The Beacon

Oceana’s blog about the latest ocean news, policy and science.

Video: Oceana Exposes Illegal Drift Gillnet Use in Italy

drift gillnets in Italy

Containers filled with drift gillnets in Italy, photographed during a 2006 Oceana expedition. (Photo: Oceana / Eduardo de Ana)

Earlier this month, Oceana in Europe and Italian journalist Sabrina Giannini gathered evidence of Italian fishermen using illegal drift gillnets in the swordfish fishery at the Port of Bagnara Calabra in southern Italy. Despite a 2002 ban by the European Union on this destructive fishing gear—and even with the Italian government providing high subsidies for other fishing techniques—Italy continues to use this illegal gear.


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North Atlantic Great White Sharks are Rebounding, but that’s Not the Case for All Species

A great white shark (Carcharodon carcharias)

A great white shark (Carcharodon carcharias). (Photo: Ken Bondy / Flickr Creative Commons)

Great white sharks are arguably the most widely-known shark species, but unfortunately, they’re not known for their roles as apex predators that are crucial to healthy ocean ecosystems. Instead, some have characterized them as vicious monsters of the deep, and the media over-sensationalizes rare attacks—which doesn’t  help conservation efforts.


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Ocean News: Green Sea Turtle Makes Longest Migration Ever Recorded, Small Oil Spill Found off of Italy, and More

A green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas)

A green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas). (Photo: Oceana / Eduardo Sorensen)

- In areas where overfishing is common and observers are few and far between, drones could be a significant resource in helping to tackle illegal fishing. This June, the Wildlife Conservation Society, Belize Drones, and Belize’s fisheries department launched a program that may soon have drones flying over Belize’s Glover Reef. National Geographic


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Obama Administration Approves Seismic Airgun Use off the Atlantic Coast In Spite of Local Opposition and Threats to Marine Life

A North Atlantic right whale

A North Atlantic right whale, a critically endangered species that will be impacted by this decision. (Photo: FWC Fish and Wildlife Research Institute / Flickr Creative Commons)

For more than 30 years, the Atlantic coast has been off limits to offshore drilling. Today, our government appears to be folding to the pressure of Big Oil and its big money.

This morning, the Obama administration approved the use of dynamite-like blasts to search for oil and gas deposits deep below the ocean floor in the Atlantic Ocean. The decision opens Delaware through Florida—an area twice the size of California—to these blasts, in spite of the proven threats to marine, mounting local opposition, and risks to fisheries.


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Marine Mammal Unusual Mortality Events Get the Spotlight on Capitol Hill

Stranded sea lion pup

Stranded sea lion pup. (Photo: Kellan / Flickr Creative Commons)

Earlier this week, marine mammals like California sea lions, common dolphins, and bottlenose dolphins were the focus of one Congressional Briefing. Hosted by the International Fund for Animal Welfare, Congressman Bill Keating of Massachusetts and Congressman Jared Huffman of California, the discussion centered on scientists from The Marine Mammal Center and the Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center speaking about unusual levels of marine mammal stranding in 2013, and how funding cuts are deeply affecting their ability to respond.


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Ocean News: U.S. to Auction Off New Jersey Area for Offshore Wind, Baby Sea Turtles Found to Make Noises, and More

Offshore wind farm

An offshore wind farm. (Photo: Kim Hansen / Flickr Creative Commons)

- A New York-based seafood company and its executives pleaded guilty in federal court for fish fraud. The executives underreported the amount of summer flounder they caught between June 2009 and December 2011 by 56,000 pounds and used false documents to ship fish to customers. The Wall Street Journal


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CEO Note: Another Chlorine Plant Goes Mercury-Free

Bluefin tuna (Thunnus thynnus) in the Mediterranean

Bluefin tuna (Thunnus thynnus) in the Mediterranean. (Photo: Oceana / Keith Ellenbogen)

We all know that seafood is good for you, and that fish is high in heart-healthy omega-3s. And I’m sure you’ve also heard warnings about mercury levels in certain species of fish, especially if you or anyone you know is starting a family. But you might not know that the chlorine industry was a major source of mercury released to our environment.


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Video: Huge School of Anchovies Swarms San Diego Shoreline

A massive school of anchovies amassed along the Pacific coast shoreline.

A massive school of anchovies amassed along the Pacific coast shoreline. (Photo: Scripps Oceanography / YouTube)

When a massive school of anchovies swam uncharacteristically close to the California shoreline last week, they couldn’t have picked a better location: right outside the University of California, San Diego’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography.


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Ocean News: Whale Sharks Visiting Azore Islands More Frequently, Volunteers Help Disabled Sea Turtle Nest, and More

A whale shark (Rhincodon typus)

A whale shark (Rhincodon typus). (Photo Oceana / Tim Calver)

- After two attempts at nesting this summer, volunteers helped a loggerhead sea turtle missing her right rear flipper successfully lay a nest on Masonboro Island, North Carolina. The sea turtle tried to nest 15 times this summer before the volunteers were able to help her. Star News Online


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Creature Feature: Ochre Sea Star

Ochre Sea Star (Pisaster ochraceus)

Ochre Sea Star (Pisaster ochraceus). (Photo: Flickr Creative Commons / canopic)

Whether you know them as starfish or sea stars, these five-arm invertebrates will always be recognized by their unique shape and vibrant colors that have been decorating the seafloor for millions of years. This month, we’re taking a look at the ochre sea star and what this keystone species can tell us about the health of our oceans.


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