The Beacon: Emily Fisher's blog
At last, the good news you've been waiting for: California Governor Jerry Brown has signed a bill banning the trade of shark fins.
California has joined the ranks of Washington State, Oregon and Hawaii, who have all passed similar bans. Oceana supported this legislation from the beginning, and we are thrilled that Governor Brown has passed it into law, completing a West Coast ban.
Each year, tens of millions of sharks are killed for their fins, mostly to make shark fin soup. In this wasteful and cruel practice, a shark’s fins are sliced off while at sea and the remainder of the animal is thrown back into the water to die. Without fins, sharks bleed to death, drown, or are eaten by other species. In recent decades some shark populations have declined by as much as 99%.
Removing sharks from ocean ecosystems can destabilize the ocean food web and even lead to declines in populations of other species, including commercially-caught fish and shellfish species lower in the food web. While shark finning is illegal in the U.S., current federal laws banning the practice do not address the issue of the shark fin trade, so shark fins are imported to the U.S. from countries with few or even no shark protections in place.
“Today is a landmark day for shark conservation around the globe” said Susan Murray, Oceana’s Senior Pacific Director. “The leadership shown by legislatures and governors of California, Oregon, Washington, and Hawaii sends a strong message that the entire US West Coast will no longer play a role in the global practice of shark finning that is pushing many shark species to the brink of extinction.”
A huge thanks to everyone who called your legislators and Governor Brown and helped secure this enormous victory for our oceans' top predators!
For those of you out there who still send snail mail – and I know there are some of you – we have some fun news. The U.S. Postal Service has issued a special “Save Vanishing Species” stamp to benefit endangered species including elephants, rhinoceros, tigers, great apes, and – you guessed it -- sea turtles.
While we would have picked the sea turtle to be the face on the stamp, there are as few as 3,200 Amur tigers left in the wild, so the big cat was chosen, and we have to admit it turned out beautifully.
Each stamp is 55 cents, 11 cents above the cost of a first class stamp. Those extra cents will benefit the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s five Multinational Species Conservation Funds, including the Marine Turtle Conservation Act (MTCA).
Only the fourth of its kind ever created by the Postal Service, this stamp is now available in post offices nationwide and will remain on sale for at least two years.
The MTCA is funded by annual U.S. Congressional appropriations. As U.S. lawmakers focus on spending cuts in 2011 and the years to come, the sales of the wildlife stamp are an important source of funding for these animals. If all 100 million stamps are sold over the next two years, it will net about $10 million for these vanishing species.
And if it’s a success, the program could be extended. Since its inception, the Breast Cancer Research stamp has raised more than $80 million.
So go ahead, send your next letter with a sea turtle in mind – get your own set of these beautiful new stamps!
You could say we’re a straight-A student.
Charity Navigator, the largest charity evaluator in America, has launched an expanded rating system, and Oceana once again scored the highest marks.
In addition to receiving a four-star rating for our financial performance evaluation, Oceana has now received a 4-star rating on Accountability and Transparency. The new rating system allows donors to determine which charities have the “best practices that minimize the chance of unethical activities and that freely share basic information about the organization with donors and other stakeholders.”
In addition to the endorsement from the Charity Navigator, Oceana has also been accredited by the Better Business Bureau (BBB) as a charity that meets all 20 standards for Charity Accountability. This endorsement is a formal recognition that Oceana has undergone a detailed review process and meets the highest operational, financial and ethical standards for charity accountability.
So as you and your loved ones plan your end-of-year giving, keep Oceana in mind. You’ll be able to rest assured knowing your dollars are doing good for the oceans.
And if you don’t want to wait until the end of the year – go ahead and donate now. Thanks for all your support!
Oceana released a new report today outlining the shocking amount of subsidies that pour into Europe’s fishing industry. European taxpayers are essentially paying for overfishing – to the tune of 3.3 billion Euros ($4.6 billion) in 2009.
Here are some other stunning facts from the report:
- Oceana’s analysis found that a total of at least €3.3 billion of subsidies were available to the European Union fishing sector in 2009. This is more than three times quoted public figures, which only reference the European Fisheries Fund.
- Total subsidies to the fishing sector are equivalent to 50 percent of the value of the total fish catch by the European Union in the same year ( €6.6 billion)
- Spain, France, Denmark, the United Kingdom and Italy received the most fishing subsidies.
- 13 European Union countries had more fishing subsidies than the value of the landings of fish in their ports.
- Europe is one of the world’s top three subsidizers, along with China and Japan.
- As a result of these major subsidies, the European Union now has a fishing fleet that is two to three times larger than what is needed to fish sustainably.
- More than two-thirds of these subsidies have the ability to enhance fishing capacity and promote overfishing.
Check out the full report and pass it on!
This is part of a series of ocean infographics by artist Don Foley. These infographics also appear in Oceana board member Ted Danson’s book, “Oceana: Our Endangered Oceans and What We Can Do to Save Them.”
Bottom trawls, enormous fishing nets that are dragged across the sea floor, clear-cut everything living in their path. The mouths of the largest nets are big enough to swallow a Boeing 747 Jumbo Jet, and trawls and dredges can destroy century-old coral reefs in mere moments.
How Extensive is the Damage? (Fig. A)
• The largest deep-sea bottom trawling ships—“supertrawlers” —are 450 feet or longer (the length of 1.5 football fields).
• A large trawler can drag over a half-acre swath of seabed with one pass.
• High-seas bottom trawlers destroy 580 square miles of seabed each day.
• Each year, the world’s fleet of bottom trawlers disturbs a seabed area twice the size of the contiguous United States.
• Deep-sea trawling destroys seabed habitat at a faster rate than the aggregate loss of the world’s tropical rain forests.
• European scientists have calculated that bottom-dragging trawlers in the North Sea destroy 16 pounds of marine animals for every pound of marketable sole that is caught.
Trawler Doors (Fig. B)
Heavy doors keep the mouth of the net open and on the seafloor. Rubber and steel rockhoppers roll across the seafloor, while floats lift open the net above them.
The new issue of Oceana magazine is hot off the press! In this issue, you’ll learn about our latest news and victories, and lots more, including:
*Profiles of our 2011 Ocean Heroes, shark-loving Sophi Bromenshenkel and sea lion-rescuing Peter Wallerstein
*A thought-provoking Q&A with environmental lawyer Robert F. Kennedy Jr.
*The lowdown on our new campaign to combat Seafood Fraud
*A report on this summer’s expedition in the icy Baltic Sea
*Photos from our recent events: Hamptons Splash, Christie’s Green Auction and World Oceans Day
Check it out and pass it on!
Things continue to look up for sharks in the Pacific.
Last night the California Senate passed a ban on the sale, trade, possession, and distribution of shark fins in the state. Oceana was instrumental in the passage of this bill to protect the ocean’s apex predators.
If the bill is signed into law by Governor Brown by October 9, a sweeping West Coast ban on the trade of shark fins will be complete. Washington passed similar legislation in May, followed by Oregon in early August. Hawaii, Guam and the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands have also passed similar bills.
While shark finning is illegal in the U.S., current federal laws banning the practice do not address the issue of the shark fin trade. As a result, fins are imported to the U.S. from countries with little to no shark protections in place. The only way to really address California’s contribution to the global declines in shark populations is to address the market demand for fins in the state.
The passage of this bill will help to protect global populations of at-risk shark species that are being targeted in unsustainable and unregulated fisheries worldwide.
Thanks to everyone who spoke up to help score this victory for sharks! You can see a list of the Senators who voted "aye" for the bill here.
Last month Chile’s government approved a controversial coal mine project in southern Patagonia’s Riesco Island, despite opposition from local residents and environmental groups, including Oceana.
Oceana presented a report to Chile’s environmental ministry outlining the threats facing mammals and birds in the region, including the area’s most emblematic seabird, the Magellanic penguin. The threats from the mine include heavy metal pollution (such as mercury), oil spills, and boat collisions with marine mammals.
Riesco Island is part of Chile’s Alacalufes National Reserve, which is home to an important colony of Magellanic penguins – around 10,000 of the seabirds live around the island. The island and its surroundings are also home to at least 27 species of bird and 7 marine mammal species, including humpback whales. One of the region’s waterways, Otway sound, is one of the only places on the Chilean coast where the Chilean dolphin, bottlenose dolphin and southern dolphin can all be found.
The heavy metals released by coal mining would affect seabirds’ reproduction, especially the penguins. Oil spills can contaminate the eggs, cause death by inhalation and ingestion, and loss of feather waterproofing, which can lead to hypothermia.
Plus, Chile does not have a contingency plan to treat animals affected by oil spills. According to our report, of 76 penguins treated for oil contamination in 2006 in Patagonia’s Madalena Island, 22 died. And in 2004, an oil spill in Chile’s Tierra del Fuego led to the loss of 88% of the adults in a colony of rock cormorants.
If you can put lipstick on a pig, can you put it on a fish?
The answer is yes, and you can do it for a good cause. The Deep Sea Conservation Coalition, of which Oceana is a member, is asking people to create funny pictures of fish and send them to the UN Secretary General to get his attention about the need to protect deep-sea species – even if they aren’t cute or cuddly.
As many as 10 million species may inhabit the deep sea, but bottom trawling and other destructive fishing practices are destroying some of the planet's most diverse frontiers. High seas fishing nations have failed to implement UN resolutions to protect deep-sea life from destructive fishing, though they were supposed to comply within two years and five years have passed.
I created the fabulous fish you see here, you should make one too, and spread the word!
This year’s expedition in the Mediterranean and Portuguese Atlantic has come to a close, and we’re proud to report that it was a resounding success.
The highlight of the Ranger's journey was Portugal’s Gorringe seamount, which is recognized as a hotspot in the region but has not been extensively explored.
The base of the Gorringe seamount is more than 15,000 feet deep, while its peaks are just about 100 feet deep. Need a visualization? Take one of the United States’ tallest peaks, such as Washington’s Mount Rainier, submerge it under water, and add a bunch of spectacular marine life. There you have it.
The expedition team found kelp forests, deep-sea sponge fields, black coral forests, extensive oyster beds and over 100 different species including spotted dolphins, minke whales, sea pens, slipper lobsters and fish such as orange roughies, longspine snipefish, morays and conger eels.
During the expedition, a team of scientists and divers collected photos and video footage and an underwater robot (ROV) recorded high-resolution images on the sea beds down to nearly 2,000 feet deep.
- Disabled Killer Whale Survives with Help from Its Pod Posted Tue, May 21, 2013
- Oceana CEO Andy Sharpless Discusses His New Book, The Perfect Protein Posted Wed, May 22, 2013
- Happy World Turtle Day! Posted Thu, May 23, 2013
- Washington Passes Legislation to Fight Seafood Fraud Posted Fri, May 24, 2013