Disaster in Mauritius. Mauritius, a small island nation off the coast of Madagascar, has declared a state of emergency following a massive oil spill. The MV Wakashio bulk carrier ran aground on the island’s fringing reef, spilling thousands of tons of fuel oil into the fragile ecosystem. Strapped for equipment, Mauritius is now soliciting hair donations (human hair will absorb oil, but not water) from its residents in a last ditch effort to get as much oil out of the wreck as possible before it breaks apart.
Collapsing Milne.Canada’s Milne Ice Shelf has collapsed. The last intact ice shelf in Canada split apart in the days leading up to August 2. The satellite images released by Planet Labs are truly astounding.
The only thing you should care about this Shark Week. Dr. Catherine Macdonald writes for Scientific American on the dark side of being a woman in shark science. Critical reading for anyone working or thinking about a career in marine science.
Upwelling (the part where Andrew gets on his soapbox)
Earlier this week, we got news of a Evangelical missionary flying into the highlands of Papua New Guinea to preach to an “uncontacted” tribe. Now, I’m just a humble country deep-sea ecologist, but I did teach a robotics class through the University of Papua New Guinea and I have more than a few contacts out there who were happy to point out that the uncontacted tribe was making fun of this dude on Facebook, but it makes me furious that during a pandemic, ostensibly religious folks would put their own personal need for pride and attention ahead of the health and safety of a relatively secluded group of people. We have the potential to be better than the worst of us.
Julia Whidden completed her Masters in Biology with a focus on marine conservation from Acadia University in Nova Scotia, Canada, in 2015. Her project evaluated population demographics and species identification of two at-risk species of skate in the inner Bay of Fundy. She joins Dr. Neil Hammerschlag’s lab at the University of Miami for the year as a Fulbright Student and shark research intern. Follow her on twitter!
Rachel Skubel graduated with an M.Sc. in Environmental Science from McMaster University where she studied climate impacts on water cycling in temperate forests, and a B.Sc. from the University of Western Ontario. Her current research interests revolve around how oceanic predators will be impacted by anthropogenic environmental changes. She is a currently a shark research intern with Dr. Neil Hammerschlag’s lab at the University of Miami. Follow her on twitter!
Up until this past year, the thought of Canadian politics had probably never crossed your mind. For some of you, your introduction to the topic may have been via the astute criticisms of John Oliver published this past weekend. His YouTube videocurrently skyrocketing at just under 3 million views in less than 48 hours, may have even been the introduction to Canadian politics for some Canadians. Let’s face it: in comparison to the flashy and sometimes trashy race of our neighbors to the south (ahem, you Americans), Canadian politics are usually tame, boring, and dry. In 2011, our last major election, 61.1% of Canadians voted (14.8 million), but up until the election last night, at least 68.5% have actively contributed to changing the dire political and environmental landscape formed by Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his Conservative cronies over the past 10 years. This voter turnout is the highest since 1993, and certainly demonstrates that – not unlike your defeat of Republicans following the Bush years – Canadians were ready for change.
To our newly elected Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, we say welcome and we’re ready for action.
“We just sold a much bigger one to Denmark, but couldn’t be this style”, said the trade show representative as if he had traveled to the town next door. Aquaculture has its roots in northern Europe in many ways, mainly through connections to the beginnings of domesticating Atlantic salmon. So many American companies are making good money selling their technology and feed to customers around the world that have already made the step into large-scale aquacultural production.
A few countries in particular made their influence known several times: Denmark, Chile, and Canada. Though these have prominent roles in the global capture fisheries as well, their particular geology gave them a head start on salmon that is expanding over into other types of aquaculture.
Last week, I previewed the annual NAFO meeting. Two elasmobranch conservation measures (reducing the Total Allowable Catch for thorny skates to the level that the scientific council recommended and requiring fishermen to report the species of the sharks they catch) were to be discussed. That meeting is now concluded, and the results, while not surprising, are disappointing. The Total Allowable Catch for thorny skates was reduced to 8500 metric tons, but is still higher than the 5000 metric tons recommended by the scientific council. Fishermen will now be required to report the “broad category” of sharks they catch, but not species.
“Although we are pleased that the NAFO skate quota will no longer be twice as high as scientists advise, it is still deeply disappointing to witness another year of the European Union and Canada putting the interests of their fishermen above their conservation commitments and the long-term health of exceptionally vulnerable populations,” said Sonja Fordham, President of Shark Advocates International.
Grading the players
The U.S. proposed and supported both policy changes. A
The European Union was only willing to support a 5,000 metric ton TAC if the fishery changed to free-for-all derby style fishing (which could result in EU fishermen getting the entire quota and not just a share of it). C-
Canada suggested slowly phasing in the new quota over the course of 2 years. C-
Bonus player grade: Japan was the only party that objected to fishermen having to report the species of shark that they caught. F.
In this week’s edition of Shark Science Monday, Aurelie Godin discusses Canada’s shark management policies. If you have a question for Aurelie, please leave it as a comment below and I’ll make sure that she gets it.