Feds propose regs to tackle seafood fraud

Advocacy groups say the proposal leaves a few loopholes

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Proposed new rules could lead to less seafood fraud. @bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

Consumers in the U.S. may soon get some help in figuring out if their seafood comes from sustainable fisheries. A national group that’s been tackling illegal fishing this week announced a proposal for creating a U.S. seafood traceability — another step toward ensuring that global seafood resources are sustainably managed and not fraudulently marketed. The proposal aims to trace the origins of imported seafood by establishing reporting and filing procedures for imported fish and fish products entering U.S. commerce. Continue reading

Global warming: Goodbye to sea scallops?

A northward shift of the Gulf Stream could warm waters off the New England coast significantly, according to a new NOAA study. Graphic courtesy NASA.

Rapidly warming ocean temperatures off the New England coast are affecting many marine species. Graphic courtesy NASA.

New vulnerability assessment to help guide fisheries management

Staff Report

Rapidly warming ocean temperatures off the coast of the Northeastern U.S. are likely to have a big impact on nearly all fish and other marine life in the region. Scientists with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration carefully surveyed 82 species in a recent study, trying to identify which are the most vulnerable to global warming.

“Our method identifies specific attributes that influence marine fish and invertebrate resilience to the effects of a warming ocean and characterizes risks posed to individual species,” said Jon Hare, a fisheries oceanographer at NOAA Fisheries’ Northeast Fisheries Science Center (NEFSC) and lead author of the study. “This work will help us better account for the effects of warming waters on our fishery species in stock assessments and when developing fishery management measures.” Continue reading

Two Mexican gray wolves die during ‘count and capture’ operation

A Mexican gray wolf in the wilds of the Blue Range wolf recovery area. Photo courtesy of the Mexican Wolf Interagency Field Team.

A Mexican gray wolf in the wilds of the Blue Range wolf recovery area. Photo courtesy of the Mexican Wolf Interagency Field Team.

Feds suspend aerial tranquilizing pending necropsy results

Staff Report

Wildlife biologists have temporarily suspended their Mexican gray wolf count and capture operation after two wolves died during the annual population survey.

As part of the wolf recovery effort, wildlife managers tranquilize the wolves from the air to attach radio collars, which gather biological information, such as dispersal, territories, habitat use, and breeding.

This year, two of the wolves died shortly after being tranquilized. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will conduct necropsies at an Oregon lab to determine causes of death for each wolf. Continue reading

Environment: Less light pollution along Florida beaches is good news for sea turtles

A leatherback sea turtle at sea. Photo courtesy NOAA.

A leatherback sea turtle at sea. Photo courtesy NOAA.

Lighting ordinances help protect nesting turtles

Staff Report

Coastal development may still be running rampant in Florida, but there are some signs that a concerted effort to protect sea turtles from at least some of the impacts is paying off.

A study that started as a high school science project suggests that a network of sea turtle-friendly lighting ordinances along Florida’s coast seems to be working by darkening beaches, which is a big deal because scientists already know that sea turtles are disturbed brightly lit areas. The findings fit in with other studies that assess the impacts of light pollution on wildlife.

“Florida’s coastlines are getting darker, and that’s a good thing not just for sea turtles but for other organisms,” said University of Central Floria biology professor John Weishampel, co-author of the study published last week in the journal Remote Sensing in Ecology and Conservation. “It shows we affect turtles’ nesting, but at the same time we’ve been successful at reducing that effect.” Continue reading

Comeback spurs plan to downlist manatees

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Manatees gathering at a freshwater spring in Florida. @bberwyn photo.

Protection efforts pay off for the marine mammals

Staff Report

Federal biologists say manatees are on the road to recovery and they’re proposed to downlist the species from endangered to threatened under the Endangered Species Act.

When scientists started tracking the gentle marine mammals, the Florida population was estimated at about 1,200. In the last 25 years that population has grown to about 6,300, with 13,000 across the species’ range, including Puerto Rico, Mexico, Central America, South America, and Greater and Lesser Antilles. Continue reading

Sharks at risk in key Atlantic fishing zones

A whitetip reef shark. Photo courtesy NOAA.

A whitetip reef shark. Photo courtesy NOAA.

New research can guide conservation efforts

Staff Report

A four-year study that followed about 100 tagged sharks shows that commercial fishing operations overlap with shark hotspots in the ocean. The findings suggest that sharks are at risk of being overfished in some areas.

“Our research clearly demonstrates the importance of satellite tagging data for conservation,” said Neil Hammerschlag, director of the shark research program University of Miami (UM) Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science. “The findings both identify the problem as well as provide a path for protecting oceanic sharks,” Hammerschlag said. Continue reading

Biodiversity: Report IDs new threat to dwindling amphibians

The eft stage of a red-spotted newt in Walker County, Georgia (Crockford-Pigeon Mountain Wildlife Management Area). Photo credit: Alan Cressler, USGS.

The eft stage of a red-spotted newt in Walker County, Georgia (Crockford-Pigeon Mountain Wildlife Management Area). Photo credit: Alan Cressler, USGS.

Invasive fungus expected to arrive in North America via global trade

Staff Report

Global trade in salamanders is seen as a big threat to wild salamanders in the United States, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

The agency highlighted the potential risks in a recent report, highlighting that cooperative research and management efforts are needed to develop and implement effective pre-invasion and post-invasion disease-management strategies if Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans (Bsal) enters and affects salamanders within the United States.

The deadly fungus has already caused population crashes in wild European salamanders could emerge in the United States and threaten already declining amphibians here, according to the report. Bsal is just one of the many emerging invasive species threats in the era of globalization, and the USGS report helps how preventive strategies may be able to at least slow the spread of new pathogens. Continue reading

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