The Beacon

Blog Tags: Endangered Species

Morocco Bans Driftnets

© Oceana/Carlos Suarez

Great news in the battle against illegal fishing: Morocco has passed an amendment banning the use, possession, manufacture or sale of driftnets.

Known as “curtains of death,” driftnets are a type of illegal fishing gear that can be nearly 100 feet high and 12 miles long. Because they are so passive and indiscriminate, driftnets snag whatever’s in their path, including many marine mammals and other endangered species.

The UN passed an international moratorium on driftnets 15 years ago, and the EU instituted a ban seven years ago, but many French, Italian and Moroccan vessels have continued using them.


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Oil Spill Quote of the Day

Today’s Oil Spill Quote of the Day features Elizabeth Griffin Wilson, one of our very own scientists:

 From yesterday’s Guardian:

Some 1,020 sea turtles were caught up in the spill, according to figures (pdf) today – an ominous number for an endangered species. Wildlife officials collected 177 sea turtles last week – more than in the first two months of the spill and a sizeable share of the 1,020 captured since the spill began more than three months ago. Some 517 of that total number were dead and 440 were covered in oil, according to figures maintained the Deepwater Horizon response team.


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Adrian Grenier Joins Oceana to Protect Bluefin Tuna

Last week Oceana launched a new bluefin tuna PSA campaign featuring “Entourage” star Adrian Grenier. In March, Grenier joined Oceana to swim with the endangered fish and help get the word out that they are “going fast” -- literally and figuratively.

Bluefin can grow to 15 feet in length, weigh up to 1500 pounds and can swim at speeds of more than 50 miles per hour. They are on the verge of extinction as a result of overfishing, and the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico further threatens their survival.

The Gulf is the only place where the Western population of Atlantic bluefin tuna reproduces. After the spawning season (April to June), baby tuna continue to swim through the Gulf region where they can accumulate toxins in their gills from the oil itself and from the chemical dispersants.

“I hope that my involvement will bring attention to what is going on in the bluefin fishery,” Grenier said. “I want these PSAs to encourage people to get involved and help Oceana save these amazing creatures.”

Watch the PSA and get involved with Adrian and Oceana to protect bluefin!

 

Adrian Grenier Wants To Stop Bluefin Tuna From Going Too Fast from Oceana on Vimeo.


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Sea Lion vs. Octopus

National Geographic has captured incredible footage of a sea lion battling a large octopus in Australia (spoiler alert: the sea lion prevails.) To get the footage, the hungry sea lion was equipped with a GPS tracker and a crittercam.

The project, led by South Australian Research and Development Institute, is helping researchers learn more about where and how sea lions feed, which will ultimately help in protecting key habitat for the creatures. Plus, it's just a really cool video. Check it out:

 


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New Study: Millions of Sea Turtles Caught Globally

sea turtle x-ray

© Oceana/Cory Wilson

The first ever global assessment of sea turtle bycatch came out this week in the journal Conservation Letters -- and it’s not pretty.

The study found that 85,000 sea turtles were reported caught by commercial fisheries worldwide over the last 20 years, but the scientists estimate that the actual number is two orders of magnitude higher than that -- in the millions.

The 85,000 figure only accounts for sea turtle bycatch that was reported, but the actual number of turtles caught is significantly higher because typically less than 1% of fleets have fishing observed and many small scale fisheries have no observer coverage at all.

The study looked at sea turtles caught by gillnets, longlines and trawls, three of the most commonly used fishing gear types. The bottom line here is that the number of sea turtles caught as bycatch is enormous. Without additional bycatch reduction and better enforcement of established protections, many sea turtle populations may go extinct.


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Sights on CITES: The Bitter End

This is the ninth in a series of dispatches from the CITES meeting in Doha, Qatar.

As Oceana marine scientist Elizabeth Griffin put it: “This meeting was a flop.”

CITES has been a complete failure for the oceans. The one success -- the listing of the porbeagle shark under Appendix II -- was overturned yesterday in the plenary session.

The future of bluefin tuna, the eight proposed species of sharks and red and pink corals now hangs in the balance.

“It appears that money can buy you anything, just ask Japan,” said Dave Allison, senior campaign director. “Under the crushing weight of the vast sums of money gained by unmanaged trade and exploitation of endangered marine species by Japan, China, other major trading countries and the fishing industry, the very foundation of CITES is threatened with collapse.”

Maybe next time -- if these species are still around to be protected.

The failure of CITES means that Oceana’s work – and your support and activism – is more important than ever. You can start by supporting our campaign work to protect these creatures.

Here's Oceana's Gaia Angelini on the conclusion of CITES:

 


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Sights on CITES: Hope for Sharks

This is the seventh in a series of posts from CITES. Check out the rest of the dispatches from Doha here.

While CITES has disappointed so far on bluefin tuna and corals, there's hope yet for sharks

Eight shark species have been proposed for listing to Appendix II of CITES, including the oceanic whitetip, scalloped hammerhead, dusky, sandbar, smooth hammerhead, great hammerhead, porbeagle and spiny dogfish.

Listing these species, which are threatened by shark finning, is necessary to ensure international trade does not drive these shark species to extinction.

Here's Oceana's Ann Schroeer from our Brussels office with an optimistic outlook on the upcoming shark proposals at CITES.

 


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Sights on CITES: Coral Fail

This is the latest in a series of posts from CITES. See the rest of the dispatches here.

Over the weekend, CITES failed to include 31 species of red and pink coral in Appendix II, trade protections that were promised during the last CITES Conference more than two and a half years ago.

These corals are harvested to meet the growing demand for jewelry and souvenirs. The unregulated and virtually unmanaged collection and trade of these species is driving them to extinction. 

Many of the corals are long-lived, reaching more than 100 years of age, and grow slowly, usually less than one millimeter in thickness per year. These colonies are fragile and extremely vulnerable to exploitation and destruction, and their biological characteristics severely limit their ability to recover.

Oceana campaign director Dave Allison had this to say about the corals decision (first video), as well as the failure of CITES to protect marine species in general (second video.)

 


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Sights on CITES: Bad News for Bluefin

This is the fifth in a series of dispatches from CITES. You can read the other dispatches here.

Breaking news out of Doha: a trade ban on bluefin tuna (Appendix I listing) has been defeated, 20 votes to 68.

Although there were repeated calls from delegates from the E.U., U.S. and Monaco to allow time for parties to meet and arrive at a compromise position, a Libya delegate forced a preemptory vote on the E.U. proposal, which resulted in a 43 to 72 vote, with 14 abstaining.

Campaign director Dave Allison called the defeat "a clear win by short-term economic interest over the long-term health of the ocean and the rebuilding of Atlantic bluefin tuna populations."

The decision could spell the beginning of the end for the tigers of the sea.

Here's Oceana's Maria Jose Cornax on the decision: 

 

 

 


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Sights on CITES: Rough Day for Sharks

This is the fourth in a series of posts from CITES. Read the rest of the CITES dispatches here.

It was an eventful day at CITES for sharks. Oceana released a report today about the international trade of shark fins, and a non-controversial, non-binding measure on sharks failed to pass. Marine scientist Elizabeth Griffin talks about today's roller coaster ride. 

 


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