Ocean Currents » fishing http://blog.oceanconservancy.org News, opinions, photos and facts from Ocean Conservancy Fri, 09 Oct 2015 17:00:32 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.4.2 Ocean Conservancy Supports Red Snapper Recovery and Improved Recreational Fishing http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2015/09/16/ocean-conservancy-supports-red-snapper-recovery-and-improved-recreational-fishing/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2015/09/16/ocean-conservancy-supports-red-snapper-recovery-and-improved-recreational-fishing/#comments Wed, 16 Sep 2015 19:00:33 +0000 Ivy Fredrickson http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=10758

Photo: Ned Deloach / Marine Life Images

For nearly three decades, Ocean Conservancy has been fighting to protect red snapper in the Gulf of Mexico. The stock was formally declared as overfished in the late 1980s. Despite this long and rocky road, 2015 has been a landmark year for red snapper—the stock continues to rebuild as a result of shared sacrifices and innovative management strategies.

In April 2015, NOAA approved a management measure that will improve conservation and recreational fishing opportunities in the red snapper fishery in the Gulf of Mexico. This management measure divides the recreational red snapper quota between charter-for-hire and private recreational fishermen (known as ‘sector separation’ because it splits the recreational sector into two sub-sectors).

Sector separation allows fishery managers to develop individually tailored strategies for the needs of the unique charter-for-hire and private recreational components, which in turn will prevent continued catch-limit overages and foster continued rebuilding of this iconic Gulf species.

Sector separation has paved the way for far greater accountability in the charter-for-hire fishery, which in turn allows for better predictability of fishing seasons and greater access to the fishery as the stock continues to rebuild. The private recreational component stands to reap the same benefits from sector separation as fishery managers continue to develop tools and techniques to increase accountability amongst private recreational anglers and to prevent any future overages in the recreational sector as a whole.

Following approval of sector separation, the Coastal Conservation Association (CCA) filed a lawsuit in federal court challenging this critical management action. Last week, we filed an amicus curiae (‘friend of the court’) brief in the ongoing case. In doing so, Ocean Conservancy weighed in on the side of conservation and angler opportunity. We are asking the court to uphold separate quotas for charter fishermen and private anglers because it is the best way to keep red snapper stocks on the road to recovery.

As Ellen Bolen, Director of Ocean Conservancy’s Fish Conservation Program, stated last week:

“Sector separation is a smart conservation decision. It is good for the fishermen and good for the fish. Sector separation will greatly improve the management system, will guard against a return to overfishing, and will enhance rebuilding progress. Ocean Conservancy stands behind the government’s decision.”

We are urging the court to uphold sector separation in the recreational red snapper fishery. A reversal could threaten the rebuilding plan and cripple further improvements to the fishery that could bring better access for anglers while protecting the marine ecosystem.

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Make Your Holiday Greener http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2015/07/02/make-your-holiday-greener/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2015/07/02/make-your-holiday-greener/#comments Thu, 02 Jul 2015 12:04:15 +0000 Guest Blogger http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=10347

The Travel Foundation is a non-profit organization that works with the travel industry to integrate sustainable tourism into their business — to protect the environment and create opportunities for local people in tourism destinations. Their annual Make Your Holidays Greener Month, during July, celebrates the locations around the world we love to visit and encourages visitors and the travel industry alike to take part in a cleanup — the Big Holiday Beach Clean.

Earlier this year, a report from the World Wildlife Fund valued the world’s ocean at $24trillion – a figure largely calculated from the value of fishing, shipping and tourism.  Whilst many already view the ocean as priceless, the attempt to put a monetary value on it highlights to businesses around the world the importance of taking action to protect marine ecosystems.

For tourism, the ocean and sea are vastly important.  Many of the holidays we take have beaches and coastlines at their center and these environments are an inherent part of the product marketed by tourism companies to their customers.  As a result, this industry is well placed to mobilize action, particularly on the growing and pervasive threat of marine litter.

The Make Holidays Greener campaign is focusing its efforts on engaging travel companies and their customers in celebrating cleaner, greener beaches.  The campaign is organized by sustainable tourism charity, the Travel Foundation, in partnership with Travelife a sustainability certification system for hotels and accommodations.  The organizations are urging hotels, tour operators and other tourism companies to support the campaign by organizing a beach clean this July and by reducing plastic waste.

Beach cleans are a great way to engage customers, staff and local communities in a positive and memorable action, with publicity generated by the campaign helping to spread the message more widely. The Make Holidays Greener infographic about plastic waste, which has already been shared widely, highlights that everyone can make a difference by taking simple actions – such as disposing of litter and cigarette butts properly, taking a reusable bag and bottle to the beach and not using straws.

Plus, every bag of rubbish taken out of the environment makes a difference to birds, turtles, fish, dolphins and other marine life, and the more people who participate, the greater the impact. Last year the campaign gathered great momentum with over 100 companies taking part, cleaning 97 beaches in 22 countries.  It is hoped that these efforts will also feed into the Ocean Conservancy’s database and support further efforts to minimize waste going into our seas.

The campaign website makeholidaysgreener.org.uk features a range of free resources, including how to organize a beach clean, support for hotels to reduce plastic waste, and top tips for holidaymakers.  Follow us on Twitter, @TravelTF, and join the conversation using #greenerhols.

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Red Snapper Season Starts June 1: Not All Smooth Sailing http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2015/05/29/red-snapper-season-starts-june-1-not-all-smooth-sailing/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2015/05/29/red-snapper-season-starts-june-1-not-all-smooth-sailing/#comments Fri, 29 May 2015 18:44:03 +0000 J.P. Brooker http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=10278

Photo: Ned Deloach / Marine Life Images

Anglers all over the Gulf of Mexico will spend their weekend getting ready for Monday, June 1,  the first day of the 2015 Gulf of Mexico recreational red snapper fishing season. Thanks to the hard work of fishermen, managers and the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, fishermen will be able to catch more red snapper this year than the past 8 years.  While we are seeing increases in the allowable catch of red snapper, recreational fishermen have witnessed red snapper fishing seasons shrink year after year. This year the private boat-owning public can fish for a short 10 days while anglers fishing with charter-for-hire captains get 44 days. The charter-for-hire season is a solid increase over the 2014 season, which allowed only 9 fishing days for both components of the recreational fishing sector, but the short 10-day private recreational remains problematic. While there is no arguing that the longer charter-for-hire fleet is fantastic news for captains and their charters, the short private boat-owner’s season illustrates the need for management innovation for the private recreational fishing component that will help anglers access and enjoy the fruits of a healthy and growing Gulf red snapper population.

Federal managers must manage the Gulf’s red snapper as a total body from the beach to the edge of U.S. territorial waters, even as the individual gulf states increase their anglers’ access in their territorial waters by lengthening state-water seasons. Federal managers must account for the states’ longer state-water seasons when setting federal days, therefore being forced by the states’ actions to shorten federal-water fishing to limit the risk of jeopardizing the Gulf red snapper’s rebuilding progress. The states’ actions makes managing the red snapper’s rebuilding plan much more challenging and forces anglers to place more pressure on state-water fisheries. Managing red snapper consistently across state and federal waters makes sense, since fish do not respect political borders, swimming freely throughout their range regardless of state- or federal-water boundaries.

Though fish do not have to respect borders, anglers do. Inconsistent state seasons lead to an inequality in the recreational fishery that left the non-boat-owning public that uses the federally permitted charter-for-hire fleet to access red snapper for only the 9 days that federal waters were open, while the private boat-owning public was able to enjoy their longer state-water seasons plus the days available in federal waters. The inequality faced by the charter fleet and its anglers also threatened the coastal communities that thrive on healthy tourism economies that are serviced by the charter fleet.

Fortunately, for the general public that uses the charter-for-hire fleet to access red snapper and for our coastal communities and their economies, the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council adopted an amendment called Sector Separation that splits the recreational red snapper fishery into two subcomponents: the charter-for-hire fleet and the private boat owning public. Sector Separation allows each subcomponent the ability to develop management measures that ensure each sub-sector is not exceeding its share of the recreational quota. This is great news for the resource and the general public that uses the charter fleet that gets 44 days since there is a limited number of federally permitted boats servicing a large number of anglers. But unfortunately, as the states continue increasing state-water seasons, their actions create a perceived inequity for the private boat-owning public that watches their federal-water access remain stagnant or shrink because of a lack of innovative and accountable, component-specific management tools.

The perceived inequity between the two recreational components can be remedied with new approaches to private management.

If the private component is to enjoy longer federal-water seasons, exploring new management ideas for its anglers is essential. More comprehensive data collection for recreational anglers can improve accountability and prevent the sector from exceeding its allowable catch, but other solutions should be addressed, too, beginning with state consistency that would allow greater federal-water access for all anglers and allowing managers the stability to place durable and resilient private angler management tools into place. Improved accountability in the private recreational fishery is the first step to more days on the water for anglers and more fish in coolers for all, while ensuring that red snapper rebuilding efforts continue to be successful.

Tight lines to any and all targeting red snapper!

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Gulf Leaders Hit the Mark on Restoring the Gulf Beyond the Shore http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2014/11/17/gulf-leaders-hit-the-mark-on-restoring-the-gulf-beyond-the-shore/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2014/11/17/gulf-leaders-hit-the-mark-on-restoring-the-gulf-beyond-the-shore/#comments Tue, 18 Nov 2014 02:10:20 +0000 Kara Lankford http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=9526

Photo: NOAA

Here at Ocean Conservancy, we blog about many issues—some are calls to action, some are educational, but this one is a call to celebrate! Today, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) announced more than $99.2 million for 25 restoration projects across the Gulf of Mexico.

The best part of this news is that Mississippi, Alabama and Florida have chosen to invest in projects that will restore the Gulf beyond the shore. These projects will provide much-needed funding to:

As detailed in Ocean Conservancy’s booklet Restoring the Gulf Beyond the Shore, we are a major champion for projects that restore the offshore species in the Gulf, as well as the underwater habitats that they call home.

We believe it is important to invest in the recovery of these animals that spend much of their lives offshore because the BP Deepwater Horizon oil disaster began in the deep water of the Gulf. The coastal and marine environments are two halves of a single whole, and restoration of one will be incomplete without the other.

We extend a hearty handshake to the folks at NFWF and to our state leaders for recognizing this intrinsic connection. We also commend NFWF and the states for taking a regional, ecosystem approach by funding restoration projects across multiple states and funding streams, so that these projects build on each other to create a comprehensive, integrated restoration effort. It’s so important to leverage the fines from BP and other responsible partners so that restoration of the Gulf is larger than the sum of its parts.

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Good News For Gulf Fishermen http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2014/10/29/good-news-for-gulf-fishermen/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2014/10/29/good-news-for-gulf-fishermen/#comments Wed, 29 Oct 2014 14:42:23 +0000 J.P. Brooker http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=9423

The prognosis for the long-term recovery of red snapper in the Gulf of Mexico brightened considerably last Thursday with the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council’s passage of a measure known as “Amendment 40”—also known to fishermen as “Sector Separation.” Amendment 40 will allow separate management of private recreational anglers and for-hire charter vessels that fish for red snapper.

Although the red snapper fishery in the Gulf is managed as a single stock, the reality is that fishermen from the Florida Keys to South Texas face different situations and fish for different reasons. A for-hire captain who takes customers out of Southwest Florida and deep into federal waters may have a different set of concerns or needs than the weekend recreational angler who has a boat and likes to go red snapper fishing with friends and family but might not venture far from their home marina in the Florida Panhandle, Louisiana, or Texas. It is because of these vastly different situations among fishermen that a new management strategy was needed to address individual concerns, while also ensuring that conservation and rebuilding of the stock remains paramount.

The problem has been made worse by the fact that the science-based recreational quota for red snapper landings has been exceeded every year for twelve of the past fifteen seasons, often by hundreds of thousands of pounds. If this continues, we will jeopardize the efforts to rebuild this valuable fishery and conservation measures to end overfishing will be undermined.

Amendment 40 allows for management strategies that are better tailored to the individual needs of fishermen. Private recreational anglers will get the majority share, or 56 percent of the allocation, which will ultimately result in a season that is managed and designed with their unique needs and concerns in mind. The remaining 44 percent is reserved for members of the public who don’t own a boat and hire guides to take them out on the water. This will enable these charter captains to better schedule fishing days for their clients as their season becomes more predictable and stable.

This new approach to red snapper management is the result of nearly seven years of work. Numerous alternatives were developed and discussed at council meetings and public hearings around the Gulf of Mexico. Thousands of written and spoken comments in favor of Amendment 40 were received by the council from fishermen, charter-for-hire captains, environmental groups, and concerned citizens from across the country.

Last week’s decision represents a practical and levelheaded solution that balances the needs of this ecologically and economically important reef fish and the sometimes competing demands and needs of an increasingly growing fishing public.  Amendment 40’s passage shows how the process can work successfully on behalf of all stakeholders, from fishery managers to fish conservationists to on-the-water fishermen. And, of course, the 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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UPDATE: The Ocean in a High CO2 World http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2013/06/25/update-the-ocean-in-a-high-co2-world/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2013/06/25/update-the-ocean-in-a-high-co2-world/#comments Tue, 25 Jun 2013 17:29:06 +0000 Andreas Merkl http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=6189 polar bearsPresident Obama’s plan to address climate change is a step in the right direction on the long road toward making real progress in reducing carbon pollution. There is no greater threat to the life on our planet than the effects of putting too much carbon into the atmosphere, and we are already seeing the impacts. It’s urgent, and we must act now.

The Arctic is experiencing the effects of climate change more than anywhere else, with air temperatures warming about twice as fast as the rest of the planet. Water temperatures are rising and seasonal sea ice is melting at a record-breaking pace.

As we have increased the amount of carbon pollution pumped into the air, the ocean has absorbed more and more of it, becoming 30 percent more acidic since the Industrial Revolution. This has a ripple effect up the food web and across livelihoods.

There is something we can do about it. The ocean should be at the center of our solutions to the rising threat of carbon pollution. You can learn more about Ocean Conservancy’s work on this issue in my blog, The Ocean in a High CO2 World:

It’s easy to take for granted the many ways that the ocean keeps us alive—it sustains much of the air we breathe, the food we eat, the water we drink and the climate that surrounds us. The complex ocean systems that produce these benefits—from currents and photosynthesis to food chains—are often chaotic and unpredictable at smaller scales, but at large scales they come together in a dynamic equilibrium to ensure that life can thrive.

One of the ocean’s most important life-giving functions is its absorption of carbon dioxide emissions. But we have increased the amount of carbon pollution pumped into the air, and in turn, the ocean has absorbed more and more of it. As a result, the ocean’s chemistry is changing—it has become 30 percent more acidic since the Industrial Revolution. There is no uncertainty or doubt about this; it is a simple and eminently replicable chemical process.

Several of the comments posted by our readers on my last blog focused on this growing concern. My answer to those comments is this: overall there is no greater threat to the life on our planet than the effects of putting too much carbon into the atmosphere, and ocean acidification is a very large part of the problem.

It is, simply put, the largest chemistry experiment ever attempted. It is happening now, and it has real impacts on people and local economies today. Shell-building animals like oysters and sea snails are having trouble building their shells in overly acidic waters, and this has a ripple effect up the food web and across livelihoods. These impacts are likely small compared to what could come if CO2 concentrations keep increasing under the current “business as usual” scenario. At a certain point, shell-building animals will not be able to produce calcium carbonate, with immeasurable effect on the entire food chain.

We’re working with the world’s top ocean acidification scientists to raise awareness about this growing threat and on solutions with the people on the front lines who are already being affected, from oyster growers in Washington state to mussel growers in Maine. In the weeks and months to come, we at Ocean Conservancy will dive deeper to take a very hard look at carbon pollution. For instance, what impact might the Keystone XL pipeline, if approved, have on the ocean? It’s a vitally important question to answer.

At Ocean Conservancy, we understand that the ocean is not just a victim—it must be the part of the solution. The way we manage the ocean and the decisions we make about fishing, shipping, energy extraction and production, and more have huge implications for the future of carbon emissions and the ocean’s continued ability to sustain life.

As we explore this critical issue, we will do so from an “ocean-centric” point of view—we must determine what management decisions and policies we can inform and work on with fishermen, shippers, drillers, windmill builders and oceanographers that can transform ocean health.

We would love to hear from you on this.  There are solutions to be found, and it will take all of our ideas, passion and ingenuity to get there.

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