tagged w/ Marine Environment
Penguin rescue operation under way after south Atlantic oil spill
By David Ariosto, CNN
April 2, 2011 9:36 p.m. EDT
The M.S. Oliva ran aground, fracturing its hull and ultimately splitting the vessel in two.
Rescuers are struggling to save tens of thousands of Northern Rockhopper penguins
The penguins are threatened by an oil spill following a shipwreck near remote island chain
At least 300 penguins have died since the spill, local officials say
(CNN) -- On an island chain located halfway between Africa and Argentina, local authorities say a massive penguin rescue operation is under way.
A mix of island officials and resident volunteers are struggling to save tens of thousands of Northern Rockhopper penguins threatened by an oil spill in the remote stretches of the south Atlantic, roughly 1,500 miles west of Cape Town, South Africa.
The islands' conservation director said at least 300 penguins have died after a cargo ship leaked thousands of tons of heavy oil, diesel fuel and soya bean near Nightingale Island, a British territory part of the Tristan da Cunha archipelago.
"I've seen about 15 to 20 dead penguins just today," director Trevor Glass said.
Thousands more are covered in the ships' oil and diesel fuel, according to local officials and conservationists.
"The danger now is getting the rest of these penguins past that oil slick," Glass said.
The rescue operation began shortly after March 16, when the M.S. Oliva -- a Maltese-registered ship -- ran aground, fracturing its hull and ultimately splitting the vessel in two.
The ship was heading from Santos, Brazil, to Singapore and had been carrying 60,000 metric tons of soya beans and 1,500 metric tons of heavy fuel, according to islands' administrator Sean Burns and Transport Malta, the Maltese shipping authority.
The agency said in a statement that it "is investigating the grounding and subsequent complete hull failure" of the bulk carrier cargo ship.
The dramatic rescue of the ship's 22 crew members was captured on video, along with the spills' aftermath, which showed penguins soaked in heavy oil.
It was shot by an expedition team from an eco-tourism ship -- called SilverSea -- whose crew used inflatable boats to help ferry the sailors to safety, according to David E. Guggenheim of the Washington-based Ocean Foundation. Guggenheim witnessed the rescue aboard the vessel, called the Prince Albert II.
Since then, an oil sheen has surrounded the island chain, which officials say could lead to an environmental disaster.
Rescue workers, using inflatable watercraft and fishing vessels, are now ferrying penguins to a series of makeshift rehabilitation centers at the main island of Tristan da Cunha, according to Glass.
There, he added, conservationists and volunteers are working in an effort to nurse the blackened penguins back to health.
"We need help," said Katrine Herian, a spokeswoman for the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds who is also apart of the ongoing rescue effort.
"The priority is to get food into the birds as they are very hungry," she said. "We are trying locally caught fish and some are starting to take small half-inch squares of the food."
Herian noted that some of the islands' residents had emptied their personal freezers in an effort to help feed the animals.
By Friday, Glass said his team had corralled and transported a total of nearly 5,000 penguins, despite harsh winds and high seas that had hampered earlier rescue attempts.
But the timing of their task is daunting.
The shipwreck, having occurred at the end of the birds' molting season -- a period during which penguins shed their feathers, do not eat and largely stay out of the water -- left the birds "at their weakest possible state," Guggenheim explained. "They're very hungry."
The season's end also marks the beginning of a period when penguins re-enter the sea, now laden with heavy oil and soya beans.
In a written statement, Tristin da Cunha administrator Burns said it is unclear what the impact of the ship's cargo will have on the local marine environment, particularly "any long-term effect on the economically valuable fishing industry for crawfish, crayfish or Tristan Rock Lobster ... which is the mainstay of Tristan da Cunha's economy."
Fewer than 300 people live on the island chain, eclipsed by the its massive penguin population -- estimated at 150,000 -- which accounts for roughly 40 percent of the world's total, according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, a global network of conservationists.
The Northern Rockhopper penguin had been listed as "one of the world's most threatened species of penguin," according to the RSPB.Penguin rescue operation under way after south Atlantic oil spill
By David Ariosto,... more
May 17th, 2010
BP’s Atlantis: Another Catastrophic Accident Waiting to Happen?
The Gulf of Mexico is currently reeling from the human and environmental tragedy unfolding after the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon, an offshore oil platform. The Horizon, operated by BP, exploded on April 20, 2010, killing 11 workers, injuring many others and spilling millions of gallons of oil into the ocean.
While the cause of the Horizon explosion is being investigated, it is important to note that BP has a devastating history of accidents and evading government oversight. Worse yet, an even bigger tragedy in the Gulf could be looming. An internal BP email admits that a “catastrophic” accident is possible at another one of its platforms, the BP Atlantis. An accident at this platform could result in a spill that is many times larger than the one currently unfolding from the Deepwater Horizon.
BP Atlantis poses a serious, immediate and potentially irreparable threat to the Gulf of Mexico’s marine environment, oil workers and communities. BP’s Atlantis platform became active during the Bush administration in October of 2007. Located in “Hurricane Alley,” more than 150 miles from New Orleans at a water depth of more than 7,000 feet, it is one of the deepest moored semisubmersible oil and gas platforms in the world. In August of 2008, a BP contractor made a startling discovery about Atlantis: The company was operating the massive Atlantis platform without proper up-to-date and engineer-approved documentation. Some of the problems included:
* More than 6,000 critical documents — including those for pipelines, flowlines, wellheads and other important systems — did not have the required engineering documentation.
* Over 85 percent of the project’s subsea piping and instrument diagrams, critical documents for operating the platform, were not approved by engineers.
* Many of its safety shutdown system logic diagrams were not up to date.
* Over 95 percent of its subsea welding documents had no final engineering approval, calling into question the safety of the welds.
Workers clean oil from the Horizon spill from a beach in South Pass, Louisiana. Photo by the U.S. Coast Guard.
Atlantis is no small threat. An internal BP email characterized the situation as having the potential for “catastrophic operator errors.” Worse yet, Atlantis is operating in deeper water than the Deepwater Horizon. A worst-case scenario oil spill from Atlantis would exceed the Exxon Valdez spill in only two days, and be many times larger than the spill from the Horizon explosion.
BP’s Big Oil Profits
The BP group is the largest oil and gas producer and one of the largest gasoline retailers in the United States, and in 2008 was the fourth-biggest company in the world. In 2009, BP was the largest producer in the Gulf of Mexico and had pre-tax profits of $25.1 billion.
BP Evades Compliance and the Federal Government Fails to Take Action
Despite questions from Food & Water Watch and Members of Congress, BP has chosen to deny the problems at Atlantis. The company went so far as to send a letter to Congress saying that it only learned of the allegations recently and claimed they were unsubstantiated. However, BP’s own documents show that BP has known about these problems for years.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Interior’s Minerals Management Service (MMS), the primary federal agency responsible for ensuring that all aspects of oil, gas, leasing, exploration, development and production activities are conducted safely, hasn’t been doing its job. The agency did almost nothing when the whistleblower and Food & Water Watch first reported the problems at BP Atlantis and alerted members of Congress.
An aerial view of the progress of the Horizon oil spill off the coast of Louisiana as of May 9, 2010. Photo by NASA.
It was only after 19 members of Congress requested an investigation that MMS said it would conduct an investigation starting in March 2010. By May 2010, however, according to an agency response to a Food & Water Watch Freedom of Information Act request, the agency admitted that it had not and would not take any steps to investigate.
Take Action to Shut Down BP Atlantis
Tell President Obama to shut down Atlantis. Given the seriousness of the situation, production at the Atlantis platform must be immediately suspended until it can be proven safe.
In addition, President Obama needs to order a review of all deepwater platforms in operation and overhaul offshore drilling regulations to reflect public interests, not private profits. Take action today by going to spillthetruth.org.
Visit www.foodandwaterwatch.org/press/atlantis for more information. Read more
Monday, May 17th, 2010
Food & Water Watch Sues Feds for Ignoring Problems at Operating BP Platform
Launches “Spill the Truth” Campaign, Puts MMS Under Scrutiny to Close BP Atlantis Platform Amid Safety Concerns
“Catastrophic Operator Errors” Could Be Next Gulf Disaster
New Orleans, La.—National consumer advocacy group Food & Water Watch filed suit today in a Houston federal court seeking a temporary injunction to halt operations of BP’s massive Atlantis oil drilling platform until critical safety documents are produced.
The agency, along with a former BP document controls subcontractor, maintains the Department of the Interior has allowed BP Atlantis to operate without documented, approved final engineering drawings considered critical to safe operation. Read moreMay 17th, 2010
BP’s Atlantis: Another Catastrophic Accident Waiting to... more
Heidi Taylor was born in Australia. She is the Co-Founder of Tangaroa Blue Ocean Care Society with her husband Richard. She has been a PADI Dive Instructor for the last 10 years, teaching people about the ocean and ways we can protect it.
Her inspirational journey is one of shear determination. She shows us all in this interview how wa can all make a difference in the world.
Thank you Heidi for all you and your dedicated team do to help improve our marine eco-systems leading the way to heathier coastal communities.
Founder & Chair
Greenhouse Neutral Foundation
If you would like to be involved in the 'Interview with an Activist' inspirational series, please get in touch with Bob Williamson at the Greenhouse Neutral Foundation.Brief Bio:
Heidi Taylor was born in Australia. She is the Co-Founder of Tangaroa... more
Whoever thought that our heart-healthy, low-cal, doctor-approved trips to the supermarket fish counter would become fraught with moral choices?
That's exactly the case being made by "The End of the Line," the disturbing new documentary on what overfishing is doing to the world's oceans. (It opens in Los Angeles next Friday.) The film from director Rupert Murray and investigative journalist Charles Clover was screened Monday at UCLA to mark World Oceans Day. Producer Lawrence Bender and longtime environmental activist Kelly Meyer (wife of Universal Pictures President RonMeyer) hosted a crowd that included Rosario Dawson, Saffron Burrows and Kimberly Estrada.
Later this summer, the campaign will include broadcast and online public service announcements featuring Martin Sheen, Alyssa Milano, Rosanna Arquette, Ellen Page, Kelly Preston, Anthony LaPaglia, Gia Carides, Brenda Strong, Garcelle Beauvais-Nilon, Shawn Pyfrom, Keisha Whitaker, Ken Baumann, Kelli Williams, Dave Lieberman, Rene Auberjonois and former NBA player John Salley.
There's a new optimism stirring among activists in this community because after eight years of outright hostility emanating from the Bush White House toward environmental issues, the Obama administration is more willing to engage questions that involve complex international questions.
"The End of the Line," based on Clover's groundbreaking book of the same title, is the first feature-length documentary to take on the overfishing crisis.
According to the filmmakers, failure to take quick action will mean the end of most commercial fishing within less than half a century with dire consequences both in terms of depleting the food supply and the loss of jobs.
To make their case, Murray and Clover not only traveled to fishing grounds all over the world, but also confronted politicians and celebrity restaurateurs on camera.
As examples of what's in store for other popularly consumed species, Murray and Clover examine in detail the near extinction of commercial cod stocks and the impending collapse of bluefin tuna populations around the world, much of the latter caused by the West's newly aroused appetite for sushi and sashimi.
(Add that happy thought to your deliberations the next time you're trying to decide whether to spring for the toro at the local sushi bar.)Whoever thought that our heart-healthy, low-cal, doctor-approved trips to the... more
Just 200 years ago, tens of thousands of whales swam the waters around New Zealand while sharks patrolled the British coastlines, say researchers who tell of lost abundance in the world's oceans.
Around 100 global experts have united under a group called the Census of Marine Life to study the state of the Earth's waters from a historical viewpoint and how advances in technology have wielded devastation on sea life.
The decade-long project brings researchers to Vancouver, Canada from Tuesday and aims to publish its final report in 2010 with inputs from historical accounts as well as geological, botanical and archaeological research.
"What we are looking at is a global picture of decline because of fisheries and habitat destruction," said Poul Holm, professor at Trinity college Dublin and one of the authors of a report to be presented at the three-day conference.
One hundred years ago, cod measuring 1.5 meters (nearly five feet) was frequently sold while today the biggest are around 50 centimeters (20 inches) because of overfishing and the trend of catching the cod too early.
The cod's average lifespan has also dropped dramatically from 10 years to barely 2.8, according to Holm.
Researchers point to losses in the whale population particularly around New Zealand, whose waters boasted between 22,000 and 32,000 whales at the start of the 1800s but only had about 25 in 1925. Around a thousand live today off the country's southern coast.
In most of the zones studied, changes brought on by human activity stretched on for a periods of more than a thousand years but radical changes are also observable within the space of just a few dozen years.
In south Florida's Key West for example, the average size of a fish in the mid 1950s was 20 kilograms (50 pounds). Today it is 2.3 kilograms (five pounds).
Still Holm says the findings give reason for hope.
"It's very useful to just be aware of what we have lost," said Holm.
"Although we are detecting a story of decline, its actually a hopeful message," he added.
"Because we can use the evidence to suggest that if we step back, if we introduce conservation measures, fisheries regulations and avoid some of the stresses that cause harm to ocean life, we will be able to rebuild ocean life to a level which provides a lot of hope and would be able to feed many more people than the oceans are able today."Just 200 years ago, tens of thousands of whales swam the waters around New Zealand... more
Conservationists fear a falling shark population is prompting Asian chefs to look for manta and devil rays to help meet the voracious demand for shark fin soup.
Found in coastal waters throughout the world, rays present an easy target as they swim slowly near the surface with their huge wings. So far, they have escaped commercial exploitation and have been hunted only by small numbers of subsistence fishermen, who traditionally catch them using harpoons.
“Mantas and mobulas are being used as shark fin soup filler,” said Tim Clark, a marine biologist at the University of Hawaii. He said the cartilage was being mixed with low-grade shark fins in cheap versions of the soup. “The life history of manta rays makes them highly susceptible to overfishing,” he added.
With a life span thought to be well over 50 years, the fish reach sexual maturity only in their teens, at which time they produce one pup every one to three years.
The market for shark fin soup is growing at about 5 per cent a year, while shark populations are crashing: 80 per cent of Atlantic sharks have been lost in the past 15 years, according to the trust. Britain is one of only five EU member states that still allows the removal of shark fins at sea. More than 80 tonnes of fins are landed in Britain every year.Conservationists fear a falling shark population is prompting Asian chefs to look for... more
NOAA’s Fisheries Service reported to Congress today that four stocks — Atlantic bluefish, Gulf of Mexico king mackerel and two stocks of monkfish in the Atlantic — have been rebuilt to allow for continued sustainable fishing. This is the largest number of stocks to be declared rebuilt in a single year since the fisheries service declared the first stock successfully rebuilt in 2001.
"Rebuilding these four stocks so they can support the highest sustainable harvest for future generations of Americans is a significant milestone,” said Jim Balsiger, acting NOAA assistant administrator for NOAA’s Fisheries Service. “And while we can claim success with these stocks and 10 others we’ve rebuilt since 2001, this year’s report also shows the major challenges we face to end overfishing on other domestic fish stocks in 2010, as we are ordered to do by law.”
Three stocks — thorny skate, Atlantic blacknose shark and Atlantic shortfin mako shark — were added this year to the list of those that are being fished unsustainably. A fourth stock, Gulf of Mexico pink shrimp, was also listed as subject to overfishing but the stock assessment is being reviewed.
In the report, NOAA scientists reviewed 199 stocks and stock complexes to determine if they were overfished — a population too low to ensure a maximum sustainable harvest — and found that 153 (77 percent) are not overfished, and 46 (23 percent) are overfished.
NOAA scientists also reviewed 251 stocks or stock complexes to see if they were currently subject to overfishing — currently being fished at a level that would threatened the stocks — and found only 41 (16 percent) are.NOAA’s Fisheries Service reported to Congress today that four stocks —... more
The International Fund for Animal Welfare - together with Congressman Eni F.H. Faleomavaega (D-AS) and Congressman William Delahunt (D-MA) - is championing new legislation to mitigate threats to whales and their habitats worldwide. Additional original co-sponsors of the bill include Congresswoman Madeleine Bordallo (D-Guam) and Congresswoman Mazie Kirono (D-HI).
The International Whale Conservation and Protection Act of 2009 calls for the U.S. to renew its whale conservation leadership worldwide. The legislation comprehensively addresses major threats to whales including commercial whaling, ship strikes, entanglement in fishing gear, ocean noise, and climate change.
"We must do all we can to protect whales both in our waters and abroad," said Jeff Flocken, IFAW DC Office Director. "As the critical June 2009 meeting of the International Whaling Commission rapidly approaches, it is crucial for our government to take the lead on opposing the resumption of commercial whaling, ending lethal scientific whaling, and supporting global whale conservation."
Elements of the legislation include:
- Promoting international efforts to conserve and protect the world's whales throughout their range.
- Strengthening the whale conservation and protection efforts of relevant international organizations including the United Nations Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals, the International Whaling Commission (IWC), the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), and the International Maritime Organization.
- Ensuring that the IWC commercial whaling ban is neither lifted nor weakened and that the related illegal and lethal scientific whaling is ended.
- Reducing and, where possible, eliminating sources of human caused death, injury, harassment and disturbance of the world's whales.
- Initiating and expanding research to improve our understanding of the world's whales including health and reproduction, whale habitats and the impacts of human activities and other threats to whales.
"The significance of this policy is that it is a comprehensive policy for whale conservation across the United States government. This policy will be represented, conveyed, and implemented in a consistent manner by all departments, agencies, and overseas missions of the United States government whose responsibilities include or touch upon matters relating to whaling or whale conservation," said Congressman Eni F.H. Faleomavaega of American Samoa
Whale protection is vital to the species' recovery and sustainability. With a new Administration in place, now is the time for the U.S. to reestablish itself as a global leader in whale conservation. A new direction in policy is also supported by other animal welfare and wildlife conservation groups.The International Fund for Animal Welfare - together with Congressman Eni F.H.... more
The most spectacular stretch of coral reefs on the planet is in danger of collapse from climate change, overfishing and pollution, according to a report being presented today at the World Oceans Conference in Indonesia.
Scientists consider the region known as the "coral triangle" to be the centre of marine life on Earth, teeming with fish and almost one-third of the world's coral reefs. Covering 1 per cent of the planet from South-East Asia to the Pacific, the area also supports about 100 million people.
But in the past 40 years, 40 per cent of the coral reefs and coastal mangroves in the coral triangle have been lost because of pollution, coastal development and overfishing, said a University of Queensland professor, Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, who led the study commissioned by WWF.
"It's an astounding amount," Professor Hoegh-Guldberg said. "At the moment the coral reefs are disappearing at about 1 to 2 per cent a year. You don't have to be a brain surgeon to see that within 40 years we could lose the rest. This may sound alarming but this is not alarmist. This is what we are probably going to experience if we don't get our act together".The most spectacular stretch of coral reefs on the planet is in danger of collapse... more
A few weeks into the bluefin tuna fishing season and Turkey has decided to go it alone. Breaking international agreements, the Turkish government has announced that it will ignore agreed-upon bluefin tuna quotas. The news is not good for the survival of the critically-endangered fish species, since Turkey operates the largest Mediterranean fleet for bluefin tuna.
“Ignoring quota limits means that Turkey will simply bring an end to the bluefin tuna business even faster and once and for all, through the commercial extinction of the species,” said Banu Dokmecibasi, Greenpeace Mediterranean Oceans Campaigner, in Turkey.
The International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) currently manages the bluefin tuna. The group has been heavily criticized for mismanaging the population and long-ignoring warnings from scientists. An independent performance review of ICCAT blasted the group in September 2008, calling it an “international disgrace”.
While scientists have been advising ICCAT since 2006 that the organization must lower the annual quota to under 15,000 tons, ICCAT has yet to heed the advice. In 2007, 61,100 tons of bluefin tuna were caught—twice the quota set by ICCAT and four times the size recommended by scientists. The quota for this season is 47 percent above scientists’ recommendations, although ICCAT has touted it as a recovery plan. However, Turkey’s announcement places this quota in jeopardy.
According to a recent analysis by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Mediteranean bluefin tuna have only three years left until becoming functionally extinct unless the fishery is closed, allowing time for the species to recover. The analysis found that in five years, between 2002-2007, the breeding population of bluefin tuna fell by half.A few weeks into the bluefin tuna fishing season and Turkey has decided to go it... more
The Japanese Fisheries Agency said Friday that a fleet of four whaling vessels will set sail to catch up to 216 whales in the northwestern Pacific for scientific research purposes. The fleet plans to catch 100 minke whales, 100 sei whales, 50 Bryde’s whales and 10 sperm whales, the agency said.
The next IWC meeting is coming up next month and it looks like the Japan will continue to hunt whales around the world in spite of the small and declining demand for whale meat.The Japanese Fisheries Agency said Friday that a fleet of four whaling vessels will... more
Lost or abandoned nets in the oceans can keep on "ghost fishing" for years in a growing threat to marine stocks, a U.N. report said Wednesday.
About 640,000 tonnes of discarded fishing gear gets added to the oceans yearly, or 10 percent of the world total of marine debris, according to the study by the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and U.N. Environment Program (UNEP).
Fishing gear "will continue to accumulate and the impacts on marine ecosystems will continue to get worse if the international community doesn't take effective steps to deal with the problem of marine debris as a whole," Ichiro Nomura, an FAO assistant director-general, said in a statement.
The study recommended measures such as cash incentives for fishing fleets to bring broken nets to port, better mapping of subsea hazards to avoid losses or new designs such as nets that dissolve if left in the water too long.
Nets sometimes snap in storms, get snagged on coral reefs or can get entangled in other fishing gear.
They can then start what the report termed "ghost fishing" -- pointlessly ensnaring fish or creatures such as turtles, seabirds or whales for years or even decades.
The report did not estimate overall damage to the oceans or economic losses to fishing fleets from gear littering seabeds from the South China Sea to the Mediterranean.Lost or abandoned nets in the oceans can keep on "ghost fishing" for years... more
Sharks, barracuda and other large predatory fishes disappear on Caribbean coral reefs as human populations rise, endangering the region's marine food web and ultimately its reefs and fisheries, according to a sweeping study by researcher Chris Stallings of The Florida State University Coastal and Marine Laboratory.
While other scientists working in the Caribbean have observed the declines of large predators for decades, the comprehensive work by Stallings documents the ominous patterns in far more detail at a much greater geographic scale than any other research to date.
"I examined 20 species of predators, including sharks, groupers, snappers, jacks, trumpetfish and barracuda, from 22 Caribbean nations," said Stallings, a postdoctoral associate at the FSU Coastal and Marine Laboratory. "I found that nations with more people have reefs with far fewer large fish because as the number of people increases, so does demand for seafood. Fishermen typically go after the biggest fish first, but shift to smaller species once the bigger ones become depleted. In some areas with large human populations, my study revealed that only a few small predatory fish remain."
Stallings said that although several factors -- including loss of coral reef habitats -- contributed to the general patterns, careful examination of the data suggests overfishing as the most likely reason for the disappearance of large predatory fishes across the region. He pointed to the Nassau grouper as a prime example. Once abundant throughout the Caribbean, Nassau grouper have virtually disappeared from many Caribbean nearshore areas and are endangered throughout their range.
Given that about half the world's populations live near coastlines and that the world population is growing, demands for ocean-derived protein will continue to increase, Stallings warned. He said meeting such demands while retaining healthy coral reefs may require multiple strategies, including implementation of marine reserves, finding alternative sources of protein, and increased efforts to implement family-planning strategies in densely populated areas.Sharks, barracuda and other large predatory fishes disappear on Caribbean coral reefs... more
Plans for new curbs on the practice of removing fins from live sharks have been welcomed by wildlife campaigners.
EU countries are the main exporter of shark fins to China, where they are used to make shark-fin soup.
A meeting in Brussels on Thursday drew up an action plan on "finning", which results in the deaths of the sharks.
Fisheries Secretary Richard Lochhead said the plans for Scottish waters went further, only giving permission in exceptional circumstances.
Environment groups claimed current law on finning - cutting fins off the living shark and dumping the low-value carcass at sea - was not strict enough.
Mr Lochhead said: "We know that some shark populations are critically endangered, and that is why we are proposing even tougher restrictions in Scotland, sending out a strong message."
Special fishing permits for taking sharks' fins were first issued in Scotland in 2004.
The only Scottish-based boats which request the permits are Anglo-Spanish vessels administered from Ayr and Ullapool.
If approved, the new restrictions would ban the granting of permits.Plans for new curbs on the practice of removing fins from live sharks have been... more
The federal government has declared the commercial salmon industry in California and part of Oregon a disaster, and conditions in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta are partly to blame.
The declaration by U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke is a continuation of an order issued last year and paves the way for Congress to allocate disaster relief dollars for Northwest fishers.
The commercial Chinook salmon fishing season will be closed from Cape Falcon, Ore., all the way to the U.S. border with Mexico in San Diego County.
Researchers are working to better understand the effects that ocean changes have on salmon populations, but evidence suggests problems with the salmon population stem from environmental degradation and invasive species in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, where water has been siphoned off in record sums for farming and urban consumption. Unfavorable shifts in ocean temperature are also likely to blame.
This is very scary as we are seeing a rapid decline in salmon populations in various places around the world.
What is it going to take for us to sustainably manage our food resources?The federal government has declared the commercial salmon industry in California and... more
Federal study: Tuna and other Pacific fish has 30% more toxic mercury than in 1990 and will grow 50% more contaminated by 2050.
The rate of mercury contamination in tuna and other Pacific fish has increased 30% since about 1990, and is expected to increase another 50% if China continues to build more coal-fired power plants to fuel its industrial revolution.
The data comes from a new federal study by the U.S. Geologic Survey that was published in the peer-reviewed scientific journal Global Biogeochemical Cycles.
Mercury levels in the Northern Pacific have already increased a staggering 30% in about 15 years, and are expected to rise another 50% by 2050. This stunning increase is a direct result of China's rapid industrialization, which has included the construction of as many as one new coal-fired power plant a week, by some estimates.
About 40% of all U.S. exposure to mercury comes from eating contaminated tuna from the Pacific, and roughly 75% of all human exposure to mercury comes from eating fish, according to U.S. officials. Mercury poisoning, even very small amounts, early in life can lead to permanent developmental effects. That's why the government has warned since 2004 that women who are pregnant, and young children, should not eat many species of fish. That's why the Environmental Protection Agency has been fighting to retain those strong public cautions against efforts by the fishing industry and the Food and Drug Administration to weaken or confuse them.
This is just one of many reasons why its no longer safe to be eating fish and seafood. It isn't just mercury we are eating... PCBs, plastics, PBDEs (flame retardant chemicals).Federal study: Tuna and other Pacific fish has 30% more toxic mercury than in 1990 and... more
As the Mediterranean’s bloated fishing fleets ready themselves for the opening of the bluefin tuna fishery tomorrow, WWF has released an analysis showing that the bluefin breeding population will disappear by 2012 under the current fishing regime.
Global conservation organization WWF reveals that the population of breeding tunas has been declining steeply for the past decade – and will be wiped out completely in 3 years if fisheries managers and decision-makers keep ignoring the warnings from scientists that fishing must stop.
The population of tunas that are capable of reproducing – fish aged 4 years or over and weighing more than 35kg – is being wiped out. In 2007 the proportion of breeding tuna was only a quarter of the levels of 50 years ago, with most of the decline happening in recent years.
Meanwhile, the size of mature tunas has more than halved since the 1990s. The average size of tuna caught off the coast of Libya, for example, has dropped from 124kg in 2001 to only 65kg last year. Data gathered by WWF show that this pattern has been observed across the entire Mediterranean.
Before the age of large-scale industrial fishing, individual tunas could even weigh in at 900kg. The loss of these giant tunas – able to produce many more offspring than medium-sized individuals – has a disproportionately high impact on the reproduction of the species.
The huge overcapacity of fishing fleets, catches that far exceed legal quotas, pirate fishing, the use of illegal spotting planes to chase the tunas, under-reporting of catch, fishing during the closed season, management measures disregarding scientific advice – and the insatiable appetite of the world’s luxury seafood markets – have all contributed to this dramatic decline.
WWF is calling for the immediate closure of the Mediterranean bluefin tuna fishery to give the species a chance to recover, while continuing to encourage consumers, retailers, restaurants and chefs to join the global movement to avoid the consumption of the imperilled fish.
There is also growing support to suspend international trade of Atlantic bluefin tuna by getting it listed on Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) when contracting parties meet in early 2010.As the Mediterranean’s bloated fishing fleets ready themselves for the opening... more
Japan's whaling catch in its latest Antarctic hunt fell far short of its target after disruptions by anti-whaling activists, the Fisheries Agency said on Monday.
Japan, which considers whaling to be a cherished cultural tradition, killed 679 minke whales despite plans to catch around 850. It caught just one fin whale compared with a target of 50 in the hunt that began in November.
Some ships in its six-ship fleet have returned home after clashes with the hardline group Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, including a collision that crushed a railing on one of the Japanese ships.
A Fisheries Agency official said ships could not carry out whaling for a total of 16 days because of bad weather and skirmishes with the activists.Japan's whaling catch in its latest Antarctic hunt fell far short of its target... more
Fast-breeding jellyfish could take over our seas if we don’t act now to protect threatened marine ecosystems, Northern Ireland wildlife experts have warned.
Seafloor habitats are being destroyed by overfishing, rising water temperatures and dwindling marine biodiversity, reducing the ability of the seas around Ireland to recover and support humans long-term, the Trust said.
And this could pave the way for increasing invasions of jellyfish and microbes — the forerunner of which was the devastating attack by billions of mauve stingers on a major salmon fishery on the Antrim coast in 2007.
The Northern Salmon Company lost millions of pounds when the jellyfish descended on organic salmon being reared in Glenarm Bay and Red Bay, destroying the entire stock. Mauve stingers invaded the Irish Sea from the Antrim Coast to Dumfries and Galloway and as far north as the Shetland Islands.
Meanwhile, the jellyfish have become so prevalent off the Mediterranean coastline that they are being scooped up and used as land fertiliser, Melanie Gomes from the Trust said.
And in other parts of the world the animals are sweeping in as ecosystems collapse, she warned.
“The predictions for these animals is that they are increasing due to factors such as overfishing and predator loss, nutrient enrichment, coastal development, and climate change.”
Jellyfish compete for many of the same food sources as fish — so fewer fish in the seas means more room for jellyfish.Fast-breeding jellyfish could take over our seas if we don’t act now to protect... more
Part emergency room, part rehab facility, and part research lab, the Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito, California means the difference between life and death for sick and injured ocean animals. NOVA takes you inside this very special ER to witness the efforts of a renowned team of wildlife veterinarians as they fight to save their animal patients as well as to uncover the cause of a mysterious neurological illness plaguing marine mammals like California sea lions and harbor seal pups.
Not only are these animal patients endearing, they are also sending us an urgent message about the health of our oceans.Part emergency room, part rehab facility, and part research lab, the Marine Mammal... more