Follow the link to more fascinating data and charts on global trends. New forms of cooperation designed to prevent and minimise any harmful impacts on biodiversity must be realised at a timely stage of the preparation of decisions on projects and plans. The past million years is a period that includes four mass extinctions, researchers have found. Call for Proposals- Human Trafficking and terrorism: The main source of vulnerability is the great climatic variability and consequently high incidence of drought. The growth in aquaculture production has occurred in developing countries, suggesting benefits to the poor.
Carrying Capacity and Ecological Footprints
The situation that we encountered in Greece is a good illustration of the "tragedy of the commons". That tragedy can occur when a limited resource is open to uncontrolled use by many people. Any one user may think he can benefit from taking as much of the resource as possible. This behavior is rational only in the narrow sense of self-interest. Regrettably, unbridled use of a resource is likely to lead to its depletion. The term "commons" referred to pastureland that was available for everyone to graze his sheep in old England.
Now it includes many different vital resources such as the air we breathe, the water we drink and the fish in the Aegean. Most of us learned to share in kindergarten. Unfortunately, some adults never mastered that lesson or have forgotten it. When there are many people using the same resource, any person who takes more than his share may deprive others of their fair share. Even worse, selfish people can deplete the resource, so eventually no one benefits from it.
In the case of fishing off Mykonos, there had been plenty of seafood for centuries. In the past the boats and fishing techniques only allowed small, sustainable catches, so the small proportion of sea life that ended up in nets was quickly replaced. Now, with more fishermen and more effective fishing techniques and many more mouths to feed, the fish supply has been exhausted. The Greek government has tried to prevent depletion by having a "no fish" zone, with poor results.
People don't seem to pay attention to the law, or the reason that it is needed. Human population growth is one factor leading to the tragedy of the commons: Ironically, some of the pollutants we have unintentionally added to drinking water may serve as a feedback mechanism to slow human population growth. Endocrine disruptors are chemicals that have unintended hormonal effects.
They are found in much of our country's drinking water. Some come from insecticides and other agricultural chemicals.
Many plastics contain BPA, which has undesirable effects. Another source is the waste of women taking hormones. These chemicals have been shown to produce fish and other animals with sexual aberrations. It is possible that endocrine disruptors will lead to decreased human fertility.
The amount of fresh water on the planet is limited and, in some cases, is very slow to be replenished. The Ogallala aquifer is an example of a resource that is being used in an unsustainable manner.
Much of the food grown in our country's midwestern breadbasket depends on water from this aquifer. Tragically, there are some places in eastern Colorado and in other states that rely on the Ogallala where the water table has dropped 40 feet in just 15 years!
As our human population has grown, the apparent size of the commons has shrunk. Although the first few wells in the Ogallala made little difference to the water table, now we seem to be sucking it dry. Dumping waste into a river or the atmosphere made little difference with few people and fewer factories, but these resources have become toxic in our populous, industrialized nation. We are learning the problems that can be caused by abusing the commons. The people who will suffer the most may be those who come after us, the "seventh generation" in the Iroquois law.
Unless we think and plan ahead, our progeny will not have the use of many of the resources that we have enjoyed. An administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration NOAA said that coastal development, overfishing and climate change are creating a "perfect storm" for the world's coral reefs, nearly three-quarters of which are now at risk of serious degradation, a top federal environmental official warned this week at the unveiling of a comprehensive new report.
The updated report added in global threats from climate and rising ocean acidity caused by carbon dioxide pollution to the list of threats to coral reefs.
In , one of the warmest years on record, spiking water temperatures damaged coral on a global scale rarely witnessed before. Reducing greenhouse gas emissions, especially carbon dioxide, is absolutely necessary to prevent a lot of the dire situations presented in the report. The Atlantic blue fin tuna are delicious and may be on the brink of extinction due to overfishing.
The European Union agreed to propose protecting them as an endangered species. Blue fin tuna have been eaten for centuries, but in the s, demand and prices soared, particularly in Japan. As a result, stocks, especially of large, breeding age fish, have plummeted, and international conservation concerns have increased. This tuna is one of the most highly prized fish used in Japanese raw fish dishes.
Prices were highest in the late s and s. The practice of tuna farming has brought down prices. The ambassadors attached a number of conditions, including a one year delay to the ban on fishing, and an opt out for fishermen using small boats to supply local markets. Malta voted against the proposed ban while Sweden and Austria abstained.
Environmental groups said the EU had not done enough to reduce over sized blue fin tuna fishing fleets. Over eight years the EU blue fin tuna fishing industry received subsidies totaling Several Arab countries joined Japan in arguing it would hurt poor fishing nations and was not supported by sound science. Supporters of the ban, including the European Union and the United States, say it is necessary this is a migratory species that swims from the western Atlantic to the Mediterranean.
There is also a growing threat from illegal fishing fleets and the failure of existing measures to keep the population sustainable. Undersea photojournalist Brian Skerry sees the oceans in crisis: North Atlantic right whales, once so plentiful that "a man could almost walk across Cape Cod Bay upon their backs," now number on the planet.
Much of this has taken place since mechanized fishing. Daniel Pauly, leader of the Sea Around Us Project at the University of British Columbia, reports that, humans have "reduced the populations of large commercial fish. The documentary End of the Line says: Skerry has photographed underwater around the world.
In Mexico he found that the reefs were anemic. They were highly overfished. They consisted of a lot of dead coral, from warming and bleaching. They'd also sustained heavy hurricane damage. In New England he noticed that the huge schools of herring and pollock that he saw in the '70s and early '80s weren't there anymore.
Skerry has witnessed excessive and destructive fishing like catching shrimp. In the process, everything else - all the little stuff that lives on the bottom, the sponges and the coral and all the habitat for baby animals - you wipe all that out. To catch one pound of shrimp, we might kill 12 pounds of other animals that get thrown back into the sea as by-catch. The giant bluefin tuna continue to grow their entire life.
So their stocks have plummeted over 90 percent in just the last 30 years. The industry has been struggling - severely curtailing fishing quotas and limiting time at sea in order to help replenish those decimated species.
Some have been rebuilt: There have been quite a few success stories. Many were renamed so that they could be marketed: Yet even as America struggles to manage its depleted stocks - and those independent fishermen are subjected to ever more draconian regulations - corporate overfishing continues at alarming rates in places such as the European Union and Asia, with governments showing little inclination to rein it in.
Another problem, says Skerry - is ocean acidification. That's when an excess of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, soaked up by the ocean, leads to a decrease in the water's pH level, stripping the sea of carbonate ions, which are crucial for calcification. The result, says Skerry, is that it "wipes out things like coral reefs - anything with a calcium structure, including shellfish and these little mollusks that are consumed by a lot of other animals.
Meanwhile, Annala is noticing other changes. That's becoming fresher and cooler as the Greenland ice cap melts. Rothschild says that that "puddle of fresh water" floating atop the briny Atlantic "prevents the typical overturn of nutrients going up and down and recycling to make phytoplankton and zooplankton. If this is a recurring phenomena, it's going to change the productivity of the northwest Atlantic in ways that we don't know yet. Skerry says the Obama administration's gestures and rhetoric so far have been encouraging.
But the unfortunate reality is there's so much on their plate right now. People's retirement money is vanished and they're losing their jobs and we're gonna send another 40, troops to Afghanistan and there's terrorism. The Humpback whale could be removed from the protections of the Endangered Species Act, or downlisted to "threatened" status, if the National Marine Fisheries Service finds that their numbers have increased sufficiently. Humpbacks were listed as endangered in , but recent surveys have found that humpback whale populations are generally on an upward trend, up to an estimated 20, in the North Pacific now.
Miyoko Sakashita, oceans program director at the Center for Biological Diversity said: Direct threats to the species include entanglement in fishing gear, collisions with ships, offshore oil development, and military sonar. Nearly every marine animal studied has had an adverse response to acidification. The National Marine Fisheries Service is soliciting information and accepting comments on the humpback-whale status review until October 11, More people require more vehicles which emit more carbon dioxide and create other impacts on the planet unless something is done quickly.
After World War II, population growth and rising incomes drove up the demand for seafood. The oceanic fish catch climbed from 19 million tons in to 93 million tons in The human appetite for seafood is outgrowing the sustainable yield of oceanic fisheries.
Oceanic harvests expanded as new technologies evolved, ranging from sonar to driftnets. The year-old cod fishery of Canada failed in the early s, putting some 40, fishers and fish processors out of work. Fisheries off the coast of New England soon followed.
And in Europe, cod fisheries are in decline, approaching a free fall. Negotiating catch limits at sustainable levels can be difficult. But these and subsequent cuts have not been sufficient to arrest the decline of the region's fisheries.
With restrictions on the catch in EU waters, the fishing fleet has turned to the west coast of Africa. Unfortunately for the Africans, their fisheries too are collapsing. Well over half of the mangrove forests in tropical and subtropical countries have been lost and the loss of coastal wetlands in industrial countries is even greater. Damage to coral reefs from higher ocean temperatures and acidification caused by higher atmospheric carbon dioxide levels, pollution and sedimentation, are threatening these breeding grounds for fish.
Pollution is taking a devastating toll, illustrated by the dead zones created by nutrient runoff from fertilizer and sewage. The Mississippi River carries nutrients from the Corn Belt and sewage from cities along its route into the Gulf of Mexico.
The nutrient surge creates huge algal blooms that then die and decompose, consuming the free oxygen in the water, leading to the death of fish.
This creates a dead zone each summer in the Gulf that can reach the size of New Jersey. For decades governments have tried to save specific fisheries by restricting the catch of individual species.
Sometimes this worked, sometimes it failed and fisheries collapsed. Support for the creation of marine reserves has been gaining momentum.
These reserves, where fishing is restricted, serve as natural hatcheries. Coastal nations pledged to create national networks of marine parks. Other measures are to reduce the nutrient flows from fertilizer runoff and untreated sewage that create the world's or so dead zones.
There are now so many fishing trawlers that their catch potential is nearly double any yield the oceans can sustain. Immediately after WW2 I was developing sonar systems and spent many weeks up in the Arctic on deep sea trawlers. I vividly remember the enormous size of the catches after the fishing had halted for the war years. FAO estimates that one-quarter of the world's fisheries are over-exploited and facing depletion; an additional half are being fished at their maximum capacity.
Regulation hasn't stopped destruction of the world's fisheries. So in the s, environmentalists began to enlist consumer choice in the fight for more sustainable fishing. Some eco-minded entrepreneurs have created businesses aimed at promoting sustainable seafood.
Some of the leaders in the sustainable seafood industry are based the Bay Area. Environmental groups in general consider a fishery is sustainable if the population of that kind of fish is allowed to maintain a healthy level, and fishing methods don't damage the ocean environment or other marine species. The fishery prevents overfishing and allows collection of data on the fish population. The nonprofit Marine Stewardship Council provides a seal of approval to seafood that meets its sustainability standards.
The Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch publishes wallet-size cards that give a green, yellow or red light to different kinds of seafood. Fishing wiped out Atlantic Bluefin tuna in Northern Europe 50 years ago. Ongoing pressure is pushing the species to extinction.
Every summer in the early s, Northern European waters teemed with Atlantic Bluefin tuna. Few could catch the fish until the s and s when bigger, faster boats were designed. The Bluefin population crashed in the s and more than 40 years later it still hasn't recovered despite a no-fishing ban for the past 15 years. Moreover illegal fishing is rampant and an independent study revealed the annual tuna catch approached 50, tonnes.
The largest population breeds are in the Mediterranean Sea, another is found in the western Atlantic the third is found in the South Atlantic and is considered to be an endangered species. Tagging data provides new evidence that mixing is occurring in the northern waters of the eastern Atlantic and western and eastern stocks of north Atlantic Bluefin mingle in the central Atlantic.
That means tuna hunters in the North Atlantic are likely harvesting the increasingly rare western Atlantic Bluefin and counting them as eastern Atlantic Bluefin. Because breeding is a high-stress time for tuna, closure of breeding grounds to tuna fishing might not be enough. Researchers found that a majority of Bluefins gravitated to the Florida straits and the western part of the Gulf of Mexico for breeding.
All fishing should be banned near their breeding grounds during the breeding season. The oversized and well-financed tuna fleet can easily take 50, tonnes in the Mediterranean and East Atlantic, despite a quota allowing only 29, tonnes.
The only way to guarantee a reduction in fishing effort and facilitate stock recovery is to impose a ban during the month of June. Unsustainable fishing practices deplete targeted species, sea birds, turtles, and other marine life, while destroying deep-sea reefs. It was assumed that ocean species had boundless capacity to recover from overfishing. Industrial fishing put the livelihood of tens of millions of subsistence fishermen at risk while threatening the primary source of protein for some million people worldwide.
Today some of the world's largest environmental groups are focused on marine life and oceans, with sustainable fisheries management. Conservation groups are working with governments to establish marine reserves, ban destructive fishing practices, protect key species, and educate consumers.
While the world is willing to protect elephants by banning the ivory trade, we're not there yet with commercial fish species. The trouble with bluefin is they are valuable in the Japanese sashimi market. That means we are facing the very prospect of hunting this animal to biological extinction.
It is the most valuable fish in the sea: Today fishermen cannot even catch the quota the government gives them, which is symptomatic of a collapsing fishery, like the North Atlantic cod. The trouble is that the ocean has always been an open access resource.
You get big catches for a few years but then the populations' crash and the fishing communities crash along with them. Commercial fishing is much more difficult to address because there is a huge industry lobby. Subsidies are why we have too many boats chasing fish. The acquisition of the boats and equipment is subsidized.
There is a diesel fuel tax rebate and all kinds of subsidies for commercial fishing, especially in Asia. The idea is to create economic incentives for sustainable fishing and conservation of the ocean.
If consumers and businesses give preference to sustainable fisheries, they send a powerful signal that there is a reward for improving fishing practices. Many of the nation's biggest seafood buyers are now making commitments to sustainable seafood. The jury is still out on whether sustainable seafood can supply the biggest buyers in the nation. Much of imported farmed seafood is unsafe but the demand for fresh seafood has pushed many wild fisheries into crisis mode.
This is what we can expect when a wild species is on the brink of extinction. While freshwater fish have been farmed in the US, the offshore aquaculture industry is still in its infancy.
Almost all farmed salmon are raised in offshore open net pens, where concentrated waste decimates the ecology of the coast. These salmon can escape and breed with local species, and throw off the wild breed's ability to reproduce. Cramped pens necessitate the use of antibiotics. Red dye is fed to the fish to give the meat an appealing color.
All of these are reasons that salmon farming has been considered unsustainable. Salmon farmers harvest natural wild fish to feed their caged fish.
The farming of salmon means raising meat by feeding it meat. The salmon industry figures it's 1-to-1, still a wasteful ratio if you consider time, labor, land and transportation. Every time you eat a piece of farmed salmon, it takes away food from the wild fish trying to survive in the ocean. A few salmon farms in Europe claim to raise the fish sustainably. Those include Loch Duart salmon from Scotland which live a robust life, have plenty of room to grow, and is fed from sustainable sources that mimic the natural diet of the wild.
Loch Duart does not raise fish in high-density pens, allows areas to lie fallow in alternate years and does not use antibiotics, the company says. Yet a conservancy organization, Seafood Watch puts all farm-raised salmon in the "avoid" category. However, some question the ratings.
While farmed clams, mussels and oysters are designated "best choice," no differentiation is made between regionally raised shellfish and oysters flown in from France and Australia, which cost much more in dollars and energy.
Conservancy organizations fear that NOAA is not taking precautions to make sure that offshore farms raising carnivorous fish do not dot our shorelines, damage ecology and deplete the oceans of wild fish. To pay for building new offshore facilities, entrepreneurs, are looking at farming the high-priced carnivorous species, such as tuna, which can require from 10 to 25 pounds of wild-caught small fish to produce 1 pound of edible meat.
Tuna ranching in the Mediterranean is a disaster in the making, because they're harvesting juvenile wild tuna for fattening, and you have a fishery where both the juvenile and adult tuna are being taken. We need more aquaculture to meet global seafood supplies, and species that can be farmed in sustainable ways. Most of what we eat is farmed from China. The aquaculture practices damage the environment, and many use additives and antibiotics banned in the US.
A new infrastructure must be put in place and several entrepreneurs are experimenting with more sustainable closed aquaculture systems.
Seafood designated as "good" and "best" are raised by more environmentally sustainable methods, including proceses that use closed recirculating systems and enclosed ponds. European waters are in trouble. It's been known for years that European seas are suffering from pollution, over-fishing and other environmental pressures. But now, growing affluence in Europe is increasing the degradation of the water surrounding the continent.
They found that more wealth in Europe has contributed to the environmental deterioration of European waters. In every sea, there was serious damage due to the pace of coastal development, the way we transport our goods and the way we produce our food on land as well as the sea. The study focused on four interrelated problems: Researchers wanted to look at the impact modern lifestyles have are having.
As affluence increases, so too does the amount of meat in European diets and an increase in the amount of farmland needed.
The rise in fertilizer use ups the amount of nitrogen and phosphorus reaching European waters, which can cause vast algae blooms in addition to reducing water quality. Increased animal husbandry, results in an increase in the amount of ammonia released into the air which finds its way into the seas. More money also means an increase in seaside homes and holiday resorts, particularly along the Mediterranean. Road and resort construction limits coastal habitats for fish. More demand for fish and increased shipping have put pressure on sea life.
Controlling catch limits alone will not put a dent in the problem. Global warming could cause a drop in the number of Arctic cod, which are a key component of the Arctic food web. The Arctic cod is prey for seals, narwhals and salmon in the Arctic, but global warming could be shaking up the food web and starving the cod because of shrinking and shifting pack ice.
Global warming is pulling the rug out from beneath the Arctic's food supply because the survival of many plants and animals depends on the explosive summer bloom of marine plants under the sea ice. With more sea ice melting the plants' bloom cycle is likely to be disrupted, jeopardizing the species that depend on it. In Canada, narwhals feed predominantly on the Arctic cod. They are also food for Atlantic salmon, Greenland halibut and Arctic char.
The first action is to reduce pollution, especially toxins that build up over time in plants and animals. Juvenile Arctic cod are vulnerable to toxins and oil spills. Overfishing is impacting the food supply for seals and whales and increasingly ice-free waters will open up new potential fishing grounds. Commercial harvests should be closely monitored. The chief cause of the lack of fish is the overfishing that has grown in the past decades. I worked in the commercial fishing fleet just after WW2 and spent months in the arctic.
Fish "hauls' after WW2 were larger than ever seen as the fishing grounds had been empty during the war. Countries seeking a ban on bottom trawling in unregulated international waters failed to get UN support.
Canada has been argued that stronger management would be more effective than a ban. But environmentalists are dismayed. Bottom trawling causes irreparable harm to deep-sea ecosystems. Instead of the ban on bottom trawling on the high seas, the countries agreed to enhance protection measures under regional fisheries management organizations RFMO.
They will decide how assessments and enforcement would be carried out. For unregulated areas national governments are directed to police their own vessels, applying the same standards. If harm to the ocean is found occurring, governments would apply restrictions at their own discretion.
The agreement applies to countries that don't belong to the RMO's and will protect fish stocks and sensitive areas. But the Ecology Action Centre said the decision would allow trawlers to continue ravaging the ocean floor. Responsible fishing nations will bring forward precautionary and targeted regulations that will govern their fishing vessels. Just another example of how regulation fails to mitigate the problems of overpopulation.
We assume there will always be another species to exploit after we've completely gone through the last one, but unless we change the way we manage the ocean species, this is the last century of wild seafood. Historical records show declining yields, in step with declining species diversity.
Zones of biodiversity loss also tended to see more beach closures, blooms of algae, and coastal flooding. Experiments in small, contained ecosystems show that reductions in diversity tend to bring reductions in the size and robustness of local fish stocks.
The final part of the jigsaw is data from areas where fishing has been banned or heavily restricted.
These show that protection brings back biodiversity within the zone, and restores populations of fish just outside. We're learning that in the oceans, species are very strongly linked to each other. The study attributes damage to the cumulative harm done across the board. The benefits of marine-protected areas are clear in a few cases; there's no doubt that protecting areas leads to a lot more fish and larger fish, and less vulnerability.
Protecting stocks demands the political will, lacking in Europe, where politicians have ignored recommendations to halt the North Sea cod fishery year after year. Without a ban, the North Sea stocks could follow the Grand Banks cod of eastern Canada into terminal decline.
I was working on a North Sea trawler a few years after World War II and the catches were the largest ever seen, the crew told me. This was due to the halt in trawling for about 4 years during the war. One wonders just how long it would take for the fisheries to regain their volume if in rotation we halted fishing in the various areas?
An international team of researchers launched the Bahamas Biocomplexity Project--an interdisciplinary approach to ecosystem management to serve as a model for coral reef conservation. The approach recognizes that natural and human systems are linked, and solutions must transcend traditional boundaries.
The Bahamas Biocomplexity Project, in addition to using scientific tools, underwater surveys and population genetics, conduct surveys to assess local attitudes toward conservation, as well as explaining their findings to local decision makers. A study focused on the Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park, which was struck by a mysterious disease that virtually wiped out a species of sea urchin that feeds on algae.
The urchins had played a vital role in the reef ecosystem by controlling the spread of seaweed. With the urchins gone, the job of chief seaweed grazer was taken over by the parrotfish which in turn, are preyed upon by large carnivores, whose numbers had increased since the imposition of a fishing ban. Today, Nassau grouper is seven times more abundant inside the park than in three comparable areas. Researchers found that small species of parrotfish were smaller than usual, suggesting that grouper predators were picking off the largest members of their populations.
In contrast, the number of big parrotfish increased apparently in response to protection from fish traps. The study concluded that seaweed grazing had doubled because of the burgeoning population of big parrotfish. Parks protecting fishes may also have beneficial effects on corals, by enhancing grazing and thereby contributing to the ability of reefs to bounce back from disturbances.
One group team compared the DNA of staghorn corals collected from nine reefs. The results show that genetic family lines can be quite distinct on reefs as close as two kilometers. All reefs more than kilometers apart were genetically distinct. Some marine ecologists advocate restoring dying reefs, but that approach is rarely cost-effective, with a growth rate of about one centimeter per year.
Social scientists working within the Bahamas Biocomplexity Project, noted: There is a special relationship between the people and the sea. Tourism is based on environmental protection. Three researchers analyzed catches of five deepwater species from the northwest Atlantic and found that populations of all five had fallen precipitously. Similar trends have been seen in European waters. Much of the blame is being put on commercial trawlers. Conservationists worry that because deepwater fish live long lives, and can take up to 25 years to sexually mature, overfishing can wipe them out.
This brings back a very personal memory. In the 's I was developing deep water fishing sonar and made frequent trips on deep sea trawlers to the arctic. Fishing after WW2, during which time little deep sea fishing was carried out, was fantastic.
The volume of fish caught was beyond anyone's memory. I well remember the trawler sitting stationary for about 24 hours while the fish captured by one haul of the net was processed. Perhaps "No Fishing" for five to ten years would allow the oceans to regenerate the shoals of fish.
The Bush administration proposed legislation to overhaul management of the nation's fisheries, by giving regulators greater flexibility and encouraging them to privatize fisheries. Some environmental groups applauded privatization, others said the bill would weaken conservation rules. Bush's legislation would amend the Fishery Conservation and Management Act, which was last updated in The Senate's Commerce Committee has been working on a draft of its own bill.
The administration's plan would double by the fisheries that are privatized where access is limited to those who own allocated shares, that can be bought and sold, of the annual catch. Some environmental groups, support privatization because it gives fishermen a financial incentive to conserve fidh stocks. In fisheries where such programs have been implemented, fishermen have enjoyed higher profits, lower costs, longer fishing seasons and a more stable industry.
The program has been popular in the Pacific Northwest and Alaska, but controversial in New England because of fears that it would allow corporations to take over the fisheries. The goal is to encourage eight new fisheries to use privatization programs. In New England, one could be on Cape Cod, where fishermen use hooks and gill nets to catch cod and haddock in near-shore waters. The Bush plan would revoke the requirement that all fisheries be restored to healthy levels in 10 years and limits the number of fishing days given to New England groundfish boats.
The Bush plan would allow regional councils to address the needs of fishing communities when rebuilding stocks. The change would allow fishermen to catch more fish while stocks are rebuilding, and conservation groups worry that this would increase the chance that a species could collapse.
Some species, such as Georges Bank cod, have not recovered since the mids. Fishermen continue to take too many adult cod and not enough juvenile fish are surviving. A professor of natural resources said the new numbers show the government needs to impose further restrictions on fishing cod. But a spokeswoman for the New England Fishery Management Council said officials did not expect the rebuilding plan to show results for several more months.
The average New England fisherman can take groundfish 53 days a year, down from 88 days in Cod once abounded off the Massachusetts coas, but fell in the mids because of overfishing. Conservationists said the declining numbers mean federal authorities should protect nursery habitat as well as adult fish. A spokeswoman for NOAA's Fisheries Service, said under federal law regulators have to allow overfishing at times to minimize a rebuilding plan's impact on local commercial fishermen.
She added that this week's scientific findings are preliminary. The National Marine Fisheries Service has released new guidelines for restoring depleted fish stocks, but some worry the rules unduly favor the fishing industry. Current rules mandate that regional fisheries managers aim to restore stocks within 10 years.
The proposed rules would let them devise timelines for restoration based on how long it would take to rebound if there were no fishing, plus the average time it takes the species to reach spawning age. This may lengthen the time managers have to restore some stocks. The new rules would also allow coordinated management of species that live, swim, and get netted together, assuming that fish with similar life histories will respond to similar management plans.
But species might be minor to a commercial fishery but still play a key role in an ecosystem. Regulators voted to impose a permanent ban on trawling in depths beyond fathoms in nearly , square miles of Pacific waters off the West Coast. The regulations apply to waters that extend from three miles to miles off the coasts of California, Oregon and Washington. It is aimed at protecting coral beds, kelp forests, rocky reefs and other sensitive fish habitat. Trawl fishermen were skeptical it would boost declining stocks of groundfish but did not think the ban would hurt their livelihoods because most of the areas are too deep for trawlers.
Environmentalists say trawling destroys delicate sea-floor habitat, but fishermen say there's no evidence that trawl fishing has affected groundfish stocks that make up West Coast commercial fishing. The council's decision follows a similar move by the North Pacific Fishery Management Council, which regulates waters off the coast of Alaska.
They voted to ban trawling in more than , square miles off the Aleutian Islands. But the trade may empty the waters of this master of the sea. In the last 35 years, exploding markets have devastated many fisheries. Most vulnerable is the population that breeds in the Gulf of Mexico. This was underscored by researchers who have tracked fish using electronic tags. The tuna that spawn in the west are further threatened by an ever-broadening fishery, all to supply the Japanese sushi trade.
The new study is based on a decade-long effort to implant hundreds of sophisticated electronic tags in the giant fish that are beginning to reveal their ocean paths. In this study, fish were tagged with devices that continually record body and water temperature, depth and daylight. The team showed that there appear to be distinct populations of bluefin, but when the fish disperse across to feed, they mingle, rendering the management boundary, which runs along the 45th meridian, relatively meaningless.
Big quotas, granted for two decades to countries fishing east of the line, probably added pressure to the ailing western bluefin population. Spawning "hot spots" overlap areas where boats, using long lines of baited hooks, pursue another tuna species. When big adult bluefin get caught, the warm water and their metabolism can push them beyond their physiological limits and many die before they can be released. Recommended are seasonal bans on long-line fishing in spawning hot spots in the gulf and tighter controls on fishing in the Central Atlantic.
American boat owners say that restrictions on long-line fishing in the Gulf are sufficient. Long-liners in the area use lightweight hooks that hold smaller yellowfin but are designed to uncoil under the powerful tug of a bluefin. Block said the same smaller hooks caught and killed a substantial number of bluefin. The biggest question is whether the new information can change an international regulatory regime that almost everyone, agrees is broken.
A senior fisheries official from Japan acknowledged that the existing system had failed. He said that eastern catch limits needed to be better enforced, and a particular problem was the increased penning of Mediterranean tuna, which disrupts spawning.
Many scientists and scholars who study tuna fishing said they doubted much would change. Under the longstanding division of the Atlantic bluefin population, Europe has had the advantage, with quotas of more than 30, metric tons of bluefin a year; less than a tenth that is allocated for western waters.
Several experts said that Dr. Block's maps, showing the movements of some tuna for more than four years, were sufficiently concrete that they could force an end to the prolonged stalemate. The bottom of Cape Cod Bay is saturated with sound that is part of an ever louder man-made din that's filling the world's oceans, and some say harming marine life.
Whale beachings have been linked to sonar blasts, but a broader concern is rising levels of background noise generated by commercial shipping. Marine life uses sound for navigation and communication and scientists believe the spreading "acoustic smog" is affecting feeding, breeding and other crucial activities. Evidence is scant of the real effects of sound and even with new technology, ocean animals are hard to track.
No system exists to monitor ocean sounds worldwide, and the data is often taken from a small number of sites that measure only certain frequencies.
Underwater sound also seems to affect different animals in completely different ways. An acoustics researcher at the NOAA said better research is urgently needed. Sound carries farther and faster in water than air and through the ages, marine animals have learned to take advantage of the ocean's natural sound stages.
Whales talk about basic things like where the best food or breeding is. They even seem to to produce the most intricate songs. Some animals use the ocean's "sound channels" to communicate over thousands of miles. Animals have learned that, at a certain depth, the sound bounds ahead with little resistance.
Huge increases in commercial shipping have coincided with increased ocean noise. Between and , the world shipping fleet has increased from 85 million tons to million tons and the background noise has increased roughly 15 decibels. There's evidence marine mammals are changing their sound patterns, which could show their normal communication has been disrupted. Some advocate installing quieter propellers in new ships, which would reduce noise and also increase the efficiency by which ships move through water.
Retrofitting current ships would be expensive, and the benefit is uncertain. Sound is perceived by ocean animals so differently that it's almost like a different sense, making it hard to apply what we know about the effects of certain decibel levels to ocean life. Thirty-four species of marine mammals inhabit the Gulf of California, one of the world's most important nursery and feeding areas for porpoises, dolphins and whales.
For millions of years, the sediments and freshwater of the Colorado River fed into the Gulf of California. During the 20th century, however, heavy water diversion depleted the river, cutting it off almost entirely from the sea.
No more than vaquita marinas survive, the last remaining habitat of this small porpoise. Eight were reported dead in , but estimates put the total number of annual deaths at roughly The Gulf provides half of the Mexixo's fish supply including sharks, northern milkfish, Spanish mackerel, corvine and others. Each year the humpback whale, California gray whale, manta ray and leatherback turtle visit the Gulf, where abundant nutrients can be found year-round.
Rich food sources, powerful tides and shallow waters make the Upper Gulf one of the most robust marine ecosystems in the world. Bottom trawling consists of dragging a heavy net across the bottom of the ocean, to snag fish that hover close to the seabed.
The Deep Sea Conservation Coalition is spearheading the call for a moratorium on the practice and says the technique is doing harm to fragile ecosystems by gouging out corals. It has been likened to fishing with a bulldozer. A single net can snare a tonne and a half of cold-water corals that grow very slowly, every hour. Some of them off Europe are 8, years old and may take hundreds or thousands of years to recover - if at all. The fleets are after valuable fish species that hug the underwater mountains.
Scientists fear bottom-trawling will destroy many of the reefs before researchers can study them. Much of the life on seamounts has yet to be catalogued. Discussions are underway at the UN on fisheries and ocean managemen that will result in resolutions next month. The Coalition is urging the UN to declare a global moratorium until the international community decides how to manage deep-sea fisheries. The construction of liquid natural gas terminals could damage commercial fishing in the Gulf of Mexico.
Concerns forced the Coast Guard to suspend the permit for at least two terminals off the Louisiana coast. The problem occurs when the liquid natural gas LNG , is heated to gaseous form with Gulf water containing fish and crustacean eggs and larvae.
LNG is cooled to minus degrees to turn it into a liquid to be shipped in tankers from wells around the world. The terminals pump seawater and LNG through a piece of equipment where warm Gulf water heats the liquid, which vaporizes into a gas. The water would be cooled in the process, and if the organisms are not killed by the temperature drop, they won't survive the pump machinery or chemicals used to keep the pipes clean.
This system would dump the water, 20 degrees to 30 degrees cooler, back into the Gulf, where it could continue to stun and kill sea life. Most of the companies choosing this system have said using a closed-loop system consumes too much LNG as a heat source and undercut the financial viability of the projects and increase air pollution.
Sierra Club officials say approval could threaten the fishing industry. The risk of wiping out species of important fish in the Gulf, is too great to allow further approvals. In several cases, applicants failed to identify the economic impact of lost fisheries. Flow-through systems should be avoided in favor of closed-loop systems. The locations of the terminals are a problem as most are offshore of the estuaries where fish live and reproduce.
With 15 LNG terminals proposed for the Gulf, officials have become concerned about the potential effects as they don't know enough about how the terminals will affect the environment. Federal scientists warn that liquid natural gas terminals could damage commercial fishing in the Gulf of Mexico and force the Coast Guard to suspend permits for two terminals off the Louisiana coast. When the liquid natural gas is heated back into a gas the process sucks in Gulf water containing potentially millions of fish and crustacean eggs and larvae.
The terminals would pump the seawater and natural gas through a piece of equipment where the warm Gulf water would vaporize the liquid into a gas and the water would be rapidly cooled. If the organisms are not killed by the temperature drop, they won't survive the pump machinery or the chemicals used to clean the inside of the pipes. The system would then dump the water, 20 degrees to 30 degrees cooler, back into the Gulf, where it could continue to harm sea life.
The process also would kill organisms that are food for fish. Using a less-damaging closed-loop system consumes too much of the natural gas as a heat source and might undercut the financial viability of the projects and increase air pollution. It is the money these terminals generate that is attractive to officials in the Gulf Coast states. Sierra Club officials say approval could threaten the fishing industry and NOAA officials say the risk of wiping out entire species of commercially important fish is too great to allow further approval and applicants failed to identify the economic impact of lost fisheries.
Concerns must be weighed in light of an lack of basic information about the population of various fish and crustacean species and a limited understanding of how the viability of eggs or larvae could affect those species.
The locations of the terminals are a problem as most are offshore of the estuaries where many fish live and reproduce. With as many as 15 LNG terminals now proposed for the Gulf, NOAA Fisheries and state officials have become concerned about the potential effects and officials don't know how the terminals will affect the environment. Coast Guard officials notified Shell that the Gulf Landing permitting process had been suspended until company officials adequately addressed the NOAA Fisheries concerns and suspended the permit application process until the company could justify its conclusion that "egg and larvae impacts are negligible" compared with the amount of sea life in the area.
Canada's port cities spew billions of litres of untreated sewage into open waters. John's discharge human waste and toxic chemicals with little or no treatment. Canada is working to develop a treatment program by , regulated by Environment Canada. Victoria discharged 2, tonnes of oil and grease, nine tonnes of copper and 2. Lead, silver, mercury and other chemicals were also found. Canada is failing to meet the standards of the US and Europe. Lawrence annually while Dawson City continues to discharge one billion litres and Victoria dumps 34 billion litres of sewage into the ocean each year.
These chemicals play havoc with sea birds, mammals and marine life and ultimately are consumed by humans through the fish we eat. A Victoria sewage spokesman said the report neglects the steps Victoria has taken to prevent harmful chemicals from entering the sewers and plans to show its strategy has cut the amount in the system. The environmental groups said Canadians are entitled to efficient sewage treatment, national standards and adequate funding. The world's annual capture fisheries and aquaculture production has plateaued at million tonnes.
If China's aquaculture production is excluded, the world fisheries production including aquaculture, has declined steadily. Demand for seafood continues to outstrip even world population growth and a global shortfall of up to 80 million tonnes per annum is forecast within the next 30 years.
Declines in capture fisheries reflect illegal and unregulated fishing, impacts on fish habitats, coastal development, regulation of rivers, urban and agriculture runoff and global warming. A major contributor is exploitation of uncertainty over the nature of change and assessment of causes.
Subsidies in developed countries, coupled with trade barriers against countries using cheaper labour costs are used to disadvantage poorer countries. International trade may alleviate poverty for some countries but makes fish as food increasingly unattainable in poor areas. Allocation of resources is not a panacea for fisheries management problems as it is not preceded by an understanding of the measures necessary to ensure conservation. Aquaculture is anticipated to play an increased role in future demand for seafood but if China's figures are excluded, increases in aquaculture production in the last 10 years have not equalled declines in capture fisheries.
To meet projected demands for an extra 80 million tonnes would require 4 countries to copy China's 20 million tonne increase in production. Aquaculture in consumes, as feed, twice the weight of fish it produces. The growth in aquaculture production has occurred in developing countries, suggesting benefits to the poor.
However, detailed analyses show concerns with destruction of coastal fish habitats in construction of aquaculture enterprises, increased propagation of fish diseases, negative impacts from translocation of species and the use, as feed, of fish traditionally available for human consumption.
In several assessments the loss of this fish as food for poor communities is recognised. Furthermore, increased targeting of smaller fish driven by the demand for aquaculture feed, is damaging to ecosystems, and existing commercial fisheries. There are well managed fisheries that produce high yields sustainably and aquaculture ventures that provide incomes and food security for the poor, based on acknowledgement of the impact of external influences, cutting-edge research, and management responses.
Science and technological development can meet most challenges that are given priority and resources. Toxins in sperm whale blubber indicate that chemicals have dispersed thoughout the ocean. The goals of this study are whale conservation and whale health to gauge the overall well-being of the ocean. Biopsies of about 30 of 1, blubber samples gathered throughout the world showed that all may contain levels of man-made toxins.
The International Whaling Commission is a coalition of nations that abide by conservation guidelines. A second round of tests will determine the amount of toxins in the blubber. An adult female whale has a toxic load which is going to be passed to her young and could build up over generations.
The most common chemical in sperm whale blubber is DDT, banned in North America in but still manufactured for use in other countries. The findings are compelling, but the research must be validated. Sperm whales live fairly far from shore and it's surprising to find these chemicals in deep-water animals. Their long life spans and fat stores are indicators of the health of ocean life. Genetic identification of perpetrator and implications in small populations.
Martin Schaefer - Écoscience Reviews 2 Not much ado about something: Effects on the structure and function of the Pampean Mountain grasslands Argentina. A case study with a wood warbler Janice Kelly, Michael Ward - Behaviour Reviews 2 Intestinal parasites as potential factors in the dynamics of a fluctuating forest grouse population Pekka Helle, Osmo Rätti, Marja Isomursu - Annales Zoologici Fennici Reviews 2 Prioritizing dam removal and stream restoration using critical habitat loss threshold for brown trout Salmo trutta L.
Simmons - Nature Conservation Reviews 1 Pollinator species richness: Are the declines slowing down? When consistency in activity meets inconsistency in aggressiveness Benjamin Geffroy, Bardonnet Agnès - Behaviour Reviews 2 The past and the present in decision-making: Järvistö - Ethology Reviews 4 Addressing sampling artefacts in biodiversity analyses: Marcia Barbosa, Marco Pautasso, Diogo Figueiredo - Diversity and Distributions Reviews 1 Seeking a sex-specific Coolidge effect in a simultaneous hermaphrodite Nils Anthes, Johanna Werminghausen, Rolanda Lange - Ethology Reviews 1 A visual method to identify statistically significant changes in species' distributions Richard Stafford, Adam Hart, Anne Goodenough - Ecological Informatics Reviews 6 Geographic variation of herbivory in core and marginal populations of Daphne laureola, are herbivores promoting intraspecific differentiation in non-reproductive traits?
What does GBIF contribute to our knowledge of species' ranges?