The Blog Aquatic » fisheries 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 Marine Protected Areas Around the Globe: Looking Back, Moving Forward and Sharing Recipes http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2013/11/04/marine-protected-areas-around-the-globe-looking-back-moving-forward-and-sharing-recipes/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2013/11/04/marine-protected-areas-around-the-globe-looking-back-moving-forward-and-sharing-recipes/#comments Mon, 04 Nov 2013 18:00:08 +0000 Samantha Murray http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=6927 bouillabaisse med roulle

Photo: cyclonebill via Flickr

I’ve recently returned from the 3rd International Marine Protected Areas Congress in Marseille, France. The experience of meeting so many different kinds of people, all equally passionate about the ocean, has inspired me. It’s planted a desire to follow up and exchange marine protected area stories—and recipes—from California with those from around the world.

To that end, please join me this Wednesday, Nov. 6, from 2-3 p.m. PST for a lively and fun Twitter Party, where you can share the global MPA stories you heard at IMPAC3. Missed the Congress? No problem—we’d like to hear your thoughts about MPAs, even if you weren’t there. Follow @ThePacificOcean, @OurOcean and @HealTheBay, or #MPAsWork to join the conversation (and win prizes!) this Wednesday.

Sarah Sikich (Heal the Bay) and I (Ocean Conservancy) will be leading the party, but it’s largely driven by participants. Topics will include: our evolving need to understand MPAs over the last decade, Sylvia Earle’s 50 Hope Spots, the value of urban MPAs, the issue of large MPAs and quantity versus quality, our shared MPA lessons from around the world and, of course, where we go from here.

That last issue is particularly exciting: how do we take what we’ve learned, distill it down to something instructive and move forward together? Well, just like a perfect Marseille bouillabaisse, there are a few essential ingredients that must be assembled to design and implement the best MPA in the world.

The first thing the classic Provençal dish requires is a good, local recipe. Everyone does it a little differently, and it’s important to respect local culture. This holds true for MPAs as well. Write something down—a mandate if you can get it—that lays out clear goals and objectives for your specific marine protected area.

Next, start with a long, slow simmer of local Mediterranean fish, spices and herbs. Likewise for your MPA, start with a local stakeholder simmer, though in this case it might be more like a slow stew—at least at first. Get fishermen and tribes and divers and everyone else who cares about the ocean involved early to think about setting up the new protections. Arm them with clear science guidelines to bookend the conversation and ensure the outcome follows the recipe closely enough to meet the goals of the MPA.

The perfect Marseille bouillabaisse requires fresh fish of certain types, from the firm-fleshed to the gelatinous to the shellfish. Likewise, the quality of what’s protected by your MPA, not just the square mileage, is important. Protection needs to include specific habitats—like rocky reef, bull kelp or deep submarine canyon—that will best benefit marine life.

Overall, it’s best to keep the fish stew simple. Don’t go experimenting with new flavors or convoluted ways to accommodate individual dietary restrictions. Likewise, create an MPA with simple rules. No-take areas are by far the easiest to understand and enforce. After that, tinkering with the rules can degrade the integrity of the overall outcome.

It’s important to note that the process doesn’t end when the stew is cooked! The way you serve and eat this delicacy is at least as important as the way you’ve made it. Similarly, an MPA effort mustn’t end once protections are created. Implementation is at least as important as adoption, and follow-through is of paramount importance. This includes education, to enhance MPA compliance among fishermen and local communities, and monitoring, to learn how your MPA is working. Engaging partners like citizens, tribes and fishermen in both enforcement and monitoring efforts is a great way to ensure your MPA has the stewardship necessary for the long haul.

The French dish is traditionally served with a side of croutons that are meant to be individually rubbed with fresh garlic and dipped in a mayonnaise-like rouille by the diner. If you’re new to the process, that may seem complicated, so if you see someone sitting next to you who doesn’t know how to eat it properly, help them out. Similarly, it’s crucial to help ocean users and decision-makers understand the new MPA, especially in the beginning. Signs and maps help people understand new regulations, and outreach to managers will help them integrate the new protections into future coastal and ocean management decisions so that the MPA can be enjoyed to its maximum benefit.

In the end, securing a science-based MPA with local community support and the stamina to stand the test of time follows a fairly simple recipe.  I hope these lessons, largely taken from last month’s Congress, can be applied by others.

Agree or disagree with this recipe for the best marine protected area (and bouillabaisse) in the world? Join us on Nov. 6 at 2 p.m. PST for our MPA Twitter Party to share your thoughts.

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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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Don’t Mess With Success http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2013/07/23/dont-mess-with-success/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2013/07/23/dont-mess-with-success/#comments Tue, 23 Jul 2013 12:30:42 +0000 Ellen Bolen http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=6368 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.

Ocean Conservancy worked with The Pew Charitable Trusts to produce a report that highlights some of the successes we’ve seen due to the Magnuson-Stevens Act.

“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.

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

Here’s an excerpt from the report that helps tell the story of how successful fishermen from Alaska to Maine helped turn around decades of overfishing:

Glen Libby: Port Clyde: The little port that could—and still can

Decades after the collapse of New England’s top fish populations, including cod and flounder, only a few communities continue the region’s rich fishing tradition. The tiny enclave of Port Clyde in Maine is one of them, and Glen Libby is a reason.

“It was either make this work or quit, and I’m too stubborn to quit,” he says. Libby has been fishing for groundfish and shrimp out of Port Clyde for almost 40 years. His father fished there before him, and his brother Gary and son Justin have followed the family tradition.

Libby’s humility aside, credit Port Clyde’s survival to more than stubbornness. Libby and his peers have learned to deal with hardship, creating opportunities amid a legacy of beaten-down fish stocks.

A former member of the New England Fishery Management Council, Libby helped found the Maine Coast Fishermen’s Association, which has rallied the tenacious few remaining draggers in Port Clyde and other small ports to find ways of adapting. Inventive and determined, fishermen in this port are using the tools afforded them under the Magnuson-Stevens Act to earn a sustainable living …

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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Video: Ocean Planning: Enhancing and Protecting Our Fisheries http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2013/07/05/video-ocean-planning-enhancing-and-protecting-out-fisheries/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2013/07/05/video-ocean-planning-enhancing-and-protecting-out-fisheries/#comments Fri, 05 Jul 2013 14:30:56 +0000 Guest Blogger http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=6170

This is a guest blog post from Jennifer McCann, Director of U.S. Coastal Programs at the University of Rhode Island (URI) Coastal Resources Center and Director of Extension Programs for Rhode Island Sea Grant.  It is part of an ongoing video series on the value of smart ocean planning.

This film offers thinking from practitioners about how ocean planning — with its emphasis on integrating planning approaches across multiple resources and user groups — could help solve complicated economic, social and environmental issues challenging the fishing industry.

Watch the other films in this series:

 

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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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The Fish We Need to Feed 9 Billion People http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2013/05/22/the-fish-we-need-to-feed-9-billion-people/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2013/05/22/the-fish-we-need-to-feed-9-billion-people/#comments Wed, 22 May 2013 15:50:26 +0000 Andreas Merkl http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=5848

Salmon in the Ketchikan, Alaska harbor credit — Chris Howerton

The following is an excerpt from a post that first appeared on National Geographic’s Ocean Views:

Smart fisheries management is a great place to start a conversation about putting the ocean at the center of the world’s biggest challenges.  This is because the most profitable type of fishing is sustainable fishing – better management helps fishermen and the ocean at the same time.

Sustainable fishing means keeping enough fish in the water to reproduce and ensure a bountiful catch in the future. It’s a balancing act, but sustainable fisheries are in everyone’s best interest – from fishermen to distributors to gear manufacturers to retailers to consumers. If you’re a fisherman and you want to pass on your traditions to the next generation, or you want to be able to make good money 10 years from now, the most profitable way to fish is sustainably.

Unfortunately, overfishing due to poor fisheries management remains a global problem that threatens ecosystem health and human survival. For example, without enough forage fish—small fish like anchovies, sardines, and squid—the larger predators, like tuna, that feed on them will start to disappear as well.

That matters because we are facing a future with 9 billion people on the planet, and with that future comes huge concerns for food security.

Read the full post at National Geographic

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10 Key Facts About Red Snapper http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2013/05/20/10-key-facts-about-red-snapper/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2013/05/20/10-key-facts-about-red-snapper/#comments Mon, 20 May 2013 20:30:01 +0000 Ellen Bolen http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=5734

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.
  4. Bigger, older red snappers produce many more eggs than young ones. One 24-inch female red snapper (about 8 years old) produces as many fish as 212 17-inch females (about 5 years old) Most red snapper caught in the Gulf today are only between four and six years old.
  5. Economically, red snapper are among the most valuable fish in the Gulf. In 2011, commercial fishermen from the five Gulf states landed more than 3.2 million pounds of red snapper, sold dockside for $11.5 million.
  6. They are also tasty! There are more than one million recipes for red snapper online.
  7. Sport fishermen love to pursue them as well. In 2011, 3.1 million recreational anglers took more than 22 million fishing trips in the Gulf of Mexico targeting red snapper and other species. These fishing trips are a boon to the local economy.
  8. Red snapper have been severely overfished in the Gulf but are now on their way back. The Gulf snapper population reached its low point the late 1980s, but since then science based and effective management and favorable conditions for reproduction have put the red snapper on the road to recovery. Since 2009 catch limits for snapper have steadily increased.
  9. There is a science-based plan in place to rebuild red snapper to healthier levels. It is working but will take time. If implemented properly, management agencies hope to restore the population to sustainable levels by 2032.
  10. This is the tough part. The population is recovering so people are seeing more and bigger fish in the water and in places they haven’t been seen in decades, making the fish easier to catch. This leads to higher catch rates and more fish being removed during a typical day of open recreational season for red snapper. Science-based limits critical to the successes we’ve seen are thus get reached faster resulting in shorter recreational fishing seasons.  This has been compared to taking antibiotics when you are sick—you’ll start to feel better in a few days, but if you stop taking the medicine too soon you run the risk of undoing the progress you’ve made and could get sick again.

Read the story of red snapper from a fisherman’s perspective in our new report.  And here is an update on policy affecting red snapper in the Gulf.

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