Parasitic barnacles, a code of conduct for marine conservation, #BillMeetScienceTwitter, and more! Monday Morning Salvage: May 22, 2017.

Monday Morning SalvageMay 22, 20170

Fog Horn (A Call to Action)

Flotsam (what we’re obsessed with right now)

Jetsam (what we’re enjoying from around the web)

(more…)

Fun Science FRIEDay – Cure for HIV?

Fun Science Friday, Life SciencesMay 19, 20170

One of the greatest scourges of the mid 20th century, leading into the 21st century, has been the human immunodeficiency virus, better known as HIV, which can lead to acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS). HIV is a virus that attacks a person’s immune system. Without treatment, over time HIV can completely destroy a person’s immune system leaving them mortally vulnerable to common pathogens that would otherwise be easily dealt with.  Since this disease first burst onto the scene in the mid-20th century it has claimed countless lives, and science has struggled to develop a cure given the ability of the disease to rapidly change and hide-out in the body.

(Photo credit: gamjai / Fotolia)

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Bony-eared assfish, shark swarms, ocean plastics, and more! The Monday Morning Salvage: May 15, 2017

Monday Morning SalvageMay 15, 20170

Fog Horn (A Call to Action)

Flotsam (what we’re obsessed with right now)

(more…)

The Case Against Shark Fin Trade Bans

Conservation, fisheries, marine science, Natural Science, Public perceptions of wildlife, Science, sharks, SustainabilityMay 12, 20170

Photo credit: Jessica King, Marine Photobank

The United States Congress is considering a nationwide ban on buying, selling, or trading shark finsWhile several of my posts and tweets have briefly discussed my stance on such policies, I’ve never laid out my full argument in one post. Here is why I, as a shark conservation biologist, oppose banning the shark fin trade within the United States.  The short answer is that the US represents a tiny percentage of overall consumers of shark fin, but provide some of the most sustainably caught sharks on Earth, as well as important examples of successful management, to the world. This means that banning the US shark fin trade won’t reduce total shark mortality by very much, but will remove an important example of fins coming from a well-managed fishery while also hurting American fishermen who follow the rules. Also, a focus on these policies promotes the incorrect belief that shark fin soup is the only significant threat to sharks, and that addressing the tiny part of that problem locally represents the end of all threats. For the longer answer, read on. And for the case for shark fin bans, please see this guest post from Oceana scientist Mariah Pfleger.

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The Case for Shark Fin Trade Bans

Conservation, marine science, Natural Science, Science, sharks0

Mariah Pfleger is a marine scientist at Oceana, an international marine conservation non-profit, advising both the responsible fishing and sharks campaigns. She graduated from Florida State University in 2012 where she studied coastal sharks and their relatives. In 2016 she earned her Master’s degree from the University of West Florida where she researched both coastal and deep-water sharks and rays. Mariah worked for 3 years as a field assistant, and during her Master’s an additional 3 years as a field manager, on the Gulf of Mexico Shark Pupping and Nursery Program. She has also conducted research using environmental DNA to detect rare and endangered sturgeon. Her twitter handle is @MariahPfleger.


The demand for shark fins is widely recognized as one of the major contributors to shark mortality around the world. However, solutions to decrease this demand are hotly debated, especially in the scientific community. Southern Fried Science and other websites have published opinions that debate the effectiveness of shark fin bans, but as a shark scientist working to implement this policy I would like to present the case for shark fin trade bans.

The conversation is newly relevant with the introduction of the Shark Fin Trade Elimination Act in the Senate on March 30th by Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Shelly Moore-Capito (R-WV) and in the House on March 9th by Representatives Ed Royce (R-CA) and Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan (I-MP). If passed, the bill would ban the buying and selling of shark fins in the United States – thereby removing the United States from the global shark fin trade altogether. The bill is championed by Oceana, where I work as the scientist on the sharks campaign.

The demand for fins fuels finning – the act of slicing off a shark’s fins and dumping the body back into the ocean. The United States recognized this practice was a problem and implemented the Shark Finning Prohibition Act of 2000 followed by the  Shark Conservation Act (SCA) in 2010, which required that all sharks must be landed with their fins naturally attached (except for smooth dogfish, which can be landed under a fin-to-carcass ratio). However, according to the National Marine Fisheries Service, the United States is still importing fins from places like Hong Kong, China, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Spain, South Africa and Indonesia, to name a few. Not all of these countries have anti-finning laws, which means that the United States may be, and likely is, purchasing fins from finned sharks. Once in the United States market, there is no way to tell whether a fin came from a finned shark or not. By purchasing these fins, the United States is sustaining the demand for this unsustainable practice. (more…)

The Old Man and the Deep Sea

deep seaMay 9, 20170

Torben Wolff, legendary deep-sea scientist and last surviving member of the Galathea II expedition, which plumbed the Philippine Trench and recovered biological material from more than 10,000 meters for the first time in history, died in his sleep on May 2, 2017. He was 97.

Torben will be remembered for his monumental contributions to deep-sea oceanography, his commitment to international collaboration in the deep sea, and three generations of mentorship, as well as his tradition of closing deep-sea meetings with a Haka that he learned from Maori during his travels in New Zealand.

Farewell Torben. We’ll see you some day in Fiddler’s Green.

Terraforming Mars on Earth, giant larvaceans, conservation jobs, and more! Monday Morning Salvage: May 8, 2017

Monday Morning SalvageMay 8, 20170

Fog Horn (A Call to Action)

Flotsam (what we’re obsessed with right now)

Seabirds on Ascension Island. Photo by Clare Fieseler.

Jetsam (what we’re enjoying from around the web)

(more…)

Thursday Afternoon Dredging: May 4th, 2017

Thursday Afternoon DredgingMay 4, 20170

After a month hiatus for packing, moving, and unpacking, we’re back!

Logo by Ethan Kocak

Cuttings (short and sweet):

  • Watch a dogfish swim around British Columbia, video by GEERG.

Video by GEERG

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The time to defend the EPA is now!

Conservation, EnvironmentalismMay 1, 20170

Executive Order 13777 created a Regulatory Reform Task Force to oversee the evaluation of existing regulations to make recommendations about potential repeal, replacement, or modification to the Environmental Protection Agency. The dissolution of the EPA would be catastrophic for this country. Fortunately, the wheels of bureaucracy turn slowly, and before any recommendations are formally issued, the federal government must seek input from the public. The public comment period ends at midnight on May 15, 2017. You have until then to submit a comment on the value, importance, and benefits of the EPA.

Evaluation of Existing Regulations
Call for Public Comment

 

Our friends at Deep Sea News have done an excellent job extolling the value of the EPA (as have many others from across the internet):

Public Comments are important. They do get read (probably by an intern) and are incorporated into the official federal response. This is a tangible chance to make you voice heard, and Southern Fried Science is here to help. Below is a short template I’ve prepared highlighting the economic and human health benefits of the Environmental Protection Agency as well as the potential consequences of a significant reduction in the EPA’s funding or scope. Feel free to adapt, modify, and use this to help craft your own comment. Personal anecdotes are valuable, so make sure to begin you comment with a short statement about how the EPA has personally impacted or improved your quality of life.

[INCLUDE PERSONAL STATEMENT ABOUT THE VALUE OF THE EPA HERE]

The Environmental Protection Agency provides an essential cornerstone for US economic growth and well-being. Its mandate to ensure that all Americans are protected from significant risks to their health from the environment where they live, learn and work, based on the best available science is essential to the long-term viability of our natural resources, the health of our population, and our continued economic inertia. This includes regulations enforced fairly and effectively for all parts of society, including communities, individuals, businesses, and state, local, and tribal governments. Substantively reducing the scope and effectiveness of the EPA is a short-sighted and partisan-motivated action which will result in the loss of 47 years of bi-partisan supported environmental safeguards, significant increases to the national debt, a dramatic decrease in the viable US workforce, an increase in Medicaid coverage, and reduced quality of life for American citizens while harming the long-term trajectory of the US economy.

Whereas:

  1. Economic growth is tied to the health and well-being of the population. Significant reduction in the EPA’s scope will result in greater environmental health impacts, more severe and persistent environmentally-mediated chronic conditions, greater rates of preventable disease, including cancers, respiratory conditions, and metal poisonings, leading to a decline in the overall health of the US population and resulting in a greater Medicaid burden and decreased workforce capacity.
  2. Increased medical costs related to treating illnesses related to chronic and acute exposure to environmental contaminants will result in enhanced financial hardship, greater treatment-induced bankruptcies, and a significant drain on the US GDP.
  3. Access to clean outdoor environments encourages exercise, increases productivity, and is foundational to the national identity, producing both tangible and intangible benefits and promoting a culture of self-sufficiency.
  4. Significant declines in air and water quality will prompt major economically-influential business leaders in emergent technology and knowledge industries to relocate overseas, exporting environmental harms to the US while redirecting economic gains to more forward-thinking nations.
  5. Healthy natural resources underpin all sectors of the economy; clean air and water is a consistently undervalued resource. Consider the costs of cleanup to return air and water to the necessary status for manufacturing, worker health, and resident safety. New York City’s unfiltered water system shows environmental protections are an order of magnitude less costly than water treatment after contamination.
  6. Creation of the EPA was a bipartisan, popular effort in response to major dangers as a result of lacking environmental regulation (rivers on fire, water supplies poisoned, soils too contaminated for crops, etc). It does our forebears a major disservice to forget their efforts and, more importantly, the motives behind them.
  7. Access to clean, potable water is a human right.

A significant reduction in the scope of the EPA is short-sighted and conducted for partisan goals which do not reflect the values and desires of the American People. Any such reduction is symbolic of a fundamental failure in both vision and leadership by the current administration.

When you’re ready, submit your comment through this docket, under Evaluation of Existing Regulations.

Evaluation of Existing Regulations
Call for Public Comment

 


Hey Team Ocean! Southern Fried Science is entirely supported by contributions from our readers. Head over to Patreon to help keep our servers running and fund new and novel ocean outreach projects. Even a dollar or two a month will go a long way towards keeping our website online and producing the high-quality marine science and conservation content you love.

Climate change denial, open-science hardware, some missing pink dolphins, and more! Monday Morning Salvage: May 1, 2017

Monday Morning Salvage0

Fog Horn (A Call to Action)

Flotsam (what we’re obsessed with right now)
(more…)

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