The Beacon

Blog Tags: Spain

Oceana Uncovers Dangerous Mercury Levels in Fish

© Oceana/Juan Cuetos

Spain’s biggest newspaper, El País, featured Oceana prominently in this morning’s cover story. The article describes Oceana’s unrelenting effort to make previously confidential research regarding unsafe mercury levels in large fish freely accessible to the public, highlighting an important victory with implications for the health of the Spanish populace and the transparency of the Spanish government.

Here’s the back story: in 2003, Spain’s Spanish Institute of Oceanography (IEO) conducted a large research study that documented levels of mercury and other heavy metals in large fish such as various sharks, swordfish, and bluefin tuna.

The results of the study were not good: 62.5 percent of the 128 mako shark samples and 54.2 percent of the swordfish samples contained high, unpermitted levels of mercury. Despite this alarming evidence, the results were never released due to concerns about its possible impact on the fishing industry.


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Vote to Protect Mediterranean Seamounts!

Oceana could win 30.000€ (more than $40,000) to protect threatened seamounts in the Mediterranean, but only if you vote!


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Ranger Finds Deep-sea White Coral in Western Med

white coral

© Oceana

Our research catamaran, Ranger, is currently at sea for its annual expedition, and the crew recently made an incredible discovery in the depths of the Western Mediterranean Sea.

Using a deep-diving ROV, they discovered large colonies of deep-sea white coral, which is significant considering that most of the Mediterranean’s deep-sea coral reefs have already been destroyed by bottom trawling and longline fishing.

Most of the research conducted in the Mediterranean to date has found only dead coral; in fact, Ranger’s crew found live colonies of deep-sea coral coexisting with large expanses of dead coral.

The reef, which Ranger found in Spain’s Alboran Sea, is one of the richest and most threatened ecosystems in the Mediterranean, forming a habitat for species such as redfish, roughy, red seabream and countless others.

You can read the Ranger’s on-board diaries for more on this year’s expedition.


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A Chance for Bluefin

Things could be looking up for the tigers of the sea.

Next month, 175 nations will meet in Doha, Qatar to discuss whether bluefin tuna will join the likes of pandas and elephants as endangered species under Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

While France has joined Monaco in declaring its support for the ban, Spain’s position remains in doubt.

Spain currently holds the EU presidency and the dubious honor of catching much of the Mediterranean's bluefin tuna. Yesterday, Oceana held an event along with Greenpeace, MarViva, Pew, WWF and Ecologistas en Acción urging Spain to support the ban.

Kofi Annan, Michael Douglas and Colin Firth, among many other public personalities, have signed on in support of the listing.

Oceana will be in Doha in March voicing our support for bluefin. Here’s hoping -- and stay tuned.


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NATO SONAR may be killing whales

From Reuters -- "Dead Whales Land in Canaries After Naval Exercises":

Two dead whales have landed in Spain's Canary Islands, raising fears they may have been hurt by NATO military exercises off Morocco and that more could have died, officials said on Friday.


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