NOAA to webcast deep-sea explorations

NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer systematically explores the deep oceans of the world. (Credit: NOAA)

NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer systematically explores the deep oceans of the world. (Credit: NOAA)

Research voyage begins Aug. 1; scientists say they expect to find new species

Staff Report

FRISCO — Ocean enthusiasts will have a chance to do some armchair exploring the next few months as NOAA scientists deploy unmanned submarines to explore protected areas in the central Pacific Ocean.

Starting Aug. 1, anyone with an internet connection can join the expedition in real time at oceanexplorer.noaa.gov. NOAA’s research ship, the Okeanos Explorer, will visit deeper waters in and around Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, Johnston Atoll in the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument, and the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary. Continue reading

Is it time to rethink governance of high-seas fisheries?

‘We should use international waters as the world’s fish bank …’

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Shrimp boats in Apalachicola, Florida. bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

FRISCO — Growing exploitation of open-ocean resources will soon require  the world to rethink the way it manages the high seas, including a potential ban on commercial fishing that would help distribute fisheries income more equitably among the world’s maritime nations, according to research from the University of British Columbia.

After studying fisheries data, the researchers concluded that maintaining or boosting fish stocks in the high seas would help boost coastal fisheries. If increased spillover of fish stocks from protected international waters were to boost coastal catches by 18 per cent, current global catches would be maintained. When the researchers modeled less conservative estimates of stock spillover, catches in coastal waters surpassed current global levels. Continue reading

Oceans: New report says pirate fishing still widespread

Access to U.S. seafood market at stake for some countries

Fishermen in the harbor in Saranda. Albania.

Fishermen in the harbor in Saranda. Albania. bberwyn photo.

FRISCO— In a new report to Congress, federal fisheries biologists fingered six countries as still sanctioning pirate fishing. Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico, Nigeria, Nicaragua, and Portugal could all lose certifications from the U.S. because they aren’t doing enough to stop illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing.

Violations include fishing in restricted areas, discarding tuna, misreported catch, and improper handling of turtle entanglement. NOAA Fisheries will work with each of the cited nations to address these activities and improve their fisheries management and enforcement practices. Continue reading

Oceans: Whale sharks get a little love from tuna fishermen

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Whale sharks are getting some protection from purse-seining in the eastern Pacific Ocean.

New fishing regs protect world’s largest fish from harmful tuna netting practices

Staff Report

FRISCO — Whale sharks in the Pacific Ocean are getting a little help from an international fishing group that recently banned the practice of placing purse-seine tuna nets around the world’s largest fish.

Whale sharks are so docile that humans often swim alongside them without concern, snapping photographs of their incredible size. But it is exactly their enormous bulk that made them an accidental target of commercial fishermen, who know that tuna like to gather in schools around whale sharks (as well as other large floating objects).

Tuna fleets often use fish-aggregating devices to attract tuna to an area, making it easier to find and encircle the tuna in the purse seine nets much more efficient. When fishermen deploy nets around whale sharks to capture tuna swimming beneath it, the encircled whale sharks are often caught in the net, where they are injured or die. Continue reading

Study: Federal regulations alone won’t help Hawaii spinner dolphins

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Spinner dolphin. Photo courtesy NOAA.

Duke University researchers say community based conservation measures also needed

Staff Report

FRISCO —Hawaii’s spinner dolphins need federal regulations limiting human access to resting areas, but that alone won’t be enough to help them survive in the long run. Along with any new federal rules, resource managers will also have to work to develop local community-based conservation measures, which can be tailored to how individual bays are used, according to new research by Duke University.

Federal biologists estimate there are about 3,000 spinner dolphins around Hawaii, where hundreds of thousands of tourists pay for up-close encounters with the animals, swimming with them in shallow bays the dolphins use as safe havens for daytime rest. But as the number of tours increases, so do the pressures they place on the resting dolphins. Continue reading

Oceans: Satellite data shows leatherback sea turtles ranging far and wide in search of jellyfish

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A leatherback sea turtle at sea. Photo courtesy NOAA.

New study to help inform conservation efforts along East Coast and Caribbean

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Threatened leatherback sea turtles like to hang out off the northeastern U.S. coast in late summer and fall, when mature jellyfish are abundant in the area, scientists said last week, sharing the results of a long-term study based on satellite data of tagged sea turtles.

“Our study provides new insights about how male and immature turtles behave, how they use their habitats and how that differs from adult females,” said University of Massachusetts researcher Kara Dodge. “Resource managers for protected marine species have lacked this key understanding, especially in coastal regions of the U.S. and Caribbean where leatherbacks and intense human activity coincide.” Continue reading

Sea turtle conservation efforts need more international collaboration

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A leatherback sea turtle. Photo courtesy NOAA.

Long-line fishing still seen as key threat

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Efforts to protect leatherback sea turtles urgently require better communication between scientists and fisheries managers, a team of researchers said after analyzing satellite data on sea turtle migration.

The last large populations of the leatherback turtle are at risk because their migratory routes in the Atlantic Ocean clash with the locations of industrial fisheries, according to the study.

The researchers used data from satellite transmitters attached to the turtles to track their movements across the Atlantic Ocean. These movements were then overlapped with information on high pressure fishing areas to identify where the turtles are most susceptible to becoming entangled and where they may drown.

The international study was jointly led by Dr. Matthew Witt, of the University of Exeter and Dr, Sabrina Fossette, of Swansea University, found that urgent international efforts are needed to protect the iconic species. Continue reading

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