Are science journals the best way to fight a conservation campaign?

A group of researchers have just published a paper in the Biological Conservation journal a paper that launches a scathing attack on the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) sustainable fisheries certification. While a few of the researchers are from academic institutions the majority are from campaigning groups. There has to be a question over whether the best place to fight an ideological argument is in the research section of scientific papers. There has always been ideological fights and arguments in journals but these tend to be submitted as letters or something similar to highlight the difference between actual research and opinions. It becomes very worrisome when campaigning ideology starts to get mixed up with…

EU action plan on seabirds begins

An action plan to reduce an estimated 200,000 sea-bird deaths a year due to the European fisheries industry has been adopted today. The new action plan will apply to EU registered fishing vessels where-ever they operate in the world and to non-EU vessels operating in EU waters. It is hoped that the new action plan will reduce the number of sea birds caught up in fishing gear and will help protect bird populations – some of the species are at high risk of regional extinction as a consequence of the fishing industry. Bird species which will benefit from the new action include:  albatrosses, petrels, shearwaters, auks, sea ducks and divers. While…

Can we learn from a 500 year old fisheries management tradition?

Fish are a vital food resource and as fish stock deplete around the world there are growing calls for strong fisheries management and marine conservation programmes. Conflict over fish though is not a modern-day problem. A study due to be released shortly looked at a 17th century fishing tradition in Indonesia and found reefs covered by traditional methods had 8 times more fish than reefs not covered. The “Panglima Laot” tradition Aceh, Indonesia developed out of competition for fishing rights in coastal waters during the 17th century. The custom is based on ensuring social harmony and reducing conflicts over fish resources.  [pullquote]The guiding principle of Panglima Laot was successful in minimizing habitat degradation and maintaining fish biomass despite…

American shrimp fishermen reject turtle protection proposals

Shrimp fishermen in Louisiana have rejected proposals to require them to fit turtle excluder devices (TED) to the prawn nets to help turtle conservation. TED have been required for all shrimp nets operating in US federal waters but state waters are excluded from the requirements. The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) are now planning to extend the federal requirement into state waters. It is hoped that the new regulations will lead to the saving of hundreds of turtles each year. Tow time exemption to be removed. Currently shrimp boats operating in state waters are required to deal with turtle by catch by minimising the time that the fine shrimp nets are left in the…

Discards virtually eliminated under catch quota trials

Probably one of the most wasteful procedures that humans undertake in our  relationship with the natural world – or ecological system processes  to give it a more modern term – is fish discard. When we go out to harvest the seas for food there can be an incredible amount of  the fish thrown back overboard. As much as 40% and usually dead can be thrown away in order to ‘conserve’ stocks. This waste is not good for the planet or for the fishermen. This waste has come about because of the EU system of landing quotas. Quota holders are able to land a certain amount of each fish specie each year.…

Shark finning set to be banned in Europe

Fisheries ministers from the EU countries have just finished a meeting over the future direction of EU fisheries policy. While a lot of attention has been put at the wasteful practise of discards the practise of shark finning was also discussed and is set to be banned by the EU. Shark finning is the practise of removing the fins of sharks at sea and discarding the bulk of the body overboard. The sharks are often finned and dumped while still alive and will suffer a long and painful death. The EU currently allows some boats to operate shark finning at sea but it is highly regulated. EU permits allow sharks to be finned at sea. The permits…

When sustainable fish is not all that it seems.

Increasingly people are become much more aware of fish and the impacts of commercial fishing on the environment and other species. Many people look for the Marine Stewardship council (MSC) seal of approval to ensure that the fish they buy is sustainable. Sadly all is not what it seems. Genetic testing raises concerns over Sea Bass. Researchers have just published a study in the journal Cell Press which highlights that MSC sustainable Chilean Sea Bass may not be all that it first seems. Their study demonstrates that not only are the sea bass on the shelves of supermarkets not sustainable but they may not even be sea bass. [pullquote]There is no…

Tackling the over-fishing crisis – no take zones

Tackling the over-fishing crisis – no take zones

New research has again shown that no take zones in the seas and oceans can be a major way in which to make fishing sustainable in the oceans and seas. The new research covered an area of ocean off Baja California. This marine park  and no take zone has seen fish numbers increase by over 460% in 10 years. The Cabo Pulmo National Park was established by the Mexican government in 1995 after the area had effectively been laid barren by overfishing.  Local officials and citizens have been fully supportive of enforcing a strict no take zone in the marine reserve. Cabo Pulmo reef recover exceeds expectations. “We could have never…