Posted on October 4, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
A sea turtle comes up for a breather. Photo courtesy NOAA.
Long-lining a huge threat to sea turtles and sharks
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — Despite its reputation as an eco-haven, some research suggests that Costa Rica’s longline fisheries pose a significant threat to sea turtles and sharks.
Ecologists studying the impacts suggest that more regulation is needed. Well-timed and targeted closures in critical areas could go a long way toward protecting sensitive species — and to ensuring a sustainable fishing industry.
The findings from a recent round of studies were published recently in the Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology, based on research conducted by a team including scientists from Drexel University, the Costa Rican non-profit conservation organization Pretoma andThe Leatherback Trust, a U.S. non-profit working in Costa Rica. (more…)
Filed under: biodiversity, endangered species, Environment, Marine biology, ocean conservation | Tagged: Costa Rica, Environment, longlining, ocean conservation, sea turtles | Leave a Comment »
Posted on July 16, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Conservation commission still striving for consensus during special 2-day meeting in Bremerhaven, Germany
Proposed new marine protected areas would protect Antarctic biodiversity. Bob Berwyn photo.
By Bob Berwyn
FRISCO — A long-running global effort to establish new marine protected areas in the Southern Ocean around Antarctica hit a stumbling block this week, as Russia and Ukraine challenged the world community’s legal basis for proposing the reserves.
The new hurdle emerged this week during a special meeting of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources in Bremerhaven, Germany, called specifically to address the proposals for the Ross Sea region MPA proposal and the East Antarctica MPA proposal.
Other issues that cropped during the first day of the Bremerhaven meeting were related to the size of the protected areas, as well as the duration of the agreement, with some member nations requesting a 50 year review term. Other commission members said they want to make sure a management plan is in place when the protected areas are established. (more…)
Filed under: Antarctica, biodiversity, Environment, Marine biology, ocean conservation | Tagged: Antarctica, biodiversity, Convention for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources, East Antarctica protected area, ocean conservation, Ross Sea marine protected area, Southern Ocean | Leave a Comment »
Posted on July 5, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Biologists find nuanced response to simulated noise pollution
Some blue whales abandon feeding areas when exposed to sonar-like noise pollution, scientists found after tagging some of the cetaceans in the California Bight. Photo courtesy NOAA.
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — Biologists are a little closer to understanding how the use of sonar during naval training exercises affects blue whales, with a new study showing that some tagged whales feeding in deep water stopped eating and sped up or moved away from sonar-like noise
The study, funded by the U.S. Navy, showed that the response to noise pollution is nuanced, depending in part on the what the whales are doing at the time. To assess the impacts, the researchers tagged whales and simulated mid-frequency sonar sounds significantly less intense than the military uses.
“Whales clearly respond in some conditions by modifying diving behavior and temporarily avoiding areas where sounds were produced,” said lead author Jeremy Goldbogen of Cascadia Research. “But overall the responses are complex and depend on a number of interacting factors,” he said. (more…)
Filed under: biodiversity, endangered species, Environment, Marine biology, ocean conservation | Tagged: blue whales, marine mammals, ocean conservation, sonar, United States Navy | 1 Comment »
Posted on June 23, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Feds, oil companies agree to some limits on seismic airgun testing
Marine mammals like coastal bottlenose dolphins will get some relief from seismic airgun blasting in the Gulf of Mexico. Bob Berwyn photo.
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — Whales, dophins and other marine mammals in the Gulf of Mexico will enjoy a little more peace and quiet under a new agreement that limits seismic airgun testing.
Under the deal, oil companies and the federal government will make some biologically important areas off-limits to testing. The agreement will also expand protection to additional at-risk species, and require the use of listening detection devices to better ensure surveys do not injure endangered sperm whales. (more…)
Filed under: biodiversity, endangered species, Environment, gas drilling, Marine biology, ocean conservation, oil drilling | Tagged: Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Gulf of Mexico, marine mammals, ocean conservation, oceans, seismic airgun testing | 2 Comments »
Posted on June 20, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
About 153,000 metric tons of pollutants washed down the Mississippi and Atchafalaya rivers in May
Mapping the size of the Gulf Dead zone helps assess the impacts to marine ecosystems and potential costs to commercial and recreational fisheries.
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — Big runoff in the Mississippi River could lead to a record or near-record dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico this summer, according to a forecast from scientists preparing to measure the oxygen-starved waters where fish and other organisms struggle to survive.
The dead zone in Chesapeake Bay is expected to be smaller than average, based on several NOAA-supported forecast models developed by researchers at the University of Michigan, Louisiana State University, and the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium. (more…)
Filed under: Environment, Marine biology, ocean conservation, water | Tagged: Environment, Gulf of Mexico dead zone, hypoxic oceans, ocean conservation, oceans | Leave a Comment »
Posted on June 2, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
A pteropod shell damaged by corrosive water. Photo courtesy British Antarctic Survey.
Work group to discuss possible new water quality standards that would help assess acidification threats
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — The EPA is taking a step toward tackling the issue of ocean acidification, which is leading toward a huge marine biodiversity catastrophe. The agency recently said it will task a panel of scientists to discuss a petition from the Center for Biological Diversity that requests new water quality standards to enable better detection and monitoring of acidification.
Some of the carbon dioxide pollution in the atmosphere is finding its way to the seas, where it’s changing the basic chemistry of the water and starting to have an impact on corals, shelfish and other marine organisms. One recent study showed exactly how ocean acidification is dissolving the shells of tiny sea snails in the Southern Ocean.
The federal government also has an interagency working group, with scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey, the National Park Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and other agencies working on the issue. (more…)
Filed under: biodiversity, climate and weather, Environment, global warming, Marine biology, ocean conservation | Tagged: Center for Biological Diversity, climate change, EPA, global warming, Great Barrier Reef, greenhouse gases, marine biology, ocean acidification, ocean conservation | 3 Comments »
Posted on May 1, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Humpback whales breaching in the Northwest Atlantic. Photo courtesy NEFSC/NOAA.
Acoustic research breakthroughs could help inform conservation efforts
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — Breakthrough software is enabling scientists to better analyze humpback whale songs. For the first time, researchers have provided the a detailed description linking humpback whale movements to acoustic behavior on a feeding ground in the Northwest Atlantic.
“We have monitored and acoustically recorded whale sounds for years, and are now able to ‘mine’ these data using new computer software applications and methods, “ said Sofie Van Parijs, who heads the passive acoustics group at the Woods Hole Laboratory of NOAA’s Northeast Fisheries Science Center. (more…)
Filed under: biodiversity, endangered species, Environment, Marine biology, ocean conservation | Tagged: Gulf of Maine, humpback whales, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, ocean conservation, Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary, whale songs | Leave a Comment »
Posted on April 25, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Endangered whales perishing in mile-long nets
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — California’s drift gillnet fishery may be classified as one of the most deadly to marine mammals, the National Marine Fisheries Service said this week, announcing its proposed list of fisheries classifications in the Federal Register as required by the Marine Mammal Protection Act.
According to federal biologists, more than three sperm whales die inadvertently each year after being entangled in the drifting nets along with other non-target species like sharks, turtles, dolphins and sea lions. The loss of sperm whales isn’t sustainable considering the small overall population, according to the proposed listing. (more…)
Filed under: biodiversity, endangered species, Environment, Marine biology, ocean conservation | Tagged: California gillnetting, Center for Biological Diversity, endangered species, endangered species act, Marine mammal, national marine fisheries service, ocean conservation, sperm whales | 1 Comment »
Posted on April 8, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Better monitoring and enforcement needed, conservation groups say
Illegal fishing threatens the viability of legal fleets. Bob Berwyn photo.
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — With pirate fishing continuing to decimate global fish stocks, Interpol’s Environmental Crime Programme, with support from The Pew Charitable Trusts, the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation, is launching a major investigation aimed at curbing illegal fishing.
Illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing costs the global economy up to $23 billion a year, according to a study published in 2009 in the peer-reviewed journal PLoS One. Coastal communities, legal commercial fishing interests and the marine environment pay the price when illegal fishers exploit weak laws, poor information-sharing across jurisdictions and a shortage of monitoring and enforcement resources, particularly in developing countries. (more…)
Filed under: Environment, Marine biology, ocean conservation | Tagged: Environmental crime, illegal fishing, Illegal unreported and unregulated fishing, Interpol, ocean conservation, Pew Charitable Trust, pirate fishing | Leave a Comment »
Posted on April 6, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Chinese fleet takes 12 times more fish than it reports
A new analysis shows where China catches its fish.
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — Illegal fishing is a persistent problem, but it appears that China has elevated it to a new level, catching about 12 times more fish than it formally reports to the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization, an international agency that keeps track of global fisheries catches.
Overall, Chinese fishing boats catch about US$11.5 billion worth of fish from beyond their country’s own waters each year according to a new study led by fisheries scientists at the University of British Columbia.
“China hasn’t been forthcoming about its fisheries catches,” said Dirk Zeller, a senior research fellow with UBC’s Sea Around Us Project and the study’s co-author. “While not reporting catches doesn’t necessarily mean the fishing is illegal … we simply don’t know for sure as this information just isn’t available,” Zeller said, explaining that there could be agreements between China and other countries that allow unreported fishing. (more…)
Filed under: biodiversity, Environment, Marine biology, ocean conservation, Uncategorized | Tagged: China, fish, Food and Agriculture Organization, illegal fishing, ocean conservation, University of British Columbia | 1 Comment »