As you may have noticed from the previous post, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) is proposing draft addendum to the Fishery Management Plan (FMP) for coastal sharks to bring it in line with the current Federal regulations. These regulations are based on the Shark Conservation Act of 2010, which required all sharks fished in US waters to be landed with fins still attached… with the exception of a familiar yet under-studied species known as Mustelus canis, the smooth dogfish. These sharks can still be finned in Federal waters as long as the weight of fins does not exceed 12% of the weight of the finless carcasses. This exception was glaring not just because it singled out one species with a relatively limited range compared to other species in the fishery, but also brought out that seemingly absurd 12% fin-body weight ratio. The addendum is open for public comment until March 28th at 5 pm. With any luck, this post will help clarify some of the issues involved.
Endangered species seem to be coming up around here more often than usual, mostly due to the potential state-level listing of great white sharks in California. This move has been resisted from some surprising corners, including researchers who are generally pro-shark conservation. The reasons why scientists might want to oppose an Endangered Species listing are laid out by Dr. Chris Lowe in an earlier post on this very blog, so I won’t reiterate all of them here. Surprisingly, I have yet to see any comments accusing Dr. Lowe of being a shill for the drift gillnet fishery.
There seems to a be a real sense among some conservation-minded folks that Endangered Species listing is something of a “holy grail” for species protection and recovery, and some petitioners would have you believe that anything less is unacceptable (and probably the result of corruption). However, the Endangered Species Act has a very specific process by which species receive protection, and a defined set of limitations. A lot of well-meaning people seem to have limited knowledge of this process and limitations. To do my little part to help fix this, this post will be a short primer on the Act and will show how a marine species has recently navigated the entire process for listing. With any luck, maybe this will result in one or two fewer misguided online petitions.
Sunday night at 7:30, David Shiffman and myself will host the first, of what we hope will be many, Blue Pints on Google+. The two of us will get together via Google Hangouts and broadcast a 45-minute-to-one-hour program discussing recent important issues in ocean science, while enjoying a pint of what-cures-you. We’ll provide a link to the live stream (and subsequent YouTube video) here, in this post, as well as announce it over our various social media platforms. We’ll be monitoring the comment thread on the Google+ post, so feel free to ask questions and join the discussion during the hangout.
This week, we’ll be discussing shark fishing, shark finning, and finding common ground in shark conservation. Tune in Sunday at 7:30!
Watch the video here:
Jordan Nikoloyuk is the Sustainable Fisheries Coordinator of the Ecology Action Centre, a membership-based community environmental organization based in Nova Scotia, Canada. The Marine Issues Committee of the EAC was founded in 1995 after the collapse of the Atlantic Canadian groundfish stocks and works towards conserving and protecting marine ecosystems and maintaining sustainable fisheries and vibrant coastal communities.
As part of its sustainable seafood work and through its Friends of Hector campaign - www.friendsofhector.org - the EAC has participated in many Marine Stewardship Council assessments for Atlantic Canadian fisheries and encouraged retailers to support certified fisheries. Jordan has written this guest post to share his recent experiences with a certification that has left the EAC and other conservation organizations wondering whether seafood certification can contribute to sustainable fisheries management in the long term, or if the conflict between keeping an eco-label rigorous on the one hand and expanding its market appeal on the other is just too difficult to manage. What do you think?
The best way to buy seafood responsibly is to read a sustainable seafood guide and ask your retailer the two big questions: where is this from and how was it caught? When getting these answers is tough, many people turn to eco-certifications and labelling. Despite some increasingly controversial certifications, the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) is considered to be the most trusted and reliable label, but how many unsustainable fishery certifications will it take to ruin this credibility?
Last week, after lengthy and widespread opposition, the MSC approved certification of the Atlantic Canadian longline swordfish fishery, which catches 100,000 sharks and 1,400 endangered sea turtles every year. The Ecology Action Centre spent almost two years working to oppose this greenwashing. Now we are left asking: how can we promote sustainable fisheries with organizations the size of the MSC working against us? When a definition of sustainability is so weak that it lets the status quo continue, can this be seen as an effective ‘market-driven solution’?
We caught up with 11 marine scientists (including one honorary marine scientist, paleoblogger Brian Switek) at this year’s Ocean Sciences meeting in Salt Lake City and asked them the following question – What is your favorite marine organism and why? Their responses ranged from the classic (dolphins and sharks) to the bizarre (deep-sea shrimp and snails) to the exceptionally broad (Eukaryotes, Holly? Could you narrow it down just a little?).
Check out what they had to say:
Watch our previous Ocean Question and let us know what your favorite marine organisms are in the comments below.
If you’re coming over from CollegeScholarships.org to check out some of David Shiffman’s work before voting for the 2011 Blogging Scholarship, welcome! Here are a selection of some of David’s influential, informative, and award-winning posts.
If you’ve never been to Southern Fried Science before and want to get an idea of who this Shiffman bloke is and what he’s about (hint: it has something to do with sharks), check out his two bench-mark posts:
All this month we’ve be showing talks about how nature and evolution have inspired technology and design. I’d like to end with this talk by Jim Toomey, about how the nature simply inspires us as human beings. What stories have the oceans shared with you?