Ocean Currents » magnuson stevens act http://blog.oceanconservancy.org News, opinions, photos and facts from Ocean Conservancy Wed, 30 Sep 2015 23:26:00 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.4.2 A Canary in the Ocean Coal Mine http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2015/06/19/a-canary-in-the-ocean-coal-mine/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2015/06/19/a-canary-in-the-ocean-coal-mine/#comments Fri, 19 Jun 2015 15:30:17 +0000 Corey Ridings http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=10336

Another crucial U.S. fish stock is rebuilt, reinforcing the importance of a strong Magnuson-Stevens Act

Earlier this week federal managers of West Coast U.S. fish stocks found that canary rockfish is rebuilt. This is great news for fishermen, seafood consumers, and conservationists, as it means a healthy population that puts more fresh seafood on American plates and supports a stronger ocean ecosystem. Canary rockfish is important in its own right as a species, but this finding allows for increased fishing of other fish populations that swim alongside it – canary is common as bycatch, or non-targeted species that also get caught in fishing gear, and increased catch levels will enable greater fishing opportunities of other species.

The Pacific Fishery Management Council, the federal group that co-manages our nation’s fisheries off of Washington, Oregon, and California approved the analysis done by NOAA Fisheries today, starting what will most likely be a revision of catch limits, and an official update to the “Status of Stocks,” NOAA Fisheries’ official score-keeping tabulation of stocks nationally.

A rebuilt population declaration comes as a bit of a surprise; canary rockfish were in year 15 of an updated 29-year rebuilding plan. Canary was found to be overfished in 2000 after unsustainable fishing pressure in the 1980s and 1990s and a rebuilding plan that reduced catch and set limitations on fishing gear was put in place to rebuild the population from less than 6% of the historic population size. That means this good news of rebuilding shouldn’t have arrived until 2029. But better data, an improved model for assessing the health of the species, and good recruitment (the number of eggs that survive to become young fish in a given year and replenish a population, a highly variable feature in many fish), and a commitment to rebuilding by managers and fishermen led to this outcome sooner than expected. Some top-notch science, a boost from nature, and a robust rebuilding strategy paid off.

Although this good news is cause for celebration, it is also a reminder of why we must remain vigilant. A changing climate and unstable ocean conditions mean shifts in fish stock productivity, and likely other ecosystem changes we have yet to foresee.

Ironically, Congress is in the midst of rolling back the mandate for rebuilding programs such as this one. If the Magnuson-Stevens Act reauthorization bill that passed the House of Representatives earlier this month becomes law, successes such as this will become rarer. Opponents want “flexibility” to increase fishing opportunities and continue overfishing today; however this short-sighted approach would push rebuilding even further into the future, costing fishermen, seafood consumers, and the ecosystem in the meantime.

A rebuilt canary population should be more than just a happy tweet, but also a timely reminder of what rebuilding can accomplish and a warning to stay strong on critical requirements of the law.

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Ocean Issues on Capitol Hill: A Q&A with Congressman Sam Farr http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2015/05/28/ocean-issues-on-capitol-hill-a-qa-with-congressman-sam-farr/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2015/05/28/ocean-issues-on-capitol-hill-a-qa-with-congressman-sam-farr/#comments Thu, 28 May 2015 16:57:13 +0000 Jeff Watters http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=10266

Ocean Conservancy engages with members of Congress on both sides of the aisle to benefit and protect our ocean and its wildlife. Congressman Sam Farr, founder and chair of the House Oceans Caucus, has championed legislation to protect the ocean and fought against legislation threatening the ocean during his 23 years in Congress. Farr is California’s Central Coast longest serving member — a district that includes the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary and the majestic Big Sur coastline. So it isn’t surprising that Farr is known for his passion for the ocean. He uses his position as a member of the powerful House Appropriations Committee to bolster the nation’s land and ocean resources. We spoke with Farr recently about ocean issues in Washington.

     1. You’ve always been a champion of the ocean in Congress, where does your passion come from?

After school when I was a young kid, I spent my evenings exploring the tidal pools along the shores of the Monterey Bay. I was fascinated by all the different species that would be in those pools and wanted to learn everything I could about them. What started as childhood curiosity eventually turned into a lifelong passion. In high school, I had a biology teacher that inspired me and so upon graduating, I left for college planning on becoming a biology teacher. Life had a different plan. I joined the Peace Corps after hearing President Kennedy’s call to action and that was the beginning of my public service career. Serving in office at the local, state and now federal level, helped me gain a better understanding of how dependent we are on the ocean for our health and livelihood. When I came to Congress 23 years ago, I made it my mission to help raise awareness and be an advocate for our greatest natural resource.

     2. As a member of the House Committee on Appropriations, how do you use the appropriations process to further awareness about our ocean?

In this era of cut, squeeze and trim in Washington, funding for the ocean is a constant target.  As a member of the Appropriations Committee, I am in a great place to both fight for that funding but also explain to other members why ocean funding is necessary. Beyond those who represent a coastal community, few members of Congress truly understand how important the ocean is to our national economy. So my job is to constantly explain why ocean programs are important and then fight to preserve what little funding is already there. For instance, recently I fought to save the B-WET program that for many K-12 students is their only exposure to the role they can play in protecting our bays and watersheds. Reaching kids at an early age fosters a connection to the ocean that lasts throughout their lifetime. Fortunately, I was able to restore the funding to this important program and so we can inspire the next generation of ocean champions.

     3. Ocean acidification impacts coastal communities and their economies, what are you doing to address this growing problem?

I have been working with members on both sides of the aisle to introduce bipartisan legislation to tackle ocean acidification. The bill is finalized and we hope to introduce it when Congress returns next week. Scientists have already shown how harmful ocean acidification is to the shellfish industry. However, we still don’t have a firm grasp on the entire scope of the problem and the effects it will have on other forms of marine life. This bill is not just about solving the problem; it’s about saving industries like the shellfish industry or the tourism industry that is dependent upon beautiful healthy coral reefs. Our bill increases funding for the research into the problem but also helps shift the focus to ways we can mitigate the damage.  While we search for ways to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide going into the ocean, we also need to find ways to reduce the impact ocean acidification will have on our economy.

     4. The West Coast has recently kicked off a regional ocean planning initiative. How does this process help coastal communities?

In any coastal community there are typically a few dozen federal, state and local agencies that manage their own domains in the ocean. In the past, all of these groups were operating in their own little silos with minimal communication and practically no collaboration. That is dumb-dumb policy. Regional ocean planning as part of the National Ocean Policy finally brings everyone to the table and working together. More communication and collaboration will lead to better management of the ocean. Coastal communities will benefit greatly from this streamlined process because it removes all the confusion, allowing for smarter planning and use of the ocean. This increase in efficiency will also help save taxpayer dollars. It’s a win-win. We already see this happening on the East Coast where the planning bodies have been in place for a few years and it is now spurring development. That is what makes the Republicans’ constant attacks on the National Ocean Policy so frustrating, especially from those who only oppose it because it came from this White House. It’s about smarter more efficient government; not more government, and that is something both sides of the aisle should support.

     5. The Magnuson-Stevens Act has led to many successes in ocean conservation. Congress is now considering a reauthorization of the act. How would the bill in its current form change things on the water?

One of the favorite games in Washington is to give a bill a great sounding name and then have the bill do the exact opposite. We saw this in the past with legislation like the Clear Skies Act, which did nothing more than give a free license to polluters to keep on dumping toxins into the air. They call this latest bill the “Strengthening Fishing Communities and Increasing Flexibility in Fisheries Management Act” and yet it does nothing to strengthen our fishing industry. Instead, the bill threatens the long-term health of the industry by eliminating all of the protections that successfully saved many species of fish. Thanks to the original Magnuson-Stevens Act, overfished stocks are at an all time low leaving an abundant stock for commercial and recreational fisherman. Only in Congress would you take a policy that is working great and toss it out for something this harmful.

     6. What do you see as the biggest obstacle our ocean face in Congress?

Congress right now is filled with too many short-sighted members — too eager to let partisan bickering deter from long term planning. I see it in the constant attacks on the National Ocean Policy and the attempts to deregulate or defund marine programs. The majority in Congress are quick to sellout the ocean for fleeting economic gains. They ignore the crash that always follows in those boom and bust cycles. This lack of forward thinking is bad in any economy but it’s even worse when you are dealing with the blue economy which is dependent on a healthy, productive ocean. Wall Street may recover quickly after a crash but coastal economies destroyed by polluted ecosystems take longer to bounce back and, of course, extinct fish will never come back. We need more leaders in Congress who can look further down the road than the next election. That will only happen if the public speaks up and starts holding their members accountable when they vote for these stupid policies. Change won’t come out of Washington it will only come out grassroots efforts. So if you love the ocean and want to help improve its health, I encourage you to “be the change you want to see in the world.”

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It’s a Keeper: New Report Shows the Magnuson-Stevens Act is Working http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2015/04/24/its-a-keeper-new-report-shows-the-magnuson-stevens-act-is-working/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2015/04/24/its-a-keeper-new-report-shows-the-magnuson-stevens-act-is-working/#comments Fri, 24 Apr 2015 18:00:31 +0000 Ellen Bolen http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=10160

Fish lovers, rejoice! Last week, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) released record breaking news, showing yet again, that the Magnuson-Stevens Act is working. In its 2014 Status of Stocks report, NMFS reported that overfishing and overfished numbers are at an all-time low, and the number of rebuilt fish stocks has grown to 37!

Since 2007, the percentage of stocks that are facing overfishing, or that are already overfished, has decreased—even though fishing is increasing. This points to positive rebuilding progress for our nation’s fisheries. It is clear that sound science and managing the long term future of our fisheries is working for America’s fish stocks as well as for the country’s economy.

It is important that this progress continue. More than 1.7 million jobs in the United States rely on commercial and recreational fisheries, contributing $199 billion annually. This is in large part thanks to the Magnuson-Stevens Act, our country’s fisheries management law.

The Magnuson-Stevens Act is an invaluable tool for protecting the economic benefits realized by our nation’s fisheries. This law is critical to preserving the health and integrity of our ocean’s complicated and delicate marine ecosystems.  The Status of the Stocks report further proves that the Magnuson-Stevens Act is making important strides toward ending overfishing, and we can’t afford to stop now.

Ocean Conservancy looks forward to future improvements to the Magnuson-Stevens Act to continue our achievements in rebuilding fisheries so that we may realize the long-term ecological and economic sustainability of our nation’s fisheries.

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Congress is Still Fishing for Trouble http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2015/03/12/congress-is-still-fishing-for-trouble/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2015/03/12/congress-is-still-fishing-for-trouble/#comments Thu, 12 Mar 2015 14:30:34 +0000 Ellen Bolen http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=9980

While we may have a new Congress, they are still fishing for the same trouble.  Despite hearing from more than 31,000 Ocean Conservancy members to throw the bill back,  Representative Don Young (R-AK) reintroduced the same legislation attempting to weaken our federal fisheries law that former Representative Doc Hastings was pushing last year.

Last week, the House of Representatives continued its attempts to weaken our nation’s federal fisheries law, the Magnuson-Stevens Act. Our nation’s fisheries have made remarkable progress ending overfishing and rebuilding fish populations under this law, and we cannot afford to reverse course. Weakening the Magnuson-Stevens Act would harm the ocean environment and threaten the long-term sustainability of coastal fishing communities, businesses, and jobs. Weakening the Magnuson-Stevens Act is something that we simply cannot afford.

This bill is a step back for America’s fisheries, fishermen and coastal communities. Instead of gutting our nation’s fishery conservation safeguards, we should be strengthening the Magnuson-Stevens Act to support healthy, productive fisheries and fishing communities.

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5 Reasons You Depend on Healthy Fisheries http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2014/11/21/5-reasons-you-depend-on-healthy-fisheries/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2014/11/21/5-reasons-you-depend-on-healthy-fisheries/#comments Fri, 21 Nov 2014 18:20:55 +0000 Ellen Bolen http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=9535

Happy World Fisheries Day! Today we celebrate the fish and fishermen who are vital to a healthy ocean and thriving coastal economies. Whether we live near the water or not, we all depend on healthy fish populations for a healthy ocean and economy.

Fish are truly amazing – coming in all different shapes and sizes and living in nearly every corner of the ocean.

In honor of World Fisheries Day, we’re paying tribute to our gilled friends of the sea. Here are five fin-tastic ways that we all depend on healthy fish populations:

1) Healthy fish create a healthy environment.
We all know that little fish are eaten by big fish, and big fish are eaten by bigger fish—all the way up the food chain. But fish can serve other roles in their environment, too. In some instances, fish literally shape the environment around them. Fish contribute nutrients to their local ecosystems—helping algae and seagrasses to grow and become abundant for all ocean critters to feast upon.

2) Healthy fish support a strong economy.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s 2013 report on the status of Fisheries of the United States, 11 million anglers took 71 million recreational fishing trips and commercial fishermen brought in a total of $5.5 billion in revenue to the United States!

3) Healthy fish feed hungry people.
Do you enjoy a good sushi dinner? So do lots of other people. The United States is the world’s third largest consumer of seafood after China and Japan. With such a taste for seafood, it’s important that we carefully manage our fisheries so future generations can enjoy it too!

4) Healthy fish attract sightseers.
Fishing is isn’t the only industry contributing to a healthy economy. Scuba divers, snorkelers and other recreationists bring in lots of money to coastal communities’ tourism industries.

5) Healthy fish make healthy people.
Believe it or not, fish are an important part of our medical industry. While 77% of fish caught in the commercial sector was used for human consumption, fish are used for more than just food.  An ocean commission report lists chemicals and biological materials from marine organisms now in use or development, including 10 anti-cancer drugs, drugs to fight inflammation, fungus, tuberculosis, HIV, malaria and dengue.

Ocean Conservancy has worked for more than 22 years to support sustainable U.S. fisheries. Thanks to the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, the United States has made great strides in rebuilding domestic stocks and ending overfishing in U.S. waters.

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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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Q&A With Paul Greenberg, Author of American Catch http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2014/06/27/qa-with-paul-greenberg-author-of-american-catch/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2014/06/27/qa-with-paul-greenberg-author-of-american-catch/#comments Fri, 27 Jun 2014 13:00:43 +0000 Julia Roberson http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=8654

Ocean Conservancy was honored to interview Paul Greenberg about his newly released book, American Catch, which hit bookshelves yesterday. We hope you enjoy our interview — and we hope that you’ll want to help ensure healthy fish populations by taking action today.

1) What made you decide to explore American seafood for your next book?

Originally I’d planned to write a book about the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill.  It had happened just as my earlier book, Four Fish, was coming out and I kept being asked about it on the radio and it struck me as a defining moment for the ocean.  And so I’d actually even sold a proposal called “Under the Horizon” to Penguin and got to work on it as soon as the book tour was over.

But scarcely a month into my research, a flood of books started coming out.  Many excellent books like Carl Safina’s “A Sea in Flames” and Rowan Jacobsen’s “Shadows on the Gulf”.  Many not so excellent books too.

At that point I ran into Carl Safina and I said, “I’m supposed to write this oil spill book . . . “ and before I could even finish saying what I was saying he said, “Don’t do it!  Don’t! The people are all talked out, the scientists are all caught up in the NRDA process and won’t talk, and it will be years before we really know what kind of damage was done.”

Nevertheless I soldiered on.  I researched the oystering community.  I went out shrimping.  But on a dark night while pulling nets in Lake Pontchartrain, I started getting into a conversation with a shrimper about how his market had been severely disrupted by Asian shrimp.  The Spill, for him, was just kind of a sideshow.  A freak show even.  What was really at play was American food security and the prevalence of cheap imports had completely upended his world.  It was then that I realized that the Spill could be part of the story but just one part.  What we were really talking about was the disconnection of the American consumer from the American coast and all the consequences that resulted from that disconnect.

2) In your last book, Four Fish, you highlight cod, salmon, tuna and bass.  In this book you highlight the Gulf of Mexico shrimp, Alaskan sockeye salmon and the New York oyster.  Of those seven seafood delicacies, the oyster stands out—partly because it’s not a fish, but also because few people associate New York with oysters these days.  What made you want to highlight oysters?  What is your hope in promoting them in your book?

An oyster grower from Maine named Carter Newell told me during an interview back in 2012, “Shellfish aquaculture is the economic argument for clean water.”  He meant that because things like oysters, mussels, and clams eat by filtering the water they must de facto have clean water to be edible for humans.  This was a real “a-ha!” moment.

It meant that if we as a nation could become reliant on bivalves again (as we were magnificently before 1920) it could create a positive feedback loop.  We would want to eat from our waters and therefore we would want our waters to be clean.  We would clean our waters and then we would have more food.  And a not small part of this feedback loop is the amazing things shellfish aquaculture does for the marine environment to encourage the presence of more fish.

That really clicked in when I interviewed Bob Rheault, Executive Director of the East Coast Shellfish Growers Association,  who told me: “We took a patch of 2.3 acres of black, eutrophic, anoxic bottom—unproductive and virtually barren, and after a few years it was transformed into one of the most vibrant dive spots in Rhode Island. We sent a few scientists to document the diversity and abundance of species. We found that our pissant little 2.3-acre farm was now home to a thousand baby lobsters, thousands of juvenile sea bass and other fish. We set up traps for scup around the perimeter because fishing on the lease was so good. We slammed them. We would catch keeper striped bass on the lease many months of the year, attracted to the lease by the forage fish and structured habitat around the oyster cages. When I took my kids fishing we went to the lease because I knew we would catch fish.”

That was pretty damn convincing.

3) It seems much of your book can easily speak to Americans who either live near a coastline, or spend a great amount of time there.  What about Americans from the inland states, or those who don’t get to visit the beach on a regular basis?  What message do you have for those who are part of this country with deep ocean roots, yet they may be detached from this history and local seafood in particular, on a day-to-day basis?

Once we had a vibrant freshwater seafood economy and infrastructure.  New York’s old Fulton Fish Market, which features prominently in my book, once had an entire city block devoted to freshwater fish ONLY.  Now there is very little freshwater seafood production in large part because we have drained so much wetland, rejiggered so many rivers and overfished larger bodies of water.

It doesn’t have to be that way.  There are 3,000 dams in the state of Connecticut alone.  Useless dams that impeded the migration of once important food fish like alewives, shad and eels.  We are experiencing massive eutrophication events in the Great Lakes due to poor application of fertilizers.  We can reverse that.  We also can do a lot more inland freshwater aquaculture.  In Illinois there are now shrimp containment farms up and running.  And then there’s the Asian carp, which we should eat out of existence.

4) The reception for your previous book, Four Fish, was incredibly positive – what are you hoping to achieve with American Catch?

As I think I did with Four Fish with respect to aquaculture, I’d like to pull back the blanket on the weird world of imports and exports.  The New York Times op-ed that just ran went a little bit viral, and I was getting flooded with emails and twitter responses that were like, “What? We’re importing as much salmon as we’re exporting?  And some of that is making a 10,000 mile round trip to China?” It’s a weird, weird, weird world.

Most importantly, I’d like people to eat from their own shores and invest their energies into making sure their shores stay safe to eat from.  That requires us to keep the water clean, manage our fisheries well and restrict coastal development.

5) You’ve written about taking your young son fishing – are you concerned or optimistic for the future of American seafood when he’s an adult?

I think if we can maintain solid management and curb coastal development there can be a good future for American seafood.  That said it will likely be a different seafood economy that what we’ve got right now.  My home, Long Island Sound, will be a lot more like the Chesapeake in terms of species composition than like New England.  Already blue crab is much more common than lobster in the Sound.  And there will be much more epochal shifts.  But nature adapts and I think we can adapt with it.

6) You seem like you’re a bit of a foodie and very well versed in cooking seafood. Do you have a favorite seafood dish or recipe?  How about your son?

I am not being lazy when I say that these three recipes that I already did for the Washington Post last month are among my favorite.  I make the fish fillets in spicy vinegar sauce, Beijing style regularly and if I’m having people over I really like to do the Hanoi style fried fish with turmeric and dill with all the various fixings.  It’s a beautiful preparation and fun to eat wrapped up in cabbage or lettuce leaves.  For my son I keep it simple.  Fish dusted in flour, fried and then finished with juice of half a lemon.  He loves that.

6) What is the one thing Ocean Conservancy members can do to help support American seafood?

Eat as many farmed American mussels, clams and oysters as you can.  There are of course other American seafoods you can eat, but farmed mussels, clams and oysters actually improve the marine environment.  By eating them you’re encouraging their propagation, which will lead to cleaner water in the end.

To learn more about American Catch, or to purchase the book, visit http://www.paulgreenberg.org/

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