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

Sea Shepherd partners with Mexican government to halt the illegal gill net fishing that threatens the vaquita

Hong Kong prosecution of black market traders could help slow illegal fishing in Gulf of California vaquita preserve

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Vaquita porpoise. Photo courtesy Paula Olson/NOAA.

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Wildlive conservation activists and the Mexican government are partnering to try and save a remnant vaquita population in the upper Gulf of California. Map courtesy Sea Shepherd.

By Bob Berwyn

Conservation groups and the Mexican government are making progress in trying to avert extinction of the vaquita porpoise, a small marine mammal that lives only in a few thousand square miles in the northern Gulf of California.

Late last month, Greenpeace announced that several Hong Kong traders involved in selling illegal marine products from the Gulf of California were convicted and fined for their activities, which could help deter more trade in illegal marine products from the region. It’s that trade that’s pushing the vaquita to the brink of extinction.

And in the Gulf of California, the Mexican government has stepped up enforcement of a gill net ban that’s aimed at protecting the vaquita. At the same time, the Mexican government has partnered with Sea Shepherd, giving the nonprofit direct action group the authority to remove illegal gill nets. Two Sea Shepherd vessels are patrolling the region as part of the group’s Operation Milagro II. Continue reading

Education the path to more support for shark conservation

A whitetip reef shark. Photo courtesy NOAA.

A whitetip reef shark. Photo courtesy NOAA.

Study says recreational anglers need more and better info

Staff Report

A little education could go a long way toward spurring more support for shark conservation among recreational anglers, said a team of scientists who recently questioned anglers on the subject.

The study, led by University of Miami scientists, showed that recreational anglers were more supportive of shark management and conservation if they had prior knowledge of shark conservation. Continue reading

Do seals compete with commercial fishermen?

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Do seals compete with commercial fisheries? @bberwyn photo.

New UK study tries to answer the age-old question

Staff Report

Like in other countries, some Irish fishermen have been complaining that seals are increasingly eating up valuable commercial fish stocks, but a new scientific study says that’s generally not the case, with the possible exception of wild Atlantic salmon.

The work done by researchers with Queen’s University Belfast, Northern Ireland, shows that seals don’t have a significant impact on herring, mackerel, cod, haddock, whiting and 30 other species caught for commercial purposes along the south and west coasts of Ireland, from counties Galway to Waterford. Continue reading

Scientists say it’s time to step up ocean conservation efforts

The Mediterranean at Cassis, France.

The Mediterranean Sea at Cassis, France. @bberwyn photo.

‘The politics of ocean protection are too often disconnected from the science and knowledge that supports it …’

Staff Report

In a perfect world, anywhere from 10 to 50 percent of the world’s oceans would have some type of protection to help sustain ecosystems and critical resources. But while recent decades have brought some progress in ocean conservation, we’re still far from the targets set by scientists, according to a new study published in the journal Science.

Right now, about 1.6 of the world’s oceans have strong protections, lagging far behind terrestrial conservation efforts. In the new study, researchers with Oregon State University point out that numerous international policy agreements call for protection of 10 percent of coastal and marine areas by 2020. Continue reading

Scientists search for ‘acoustic wilderness’ in the oceans

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A supply ship lumbers through the biodiverse waters of the Antarctic Sound. @bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

Ocean scientists are advocating for the designation of quiet zones to help gain a better understanding of how noise pollution affects marine life.

Creating areas where ship traffic is limited would help researchers find the best way to protect marine life from harmful noise, according to a new study published in the journal  Marine Pollution Bulletin. By assigning zones through which ships cannot travel, researchers can help find the best way to protect marine life from harmful noise.

Almost all marine organisms, including mammals like whales and dolphins, fish and even invertebrates, use sound to find food, avoid predators, choose mates and navigate. Chronic noise from human activities such as shipping can have a big impact on these animals, since it interferes with their acoustic signaling. Increased background noise can mean animals are unable to hear important signals, and they tend to swim away from sources of noise, disrupting their normal behavior. Continue reading

Study offer new clues in sea star wasting epidemic

Northern rainbow star afflicted with sea star wasting disease. This species had virtually disappeared from central California kelp forests as of February 2014. Photo: Steve Lonhart / NOAA MBNMS

A northern rainbow star afflicted with sea star wasting disease. This species had virtually disappeared from central California kelp forests as of February 2014. Photo: Steve Lonhart/NOAA MBNMS.

Unique student research project tracks immune response to virus at genetic level

Staff Report

Biological sleuthing by a group of young marine-disease researchers from around the country may help solve the mystery of a massive sea star die-off along the West Coast.

Millions of the animals have died the past few years. Scientists still don’t why. They suspect a common ocean virus is at fault, and the new study, published this week in PLOS ONE, has contributed key information about the sea stars’ immune response when infected with this virus, which causes the marine creatures to develops white lesions on its limbs and within days dissolve or  into a gooey mass. Continue reading

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