If you thought bluefin tuna were just another faceless fish, you thought wrong. Not only are they some of the fastest and most impressive predators in the ocean, they are also in serious trouble from overfishing.
In a few weeks, the world will have a chance to change bluefin’s fate, and we are asking you all to spread the word – by putting your face on this threatened fish. How, you ask? Well, our colleagues in Europe just launched a website, www.stoptunablues.org, where you can do just that.
From November 17-27th, the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) will meet in Paris. ICCAT is an international body responsible for the conservation and management of bluefin, and Oceana will be in Paris to pressure the Commission to do more to protect bluefin.
Bluefin may not be as cuddly as panda bears, but you are – so help us save bluefin by offering your (incredibly attractive) likeness to the cause, and then spread the word on Facebook, Twitter, e-mail, and any other way you want!
This is the second in a series of four guest posts by Paul Greenberg, author of the bestselling book, Four Fish: The Future of the Last Wild Food.
I recently had the pleasure of reviewing James Prosek's excellent Eels for the New York Times Book Review. An endlessly interesting topic but most relevant for today's oceanic fisheries because of the unseen (and largely fixable) problem eels represent: the useless damming of small rivers around the country and around the world.
Rivers are key to oceans: they allow for energy transfer between freshwater ecosystems and saltwater, and the primary way they do that is through "diadromous" i.e. sea run fish like salmon, herring, shad, and yes, eels.
Our Chilean colleagues are really on a roll lately. Adding to their recent victories in Sala y Gomez and Punta de Choros, last week the Chilean government announced a drastic reduction in the fishing quota for jack mackerel and other fisheries, starting in 2011.
The triumph against overfishing comes after Oceana sent the Minister of Economy a report analyzing the annual quota set for jack mackerel during the past 10 years. The study, put together with data that Oceana obtained through Chile’s Freedom of Information Act, shows that between 2003 and 2010 the National Fisheries Council set the annual quota for jack mackerel at higher catch limits than was recommended by the Institute for Fisheries Development. In fact, in 2009 the quota was 87 percent higher than what was recommended by the agency.
As a result, the Minister of Economy went to a session of the National Fisheries Council to express his frustration, and in an unprecedented event, he asked them to set smaller quotas for next year.
Another hard-earned victory for Oceana Chile and the oceans!
You knew the U.S. had a massive carbon footprint, but did you know we also have the world’s third largest “SeafoodPrint?”
That’s according to a study published today in National Geographic led by Oceana board member and fisheries expert Dr. Daniel Pauly and National Geographic fellow Enric Sala.
How do you measure the "SeafoodPrint" of a country, you ask? By factoring in the type of fish and the total amount hauled in. The researchers used a unit of measurement based on "primary production," the microscopic organisms at the bottom of the marine food web that are required to make a pound of a given type of fish.
China comes in at the number one spot because of its sheer population size, while Peru is ranked second because its anchoveta becomes fish meal for farm-raised pigs, chickens and fish (such as salmon) around the world, even though Peruvians themselves don’t consume a lot of fish. Meanwhile, the U.S. is ranked third because of the type of fish we generally prefer -- top-of-the-food-chain fish, such as tuna and salmon.
As you’ve probably heard, Whole Foods Market announced last week that it is partnering with the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch program and Blue Ocean Institute to label all the wild-caught seafood in its North American stores according to their sustainability criteria.
A green label means the fish is relatively abundant and the fishing method causes little damage, yellow indicates that some problems exist with abundance or fishing method, and red means the fish is overfished or the fishing method seriously harms other wildlife or natural habitats. The company has also pledged to eliminate all red-list seafood by Earth Day 2013.
I wanted to see this new rating system for myself, so I headed to the nearest Whole Foods store around lunchtime yesterday. In addition to having a mercury warning clearly posted, the seafood counter’s new stoplight-color rating system appeared prominent and easy to understand.
On Friday Oceana hosted a panel discussion at the World Trade Organization (WTO) Public Forum in Geneva. The session focused on global fisheries depletion and how the WTO can contribute to solving global environmental challenges.
During the session, moderated by former U.S. Ambassador to the WTO Peter Allgeier, leading international fisheries scientists Dr. Rainer Froese and Dr. Anthony Charles discussed the implications of global environmental issues on the multilateral trading system and the role and responsibility of the WTO to help stop overfishing.
In the hearing, entitled Marine Wealth: Promoting Conservation and Advancing American Exports, Danson will describe how government subsidies negatively affect the oceans and global seafood market, and he’ll explain why sustainable fishing is necessary to preserve ocean health and jobs.
Last week Oceana launched a new bluefin tuna PSA campaign featuring “Entourage” star Adrian Grenier. In March, Grenier joined Oceana to swim with the endangered fish and help get the word out that they are “going fast” -- literally and figuratively.
Bluefin can grow to 15 feet in length, weigh up to 1500 pounds and can swim at speeds of more than 50 miles per hour. They are on the verge of extinction as a result of overfishing, and the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico further threatens their survival.
The Gulf is the only place where the Western population of Atlantic bluefin tuna reproduces. After the spawning season (April to June), baby tuna continue to swim through the Gulf region where they can accumulate toxins in their gills from the oil itself and from the chemical dispersants.
“I hope that my involvement will bring attention to what is going on in the bluefin fishery,” Grenier said. “I want these PSAs to encourage people to get involved and help Oceana save these amazing creatures.”
Watch the PSA and get involved with Adrian and Oceana to protect bluefin!
As I told you recently, I had the pleasure of participating in the TED Mission Blue voyage to the Galapagos Islands, led by legendary oceanographer Sylvia Earle. I was one of seven “idea champions” on board, and this was my idea: We can tackle the problem of overfishing by curbing fishing subsidies.
Although 75 percent of the world's fisheries are now either overexploited, fully exploited, significantly depleted or recovering from overexploitation, many governments continue to provide huge subsidies -- about $20 billion annually -- to their fishing sectors.
The fleets are fishing at a level that’s as much as 2.5 times more than what’s required for sustainable catch levels.
I feel strongly that halting fishing subsidies is one of the single greatest actions that can be taken to protect the world’s oceans. And I was hoping others on board would agree with me. Canvassing on the ship with a clipboard and a pencil, I felt like I was back in school, collecting signatures in the cafeteria.
And it worked.
A very happy birthday to E, the Environmental Magazine, which recently turned 20 years old. A lot has happened in the environmental world in those two decades, and a lot has also stayed the same.
This excerpt of their article retrospective brings to mind some all-too-familiar ocean threats. (Oh, and thanks for the shout-out):
"A fish in a net was the cover model for E’s July/August 1996 feature on overfishing. With the headline “Vacuuming the Sea,” the article reported that 70% of the world’s marine fish stocks had been heavily exploited.