The Blog Aquatic » fish http://blog.oceanconservancy.org News, opinions, photos and facts from Ocean Conservancy Thu, 28 Aug 2014 17:32:30 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.4.2 Stop Congress from Fishing for Trouble http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2014/07/31/stop-congress-from-fishing-for-trouble/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2014/07/31/stop-congress-from-fishing-for-trouble/#comments Thu, 31 Jul 2014 13:00:35 +0000 Ellen Bolen http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=8813

© Wesley Hitt / Alamy

We’ve made incredible progress in reversing overfishing. This has been good for both the environment and jobs in fishing. Through smart fishery legislation, we’ve been able to bring back fish populations that were crashing due to years of overfishing.

But all of our progress is about to be destroyed! In the House of Representatives, Rep. Hastings (R-WA) is working to reverse the very legislation that has brought our ocean and fishermen such success. Rep. Hastings is trying to pass legislation that would create a new law that would allow overfishing and would eliminate deadlines to rebuild fish populations.


We can’t let this happen. Decades of progress will be reversed if this new legislation is passed. Will you help protect our ocean from overfishing?

Please take action today and tell your Congressional Representative to vote NO to Rep. Hastings’ legislation when it comes to the floor.

Healthy fish populations are essential to ocean ecosystems and to the local economies that depend on them. Please take action today! Together, we can truly make a difference.

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Fishermen and Scientists Work Together to Track Sick Fish http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2014/07/21/fishermen-and-scientists-work-together-to-track-sick-fish/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2014/07/21/fishermen-and-scientists-work-together-to-track-sick-fish/#comments Mon, 21 Jul 2014 14:22:59 +0000 Alexis Baldera http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=8776

University of South Florida Professor Steven Murawski began studying diseases in fin fishes after the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill when Gulf of Mexico fishermen began reporting a surge in fish with visible lesions. Credit: C-Image. Caption from phys.org

Fishermen are on the water every day, which means they are often the first to notice when something changes. After the BP Deepwater Horizon oil disaster, we heard reports from fishermen that they were catching more fish with lesions than they had ever seen before. Immediately after hearing these reports, Dr. Jim Cowan at LSU began investigating the frequency, location and cause of the reported lesions. Many other scientists have collected data on this same issue, and last week a group from the University of South Florida published the first round of results in a scientific journal.

Through extensive study, the scientists ruled out other potential causes, such as pathogens or oceanographic conditions, and concluded that the BP oil disaster is the likely cause of the fish lesions. Oil has a distinct chemical signature that allows scientists to differentiate between different origins, and contamination in the sick fish was a better match to oil from BP’s Macondo well than any other source.

For the Gulf, studies that help us understand the lingering impacts of the BP oil disaster are critical to achieving recovery. They are also a reminder that we cannot close the door on studying the effects of the disaster or the impact of our restoration efforts until we are certain the job is complete. The results of the USF study are only the beginning of this story about how fish were impacted by the BP oil disaster. In order to achieve complete recovery, we need long-term research on how lesions and other oil impacts affect the survival and reproduction of fish, how their populations are responding to habitat and water quality restoration efforts, and what that means for the fishermen who first identified the problem.

Location of sampling stations and the percent of skin lesions per station for June–August 2011. The percent of skin lesions at a station is indicated as follows: white circles = 0%, red graduated circles = 0.1–2.0%, 2.1–4.0%, 4.1–6.0%, and >6.0% (from smallest to largest). The gray shading is the cumulative distribution of surface oil occurring during the duration of the Deepwater Horizon (DWH) event. Map credit: Murawski et al., 2014

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Former Bush and Obama Officials Agree: Congress Must Stop Magnuson-Stevens Roll Backs http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2014/05/09/former-bush-and-obama-officials-agree-congress-must-stop-magnuson-stevens-roll-backs/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2014/05/09/former-bush-and-obama-officials-agree-congress-must-stop-magnuson-stevens-roll-backs/#comments Fri, 09 May 2014 20:25:22 +0000 Ellen Bolen http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=8258

“Healthy oceans and well-managed fisheries improve coastal economies, enhance recreational fishing opportunities and provide fresh, local seafood to consumers.”

Hard to argue with that logic, right? We need well-managed fisheries to support millions of American jobs, and a healthy ocean environment. We have legislation in the United States, the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA) that does an excellent job of managing our fisheries for people and the environment. This is why it’s surprising that there are some members of Congress who are trying to roll back key components of the MSA. Two former Assistant Administrators in charge of Fisheries at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) took to Roll Call this week to argue that the MSA needs to remain strong. It’s hard to argue with their logic.  Dr. Hogarth served under President Bush from 2001 – 2007.  Mr. Schwaab held the same position under President Obama from 2010 – 2012.

Read their full article here.

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A Victory for Fish and Turtles in the Gulf of Mexico http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2013/11/15/a-victory-for-fish-and-turtles-in-the-gulf-of-mexico/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2013/11/15/a-victory-for-fish-and-turtles-in-the-gulf-of-mexico/#comments Fri, 15 Nov 2013 21:48:26 +0000 Libby Fetherston http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=6961 sea turtle swimming near Florida

Photo: Lisa Kelly, Photo Contest 2013

In a significant step forward in restoration of the Gulf of Mexico’s natural resources, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF), in partnership with the five Gulf states and two federal agencies, announced over $100 million for restoration projects across the Gulf. A total of 22 projects will restore a number of Gulf habitats and species, ranging from coastal dunes in Texas, to oyster reefs in Alabama and shorebird nests in Mississippi.

Funding for these projects comes from the criminal settlement against Transocean and BP, which were finalized late last year. These funds must be used to remedy the harm caused to our natural resources in the Gulf due to the BP Deepwater Horizon oil disaster, and these are some of the first fine monies to be put toward restoration. (Click here to read more about the ongoing civil trial and what’s at stake.)

We are particularly excited about two projects in Florida that support restoration of offshore Gulf species: enhanced reef fish (think: red snapper) health assessments and turtle-friendly beach lighting. Marine restoration projects like this are part of the comprehensive approach that Ocean Conservancy advocates.

NFWF, The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration should be commended for ensuring that the marine resources that make Florida an international tourist destination often recognized as “The Fishing Capital of the World“ are closely monitored and restored.

While the jury is still out on the cumulative impacts of the Deepwater Horizon oil and dispersants in the water, supporting recovery of reef fish and sea turtles is a wise investment. In particular, NFWF’s $3 million commitment to additional data collection on the fish and the fishery will aid recovery and foster improved ecosystem understanding and management.

The $1.5 million project to retrofit beachfront lights on or near important nesting habitat in the Florida Panhandle will greatly increase sea turtle survival, as artificial lighting can impair a sea turtle hatchling’s ability to reach the ocean on its own. Since Florida boasts 90 percent of all sea turtle nesting in the continental United States and sea turtles were one of the species hit hard by the oil disaster, this project is good news indeed.

Restoration is a long process and restoration in the marine environment, in particular, is a large and daunting endeavor, but it is critically important for the coastal communities that are dependent upon the beauty and bounty of the Gulf. NFWF and the Gulf states have taken an important step today toward making the Gulf whole.

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U.S. Is Successfully Ending Overfishing and We Can’t Afford to Stop Now http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2013/09/09/u-s-is-successfully-ending-overfishing-and-we-cant-afford-to-stop-now/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2013/09/09/u-s-is-successfully-ending-overfishing-and-we-cant-afford-to-stop-now/#comments Mon, 09 Sep 2013 20:20:14 +0000 Ellen Bolen http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=6609 A fisherman catches red snapper

Photo: Tom McCann / Ocean Conservancy

Together Americans are solving a problem—overfishing—and we can’t afford to stop now. Ending overfishing means sustainable fishing for generations to come. It means healthy seafood on our dinner plates and sustained livelihoods across the country.

Our nation’s vital fisheries law, the Magnuson-Stevens Fisheries Conservation & Management Act, has already helped rebuild fish populations like New England scallops, Mid-Atlantic bluefish, Pacific lingcod and Gulf red snapper. A new report by the National Research Council says 43 percent of overfished populations have been rebuilt already or will be rebuilt within a decade. And if we continue to allow the Magnuson-Stevens Act to work, another 31 percent of these populations are on track toward rebuilding as well.

The report also highlights the challenges and complexities of trying to evaluate fisheries science and make decisions about catch limits and other management measures. In the face of those challenges, however, we are seeing success and must continue on this path for the long haul.

On Wednesday, Ocean Conservancy’s Director of Ecosystem Conservation Programs, Chris Dorsett, will be testifying to this effect in front of Congress. He’ll be speaking about the broader success of the Magnuson-Stevens Act as well as some of the recommendations put forth in the National Research Council report, such as the need to look beyond one fish population at a time, taking into account the entire ecosystem in which they live.

In the case of successful fisheries management, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Our best option is to avoid depleted populations in the first place by preventing overfishing. To ensure continued progress in transitioning our fisheries to long-term sustainability, lawmakers should only be strengthening this law.

You can read more about the fisheries successes we’ve seen so far in “The Law That’s Saving American Fisheries: The Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act,” a report produced by Ocean Conservancy and The Pew Charitable Trusts. This primer and collection of stories explains how successful fishermen from Alaska to Maine have helped turn around decades of overfishing.

Here’s an excerpt:

Clem Tillion: The courage to keep fisheries healthy

When Clem Tillion settled in Alaska after World War II, he found out what happens when government ducks the hard decisions that keep fisheries healthy. He became one of many citizens of the northern territory who fought successfully for statehood so that they could start fixing the damage. They made sacrifices to restore broken-down salmon populations, enduring years of closures that cut into their primary livelihood. It was gritty, commonsense conservation.

And it worked. Fish stocks struggled back to health, then roared to new peaks, and Alaskans prospered as never before. Along the way, Tillion joined a generation of coastal leaders who knew firsthand that rigorous controls on catch were the only way to protect the resources that would feed their children and grandchildren.

Those hard-earned lessons would eventually become the backbone of Alaska’s famously abundant modern fisheries—and the reason so many American fisheries are on the mend today.”

Check out the full report to read more of these stories and learn how we can protect the future of fish.

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Protecting the Ocean: How Does Your State Measure Up? http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2013/05/30/protecting-the-ocean-how-does-your-state-measure-up/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2013/05/30/protecting-the-ocean-how-does-your-state-measure-up/#comments Thu, 30 May 2013 20:27:37 +0000 Jennifer Savage http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=5932

Northern California’s Lost Coast boasts three no-take reserves. caloceans.org

How well is your state protecting the ocean? If you live in Hawaii, you’re far ahead of the rest of us. If you live in California or the U.S. Virgin Islands, at least you have something to point to. But overall, as a new scientific ranking of states’ ocean protection shows, most have not taken adequate measures to defend America’s marine life. The report was issued by two leading marine science and conservation organizations, the Marine Conservation Institute and Mission Blue, and is the first-ever quantitative ranking of states’ protection of their ocean waters.

SeaStates: How Well Does Your State Protect Your Coastal Waters? measures how much of a state’s waters have safeguards against overfishing, oil drilling and other extractive uses. No-take marine reserves, in particular, get high marks for allowing ecosystems and related marine life to prosper. According to many marine scientists, as much as 20 percent of state waters should be set aside for the best results – currently, Hawaii is the only state in the country to have met that goal.

Marine protected areas don’t just create a safe place for fish to thrive – they ensure that coastal economies have a chance of remaining strong and serve to strengthen resiliency to sea level rise. When looking at the numbers, it’s clear that failing to protect enough ocean isn’t just a problem for states along the county’s edge. According to SeaStates, coastal counties include only 5.71 percent of the area in the lower 48 states but generate 35.54 percent of the Gross Domestic Product.

That means that the 15 coastal states that lack any no-take areas could better serve their marine ecosystems and their local economies by protecting some of their waters.

“Whether you love our oceans for their beauty, for their fishes and marine mammals, or for generating half of the oxygen we breathe, you should want them to be strongly protected. But most states in this report get a score of zero and only a handful are protecting even 1%. That’s not good enough when our oceans are facing grave threats like overfishing and pollution. America’s oceans and people deserve better,” says Dr. Sylvia Earle, president of Mission Blue. “The United States has a long way to go if we want to be a world-leader in marine conservation.”

Full report here.

Popular support for marine protected areas in California helped fully protect over eight percent of state waters. Hawaii is currently the only state to meet the scientifically recommended goal of 20 percent – most coastal states have none.

 

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New Report: The Law That’s Saving American Fisheries http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2013/05/06/new-report-the-law-thats-saving-american-fisheries/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2013/05/06/new-report-the-law-thats-saving-american-fisheries/#comments Mon, 06 May 2013 18:24:49 +0000 Guest Blogger http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=5663

A fisherman adds a red snapper to the pile on a dock in Destin, Florida. – Photo: Tom McCann

As fishermen, scientists, policymakers, and other ocean experts from around the country gather in Washington this week to discuss the future of fisheries in America, Ocean Conservancy and The Pew Charitable Trusts are releasing a joint report highlighting many of the stories that show how fisheries management is succeeding.

The Washington Post covered the report over the weekend, focusing on our belief that while fisheries management is working, we must also let it keep on working if we’re going to face global challenges like ocean acidification and climate change:

More complex problems loom, ones that cannot be solved area by area, experts say. “What we need to pay greater attention to is a changing world and a changing climate and what repercussions that will have,” Chris Dorsett, director of the Ocean Conservancy’s fish conservation and gulf restoration program, said in an interview.

The Law That’s Saving American Fisheries: The Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act” is a primer and collection of stories that highlight pioneers of American fishery management as well as innovators who are opening fishing frontiers, revealing:

  • How a salmon fishing pioneer’s courage in making sacrifices for long-term sustainability set the stage for Alaska’s success.
  • How successful fishermen from Alaska to Florida used discipline to turn around two decades of overfishing.
  • How West Coast fishermen found the flexibility to make a living within rebuilding programs.
  • How fishing entrepreneurs in Port Clyde, ME, turned leadership into opportunity.
  • Why rebuilding important recreational species such as summer flounder, bluefish, and lingcod provides economic as well as enjoyment payoffs.
  • What commercial and recreational fishermen believe we get from good stewardship.

Fishing is an important American industry and pastime. According to NOAA’s latest economic report: U.S. commercial and recreational saltwater fishing generated more than $199 billion in sales and supported 1.7 million jobs in the nation’s economy in 2011.

In addition to driving many coastal economies, the stories in this report feature some of the most popular fish to end up on our plates, like salmon, red snapper, and scallops.

Thanks to the Magnuson-Stevens 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 challenges to this law, in the form of partisan politics and disasters—both natural and man-made.

At the end of last week, NOAA Fisheries released an update on the status of U.S. fisheries showing the continued rebuilding of our nation’s fisheries and a record low number of fish populations subject to unsustainable fishing rates.  Along with being great news and it was further proof  that the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act  is workingto restore our fisheries. This record progress is a win for fish and fishermen. It means a healthier ocean, more fresh and local seafood, greater recreational opportunities, and a bright and prosperous future for our nations coastal communities.

Read the full report here:

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