Friday, August 1, 2014

Americans Fined $125,00 For Killing Sharks in Sanctuary

According to the Marshall Islands Journal, an American vessel has been fined $125,000 for illegal catching sharks inside the Marshall Islands Shark Sanctuary and setting their nets around a whale shark:
"A US fishing vessel has paid a $125,000 fine to the Marshall Islands Marine Resources Authority (MIMRA) to settle alleged fishing violations it was cited for June this year.

According to MIMRA legal advisor Tion Nabau, the Sea Bounty was repeatedly spotted in Majuro lagoon using a towboat to set its long net and catch fish including silky sharks.

Nabau said that upon interviewing witnesses and the observer on the incidents, more violations by the vessel were revealed including a June 5 incident whereby a whale shark was caught within RMI waters."

Setting nets on whale sharks was outlawed at the WCPFC meeting in Manila in December 2012. The sharks, which are assessed as Vulnerable by the IUCN Red List of Endangered Species, are often stressed and die during the ordeal.

The Marshall Islands continues to be the model shark sanctuary in terms of its legal framework and enforcement. They are a global leader on the issue of shark conservation, and other countries should follow their lead.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

International Ocean Roundup XI

It's been a few weeks since our last roundup.  Here's the latest ocean news from around the world:

Americas: Panamanian fish catch is vastly under-reported, study reveals
Panama – 2 July 2014 - Smithsonian Science
The name Panama is said to mean “abundance of fish.” Now a new study estimates that between 1950 and 2010, the amount of fish taken from Panama’s waters was so considerable that officials could not keep tabs on more than a third of the catch.

Costa Rica fishermen once again arrested as US Coast Guard seizes 2.3 tons of cocaine
Costa Rica – 1 July 2014 – The Tico Times
The U.S. Coast Guard captured a Costa Rican fishing vessel and arrested three Costa Ricans and one Nicaraguan suspect off the coast of the remote Cocos Island in the Pacific. The boat had 2.3 tons of cocaine on board. The bust went down on Monday with the assistance of local Drug Control Police.

Canadian inspectors policing the high seas
Canada -3 July 2014 – The Telegram
Four foreign fishing vessels issued citations so far this year. Canadian fisheries officers continue to board and inspect foreign offshore fishing vessels outside the 200-mile limit — checking for violations of the rules set in place by the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization (NAFO).

Chilean Fishermen Clash With Police After Protest
Chile – 2 July 2014 – ABC News
Small-scale fishermen in Chile have clashed with police after a protest in the port of Valparaiso. Fishermen marched to the Congress on Wednesday to demand improved working conditions and an increase in the amount of cuttlefish they're allowed to catch.

Frightening waste of fish
U.S. – 1 July 2014 – Providence Journal
As much as 22 percent of the catch in several local fisheries may be wasted, according to a recent report. These are fish caught in nets inadvertently. Different species are brought in with the intended catch and, often because they are not marketable, discarded overboard.

Pacific fishing interests oppose Obama’s plan to expand marine reserve
Pacific – 30 June 2014 – The Washington Post
When President Obama announced two weeks ago he intended to expand federal protections around seven islands and atolls in the central Pacific Ocean, many environmentalists hailed the move as an important step for conservation. But the main group overseeing fishing operators in Hawaii and three U.S. territories in the region declared Monday it opposes the proposal, on the grounds that it would hurt the U.S. fishing industry.

Caribbean coral reefs are declining at 'an alarming' rate
Caribbean – 2 July 2014 – Independent UK
The existence of most Caribbean coral reefs is threatened over the next 20 years without action to stem dramatic declines, conservationists have warned.

Frequentz Offers a Seafood Traceability Solution in Response to the White House's Crackdown on Seafood Fraud
U.S. – 2 July 2014 – The Wall Street Journal
In response to the White House's recent crackdown on seafood fraud and illegal fishing, Frequentz has announced the expansion of Information Repository & Intelligence Server (IRIS) beyond food, life sciences, and industrial supply chains to include a seafood and sustainability traceability solution. It also covers various global seafood traceability trade and regulatory requirements and is the first market expansion since taking over the platform from IBM.

'The Great Fish Swap': How America Is Downgrading Its Seafood Supply
U.S. – 1 July 2014 – NPR
What's the most popular seafood in the U.S.? Shrimp. The average American eats more shrimp per capita than tuna and salmon combined. Most of that shrimp comes from Asia, and most of the salmon we eat is also imported. In fact, 91 percent of the seafood Americans eat comes from abroad, but one-third of the seafood Americans catch gets sold to other countries.

Dead sharks found in illegal gill net near Mexico maritime border
Texas – 1 July 2014 – KETK NBC
Coast Guard crews in South Texas located and recovered a gill net with 65 deceased sharks Monday. At approximately 2:00 p.m., on a routine patrol, an aircrew aboard an HU-25 Falcon airplane spotted floating fishing gear approximately 20 miles off South Padre Island and 37 miles north of the U.S./Mexico maritime border.

Exclusive: Canned tuna company Bumble Bee eyes $1.5 billion sale - sources
U.S. – 27 June 2014 – Reuters
Bumble Bee Foods is preparing a sale process that could value North America's largest producer and marketer of canned tuna and sardines at as much as $1.5 billion, according to people familiar with the matter.

Asia-Pacific:
Australia’s new Pacific patrol boats will help monitor fishing
Australia – 3 July 2014 – Radio New Zealand International
Australian senator Richard Colbeck says Canberra's recently announced update of its Pacific patrol boats programme will help the monitoring of fisheries in the region.

Surveillance technology no panacea for illegal Pacific fishing
New Zealand – 3 July 2014 – Radio New Zealand International
As concerns grow for illegal, unreported and unregistered fishing, New Zealand's Pacific Economic Ambassador, Shane Jones, says New Zealand stands ready to provide its expertise in surveillance.

More sign up to Pacific Fisheries Surveillance Treaty
Tokelau – 2 July 2014 – Pacific Island News
Three Forum Fisheries member countries today signed on to the Pacific’s milestone Fisheries Surveillance Treaty (FST), aimed at curbing illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing. Signature of the governments of Australia, Niue and Solomon Islands were added to the FST on the margins of the 10th Ministerial Meeting of the Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA), which comes to a close later today in Tokelau.

‘White gold’ industry back out on the ocean
South Africa – 2 July 2014 – Herald Live
THE Eastern Cape’s multimillion- rand chokka fishing season reopened yesterday. This follows a three-month, industry-imposed cessation to replenish the chokka – also known as squid – in Eastern Cape waters.

Singapore Airlines Bans Shark Fins from Their Cargo Flights
Singapore – 30 June 2014 – The Wire
Singapore Airlines has decided to make it clear: they like sharks. And they are professing their support by agreeing to stop carrying shark fins on their SIA Cargo flights. The change goes into effect on August 1st.

Korea-Japan talks on EEZ fishing break down
Korea – 1 July 2014 – Korea Joongang Daily
Korea failed to reach an agreement with Japan on the total amount of fishing allowed in each country’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ), the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries said yesterday.

Tokelau steps up to host Fisheries ministerial, future of Pacific fisheries tops busy agenda
Tokelau – 26 June 2014 – Pacific Islands News
The Pacific’s annual meeting of Fisheries Ministers heads to the region’s smallest island community this weekend, becoming part of a historic moment for Tokelau. Traditional leaders and the close-knit community of Atafu, where ministers and officials are set to make landing this Sunday are going to be welcoming the territory’s first-ever regional gathering of Pacific ministers.

South Australia: Tuna too fast and handsome to eat
Australia – 24 June 2014 – New Zealand Herald
Sarah Ivey's exciting and icy ocean frolic with the muscly edibles reveals just how powerful, speedy and incredibly special they are.

HMAS Parramatta visits Noumea ahead of Operation SOLANIA patrol
Australia – 30 June 2014 – Navy Daily
Royal Australian Navy ship HMAS Parramatta visited Noumea, New Caledonia between Friday 27 and Sunday 29 June before commencing a patrol as part of Operation SOLANIA. The Anzac Class Frigate spent three days in Noumea strengthening relationships with the French Armed Forces New Caledonia (FANC) and promoting multilateral security cooperation.

Europe – MENA
Barrister Takes on Slavery at Sea
U.K. – 1 July 2014 – Maritime Executive
Children's rights are being abused in Africa as they are exploited for slavery and through trafficking. Children are also used in piracy acts off the coast of Somalia. But these are just some of the human rights violations at sea that UK Barrister-at-Law David Hammond is fighting to stop.

E.U. Challenges “Special Conditions” on PNG tuna fishing
E.U. – 30 June 2014 – Atuna.com (Subscription based)
The global tuna community has recently been shaken up by the EU handing a yellow card on IUU monitoring to the country which has the richest skipjack catching ground: Papua New Guinea.

EU driftnet fishing ban ‘inappropriate’ for UK, says report
E.U. – 30 June 2014 – Undercurrent News ‘
Seafish has made available a report calling for an immediate re-think over the universal ban on driftnet fishing being proposed by the EU in order to help inform wider debate on the topic. The independently authored report, which explores the economic and environmental impacts of the proposed ban, reaches the conclusion that the proposed ban is “unnecessary, heavy handed, disproportionate and inappropriate for UK waters”.

Tuna Freezer Vessel Launched by Zamakona
Spain – 28 June 2014 – Maritime Executive
The tuna freezer vessel Ljubica has been launched at Zamakona Yards shipyard in Bilbao, Spain, property of the Ecuadoran shipowner Pesquera Miriam.

Africa:
Tanzania, Uganda among top fishing nations
Africa – 2 July 2014 – The East African
Two East African countries have entered the ranks of the world’s top fishing nations and concerns that the region faces a major decline in fish production due to indiscriminate fishing practices.

Foreign investors keen in Mozambique tuna fishing
Mozambique – 2 July 2014 – Star Africa
Mozambique´s National Fishing Administration, INAM, has said foreign and local Mozambican investors have shown interest in setting themselves up in Nampula province to focus on tuna fishing for export, the local media reported on wednesday quoting a governmenent source.

African countries in the Indian debate Maputo combat illegal fishing
Africa - 1 July 2014 – Noticias
A working group comprising representatives from seven countries of the East African coast, including Mozambique, started today in Maputo to discuss strategies to combat illegal fishing in the region, within the multilateral program i-FISH Africa.

Global:
Smile! Satellites can see your illegal fishing from space
Global – 2 July 2014 – Grist.org
If a fish falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it … wait, is that not how it goes? Let’s put it this way: If a fishing boat illegally scoops up a load of fish in the middle of the ocean and no one is there to see it, it’s still illegal — but until now there has not been much anyone could do about it.

Welfare a key concern for international seafarers
Global – 25 June 2014 – ABC News
June 25th is the fourth annual International Day of the Seafarer, which is the term applied to anyone who works on a ship. Local authorities are taking the opportunity to highlight the importance of welfare for those in the shipping industry, due to their often difficult and isolated work conditions.

An Interview on Efforts to Halt Illegal Fishing
Global – 2 July 2014 – The Atlantic
Anthony Long, director of the Ending Illegal Fishing Project, explains the scope of the problem and the solutions pursued by his organization.

The undue quarrel
Global – 3 July 2014 – World Fishing
Environmentalists and fishermen rarely agree on anything – despite that, for logical reasons, they should stand shoulder-to-shoulder in a common cause for maintaining ‘sustainable’ utilisation of fishery resources.

The Lawless Sea
Chile – 30 June 2014 – Project Syndicate
The rule of law is almost entirely absent, with virtually no governance or policing. Illegal, unreported, and unregulated economic activities are common. The powerful seize non-renewable resources at the expense of the powerless. Environmental degradation is on the rise.

Missing ocean plastics 'eaten by animals'
Global – 1 July 2014 – ABC Science
The amount of plastic floating on the ocean surface is less than expected according to scientists who have mapped plastic pollution in the world's oceans. 

Satellite technology to fight illegal fishing
Global – 2 July 2014 – World Fishing
The Pew Charitable Trusts has teamed up with a UK satellite technology organisation, coast guard and other fishing enforcement officers to fight Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Enforcement in the Marianas

PADI Divemaster Hu Jie Fang was caught illegally killing an eagle ray when he posted the photo to Facebook.
The Saipan Tribune reports that a dive operator living in Saipan, CNMI has been found guilty of killing a protected spotted eagle ray and was slapped with six months in prison.

The Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands was one of the first places in the world to fully protect all sharks and rays.  They have also joined up with their neighbors to create the Micronesia Regional Shark Sanctuary, an area of protected shark habitat in the western Pacific as large as the European Union.

Kudos to CNMI Superior Court Associate Judge Joseph N. Camacho for imposing the maximum sentence and making some of the best conservation statements ever spoken from the bench.
“The congregation of spotted eagle rays is easily photographed. Each photo taken home with the tourist is free advertising showing the great beauty and grand scale of aquatic life in the CNMI,” said Camacho, citing the findings and purpose of a bill that the Legislature passed in 2008.

He said the Legislature further finds that Eagle Ray City is popular with local residents and good for the economy in that it is accessible only by boat; divers (tourists and residents alike) need to hire local guides and secure the services of local boats and captains to reach this spot.

“This type of ecotourism is beneficial to the CNMI’s economy, fits within the advertising campaigns offered by the Marianas Visitors Authority, and should be nurtured, protected, and grown,” he said.

Camacho said the Legislature finds that evidence suggests the eagle rays have been recently hunted to such an extent as to threaten their population levels and as to instill an unnatural fear of divers, thereby threatening one aspect of the Commonwealth’s revenues.

The Legislature finds that spotted eagle rays specifically, and rays generally, are not traditional food fishes in the CNMI.

“Fishing specifically for such rays is not a tradition in the CNMI; the recent practice of doing so is detrimental to the welfare of the Commonwealth and should be prohibited…” Camacho said.

Camacho said that Fang used a spear gun and shot dead an eagle ray while diving at Eagle Ray City, also known as the Ice Cream Diving Spot.

Camacho said Fang is a master diver trained and instructed to respect marine animals.
Enforcing shark sanctuaries is not easy. The men and women of enforcement agencies are faced with small budgets, and must protect vast areas.  Yet they manage to do amazing work. Thank you for all you do!

Friday, May 23, 2014

Sharks Are Under Attack in Hawaii


In response to an overwhelming outpouring of support from Hawaiians for the protection of sharks in 2010, the state legislature passed a bill to make Hawaii the first jurisdiction in the country to ban the trade in shark fins. But now, a proposed rule by the federal government could wipe out these critical protections!

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) believes our state law prohibiting the trade in shark fins conflicts with federal fishing rules and wants to preempt Hawaii's protections.

CLICK HERE TO SIGN THE PETITION

Hawaii paved the way for California, Washington, Oregon, Illinois, Delaware, Maryland, New York, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, and American Samoa to follow our lead and pass similar legislation to protect sharks. Now the time has come for Hawaii to lead again to ensure that these vital conservation laws are preserved.

The global demand for shark fins and other shark products has put these species on the path to extinction. Approximately 100 million sharks are killed each year, and as a result more than half of all species of sharks and shark-like species are threatened or near threatened with extinction. Sharks grow slowly, reach sexual maturity relatively late in life, and only produce a few offspring at a time, so they can't quickly replenish their populations when they are overfished.

Sign our petition in support of Hawaii's shark protections to send a message to President Obama and Governor Abercrombie urging them to protect our law.
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