Tag: ocean conservation

Study IDs threats to North Atlantic right whales

A North Atlantic right whale and calf. PHOTO COURTESY NOAA.
A North Atlantic right whale and calf. PHOTO COURTESY NOAA.

Birth rate decline, fish net entanglements threaten recovery

Staff Report

Some whale populations have recovered strongly since end of the whaling era, but North Atlantic right whales are still struggling and their recovery is in doubt. More and more, the marine mammals are getting entangled in nets, and their overall birth rate has declined by 40 percent since 2010, marine researchers reported this week in the journal Frontiers in Marine Science.

About 500 North Atlantic right whales still survive after two decades period of modest annual growth, but even that was slow compared to other species —  2 to 3 percent a year compared to 6 to 7 percent in other regions, the study found. One recent study found that a different species of right whale is currently making a comeback around New Zealand, with pioneers from Antarctic waters once again visiting the island’s sandy bays to reestablish breeding grounds.

“Right whales need immediate and significant management intervention to reduce mortalities and injuries from fishing gear,” the authors concluded in the study. “Managers need a better understanding about the causes of reduced calving rates before this species can be considered on the road to recovery. Failure to act on this new information will lead to further declines in this population’s number and increase its vulnerability to extinction.” Continue reading “Study IDs threats to North Atlantic right whales”

Environment: Study tracks recovery of Oregon sea stars after massive wasting disease epidemic

Scientists say some species may recover quickly

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 courtesy Steve Lonhart / NOAA MBNMS.

Staff Report

Sea stars along the Oregon coast are recovering from a widespread die-off caused by a viral disease, scientists have reported in a new study published May 4 in the journal PLOS ONE.

The researchers took a close look at the sea star wasting epidemic, which affected 20 species from Baja California to Alaska, making it among the largest marine epidemics on record. They found that, in Oregon, the disease occurred during a phase of cool water upwelling along the coast and so wasn’t directly linked with the over-heated “blob” of Pacific Ocean waters that persisted off the West Coast of the U.S. the past few years. Continue reading “Environment: Study tracks recovery of Oregon sea stars after massive wasting disease epidemic”

Conservation groups say Mexico must step up vaquita conservation efforts to prevent extinction

dfg
Gill nets are still being used in protected areas, according to conservation advocates.

Better monitoring and enforcement of gill net ban needed in Gulf of California

Staff Report

So far, Mexico’s efforts to save the Gulf of California’s endangered vaquita haven’t been enough, according to conservation activists tracking the last-ditch attempt to save one of the world’s most endangered marine mammals. By some estimates, as few as 50 vaquita remain.

In an open letter to Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, nonprofit organizations asked Mexico to step up patrols and enforcement of a gill-netting ban aimed at preventing extinction of the species. In recent months, three vaquitas have died in illegally set nets. Continue reading “Conservation groups say Mexico must step up vaquita conservation efforts to prevent extinction”

Feds propose regs to tackle seafood fraud

Advocacy groups say the proposal leaves a few loopholes

sdfg
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 “Feds propose regs to tackle seafood fraud”

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

asdf
Vaquita porpoise. Photo courtesy Paula Olson/NOAA.
dfg
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 “Sea Shepherd partners with Mexican government to halt the illegal gill net fishing that threatens the vaquita”

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 “Education the path to more support for shark conservation”

Do seals compete with commercial fishermen?

sfag
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 “Do seals compete with commercial fishermen?”