Posts Tagged global fisheries

Apr 30 2014

El Nino could massively impact West Coast fish

Seafood News

News Summary: April 29, 2014

NOAA is predicting an El Nino for this summer that could massively impact West Coast fish, and raise global food prices

NOAA is now predicting with 65% confidence a major el Nino event will begin this summer, possibly as early as July.
El Nino can have a major impact both on fisheries and on agricultural commodities.  According to NOAA, fish that remain in their traditional habitats on the West Coast during El Nino experience reduced growth, reproduction, and survival.  On a global scale, El Nino brings warm water to the coast of South America, suppressing the upwelling that provides for rich anchovy fisheries.  The result is that Peru’s anchovy fisheries get severely …Read/subscribe to the original story and SeafoodNews here.

 

peruanchovy

 


John Sackton, Editor And Publisher , Lexington, Massachusetts
Seafood.com News 1-781-861-1441
Email comments to jsackton@seafood.com

 

Oct 25 2013

Sustainable Seafood – A U.S. Success Story

NOAA   FishWatch

The United States is a recognized global leader in responsibly managed fisheries and sustainable seafood. And you can help too!

This video introduces consumers to FishWatch.gov, which provides easy-to-understand, science-based facts to help users make smart, sustainable seafood choices.

Through this video, you’ll learn more about “sustainability” and what NOAA is doing to ensure that our seafood is caught and farmed responsibly with consideration for the health of a species, the environment, and the livelihoods of the people that depend on them.

Have you ever thought about where that piece of salmon on your plate came from? It could have been caught in a wild fishery or harvested from an aquaculture operation. Maybe it’s from the United States, or maybe it was imported from another country, like Canada or Chile?

Read the full story here.

Sep 17 2013

Movement of marine life follows speed and direction of climate change

Science Daily

Scientists expect climate change and warmer oceans to push the fish that people rely on for food and income into new territory. Predictions of where and when species will relocate, however, are based on broad expectations about how animals will move and have often not played out in nature. New research based at Princeton University shows that the trick to more precise forecasts is to follow local temperature changes.

The researchers report in the journal Science the first evidence that sea creatures consistently keep pace with “climate velocity,” or the speed and direction in which changes such as ocean temperature move. They compiled 43 years of data related to the movement of 128 million animals from 360 species living around North America, including commercial staples such as lobster, shrimp and cod. They found that 70 percent of shifts in animals’ depth and 74 percent of changes in latitude correlated with regional-scale fluctuations in ocean temperature.

“If we follow the temperature, which is easier to predict, that provides a method to predict where the species will be, too,” said first author Malin Pinsky, a former Princeton postdoctoral researcher in ecology and evolutionary biology who is now an assistant professor of ecology and evolution at Rutgers University.

“Climate changes at different rates and in different directions in different places,” he said. “Animals are basically being exposed to different changes in temperature.”

The researchers compiled survey data collected from 1968 to 2011 by American and Canadian fishery-research centers and government panels. The surveys recorded surface and bottom temperatures, as well as the complete mass of animals in nine areas central to North American fisheries: the Aleutian Islands; the eastern Bering Sea; the Gulf of Alaska; the West Coast from Washington to California; the Gulf Coast from Louisiana to Mexico; the Northeast coast from North Carolina to Maine; the coast of Nova Scotia; the southern Gulf of St. Lawrence; and the Atlantic Ocean east of Newfoundland.

Details of the surveys revealed that sea creatures adhere to a “complex mosaic of local climate velocities,” the researchers reported. On average, changes in temperature for North America moved north a mere 4.5 miles per decade, but in parts of Newfoundland that pace was a speedier 38 miles north per decade. In areas off the U.S. West Coast, temperatures shifted south at 30 miles per decade, while in the Gulf of Mexico velocities varied from 19 miles south to 11 miles north per decade.

Animal movements were just as motley. As a whole, species shifted an average of 5 miles north per decade, but 45 percent of animal specific populations swam south. Cod off Newfoundland moved 37 miles north per decade, while lobster in the northeastern United States went the same direction at 43 miles per decade. On the other hand, pink shrimp, a staple of Gulf Coast fisheries, migrated south 41 miles per decade, the researchers found.

Read the full article here.

Sep 12 2013

Fukushima Fallout Not Affecting U.S.-Caught Fish

In recent weeks, there has been a significant uptick in news from Fukushima, Japan. Officials from the Japanese government and the Tokyo Electric Power Company, or TEPCO, admitted that radioactive water is still leaking from the nuclear plant crippled by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

The new revelations about the amount of water leaking from the plant have caused a stir in the international community and led to additional scrutiny of Pacific Ocean seafood. Last week, South Korea announced it had banned all imports of Japanese seafood from a large area around Fukushima. And Al Jazeera reported that the cost to the region’s fishing industry over the past two years exceeds $3.5 billion.

Now, fears are mounting that the radiation could lead to dangerous contamination levels in seafood from more of the Pacific Basin. Numerous blog posts and articles expressed concern about the potential for higher concentrations of radioactive particles, particularly in highly migratory species such as tuna that may have encountered Fukushima’s isotopes—including highly dangerous and toxic materials such as cesium-137, strontium-90, and iodine-131—on their transoceanic travels.

Amid alarmist outcry and opposing assurances that the radiation levels in fish are no more harmful than what’s found in the average banana, I decided to dig a little deeper, and a few weeks ago, I posted a brief analysis on Climate Progress. After reading the comments on that piece, it became clear I needed to do a bit more homework.

Read the full article here.

A worker using a Geiger counter checks for possible radioactive contamination at Noryangjin Fisheries Wholesale Market in Seoul, South Korea, Friday, September 6, 2013.

Sep 10 2013

In the U.S., Good News on Fisheries

Discovery News
Around the world, the status of fish and fisheries is grim indeed. Approximately 85 percent of global fish stocks are either over-exploited, fully-exploited, depleted or recovering from depletion. But rigorous management efforts have resulted in some American fisheries making a comeback.

The new report by the National Research Council assessed 55 fisheries and found 10 that have been rebuilt and five that showed good progress toward rebuilding; only nine continue to experience overfishing. What about the rest? Eleven have not shown strong progress in rebuilding but are expected to rebuild if fishing levels remain reduced and a whopping 20 were not actually over-fished despite having been initially classified as such.

The report comes with a neat interactive online graphic to track the fate of fish populations in different regions over the years. By selecting particular species or geographic areas, users can watch, as for example, yelloweye rockfish becomes steadily overfished, as chinook salmon numbers – especially susceptible to changing environmental conditions – swing wildly back and forth, and the likes of lingcod, George’s Bank haddock, king mackerel and Bering Sea snow crab stage their marches toward recovery.

The report is fairly technical, so for a summary – and an explanation of what it means in practical terms for U.S. fish consumers – Discovery News turned to Chris Dorsett, Director of Ecosystem Conservation Programs for the Ocean Conservancy.

“If you look at a map of the United States and where overfishing is still occurring, it’s almost exclusively an east coast problem,” he points out. “And when I say east coast, I mean Gulf of Mexico as well. Where we have not seen success in terms of species recovering based on management actions, that could be due to climatic factors, which aren’t particularly good for productivity. It could be due to management regimes that aren’t particularly effective. But what exacerbates the issue is that, when you drive a population to an extremely low abundance level, environmental variability plays an even more meaningful role in the recovery of that population, so recovery is a little less predictable.”

As the classic case in point, Dorsett points to cod fisheries off Canada, which collapsed in the 1990s and subsequently saw catches slashed essentially to zero. Despite such drastic measures, neither the fish population nor the fishery has shown signs of recovery.

As the NRC report notes, however, there remains some variation: fishing pressure is still too high for some fish stocks, and others have not rebounded as quickly as plans projected. To a large extent, argues Dorsett, that’s a function of natural variability in fish populations and their environments, as well as differences in the ways fisheries have been managed over the years.

In general, though, the news remains positive, increasingly so, and is reflected in the choices available to consumers.

Read the full article here.

Sep 7 2013

National Research Council study finds rebuilding timelines for fish stocks inflexible, inefficient

Saving Seafood

WASHINGTON (Saving Seafood) September 6, 2013 — A new study from the National Research Council of the National Academies, “Evaluating the Effectiveness of Fish Stock Rebuilding Plans in the United States,” examines the ability of US fisheries management to reduce overfishing. Among other conclusions, the study, currently in pre-publication, finds that current stock rebuilding plans, which are based on eliminating overfishing within a specified time period, are not flexible enough to account for uncertainties in scientific data and environmental factors that are outside the control of fishermen and fisheries managers. It concludes that basing rebuilding on a timeline diminishes consideration for the socioeconomic impacts of the rebuilding plans.

The study was originally requested by Senator Olympia Snowe and Congressman Barney Frank in 2010, who wrote to NOAA asking them to fund the National Research Council’s work. The following are excerpts taken from pages 179 and 181 of the report:

The tradeoff between flexibility and prescriptiveness within the current legal framework and MFSCMA guidelines for rebuilding underlies many of the issues discussed in this chapter. The present approach may not be flexible or adaptive enough in the face of complex ecosystem and fishery dynamics when data and knowledge are limiting. The high degree of prescriptiveness (and concomitant low flexibility) may create incompatibilities between singlespecies rebuilding plans and EBFM. Fixed rules for rebuilding times can result in inefficiencies and discontinuities of harvest-control rules, put unrealistic demands on models and data for stock assessment and forecasting, cause reduction in yield, especially in mixed-stock situations, and de-emphasize socio-economic factors in the formulation of rebuilding plans. The current approach specifies success of individual rebuilding plans in biological terms. It does not address evaluation of the success in socio-economic terms and at broader regional and national scales, and also does not ensure effective flow of information (communication) across regions. We expand on each of these issues below and discuss ways of increasing efficiency without weakening the rebuilding mandate.

Read the full article here.

Sep 27 2012

Fishery Management: An Analysis of Fish Stock Assessments

Center for American Progress

Counting Fish 101

An Analysis of Fish Stock Assessments

George Lapointe, Linda Mercer, and Michael Conathan   


Science is integral to fishing operations. Without the ability to estimate how many fish exist in the ocean there’s no way to determine how many of them we can catch while allowing the remaining fish populations to stay viable. But fish live in a mostly invisible world beneath the ocean surface, they move around constantly, and they eat each other.

This creates a dynamic population structure that’s incredibly difficult to track, making fish virtually impossible to count. Thus, fisheries scientists—like political pollsters or other statisticians—must rely on imperfect data to make their predictions about the status and health of fish populations.

They take these data—some of which they collect, some of which come from fishermen—and plug them into scientific models which, in turn, create estimates of population health. Because the entire population of a given species is frequently divided into subpopulations known as “stocks,” these estimates are called “stock assessments,” and they form the backbone of modern fishery management in the United States.

These assessments provide an estimate of the current state of a fish population and, in some cases, forecast future trends. This tells us whether fishery management goals are
being met and indicates the type of conditions to which the fishery will have to adapt in the near future. In an ideal world, scientists would have the resources to provide managers with updated stock assessments for each species every year, but their expense and complexity mean they can only be updated periodically.

Regardless of how frequently they can be updated, strong, science-based stock assessments are the key to future sustainability, not just of the fish but also of the fishing industry. Fishing is an inherently unstable business, yet strong, accurate science can give fishermen a better understanding of whether their resource will remain healthy, and if it does, how many fish they will be allowed to catch. This in turn allows fishermen to make informed business decisions and stabilizes coastal economies.

Read the full report here.

Aug 27 2012

KUOW (NPR) Radio – Ray Hilborn on Overfishing: How Big Is The Problem?

Fish is a significant source of protein in the human diet; around 90 million tons are caught every year. Are some fisheries in danger of collapse? What species are being managed the right way? UW professor and fisheries expert Ray Hilborn talks to David Hyde about his new book “Overfishing: What Everyone Needs To Know.”

Listen to the full interview here via KUOW NPR – 94.9 FM (Seattle).

Ray Hilborn is a professor of fisheries at the University of Washington. Reporter Ross Reynolds hosts this fast–paced news call–in program. Engaging, stimulating and informative – a forum where listeners have the chance to speak directly with experts on news–oriented topics. The Conversation covers the very current topics and issues of the day.

 
Aug 24 2012

New NOAA Ship Strengthens Ties between Scripps Oceanography and Southwest Fisheries Science Center

Collaborations between La Jolla institutions began more than 70 years ago and flourish today with a mix of strategic relationships Scripps Institution of Oceanography/University of California, San Diego

NOAA anticipates bringing the Reuben Lasker to the West Coast in 2013 and beginning operations in 2014. The ship will support scientific assessments of fish stocks and other marine life on the U.S. West Coast.

“Reuben Lasker represents an important investment by the American people in our ability to monitor the health of our ocean ecosystems,” said Bruce Appelgate, associate director of ship operations and marine technical support at Scripps. “This process of investment must continue in order to revitalize the United States research fleet, so that societally important issues can be properly understood.”

NOAA Ship Reuben Lasker, named after a pioneering fisheries biologist and Scripps adjunct professor, was launched on June 16. Credit: Val Ihde, Marinette Marine Corp.   

The new vessel honors the late Reuben Lasker, a pioneering fisheries biologist who served as director of SWFSC’s coastal fisheries division and worked in a key position as an adjunct professor at Scripps. Lasker fostered fundamental collaborations that formed a scientific bridge between Scripps and SWFSC.

“Reuben Lasker was arguably the father of West Coast fisheries oceanography,” said Dave Checkley, a Scripps professor of oceanography and director of the Cooperative Institute on Marine Ecosystems and Climate (CIMEC), a Scripps-led NOAA program established to study climate change and coastal ecosystems. “He brought his basic knowledge of insect biology to bear on plankton and fish, and combined this with oceanography to lead the Southwest Fisheries Science Center’s program on small pelagic fish, particularly anchovy and sardine.”

“He and his colleagues are renowned worldwide for their contributions to the biology of these fish and their ecology and fisheries oceanography. He, as much as anyone, fostered the close and productive collaboration between academia and fisheries.”

Checkley, who noted that Reuben Lasker served on his Ph.D. committee, said the namesake vessel furthers the close collaborations between Scripps and NOAA in fisheries oceanography that was formalized in 1949, following the collapse of California’s sardine fishery and the inception of the California Cooperative Oceanic Fisheries Investigations (CalCOFI) program, a unique partnership of the California Department of Fish and Game, NOAA Fisheries Service, and Scripps. CalCOFI stands as one of the world’s longest and most important marine monitoring programs and has provided valuable insights about various aspects of the waters off California and its inhabitants for more than 50 years.

“The Reuben Lasker will be one of NOAA’s state-of-the-art fisheries vessels and will not only enable the continuation of CalCOFI but enhance it with its superior capabilities,” said Checkley.

Read the full announcement via the Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

 
Jun 7 2012

Oceans Plan Meets Wave of GOP Resistance

 

  Congressional Quarterly Weekly – IN FOCUS

June 4, 2012 – Page 1137

  By Lauren Gardner | Staff Writer

 
Some lawmakers predict the new ocean policy will inevitably lead to new strict regulations on offshore drilling, wind power, commercial and recreational fishing, and boating.
On its face, the Obama administration’s plan to begin implementing its National Ocean Policy looks like something even the president’s most ardent opponents might like. The objective sounds innocuous enough safeguard the oceans and Great Lakes while encouraging sustainable development of offshore resources. The plan aims to achieve that goal by coordinating the many federal agencies that enforce the 140 laws affecting the oceans, coastlines and Great Lakes and by streamlining the process for granting various permits.ut President Obama’s critics in Congress are suspicious about the plan — and are aggressively moving to block it.
 

House Natural Resources Chairman Doc Hastings, a Washington Republican, fears the blueprint will usher in ocean “zoning.” Texas Republican Bill Flores succeeded in attaching a rider to the fiscal 2013 Commerce-Justice-Science appropriations bill that would bar any expenditures to implement the ocean policy, and Hastings vows to press for similar language in every spending bill that comes to the House floor.

 

The opposition reflects concerns by many of the industries that make a living in the coastal waters — including oil and natural gas producers, commercial fishermen and seafood processors, boat owners and operators, shippers, and sports fishermen. An industry-backed group called the National Ocean Policy Coalition backs efforts to delay the policy through appropriations riders, saying that “further policy development and implementation should be suspended until Congress, user groups, and the public have been fully engaged and all potential impacts have been assessed and are understood.”

 

Critics worry that the administration will pay for its initiative by siphoning money from programs that lawmakers intended to fund, and they complain that the White House is moving forward without congressional authorization. Some lawmakers predict the plan, which is expected to be put in final form this summer, will inevitably lead to new regulations that further burden business activities including offshore drilling, wind power, commercial and recreational fishing, deep-sea fish farming, and boating.

 

Spearheading support for an ocean policy are environmental groups such as Oceana, the Ocean Conservancy and the Pew Environmental Group — a roster that invites the suspicions of industry groups.

 

Even the co-chairmen of the Senate Oceans Caucus are divided. Rhode Island Democrat Sheldon Whitehouse calls the proposal a “very pro-business and very sensible means for rationally sorting out conflicting uses in a really important resource.” But Alaska Republican Lisa Murkowski says flatly: “I don’t like it.”

 

“They’ve got an idea that sounds nice on paper, establishes all kinds of different programs,” she says. “And again, we’ve had no sense of funding or real direction.”

 
 Read the rest of the article on CQWeekly.com