Blog Tags: Bluefin Tuna
The Atlantic bluefin tuna made an incredible recovery after decades of overfishing. Now, seismic airgun testing in the Mediterranean Sea threatens to unravel progress that was made for this super predator. This article was originally published in the summer 2014 issue of Oceana magazine, and the full excerpt can be viewed here.
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.
Ocean News: New Arctic Shipping Route Proposed, East Coast Sees Surge in Coastal Flooding Events, and More
- A new analysis focusing on sea level rise found that coastal flooding has dramatically increased in frequency along the Eastern Seaboard in recent years. The analysis found that flood levels met or exceeded NOAA’s flood thresholds more than 20 days a year in six coastal cities. Reuters
I wrote to you recently about the U.S. government’s plans to allow seismic airguns in the U.S. Atlantic. This technology, used to search for oil and gas deposits, could injure an estimated 138,200 dolphins and whales and usher in offshore oil drilling. A similar battle is occurring across the Atlantic, where the Spanish government is planning to open 45 percent of the Spanish Mediterranean to seismic surveys, putting local ecosystems and economies at serious risk.
A disturbing finding on the effects of oil spill was announced on Monday, as the 4-year commemoration of the BP Deepwater Horizon spill approaches. A recent study found that polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs)—known to be associated with cancers—generated from the oil spill caused heart defects in commercially important tuna and amberjack.
Today in Morocco the annual meeting of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) wrapped up. Contrary to its name, the ICCAT oversees more than just tuna, regulating a variety of highly migratory fish including several kinds of shark in the Atlantic and surrounding seas.
The takeaway from this year's ICCAT meeting was two-fold: for the beleaguered bluefin tuna which has been subject to extremely high fishing pressure in recent decades ICCAT acted prudently, leaving 2013 catch limits largely the same, even as tuna stocks showed signs of recovery. It was a welcome development from an organization that has sometimes put the interests of the fishing industry ahead of those of the fish.
But for vulnerable and largely unregulated species of shark like the porbeagle and shortfin Mako, ICCAT sat on its hands, rejecting measures that would set limits on mako and failing to adopt science-based proposals to protect endangered porbeagles.
In the New York Times Green blog, Oceana Europe fisheries campaign manager Maria Jose Cornax called the inaction on sharks “a baffling, contradictory approach".
"ICCAT must remove its blinders and look beyond this one fish [bluefin tuna] to the many other stocks for which it is responsible,” she said.
Shark expert and Oceana Europe marine wildlife scientist Dr. Allison Perry condemned the abandonment of sharks at this year’s meeting.
“ICCAT has failed to assume their responsibility for managing shark fisheries in the Atlantic. Allowing stocks to become seriously depleted, and then prohibiting their capture does not qualify as responsible management. Sharks represent more than 15% of all reported catches in ICCAT, yet most sharks caught in ICCAT fisheries remain completely unmanaged.”
Do you want the good news or the bad news first? Let’s start with the bad:
In a new report released this week, the International Programme on the State of the Ocean (IPSO) warns that ocean life is "at high risk of entering a phase of extinction of marine species unprecedented in human history”.
The preliminary report from IPSO is the result of the first-ever interdisciplinary international workshop examining the combined impact of all of the stressors currently affecting the oceans, including pollution, warming, ocean acidification, overfishing and hypoxia.
It turns out that the confluence of overfishing, pollution and climate change is worse than previously thought, as Oceana’s Senior Vice President and Chief Scientist Mike Hirshfield explains to CBS News in this clip:
Oceana could win 30.000€ (more than $40,000) to protect threatened seamounts in the Mediterranean, but only if you vote!
A week from today marks the one year anniversary of the BP oil spill, and the effects of the spill on the gulf’s ecosystems and wildlife are beginning to come into view, though the full effects won’t be understood for years.
This week the New York Times published an overview of the latest findings. The good news is that although miles of marsh are still oiled and tar balls continue to wash up on beaches, the Gulf of Mexico can thank its oil-eating bacteria for digesting some of the crude oil and the methane gas.
Not all the news is so good, however. Here are some of the latest findings about Gulf wildlife:
As ICCAT continues this week in Paris, we have a new report out today that ought to get the delegates’ attention. Our report estimates that more than 1.3 million highly migratory sharks were caught in the Atlantic Ocean during 2008 -- and without international fisheries management.
Of the 21 sharks species reported to be caught in ICCAT waters in 2008, three quarters are classified as threatened with extinction in parts of the Atlantic Ocean, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Yet sharks remain all but unmanaged by ICCAT, with the exception of a weak finning ban and a prohibition on retaining bigeye thresher sharks.
And what’s more, Oceana scientists believe that 1.3 million sharks is a gross underestimate. In 2008, 11 out of the 48 countries that participate in ICCAT did not report any shark catches and current shark catch data in ICCAT is generally acknowledged to be inadequate at best. In fact, scientific estimates based on Hong Kong shark fin trade data have shown that real shark catches in the Atlantic may be more than three times higher than what is reported to ICCAT.
- CITES Listing Countdown: Less Than Three Weeks until Porbeagle Sharks are Protected Posted Wed, August 27, 2014
- Ocean Roundup: 20 Coral Species to Gain Federal Protection, Shell Files New Plan for Arctic Drilling, and More Posted Fri, August 29, 2014
- Ocean Roundup: Maine’s Scallop Fishery Could See Closures, Sydney Harbor Littered with Microplastics, and More Posted Tue, August 26, 2014
- Photos: Oceana in Belize Exposes Belizean Youth to the Wonder of the Sea Posted Wed, August 27, 2014
- Conservation Groups Plan Lawsuit to Protect Sperm Whales Posted Fri, August 29, 2014