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Sunday Round Up – #14

June 26, 2011

I regret I haven’t been able to write more these past couple weeks, but things are getting busy as I start looking for work. (My present fellowship ends in August.)  But, I do hope to get some more posts up soon, and I will certainly continue with the round ups.

This week was very interesting on the science front, so studies are the lead stories.  Much of this likely had to do with the fact that the UN convened a major meeting on oceans.


Top Stories

In a new report, a panel of leading scientists warn that ocean life is “at high risk of entering a phase of extinction of marine species unprecedented in human history”.  They conclude that issues such as over-fishing, pollution and climate change are acting together in ways that have not previously been recognized.

In another major study published in Nature, 75 scientists have pulled together 10 years worth of data on the migration patterns of 23 of the ocean’s major species, including blue whales, blue-fin tuna, sharks and albatross, and overlaid it with satellite data on temperature, salinity and chlorophyll fluctuations of the ocean. The result is the most comprehensive view to date of how top predators follow and find the biological hotspots of the sea as seasons shift. It could give us new insight on how changes such as climate and acidification may impact the iconic species of the ocean.

And another study found that fish communities in the 21st Century live fast and die young.  Over the centuries, human fishing has greatly reduced or eliminated larger and longer-lived species that were more commonly caught in the Middle Ages. The remaining fish communities today contain more species with shorter life spans, faster growth rates, smaller average sizes, and fewer top predators.  The study—which utilized more than 5,475 samples of ancient fish remains dating between 1250 and 600 years before the present (approximately AD 750—1400)—appears in the current online edition of the journal Conservation Biology.

In Europe, EU fisheries commissioner, Maria Damanaki, told a meeting of the European Parliament’s ‘Fish for the Future’ group that 91% of stocks would be endangered within a decade. She is planning next month to announce radical plans for reform to prevent an inevitable loss of fish stocks and further decline of the fishing industry.  Damanaki also said this past week that she wants to set a timetable to progressively eliminate discards that will culminate in 2016, when all catches must have landed.

The global head of Greenpeace was deported from Greenland after four days in jail for his part in a month of direct action on Cairn Energy’s Arctic oil rig Leiv Eiriksson.


Other Stories

 Fish catches in Madagascar over the last half-century are double the official reports, and much of that fish is being caught by unregulated traditional fishers or accessed cheaply by foreign fishing vessels.

A new report from the non-governmental organization Bloom questions the seafood-purchasing behaviors of France’s school system, particularly the use of species that it says are harvested in an environmentally harmful manner.

Explosive economic growth in China’s coastal regions has led to levels of ocean pollution that threaten human and marine life, a government report concluded.

In a sign that the global movement to protect sharks is picking up steam, Honduras is declaring its waters to be a permanent shark sanctuary.

The Association of Pacific Island Legislatures (APIL) issued a resolution last week stressing the need for additional actions to protect sharks.

Eleven Latin American countries have ratified an international agreement that calls for a complete ban on commercial whaling to protect the endangered species.


Worth Reading/Watching

Did the last year see the Earth’s most extreme weather since 1816?

Julia Whitty has a great photo collection of bioluminescent ocean life..

The Lenfest Ocean program explains that catch share programs improve consistency, not the health, of fisheries. (11mins)


Good Stuff

Giant Octopus babies, thousands of them.

The swimming pool becomes art.

The NYT’s Economix blog took a quick look at the comparative prices of various fish recommended by the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch. Over all, it looks as if being environmentally conscientious will come at a price. Wild Alaska salmon, on the “best choices” list, ranges from $23.99 to $34.99 a pound, while Pacific halibut is anywhere from $23.99 to 29.99 a pound. On the “avoid” list, monkfish is $10.99 to $14.99 a pound while farmed Atlantic salmon is just $11.99 to $13.99.

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