After six months of negotiations and with support from Sir Thomas Moore, Oceana bought out the Belize's last two trawlers as part of a government-backed move to ban all forms of trawling in Belizean waters. Belize joins Venezula and Palau as the third country to ban trawling in its waters.
Belize banned trawling back in December and with this final buyout, mid-water and bottom trawling is effectively finished in all Belizean waters, including inland rivers and lagoons.
As part of the buyout, $100,000 is earmarked for micro-loans for local fishermen and $60,000 for disaster relief - and Belize's incredible marine ecosystem is protected! A huge thank you and congratulations to everyone who played a part in this victory!
The U.S. government is nearing the conclusion of international negotiations for the management of fisheries on the high seas of the North Pacific Ocean. These quiet talks have been ongoing since April 2006 and are likely to conclude this week, which has huge implications for the oceans and Oceana‚Äôs work in the region.
Oceana has been participating in these meetings as a member of the U.S. delegation since 2007. Oceana‚Äôs Pacific Project Manager, Ben Enticknap, is at this week‚Äôs meeting in Vancouver, Canada, working to expand Oceana‚Äôs approach to freeze the footprint of bottom trawling and protect important ecological areas to international waters.
The negotiations are between the U.S., Canada, Japan, Russia, China, Korea and Taiwan (Chinese Taipei) and are seeking to establish a new fishery management organization to sustainably manage fisheries on the high seas of the North Pacific Ocean, as well as to establish interim measures to protect ‚Äúvulnerable marine ecosystems‚ÄĚ like seamounts, deep-sea corals, sponges and hydrothermal vents from destructive fishing practices.
The Gulf of Mexico is threatened by more than just offshore drilling. Industrial fishing has destroyed many habitats already, as our team saw yesterday. Here's Dustin's update from the Latitude:
A recent story by the Associated Press revealed that there are more than 27,000 abandoned oil and gas wells in the Gulf of Mexico. Some of these wells are believed to still be leaking oil into the Gulf.
Oceana sent its ROV from Chile down (approximately 90 feet to the seafloor) today off the coast of Alabama to investigate an abandoned oil well that began drilling in 1981.
Oceana was unable to find any infrastructure from the abandoned well. However, the ROV did allow us to see the result of using destructive fishing gear in the area. The sea floor at this location was leveled. Trawls appeared to have bulldozed everything in their path, leaving only broken shells and a few remaining fish and sea stars.
Here's Oceana's ROV operator and science director for Chile Matthias Gorny:
In a definitive victory for the Arctic, the government released final regulations protecting almost 200,000 square miles of U.S. Arctic waters from industrial fishing.
The new regulations, which close all U.S. waters north of Alaska‚Äôs Bering Strait to commercial fishing, will be effective starting December 3, 2009. The closure will allow for more time to assess the health of Arctic ocean ecosystems and the potential impacts of large-scale fishing given the impacts the Arctic is already facing from climate change and ocean acidification.
And don't forget the looming threat of offshore oil drilling in the Arctic. Last month the government approved a plan for drilling in the Beaufort Sea next summer, and a similar plan for the Chukchi Sea is currently under review with a decision expected this month.
Conservationists, scientists, and local communities agree that the science-based precautionary approach we have achieved with industiral fishing should be replicated with oil, especially given the higher risks of oil spills in the Arctic and the inability to contain, control or clean up an accident in the icy waters of the Arctic.
Congratulations to everyone who helped make this happen!