevention-is-worth-tons-of-future-harvests/#comments Fri, 24 Oct 2014 11:00:53 +0000 Sarah Cooley http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=9381 fishermen load scallops onto a boat

“Ocean acidification is a pocketbook issue here. It’s about dollars and cents and jobs,” said New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell in Massachusetts at Monday’s conference on Ocean Acidification and Southern New England. Organized by the Woods Hole Research Center, this workshop brought together fishermen, planners, ocean acidification experts, and policymakers to jumpstart action on ocean acidification. Mayor Mitchell noted, “There is no more appropriate place to discuss ocean acidification” than in New Bedford, where smart fisheries management has led to a scallop boom.  In fact, the city is the sea scallop harvest capital of the U.S. and its port consistently brings in the highest commercial fishery revenue in the country each year.

The workshop began reviewing the science of ocean acidification as it relates to Massachusetts’ oceanography and fisheries. There’s still a lot to learn, particularly about how iconic fisheries like sea scallops and lobster respond to ocean acidification.  But it’s clear that there is a lot to be worried about in New England. Seawater acidity is greater in these waters today than it was 35 years ago.


Folks closely affiliated with the sea scallop, oyster, lobster, and other fisheries spoke about the multiple environmental challenges they face, from coastal pollution that results in harmful algal blooms, to ocean acidification and warming. Fortunately, ocean acidification hasn’t caused measurable losses to New England fisheries yet, as it has in the Pacific Northwest with the oyster industry. But it’s clear that decision-makers in Massachusetts are starting to sit up and pay attention.

Representatives of Massachusetts state agencies, nonprofit organizations, and NOAA, joined by State Reps. William Straus (D-Mattapoisett) and Timothy Madden (D-Nantucket) highlighted new opportunities and many existing initiatives that can help partially address ocean acidification. The state already has goals to reduce carbon dioxide emissions statewide and decrease land-based pollution flowing into waterways.

Attendees generally seemed to favor convening a statewide study panel, such as those in Washington State, Maine, and Maryland, to assess how Massachusetts’ existing goals might expand to address ocean acidification concerns and the additional knowledge that is needed. Certainly, there is a great deal of interest in taking preventive action against ocean acidification in Massachusetts, to protect this state’s valuable and iconic fisheries and the communities and people that depend on them.

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It’s Your Last Chance! Donate to Get an Ocean Conservancy Calendar http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2014/10/23/its-your-last-chance-donate-to-get-an-ocean-conservancy-calendar/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2014/10/23/its-your-last-chance-donate-to-get-an-ocean-conservancy-calendar/#comments Thu, 23 Oct 2014 18:36:55 +0000 Marie Michelson http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=9385

Photo: Ken Shew

Get your free 2015 Ocean Wildlife calendar in time for the holidays! If you donate by October 23, we’ll send you a free calendar featuring your favorite marine animals like whales, seals and sea turtles.

What are you waiting for? Today is your last day to donate and get this exclusive 2015 Ocean Wildlife calendar from Ocean Conservancy. Your support will help Ocean Conservancy pursue innovative solutions that will bring lasting, positive change for the ocean.

All of our success in this year is thanks to our supporters. All around the world, more than half a million people came out to clean their local beaches and shorelines for the International Coastal Cleanup. More than 25,000 people took our Last Straw Challenge and pledged to cut plastic straws out of their lives and help keep five million straws out of our ocean and landfills! We advocated for smart legislation that protects vulnerable marine life populations, like telling the U.S. government not to support Shell’s risky Arctic drilling. We accomplished so much. Please help us continue this momentum into next year.

As Ocean Conservancy enters its fifth decade of leadership for the ocean, we’re stretching our thinking even further, imagining the very best for our ocean, and pursuing innovative solutions that will bring lasting, positive change. We hope we can count on you to stand with us in our fight for a clean and healthy ocean.

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Beyond Nemo: How Are Dory and Bruce Doing? http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2014/10/22/beyond-nemo-how-are-dory-and-bruce-doing/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2014/10/22/beyond-nemo-how-are-dory-and-bruce-doing/#comments Wed, 22 Oct 2014 12:00:34 +0000 Ivy Fredrickson http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=9368

Photo: Matthew Potenski

Traditional fishery management has been a lot like the movie Finding Nemo, where fishery managers focus on the life of a single species of fish. But, as we saw in the movie, single species of fish do not live alone; they depend on habitat like anemones, they encounter predators like Bruce, and there are human impacts such as removing fish from reefs. Our current management system often fails to consider the bigger picture: the habitats that ocean wildlife require at each stage of life, their roles as predator and prey (Bruce’s attitude on fish as ‘friends not food’ doesn’t really hold true in the ocean), the natural variations in populations in different places and at different times, such as sea turtle migrations, and of course the critical and varied impacts of humans—climate change, pollution, ocean acidification, cultural uses, and demands for food and recreation.

In short, we need an ecosystem approach—a modern, big-picture system that maintains the overall health of the ocean ecosystem by explicitly considering the above. Ensuring the long-term viability of fish populations and communities that depend on them requires a greater focus on the fitness and resilience of the ecosystems that support productive fisheries.

The good news is that U.S. fishery managers are recognizing the need to consider the whole ecosystem. A new report by the NOAA Science Advisory Board takes stock of the shift toward ecosystem-based fishery management across the nation. The report found that the use of ecosystem science in fishery management varies greatly by region, and the last several years have proven to be a time of experimentation in the ecosystem approach. We’re getting there, but we’re not there yet.

For example, the Pacific Fishery Management Council—one of eight regional bodies who assist the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) in developing and executing plans for managing fishing under the Magnuson-Stevens Act—has developed a Fishery Ecosystem Plan for the west coast. It establishes a comprehensive foundation for considering the condition of the California Current Ecosystem in fishery planning and management, and sets an example for modernizing fisheries management across the globe.

Similarly, the North Pacific Fishery Management Council is embarking upon the development of a Fishery Ecosystem Plan for the Bering Sea. Previously, the council developed a Fishery Ecosystem Plan for the Aleutian Islands.

This new report is more important and timely than ever. The Ocean faces significant and numerous stressors, such as the impacts of global climate change, ocean acidification, invasive species, oil and shipping contaminants, and degraded water quality from land based pollution. The impacts of these stressors are becoming more apparent, demonstrating that a broader approach to management is required to ensure ocean ecosystems can support healthy fish populations and the people that depend on them into the future.

In addition to canvassing the existing state of ecosystem-based fishery management practices across the nation, the report also made recommendations for paving the way to an ecosystem approach:

  • Sharing is caring – There is much to be learned across Councils and regions. Opportunities to learn from others on science, analysis, and approach help everyone.
  • Invest in more than counting fish – Tools that help managers evaluate trade-offs, science that couples the social, economic, and ecologic, and next-generation ecosystem modeling are all needed.
  • Continue U.S. leadership – Export our growing success with ecosystem-based methods to other nations and to multi-national Regional Fishery Management Organizations.

An ecosystem approach isn’t easy. If it was, managers would have adopted it years ago. It is necessary though, and—as this report demonstrates—possible. There is no silver bullet or technological solution that can make it happen tomorrow, but there are proven ways to get there and it’s great to see NOAA stopping to check the map and compass.

We aren’t there yet, but we’re in the jet stream.

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42 Years of the Marine Mammal Protection Act http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2014/10/21/42-years-of-the-marine-mammal-protection-act/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2014/10/21/42-years-of-the-marine-mammal-protection-act/#comments Tue, 21 Oct 2014 13:10:37 +0000 Jackie Yeary http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=9358

Marine mammals are some of the most beloved animals in our ocean. Whether you have a soft spot for majestic whales, playful seals or adorable sea otters, you have reason to celebrate. Today marks the 42nd anniversary of the Marine Mammal Protection Act, an important piece of legislation that protects all marine mammal species found in U.S. waters.

The Act protects whales, dolphins, polar bears, walruses and many other marine mammals (approximately 125 species). This Act “prohibits, with certain exceptions, the ‘take’ of marine mammals in U.S. waters and by U.S. citizens on the high seas, and the importation of marine mammals and marine mammal products into the US.” This means any attempt to harass, hunt, capture or kill marine mammals is illegal without special permits.

Some threats faced by marine mammals face come from boaters and tourists. You can reduce these threats by following the guidelines developed by NOAA for responsible marine wildlife viewing. The guidelines may differ slightly by region or species, but there are also general rules to follow if you encounter a marine mammal in the wild—such as keep a respectful distance, and never attempt to touch or feed the animal.

The Marine Mammal Protection Act has given threatened and endangered species a chance to rebound. Hopefully, with increased awareness and continued protection, the marine mammals we love will continue to thrive in our ocean, and people will enjoy these amazing animals for generations to come.

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Tidal Anatomy http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2014/10/20/tidal-anatomy/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2014/10/20/tidal-anatomy/#comments Mon, 20 Oct 2014 21:11:09 +0000 Guest Blogger http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=9354  

Photo: John Madere

This blog post was written by John Madere, an award winning photographer. 

I’m pleased to announce that the book launch and exhibition of my Tidal Anatomy portrait series opens at Site 109 in Manhattan on October 21. The images are the result of two years of photographing surfers from an unlikely perspective with my camera placed high above the surfer and beach.

The inspiration for this project came to me while walking along the shore in Montauk, New York, on a raw, windy day in the Spring of 2013. An unusually harsh winter had radically altered the beach, leaving behind arresting scenes of strewn rocks, stratified clay, decaying driftwood, driven sand, and man made debris.

Read more at JohnMadere.com.

 

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Tell the EPA You Support Cutting Carbon Emissions http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2014/10/16/tell-the-epa-you-support-cutting-carbon-emissions/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2014/10/16/tell-the-epa-you-support-cutting-carbon-emissions/#comments Thu, 16 Oct 2014 17:50:22 +0000 Guest Blogger http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=9341

This blog post was written by Benoit Eudeline, the hatchery research manager at Taylor Shellfish Farms. 

Here at the Taylor Shellfish Hatchery in Washington State, we are facing real threats to our business and our livelihood.

Ocean acidification, largely caused by carbon pollution, can damage shell-building animals, like oysters, clams and mussels. Given the changes we’re seeing in the ocean, it will be increasingly difficult for these organisms to build healthy shells, and will ultimately impact their ability to survive.

We are taking action here in Washington State, but we must do more – for everyone who relies on the ocean.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has proposed an action that would cut power plants’ carbon emissions—emissions that are changing the very nature of our ocean. We need your help to tell the EPA that we must take these steps to cut emissions now. Fishermen, shellfish farmers, and coastal communities who depend on a healthy ocean will suffer if we don’t respond now.

We all know power plants emit large amounts of carbon into the atmosphere. What most people don’t know is that around 30% of all carbon emissions are absorbed by the ocean. This makes life difficult for oysters because as the water becomes more acidic, it is deprived of the chemical building blocks that oysters and other shellfish need to grow their shells and survive.

I, along with my children, my friends and my neighbors living here in Northwest Washington State, want to continue working on the water and preserving our culture, our ocean, and our way of life for a long, long time.

Click here to tell the EPA that you support their efforts to cut carbon emissions on behalf of the ocean. 

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Tell the Department of Interior to Protect Walruses http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2014/10/10/tell-the-department-of-interior-to-protect-walruses/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2014/10/10/tell-the-department-of-interior-to-protect-walruses/#comments Fri, 10 Oct 2014 12:00:11 +0000 Andrew Hartsig http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=9332

When I first saw the photo above, I couldn’t believe it was real.

Those are 35,000 walruses – packed together onshore in Alaska.

If you’re saying to yourself “that doesn’t look normal,” you’re right. Packs like this were unheard of before 2007.

The sea ice walruses usually rest on is disappearing, forcing them to come all the way to shore between feedings. These changes to sea ice are putting walruses at great risk.

Now, Shell has proposed a plan to drill for oil in the waters where walruses live, feed, and raise their young. Risky Arctic drilling will cause even more stress for the walruses that are already struggling to cope with the loss of sea ice. We need to stop Shell’s plan.

Click here to tell the Department of Interior to protect the walrus’s home. Say no to risky Arctic drilling.

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