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The Blog Aquatic

News, opinions, photos and facts from Ocean Conservancy

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One Third of Fish in New Study Contain Traces of Plastic

Posted On January 23, 2013 by

An artist’s rendering of poor cod (Trisopterus minutus), one of the fish species studied.

Here’s some sad news from an article to be published in Marine Pollution Bulletin about fish and microplastics in the English Channel. Of the 504 fish collected, 36.5% had plastics in their gastrointestinal tracts. Inhabitat explains,

Not only is this a problem for those that eat the fish, such as humans, but the research team believe that the accumulation of plastic in fish could block the animals’ digestive systems and even cause fish to stop eating.

In a statement, Richard Thompson from Plymouth University said: “We don’t need to have plastic debris in the sea. These materials are inherently very recyclable, but regrettably they’ve been at the heart of our throw-away culture for the last few decades. We need to recognise the value of plastics at the end of their lives and need help from industry and manufacturers to widen the potential for every day products to be reusable and recyclable.”

Read more from Inhabitat or view the report in full.

From Fish Tank Sales to Wedding Favors, Our Donors Find a Way to Protect the Ocean They Love

Posted On November 13, 2012 by

R. Patrick Donston

For more than 40 years, Ocean Conservancy has been hard at work keeping the ocean healthy to keep us healthy. But none of that work would have been possible without the generous support of our many donors.

Who are the people who help us protect our valuable marine resources for generations to come? They’re people just like you.

Here are just a few of the Ocean Conservancy supporters who make our work possible:

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Leadership in a Time of National Division

Posted On November 7, 2012 by

Credit: George H. Leonard

After a year-long campaign, the voters have spoken and President Obama will lead the country for another four years. But while the Electoral College was decisive, the popular vote was essentially split; as a group, the American people remain deeply divided over many critical issues facing our nation – from health care to national defense.

This week, while national attention has been focused on politics at the highest level, fishery managers along the west coast quietly demonstrated unity and leadership by voting to advance important protections for forage fish – the small and often forgotten fish that form the base of the ocean food web.

Why is this such a big deal? Because as in politics, fisheries management is often divisive and making progress requires leadership. When our officials take important steps to better protect the ocean we should give credit where credit is due. Continue reading »

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Forage Fish: The Tiny Fish That Support Our Entire Ocean

Posted On October 23, 2012 by

California’s Fish & Game Commission is considering making big changes to better protect some of the ocean’s smallest fish.

If you live in California, you can help us protect these vitally important fish. For the sake of our ocean, we must ensure these improvements get passed.

Known as “forage fish,” small schooling fish like sardines, anchovies and herring — play a crucial role in the ocean food web and in our overall economic well being.

Need proof? Look toward the seabirds, who suffer a drop in birth rates when forage fish populations drop too low. Look toward marine mammals like humpback whales, which weigh around 40 tons yet rely almost completely on forage fish to survive. Or ask the fishermen—commercial and recreational fishermen agree that big fish need little fish. The fish we like to catch and eat, like salmon, tuna and rockfish, all feed on forage fish.

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Confronting Ocean Acidification: It’s Going to Take a Village

Posted On October 2, 2012 by

I’m really hoping last week was a turning point for the ocean. After spending a sobering week in Montereyat a gathering of over 500 ocean scientists, where I learned the latest about the threat of ocean acidification to the health of the ocean, I’ve concluded we are all going to have to pull together if we want a livable ocean in the future.

Since the first global conference on ocean acidification in 2004, a large and passionate group of scientists has coalesced to determine what is happening to our ocean.  Some of these leaders were profiled in the Washington Post yesterday, names that aren’t yet known to the general public but who are firsthand witnesses to a changing ocean. Folks like Dick Feeley, Gretchen Hofmann and Jean-Pierre Gattuso are ocean pioneers, working overtime to understand the threat that our continued burning of fossil fuels poses to the ocean.  Their insights and those from many of their colleagues are now pouring in across a range of scientific disciplines from oceanography to ecology and evolution. While last week’s conference shows that the science on specific species and how they might react is variable and nuanced, one conclusion is clear – ocean acidification is real, it is happening now and it is impacting real people. Scientists can’t yet predict exactly what will happen to every species, but it is clear that the ocean of the future will be fundamentally different from that of today, unless we work together to stem the tide of ocean acidification. Continue reading »

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One Fish, Two Fish, More Fish, More Fish: US Seafood Landings Reach 17 Year High – Now Updated With More Fish!!

Posted On September 28, 2012 by

Credit: brockamer flickr stream

 

UPDATED (September 28, 2012): Like Dr. Seuss says “Say! What a lot of fish there are.” But while there are many fish in the sea, there used to be more! A new study in the journal Science says global fisheries are in decline, but recovery is possible with the right management tools. For the first time, researchers spearheaded by California Environmental Associates took a good look at the world’s nearly 10,000 fishing areas. Only 20% of these areas are managed, leaving the rest with no management or oversight. Researchers suggest that with the right management tools, fisheries currently in decline could reach sustainable levels in only a few short years. This could increase the amount of fish in the ocean by 56%. Dr. Seuss would surely have been proud to protect his old fish and new fish.

ORIGINAL POST (September 20, 2012): US seafood landings have reached a 17-year high, according to a NOAA’s fisheries report that provides a snapshot of the amount of fish brought back to the docks in 2011. Higher fish landings show the Nation’s fisheries conservation and management law, the Magnuson-Stevens Act (MSA) is working to end overfishing and restore depleted fish populations. This progress means more opportunities for families to enjoy fishing as recreation and fresh seafood, and greater prosperity for the fishing industry.

This encouraging report shows success in fisheries management through MSA is attributed to addressing the problem of overfishing. But, we can’t afford to stop now.  NOAA’s report says “U.S. fishermen and businesses have played a critical role in this monumental achievement and the stewardship practices that have come to define U.S. fisheries.” Working together to successfully implement MSA is creating sustainable fisheries, greater economic returns and positioning the U.S. system as a global model.

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Ocean Acidification Anxiety at 36,000 Feet

Posted On September 5, 2012 by

Credit: swamibu flickr stream

As the jumbo jet lifts off over the San Francisco Bay, I am nervous. I am on my way to the 12th Seafood Summit in Hong Kong but I usually don’t have concerns about flying. It is a very long flight – 14 hours and 6 minutes to be exact – with plenty of time for last-minute preparations for the panel I am leading on ocean acidification. I should be relaxed; I have attended this event yearly, and I’ll see many old friends and colleagues during three days of important discussions about the future of the ocean and the seafood it provides to us all. But I’m not. I’m anxious. As we reach 36,000 feet, I realize that the pit in my stomach isn’t the result of a new-found fear of flying but the result of what I’ve learned about how ocean acidification is impacting our ocean.

For the last several months, I have worked with three leading ocean experts to craft our panel. While I have spoken at many conferences over the last two decades, this recent process has been one of personal discovery. When I began my graduate studies in the early 1990s, climate change and global warming were not yet household names. Since that time, ocean acidification has emerged as an existential threat to the future of a living sea. Carbon emissions in the atmosphere are increasing the acidity of the ocean, with implications for much of the ocean’s food web.

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