Monday, August 26, 2013

Illegal Fishing Roundup II

We have banned slavery on land – how about on the ocean?
August 20, 2013 –
This is letter authored by Obiageli Ezekwesili, a member of the Global Ocean Commission, regarding the entry into force of the International Labour Organization’s Maritime Labour Convention. The Convention, which entered into force this week, sets international standards for seafarers working on fishing vessels. However, like many international conventions regarding maritime safety, it exempts fishing vessels.

EU Set to Impose Sanctions on Faroe Islands over Herring
Paris – August 21, 2013 –
The European Commission said on Tuesday that it was enacting trade sanctions, banning the import of herring and mackerel caught in Faroese waters, products made from those fish, and prohibiting Faroese vessels from landing at EU ports, against the Faroe Islands after the territory unilaterally increased its herring quota three times. The total size of the Atlantic-Scandinavian herring catch is set according to the advice of scientists to ensure the stock’s sustainability. The existing agreement between the “Coastal States,” set in 2007, gives Norway the largest quota at over 60%, Iceland 14.5%, Russia 12%, the EU 6.5% and Faroe Islands just over 5%. The Faroe Islands have long claimed their quota is too low, especially considering the fish are abundant in their fishing grounds and relatively scarce in E.U. waters. Conservations are worried that dispute will lead to a free for all of the seas and endanger the fish stock.

Faroe Islands Take EU to Tribunal over Fishing Sanctions
Faroe Islands – August 19, 2013 –
The Faroe Islands notified the EU that will be setting up an international tribune regarding the planned sanctions placed on Faroese exports of herring and mackerel.

Details of huge Chinese subsidies shock Pacific tuna industry
Australia – August 21, 2013 – ABC Australia via
China’s tuna fishing fleet in the South Pacific started to balloon 6 years ago, supported by generous Chinese subsidies. In 2012 it was reported that China Overseas Fishing Company received a subsidy of USD $ 7.8 million. The article is an interview with Charles Hufflet, Chairman of the Pacific Tuna Industry Association.

Spanish Fishermen Protest Restrictions Off Gibraltar
Madrid – August 18, 2013 –
Around 40 Spanish fishing boats confronted British police vessels in a dispute over access to the waters off Gibraltar. Tensions have escalated recently after Gibraltar’s government began to construct an artificial reef by dumping about 70 concrete blocks into the sea. Spanish fishermen have condemned the reef, saying that it is a threat to the environment.

Gambia: Illegal Fishing Activities On Sub-Regional Waters Denounced
Gambia – August 19, 2013 –
At the end of a three day national forum on port state measures, stakeholders in the fishing industry denounced illegal fishing activities by some vessels on the territorial waters of member countries of the Sub Regional Fisheries Commission (SRFC).

Animal Activists Are Trying to Save the World’s Fish From the Mafia
Europe – August 19, 2013 –

Malaysian Nature Society members can attest to cases of sharks being finned 
Malaysia – August 18, 2013 –
Members of the Malaysian Nature Society (MNS) can attest to cases of sharks being finned alive in the waters of Sabah and Terengganu.

New Bluefin tuna rules proposed in Atlantic, Gulf
New Orleans, US – August 22, 2013 – Wall Street Journal
NOAA has proposed new rules for Bluefin tuna in the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic, with the hopes of ending the practice of dumping dead Bluefin caught on hooks meant for other species.

Radar installation promises to improve security on Costa Rica’s high seas
Costa Rica – August 14, 2013 –
A $2 million radar facility is being installed on the remote Isla del Coco National Park. The Park was selected as it was the most affected by illegal fishing and the paths of drug boats.

Mauritius to receive Indian-built patrol vessel
Mauritius – August 19, 2013 –
Mauritius will take delivery of a new offshore patrol vessel next year which will be used for fighting piracy, illegal fishing and drug trafficking. The vessel was launched at a shipyard in India earlier this year.

Researchers catch Arctic Shark in Gulf of Mexico
Tallahassee, FL – August 16, 2013 –
Researchers in Florida have caught a Greenland shark in the Gulf of Mexico, in 6,000 feet of water only 15 miles from the Deepwater Horizon blowout. It is the first documented catch of a Greenland shark in the Gulf.

Pirates Move Hijacked Fishing Vessel to Somali Coast
Somalia – August 22, 2013 –
The fishing vessel Naham 3, which has been held hostage by pirates since March 2012, is on the move again and has been spotted close to the Somali coast. It is possible that the fishing vessel could be housing dozens of hostages.

Secretive orange roughy fishing in Indian Ocean comes unraveled
New Zealand – August 22, 2013 – Dow Jones via
One of New Zealand’s biggest fishing companies hid its Indian Ocean operations from competitors by renaming and reflagging a ship which it then sold to itself in tax havens.

Western Pacific 2012 tuna catch valued at over $4 billion
New Zealand – August 22, 2013 –
Catches of tuna in the western Pacific hit record levels in 2012, which when combined with record global market prices, bumped the value of the fishery to an all-time high of more than four billion US dollars.

Poachers target museums
South Africa – August 19, 2013 – The Times (South Africa)
Rhino poaching syndicates have turned to looting museums worldwide and raising the collections of trophy hunters and game farmers. In April, four stuff rhino heads were stolen from storerooms of the National Museum of Ireland in Dublin.

Local News: Capitol to Run After Illegal Fishers
Negros, Philippines – August 20, 2013 –
Two new patrol boats will be turned over to the Bantay Dagat teams of Manapla and Cauayan, as part of the administration’s renewed call to fight illegal fishermen and poachers. At least one of the patrol boats would have included a GPS but it was among those stolen at the Provincial Environment Management Office earlier this year.

Nigerian navy kills 12 pirates killed in gun battle over tanker
Yenagoa, Nigeria – August 19, 2013 –
The Nigerian navy killed 12 pirates in a gun battle as the pirates were fleeing from a fuel tanker they hijacked off the coast of the Gulf of Guinea last week.

Japan will propose 15% cut in immature Pacific Bluefin catch, US calls for 25% cut
Tokyo, Japan – August 22, 2013 – Dow Jones via
Japan will make a proposal at next month’s session of the Northern Committee meeting of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission to reduce catch of immature Pacific Bluefin tuna by 15%. The cut would apply to fish three years and younger. The U.S. is calling for a 25% reduction in immature Bluefin catch.

Alaska Fish Factor: Volunteer Your Vessel for Electronic Monitoring Systems
US – August 19, 2013 –
This year, fishery observers are required aboard Alaska’s long line fleet of roughly 1,500 vessels, most of which are under 50 feet. Fisheries enforcement officials are calling for vessel owners to volunteer their vessels to be outfitted with electronic monitoring system (EMS), in the hopes that soon they will have an observation system based on EMS as opposed to people.

Korean-flagged vessel charged with illegal fishing in Liberia
Liberia – August 15, 2013 –
A Korean-flagged fishing vessel, the “Nine Star,” is currently under arrest in Liberia and facing millions of dollars in fines for fishing in Liberian waters without a license. The report of the arrest came from the local Community Management Association of artisanal fisherman and EJF’s community surveillance program.

Poaching puts crayfish stocks at risk
South Africa – August 20, 2013 –
Crayfish in South Africa are becoming prohibitively expensive and vanishing all together after there has been free-for-all poaching along the coast.

12 Indonesian fishermen found safe after harpooned killer whale sank boat
Indonesia – August 19, 2013 –
A fishing boat was submerged after the twelve fishermen on it harpooned an Orca whale. 4 of the fishermen managed to swim to shore and were found quickly while the other eight endured a 16 hour swim before reaching land.

Sri Lanka gets tough on illegal fishermen
Xinhua – August 22, 2013 –
The Sri Lankan government is clamping down on illegal Indian fishing after facing heavy losses from poaching. The Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Minister noted that $USD 78.9 million dollars of fish is lost from poaching in south India.

Environment and Natural Resource Crimes: The Hidden Threat to Public Safety, Natural Resources and the Environment
USA – August, 2013 –
Environment and natural resources typically are not on the radar of local police officials yet, closer examination reveals that these often hidden crimes also pose serious threats to human health, quality, and the economy.

Nation’s Fish Stocks At a Very Low Level
Kota Kinabula, Malaysia – August 22, 2013 –
Mayalsia has lost almost 92 percent of its fishery resources due to overfishing between 1971 and 2007.

Crab poaching still booming in Russia; shipments of king crab to Japan up 500%
Russia – August 22, 2013 –
Despite Russia’s efforts to fight crab poaching, its volumes are steadily growing.

Paua poacher jailed for 11 months
New Zealand – August 22, 2013 – Nelson Mail
A convicted poacher has again been sent to prison for illegal taking paua (abalone) from the Kaikoura coast of New Zealand. The poacher was sentenced to 11 months in prison yesterday.

Taiwan to donate three patrol boats to the Gambia
Taipei – August 20, 2013 – Focus Taiwan
Taiwan will donate three more patrol boats to The Gambia to help strengthen its ability to patrol its coast.

Majority of DAFF patrol vessels not ready to patrol
South Africa – August 21, 2013 –
Only two of six patrol vessels of South Africa’s Department of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries will be able to patrol South Africa’s exclusive economic zone later this month, as four are still undergoing maintenance.

More than 20 rescued as coal ships run aground off South Africa
South Africa – August 19, 2013 –
The M/V SMART, a merchant ship carrying coal, has run aground in rough seas off South Africa. It is the second ship this month to do so, following the bulk carrier Kiani Satu.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Order Revolution on DVD

Order Revolution on DVD
Rob's new film is available on DVD!  We love it -- an not just because our friends are in it.
Revolution is a film about changing the world. The true-life adventure of Rob Stewart, this follow-up to his acclaimed Sharkwater documentary continues his remarkable journey; one that will take him through 15 countries over four years, and where he'll discover that it's not only sharks that are in danger - it's humanity itself. In an effort to uncover the truth and find the secret to saving the ecosystems we depend on for survival, Stewart embarks on a life-threatening adventure. From the coral reefs in Papua New Guinea and deforestation in Madagascar to the largest and most destructive environmental project in history in Alberta, Canada, he reveals that all of our actions are inter connected and that environmental degradation, species loss, ocean acidification, pollution and food/water scarcity are reducing the Earth's ability to house humans. How did this happen, and what will it take to change the course that humanity has set itself on? Travelling the globe to meet with the dedicated individuals and organizations working on a solution, Stewart finds encouragement and hope, pointing to the revolutions of the past and how we've evolved and changed our course in times of necessity. If people were informed about what was really going on, they would fight for their future - and the future of other generations. From the evolution of our species to the revolution to save it, Stewart and his team take viewers on a groundbreaking mission into the greatest war ever waged. Startiling, beautiful, and provocative, Revolution inspires audiences from across the globe to start a revolution and change the world forever.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Shark Research in Action: Sharkland

This photo makes me want to quote The Avengers ("I'm not overly fond of what follows...")
Guest Blog
By Annie Anderson and Antonia Ash

As the crews left for night one of Sharkland the conditions were ideal for setting the gillnets and the competition for the straightest net was on. However as the saying, ‘the calm before the storm’ goes, within a few hours the crew found themselves snuggled up hiding under transport boxes with bolts of lightening landing within a stones throw. Despite the relentless rain, 35 sharks were still captured and the crews soldiered through the conditions ensuring they met their 15 minute check window. Unfortunately with conditions deteriorating by the minute, the decision was made to haul all lines four hours ahead of schedule, with the time to be made up over the coming nights.

12 hours on a boat is likely to make you make faces like this one.
As the nights spent in Sharkland went on the count was lower than in previous years. We only tagged 13 on night two and during night three was just under with 12. Despite the low shark count the PIT crew still had some interesting captures. Net three found the largest shark caught in their gillnet during the whole of PIT 2013, measuring 116cm. Net one also witnessed a returnee caught only the week before in North Sound which had escaped from the behavioral holding pens. Amongst all the shark action and the delirium of the night, in between checks net one, led by new assistant manager David, found themselves stalking what they believed to be a four meter sawfish which in the bright lights of the Q beam transformed into a lonely nurse shark in search of a mate.

You do not want to zoom in on this photo, trust us.
In an attempt to rescue the team from the nights delirium the annual fancy dress food run arrived to a PIT crew of confused faces as they witnessed those on home duty parading themselves round the boat in extremely minimal cowgirl outfits.

In the final three nights of Sharkland the total count for night four was 17, night five slightly lower with 13, and the final night tapered off with a low of 5; this brought the total count in Sharkland to 95 captures.

PIT 2013 has been a strenuous but rewarding 12 nights for all involved. The Sharklab would like to say a special thanks to all who participated for their continuous hard work and enthusiasm amid all the chaos and long hours - a special experience for all to take away.

The Bimini Biological Field Station Sharklab depends on the efforts of dedicated volunteers to accomplish our research. Since its 1990 inception, the BBFS Sharklab has been host to thousands of volunteers from all over the globe. Annie Anderson blogs at Sharks Need Love.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Shark Research in Action: North Sound

Pink sky at night, lemon sharks delight.
Guest Blog
By Annie Anderson and Antonia Ash

The first night’s fishing went down a storm with a record number of sharks caught, a total of 83 juvenile lemon sharks were transported to the tagging boat for processing. Here they were ‘worked up’ - measured, weighed, sampled forDNA and stable isotope, and finally scanned for a PIT tag. At this stage we recorded the PIT ID for recaptures (those with an existing tag), and inserted a new one for those without. Finally we recorded the umbilical scar status of all sharks under 70 cm in length. Did you know that sharks have belly buttons? In the same manner as humans, in utero lemon sharks are connected to their mother with an umbilical cord. We review this scar and if it is still open we know that it is a newborn that was likely born to the nursery in the past few weeks.

Our tagging and net boat teams are made up of staff and volunteers to ensure we have a mixture of experience and heavy lifters. One of our principle investigator’s, Rob, led net boat one. Those who have worked PIT in previous years know this is notoriously our busiest net. Within 5 minutes of setting the net they had already caught their first shark. He was a 63 cm new capture.

Measuring the shark
Each net boat aims to bring the sharks caught straight over to the tagging boat to reduce stress. On the first night of North Sound another of the principle investigators at the lab, Jean-Sebastien, led this boat. The tagging team alongside Jean experienced the most chaos of the night: one tagging boat with the 83 catches. With so much going on, organization and attention to detail was vital at all times, particularly through the 8 to 9 PM rush when 23 sharks were worked up in only 45 minutes.

This of course leads us back to the work of the other two nets who were themselves busy catching more juvenile lemon sharks to add to the nights count. In the end the total from net one was 36, net two fell just under with 32, and net three caught 15, which is a reflective split of what we have come to expect each individual net to catch through the labs 18 years experience of PIT. The second and third night yielded a smaller number of catches in comparison, but the numbers were enough to keep the net boats on their toes.

Sharks have bellybuttons.  I bet you didn't know that.
After a night’s break from gillnetting, the team returned to complete the North Sound part of PIT, another three nights in the same net locations. With a decreasing number of new shark captures the crew spent less time in the water catching sharks and more time on the boats making mad libs, getting to know each other, and counting shooting stars. Not to put too fine a point on it, the PIT crew go away with many awe inspiring memories and none can match the setting which surrounds the net boats at night: complete silence in darkness with the occasional flash of a Q-beam to remind each net boat that the other teams are close by.

Of course when reminiscing upon this peaceful dreamy picture how could we forget the sudden interruption of flashing blue lights, the sound of an echoing siren, and a startling spotlight shone across the astonished faces of net three by a local police officer. As you would imagine a sight to witness in the early hours, but with the get out of jail clause ‘we’re from the sharklab,’ the officer was soon reassured that no suspicious activity was taking place and he was on his way.

Over the six nights of gillnetting in the North Sound the total juvenile lemon shark count for PIT 2013 came to an impressive 120.

The Bimini Biological Field Station Sharklab depends on the efforts of dedicated volunteers to accomplish our research. Since its 1990 inception, the BBFS Sharklab has been host to thousands of volunteers from all over the globe. Annie Anderson blogs at Sharks Need Love.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Shark Research in Action: PIT 2013

A setting sun means another night on the water.
Guest Blog
By Annie Anderson and Antonia Ash

This past June, researchers, students, and volunteers from all over the world assembled in The Bahamas for the 19th Bimini Biological Field Station’s (aka Sharklab) annual PIT lemon shark tagging program. It was an international affair with this year’s 29 participants hailing from South Africa to Brazil, from the US to the UK, Belgium, and finally France. Despite the blood sucking mosquitos and lightning illuminating the skies above, the crew rallied together to make PIT 2013 a year to remember.

Juvenile lemon sharks in their pen behind Sharklab
PIT stands for “passive integrated transponder,” a little rice-grain sized uniquely coded microchip that is inserted under the skin of the lemon shark. PIT is also used by the researchers to describe the annual 12-night project that is the longest running research project Sharklab conducts.

For the past 18 years Sharklab has monitored the juvenile lemon shark population in Bimini. Scientists assess survival, growth, and mating characteristics of the lemon sharks in two mangrove-fringed nursery areas called North Sound and Sharkland.

PIT lasts for 12 days
Late in the afternoon while tourists strain their eyes across the Caribbean in the hopes of seeing a green flash, the volunteers load up boats, split up into separate netting and tagging teams, and leave the Sharklab in South Bimini for a long, wet night.

Whether at North Sound or Sharkland, it is the tagging boat’s responsibility to ensure all the nets are set at the same time. Once they go in they must be checked every 15 minutes over a 12-hour period from dusk until sunrise.

Working up a shark
Every night we collect a mountain of data. On finding a shark in the net the team immediately removes it, records the time and location of capture, and radios the information to the tagging boat before transporting the shark for a more detailed ‘work up’. The information recorded at this stage is crucial for past and future data comparisons, for example when they are re-captured we can determine how much they’ve grown, who their siblings are (through DNA), their weight fluctuations, and movements from initial capture locations.

After the long and tiring 12-hour cycle and as the sun rises the net boats haul their lines and all head back to the lab for a hearty breakfast prepared by the hard working home crew. All equipment is cleaned and the team then head to bed for a 6 to 8 hour nap before they must wake to start the whole process again.

Check back here tomorrow where we will describe what goes on at North Sound.

The Bimini Biological Field Station Sharklab depends on the efforts of dedicated volunteers to accomplish our research. Since its 1990 inception, the BBFS Sharklab has been host to thousands of volunteers from all over the globe. Annie Anderson blogs at Sharks Need Love.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Illegal Fishing Roundup I

Illegal Fishing Roundup is a new feature on Shark Defenders which will be published weekly.  You can also join our mailing list to keep abreast of the latest in shark conservation news, as well as allow us to call on you when we need your help.

It’s been a very busy week out in the world of International Fisheries Management and Business News - from human traffickers accused of selling people in slavery on fishing boats being arrested, to a fishing vessel being caught transporting over 900 kilograms of cocaine, to two cats being rescued from a sinking tuna boat off the coast of Oregon.

Cabinet backs global fishing rules
South Africa – August 12, 2013 –
South Africa’s Cabinet has approved three fishing treaties: the agreement for the establishment of the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission, the Convention for the Conservation of Southern Bluefin Tuna and the FAO’s Port State Measures Agreement to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated Fishing. The treaties now will go to Parliament for further approval.

Canadian firm track’s Earth ships from Space
Canada – August 12, 2013 –
Since 2010, Canadian firm exact Earth has been “mining” data about shipping traffic on Earth from satellites through AIS detection. Today is sells information about the more than 100,000 ship it detects per day to over 50 customers on 5 continents. The data is used for identifying and tracking ship traffic, identifying whether ships are following maritime traffic laws, and detecting illegal fishing and piracy. While previously exactEarth’s satellites were polar orbiting, in early 2014 exactEarth will launch a nanosatellite that will orbit around the Earth’s equator and allow exactEarth to collect updated data about ships near the equator at least once per hour.

Fears for Pacific tuna stocks amid record 2012 catch
Australia – August 15, 2013 –
New figures from the Secretariat of the Pacific show that more than 2.6 million tons of Pacific tuna was caught in the central and western pacific last year, a number that is prompting urgent calls from conservationists to do more to protect fish stocks. The number is 59% of the global catch and 1200 tons more than the previous record.

Fresh fish landings continue to fall
Spain – August 12, 2013 –
Between January and June of 2013, a total of 105,753 tons of fresh fish entered the ports of Spain, a 5.7% decrease compared to the same period in 2012. The largest decrease occurred in the port of Barcelona; it received only 100 tons of fresh fish in the first six months of the year, 89.1% few than the same period of 2012.

Thailand arrests suspected leader of human trafficking gang
Bangkok- August 9, 2013 –
Thai authorities have captured the suspected leader of a human trafficking gang, who confessed to selling migrants from Myanmar into slavery on Thai fishing boats as well as murdering as many as seven individuals. The raid follows mounting international concern over the trafficking of migrants in Thailand’s lucrative fishing industry.

Greenpeace: South Korea could face backlash for illegal fishing
South Korea – August 12, 2013 –
Greenpeace East Asia has spoken out against South Korea’s fishing industry, stating that it is earning a bad reputation through illegal fishing scandals and human rights abuses. The report details 34 cases in which Korean fishing companies engaged in practices including illegal fishing, non-compliance with international fishing standards and human rights abuses in their fleets.

The Price of Fish – Different Scales
August 10, 2013 –
The global fish-price index of the UN FAO hit a record high this May. The peak is likely due to increasing amount of fish consumer diets, especially in China, and high oil prices leading to an increase in both demand and cost. However, there is a large difference between the cost of farmed the cost of wild caught fish. Since 1990, the cost of wild caught fish as nearly doubled while farmed fish has only risen by a fifth.

Nicaraguan Navy Fights Drug Traffic, Defends Sovereignty
Nicaragua – August 15, 2013 –
Rear Admiral of the Nicaraguan Navy has said that from August 2012 through July 2013, 6,432 missions were conducted and 82,000 nautical miles were sailed. The missions resulted in the detainment of 57 vessels and 215 crew members for illegally fishing in jurisdictional waters.

Is the Shark-Fin Trade Facing Extinction?
U.S. – August 12, 2013 –
U.S. conservation organization WildAid estimates that up to 73 million sharks are killed each year for the fins, most by a process known as “finning” in which fins are hacked off and the animal is thrown back into the sea to drown or bleed to death. Afterward, the fins are transported by ship or plane to Hong Kong to be used in shark fin soup.

Costa Rican Coast Guard nabs fishing boat with 900 kilos of cocaine
Costa Rica – August 12, 2013 –
The Costa Rican Coast Guard seized a fishing vessel with 963 kilograms of cocaine near the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador this week. The same vessel was detained last year with 1,081 kilos of cocaine. 3 Costa Ricans nations and one Nicaraguan on board the vessel were arrested and sent to Ecuador for processing.

Follow up to above: US Navy Ship Tows and Sinks Costa Rican Boat Loaded with Cocaine
Costa Rica – August 13, 2013 –
A U.S. Coast Guard vessel assisted the Costa Rican Coast Guard in the drug interdiction effort last week. The U.S.C.G. then attempted to tow the vessel but was unsuccessful and vessel sunk.

Fewer, but larger, Bluefin tuna so far this year in New England Fishery
U.S. – August 15, 2013 –
Bluefin tuna season is in full swing in the northeast of the United States. While lower numbers of actual fish have been landed, the size of the available fish has been large.

PNA tuna revenue likely to quadruple from 2010
Pacific – August 14, 2013 –
The Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA) officials estimate that fisheries revenue will increase to US$3.9 billion this year, up from US $1.9 billion in 2010. The PNA share will rise to US$249 million, up from US$60 million in 2010. The increase in value of the fisheries is said to be directly related to the fisheries management and business initiatives enforced by the eight nations since 2010.

CFP to phase out fishmeal from shrimp feed
Myanmar/Thailand – August 12, 2013-
Charoen Pokphand Foods plans to use protein from soybean and grains in its shrimp feed instead of fishmeal, hoping the innovation will lead to a more sustainable fishery.

RTI reveals barrier reef authority will trial drone in fight against illegal fishing
Australia – August 14, 2013 –
The Great Barrier Reef Authority is going to begin a trial run using a drone to combat illegal fishing.

Baltimore researchers turn carnivorous fish into vegetarians
Washington, DC – August 11, 2013 –
Researches in the United States have turned carnivorous Cobia into eating a vegetarian diet. Typically the fish feed on small fish such as menhaden, anchovies and sardines. This could have an impact for aquaculture, which typically uses wild-caught small fish to feed larger farmed-raised fish.

Top 15 salmon producers unite to form sustainability initiative
August 14, 2013 –
Companies representing 70 percent of the world’s total farmed salmon production launch new effort to progress in key areas such as mitigating environmental impacts, improving feed sustainability, addressing social issues and communication the potential the fish has to help address the world’s growing need for protein.

Ecuador’s attorney: It’s not over until it’s over
U.S. – August 15, 2013 –
The U.S. shrimp industry brought a case against seven shrimp exporting countries, claiming that the countries were unfairly subsidizing their shrimp farming sectors which was giving them an advantage in the U.S. markets. While a preliminary ruling was in favor of Ecuador, one of the exporting countries, the latest U.S. Dept of Commerce ruling was against them.

Operation Ocean
Florida, U.S. – August 13, 2013 –
A new group has been formed in Florida which teaches severely injured military veterans to scuba dive with the mission of raising awareness about overfishing, called Operation Blue Pride. The group has been the focus of a documentary expected to hit film festivals late October. Whether the group is helping more to save the oceans or the oceans are helping more to save the injured veterans is up for debate.

Officers seek help of walkers to reel in illegal fish nets
Carmarthen, Wales, UK – August 14, 2013 –
Walkers are being asked to keep an eye out for illegal fishing next in the river Teifi after a 75ft net was spotted just outside of Cardigan in the river and a second was found on the beach. The area is populated by migratory salmon and sea trout.

Navy brings 111 Australia-bound Persons ashore safely
Sri Lanka - August 14, 2013 –
The Sri Lankan Navy intercepted a fishing trawler with 111 persons on board illegally bound for Australia.

Watch: Humpback whale rescued from shark nets
Australia – August 14, 2013 –
A humpback whale was rescued from a shark net at an Australian beach. Nets are regularly used to protect swimmers at beaches from sharks in Australia.

Fishermen protest illegal trawler operation
Thailand - August 13, 2013 –
Small-scale fishermen in Prachuap Khiri Khan planned a gathering at their provincial hall to demand their governor take action against illegal fishing in protected areas.

Study: ‘Ray’ Wings Sold to Consumers Include Vulnerable Species and Can be Mislabeled
England – August 13, 2013 –
Genetic testing has revealed that species sold under the generic term “ray wings” are often mislabeled. Products labeled from sustainable sources are often substituted for more vulnerable species, such as the blonde ray, which was given the lowest rating for sustainability in the marine conservation society’s good fish guide.

Coast Guard seizes two boats from Mexico
Texas, U.S. – August 13, 2013 –
The U.S. Coast Guard Station South Padre Island (TX) seized two vessels and 700 pounds of catch and detained seven Mexican nationals after they were caught illegal fishing in the U.S. EEZ.

Survivors of Ore. Boat Explosion include 2 cats
Oregon, U.S. – August 14, 2013 –
A 60 foot tuna boat, the Sea Princess, sank 80 miles off the coast of Oregon last week. The survivors included the 2 persons on board the boat as well as two cats. The vessel, equipment and $40,000 worth of tuna were lost.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Sanctuaries for a Predator in Peril

Global Shark Conservation by PewEnvironmentGroup

This report from the Pew Charitable Trusts highlights the world's shark sanctuaries.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Fake Shark Week Facts

How could we possibly improve on the words of the great Wil Wheaton:
Last night, Discovery Channel betrayed that trust during its biggest viewing week of the year. Discovery Channel isn’t run by stupid people, and this was not some kind of mistake. Someone made a deliberate choice to present a work of fiction that is more suited for the SyFy channel as a truthful and factual documentary. That is disgusting, and whoever made that decision should be ashamed.
We'll get the party started with this tweet:
12:47 AM

Um, wow. It's been less than three hours and the response to #FakeSharkWeekFacts has been incredible! Keep it up. And thank you.

How Many Sharks Will Die During Shark Week?

But every week is a bad week to be a shark
Discovery Channel's slogan for this year's Shark Week is "It's a bad week to be a seal."  But as many as 4,487,671 sharks will be killed during the annual event's six day run.  Most of the sharks will be killed for their fins.

4.5 million sharks killed in 6 days?  But how is that possible, do you ask?  And how did we come up with that number?

There are only two peer-reviewed scientific studies that estimate the number of sharks killed each year.  The first one, Global estimates of shark catches using trade records from commercial markets by Dr. Shelley Clarke et al,  was published in Ecology Letters in 2006. Using trade data from the 1990s, Dr. Clarke and her coauthors estimated that between 26-73 million sharks are killed each year, with a mean of 38 million. For many years conservation organizations simplified this number by saying something like "as many as 73 million" sharks are killed each year, but Dr. Clarke prefers the more conservative 38 million.

The second study was published this year in the lead up to the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.  Global catches, exploitation rates, and rebuilding options for sharks by Dr. Boris Worm et al, was published in Marine Policy.  The Worm study took a different approach by adding landed catch data reported to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization to estimates of unreported landings, finned sharks, and other discards of dead sharks.  This new study suggests that between 63-273 million sharks are killed each year, with a mean of 100 million.  Most of the shark conservation organizations have updated their materials to reflect the 100 million number. 

The Clarke study came up with the 73 million number by estimating that as many as 200,000 sharks are killed each day, which extrapolated results in 1.2 million sharks killed during Shark Week.  The Worm study estimates 273 million sharks per year, so doing the math that is about 4.5 million sharks killed during Shark Week.  However, using the more conservative 100 million sharks killed per year from the Worm study, the number most shark conservation organizations are using these days, that's about 1.6 million sharks killed during Shark Week.

Therefore the best scientific estimate is that about 1.6 million, but perhaps as many as 4.5 million, sharks will be killed while America enjoys the Top 10 Sharkdown and Sharkpocalyspe.

Do you find that shameful?  Here are 10 Things You Can Do To Protect Sharks.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

And Now, We Wait

In the last month, Pew, Oceana, the Humane Society, and Earthjustice generated over 100,000 individual comments to NOAA, asking the agency not to move forward with a proposed Shark Conservation Act of 2010 implementing rule that potentially could overturn shark protections passed in 10 states and territories.

NOAA also received letters from the U.S. House with 62 signatories and U.S. Senate with 10 signatories, state and territory legislators, state attorney generals, scientists, zoos and aquariums, many non-government organizations, and the Shark Attack Survivors for Conservation. The Association of Pacific Island Legislatures also passed a resolution opposing NOAA’s proposal that would take a step backward in shark conservation by preempting stronger state and territorial shark conservation laws.

The agency’s comment period closed Wednesday, July 31.
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