It’s finally here Speak Up For Blue Crew, that day everyone eagerly anticipates each week, Ocean Talk Friday. Pop the champagne and then recycle the bottle, we’re going to spend the next few paragraphs discussing stories in the news this past week that affect our oceans.
Fisheries output over the last fifty years – A team of researchers from the University of British Columbia published an article this past week in Nature Communications titled (spoiler alert) “Catch reconstructions reveal that global marine fisheries catches are higher than reported and declining“. The authors, Dr. Daniel Pauly and Dr. Dirk Zeller, used historic catch numbers reported by the FAO and estimates of subsistence fisheries’ output, unreported catch, and other underreported figures to determine the actual amount of fish we catch each year across the globe. The researchers found that the FAO’s reports for global annual catch are most likely a significant underestimate, with the actual catch being much higher than reported. Further, because most catches declined beginning in the mid 1990s, the fact that these catches were underreported means that the decline we’ve seen over the last two decades is steeper than originally thought. The good news is that this data will more accurately inform future management practices for international fisheries, giving us a better idea of how well certain stocks may be recovering once policies are put in place to protect them.
Scuba diving as a sustainable form of ecotourism – Our next article, from AllAfrica, discusses the role scuba divers and snorkelers play in coastal, warm-water communities. Scuba diving and snorkeling can provide a sustainable and environmentally-friendly method of ecotourism, and can also engage the public in ocean conservation issues by exposing them to marine habitats. Diving, however, is for the most part a luxury leisure activity. Purchasing your own gear, taking certification classes, and the diving itself can cost a good amount of money, and this cost can dissuade many lower-income tourists or stakeholders from participating in this activity. Therefore, if we intend to offer scuba diving and snorkeling as avenues for greater involvement in ocean conservation, we have to start by finding ways to make these activities more accessible to the general public.
Hawaiian islands MPA celebrates a birthday – This past week, the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands marine protected area (MPA) turned 15! Established in 2001 at the end of the Clinton administration, this region connected many of the smaller Hawaiian islands under a single marine sanctuary. Not only did this MPA protect the unique biodiversity found throughout the Hawaiian coast, it also protected the local communities whose way of life centered around a healthy ocean ecosystem. In addition to being the first area that’s both a natural and cultural UNSECO heritage site, the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands MPA was one of the first large scale protected area that included multiple islands under unified protection.
Plastic in our oceans – In an interview with the Huffington Post, Dr. Chelsea Rochman claimed that about one in four seafood products from local grocery stores contain traces of plastic. Though she admits not much research has been done on the affects these plastic materials could have on humans, it’s quite clear that they have adverse health effects on fish and other marine organisms. Plastic pollution can alter fish feeding behavior, damage their digestive system, and manipulate their reproductive capabilities. Therefore, while beach clean ups that reduce plastic debris on shorelines is beneficial, it’s more important that individual nations cut down on the source of plastics entering our oceans.
Enjoy the Podcast!