The Beacon

Blog Tags: Cod

Ocean Roundup: Gulf of Maine Cod Fishery Closed, Climate Change Worsening Dead Zones, and More

Fishery managers closed the Gulf of Maine fishery

Cod (Gadus morhua). Fishery managers closed the Gulf of Maine cod fishery for six months. (Photo: Oceana / Carlos Minguell)

- Researchers have discovered that they can examine how much plastic debris seabirds ingest on the open ocean by studying its concentration in birds’ preening oil. The scientists say this will help them understand how trash is affecting other marine species. ABC


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Celebrate National Seafood Month with This Sustainable Recipe: Roasted Black Cod

National Seafood Month celebrates sustainable seafood

Roasted black cod. (Photo: Larry / Flickr Creative Commons)

October is National Seafood Month, a time to raise awareness for sustainable fisheries and celebrate the benefits of seafood in one’s diet.


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Will EU Member States Live Up To Their Common Fisheries Policy Commitments?

European Union nations have commitments to Common Fisheries Policy

Fishing vessels off the port of Gilleleje, Denmark. (Photo: Oceana / Carlos Minguell)

Earlier this month, Oceana joined European Union nations and other groups at the Baltic Sea Fisheries Forum to discuss restoring Baltic fisheries. This blog, which will appeal to fishery and policy lovers, discusses the difficulties EU Member States face as they near 2015, the year Member States have committed to rebuild fish stocks in the EU. This blog originally appeared on Oceana in Europe’s blog. Take a look below to learn more.


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High Level of Seafood Fraud Found in Denmark

High level of seafood fraud uncovered in Denmark

Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua) in Gilleleje North, Denmark. (Photo: Oceana / Carlos Minguell)

A new study conducted by Oceana, the Danish newspaper Søndagsavisen, and the TV program “Go’Aften Denmark” found that there is a high level of sea fraud in Danish markets. The study revealed that 18 percent of cod sold in fishmongers is not cod, but actually haddock or saithe. In total, 120 samples from fishmongers, supermarkets, and restaurants in the wider Copenhagen region underwent DNA analysis.


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Ocean News: New Whale Shark Aggregation Discovered, Scientists Name New Dolphin Species, and More

New whale shark aggregation discovered in the Red Sea

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

- Researchers recently discovered a massive juvenile whale shark aggregation in the Red Sea off Saudi Arabia. This discovery has allowed researchers to learn much more about the species, from their diving patterns to their diets. Phys.org


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Scientists Recommend Largest Baltic Cod Fisheries Cut in Years

baltic sea cod

Crates with cod unloaded from a longliner in the port of Kolobrzeg, Southern Baltic Proper, Poland. (Photo: Oceana / LX)

Oceana in Europe and our allies are campaigning to allow overfished Baltic Sea cod the chance to recover and rebuild their population. In its recently released advice for 2015 catches in the Baltic Sea, the International Council for the Exploration of the Seas (ICES) called for the largest cuts in total allowable catches for cod in years.


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Oceana Holds Seismic Airgun Protest

Protesters brave the rain ©OCEANA

Yesterday Oceana and its supporters braved foul weather to protest a truly foul idea. Armed with airhorns and megaphones they gave the Department of the Interior (DOI) a tiny preview of what is in store for the ocean’s inhabitants should the Department allow seismic airgun testing to go forward in the Atlantic Ocean.

The DOI is currently reviewing a proposal to use seismic airguns to search for pockets of oil and gas in a huge expanse of ocean from Delaware to Florida. The effects of these round-the-clock tests, which will run for days on end with dynamite-like blasts firing at 10 second intervals, will be devastating to marine mammals and fish alike.

As Oceana marine scientist Matthew Huelsenbeck said at the event:

“There is only one word that I can use that sums up this proposal: unacceptable. The levels of impacts to protected dolphins and whales, including critically endangered species like the North Atlantic right whale are simply unacceptable.”


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156 Million Pounds of Fish Wasted in Northeast

Bycatch a threat to fisheries ©Wikimedia Commons

Bycatch is a word that is thrown around a lot in the fishing industry, but when a trawler is throwing away half the fish it catches, somehow “bycatch” doesn’t seem to adequately capture the scope of the problem. It’s that sort of scale of waste that is described in a troubling new report by the National Marine Fisheries Service. The report claims that 156 million pounds of fish were discarded by fishing ships in the Northeast last year.

“156 million pounds of bycatch in the Northeast equals jobs lost and meals wasted,” said Gib Brogan, Northeast representative at Oceana. “What is bycatch to one fishery is often targeted catch to another. Take skates for example, which are a common bycatch species in the lucrative scallop fishery. Nearly 75 percent of the 101 million pounds of skates that were caught were discarded while New England skate fishermen struggle to increase their quotas.”

Amazingly, the NMFS report also found that no information is being collected about bycatch in more than half of the fishing fleets from North Carolina to Maine.

And fishermen are often the first to feel the effects of these reckless practices. Last week the fisheries of the Northeast U.S. were declared a disaster by the federal government and crashes in the region’s storied cod, haddock and flounder fisheries have led regulators to impose drastic cuts for 2013. What got us here? Insufficient data about bycatch which led to inaccurate fish stock assessments. While regulators waited for the fisheries to rebuild, the silent and unaccounted for catch of millions of pounds of discarded fish had been gutting stocks to unsustainable levels.

Oceana works tirelessly advocating for the reduction of bycatch. Only by counting every fish, and by setting catch limits at sustainable levels can we ensure the future of our fisheries.


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Cod Numbers Disappoint Fishermen and Scientists

A fishing boat in the Gulf of Maine. © Gretchen Ertl for the New York Times

New England fishermen and conservationists alike are in a state of alarm over recent findings from the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) that Gulf of Maine cod – long a staple of New England waters and a critical species for thousands of commercial fishermen in Massachusetts and New Hampshire – are seriously depleted and have been heavily overfished for the past few years. 

This news comes as a shock to both fishermen and scientists, since the previous assessment, done in 2008, found that the stock was following a positive trajectory toward recovery. 

Under the most recent reauthorization of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the law that governs the nation’s marine fisheries, the regional fishery management councils must implement measures to reverse overfishing and ensure that nearly all stocks are rebuilt within ten years. 

Rebuilding fish stocks to healthy levels ensures that fish will be at robust levels to allow commercial fishing to continue on these stocks well into the future. For Gulf of Maine cod, the rebuilding deadline is 2014. The 2008 assessment indicated that the stock was well on its way toward meeting that deadline, so the New England Fishery Management Council set annual catch limits under that assumption and fishermen fished according to the law. 

In a startling reversal, scientists have now determined that the picture in 2008 was flawed and the stock is nowhere near as healthy as they initially thought. In fact, they have found that the stock is only 20 percent of its rebuilt size and is being fished roughly five times the level it can sustain. 

Even more troubling, scientists say that even if all fishing of cod ceased, the species will still not recover by the 2014 deadline. NMFS has said that even under the best case scenario, the stock would not be rebuilt until 2018. The assessment is currently under peer review and the results will be released later this month.


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Melting Ice Beckons Ships, Oil Drills to Arctic

© Oceana

The Arctic’s Northeast Passage is home to walruses, beluga whales, narwhals, and many other marine animals, most of whom have probably never seen an oil tanker or shipping vessel. Unfortunately, thanks to global climate change, that could soon change.

As the planet continues to warm, the coveted Northeast Passage has become ice-free and thus open to cargo ships, oil drillers, and fishing vessels for the first time.

There’s huge incentive for commerce and industry to use the Northeast Passage. The New York Times writes that the opening of the Passage shortens the travel time and reduces costs for shipping between Northern Europe and Asian markets. Companies like Exxon Mobil are attracted to the potential of oil and minerals in the Arctic seabed. And the elusive Arctic “Donut Hole,” a patch of international and unregulated waters in the center of the Ocean, is full of valuable fish including overfished Atlantic cod stocks. 

Offshore drilling, increased shipping traffic, and fishing vessels in the Northeast Passage threatens one of the great patches of marine wilderness in the world. Drilling in the Arctic could mean a spill in a place as remote as Northern Russia, which would make the Gulf of Mexico oil spill cleanup look like a cinch, primarily because cleanup mechanisms such as booms don’t work properly in icy waters.

We’ve been campaigning against offshore oil drilling to protect vulnerable Arctic habitats. We'll continue working with local native communities to ensure that future generations will see a healthy and vibrant Arctic. You can help by supporting our work to fight oil drilling in the Arctic.


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