SUFB 030: Climate Change, Illegal Fishing, and Shark Conservation on Today’s Ocean Talk


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Speak Up For Blue Podcast.

Climate Change, Overfishing, and the Conservation of Sharks

Happy Friday Speak Up For Blue Crew! I was given the day off, but you’ll still hear a Nathan on today’s episode of Ocean Talk. Earlier today, Andrew spoke with Nathan Robinson, the Director of Science for The Leatherback Trust. You might remember Nathan from his sea turtle heroics we spoke about last week. Well today, Nathan and Andrew tackled four different ocean news topics making the media rounds this week.

Climate Change

The first is a story on, titled “The New Conservative Argument to Ignore Climate Change is Even Dumber Than the Old One.” And they couldn’t have picked a more apt headline. While previous arguments against climate change had focused on how the phenomenon doesn’t exist, an article put forth by National Review questions whether we should combat climate change at all since the U.S. cannot stop it by itself. Personally I’m glad National Review asked this question. We’ve heard perspectives from governments, actual scientists, and the energy industry, but we haven’t heard this issue debated from the perspective of a whiny five year old. And the logic checks out: when you get down to it, why should anybody to anything unless everyone is doing it? I know some people litter, which is why I intentionally throw all my trash on highways and in parks. This one time my roommate forgot to recycle his cereal boxes, so now I remember to combine all my trash and glass into one bag simply labeled “things that need to go.” Seriously National Review? You’re a real magazine/website that, unfortunately, real people read. I’m sure you were just a little too early on your April Fool’s edition, but give us some warning before you put next year’s out. Some folks might think you’re serious.

The next story Nathan and Andrew discussed was one of out the LA Times titled “What Exxon knew about the Earth’s melting Arctic“. It turns out that Exxon was researching and making organizational recommendations based on data showing climate change in the Arctic. And while the company has publicly claimed that these climate change studies are inconclusive and should not be used as evidence of any actual change, they were making decisions that affected the future of Exxon’s exploration of the Arctic based on this data. What this shows is that when it comes to their bottom line, Exxon is willing to invest large amounts of money into research and data collection. However, when it comes time to speak publicly on matters that may increase industry regulations, they choose protecting their future revenue over protecting the environment they operate in. I guess this shouldn’t be a surprise, but it is certainly disheartening.


Next up, Whale Wars. Specifically, Sea Shepherd’s chase of the illegal fishing boat Thunder. After pursuing this fishing vessel for 110 days, Captain Peter Hammarstedt received a call from Thunder claiming that they’re boat was sinking and the crew were in need of rescue. Hammarstedt said he believed that they sunk the boat on purpose in order to discard their illegal catch and protect the actual owners of the vessel. Thunder is most likely just a member of an extensive illegal fishing syndicate, meaning that this story could perhaps be just the beginning. The crew of the Thunder has been sentenced to between 32 and 36 months in jail and fined over $17 million dollars as a result of its illegal fishing. As great as this sounds, the cavalier methods used by Sea Shepherd may not hold up in court. This story may turn out to make a better movie than a court case. So as much of a win this is for ocean conservationists, it’s probably an even bigger win for Liam Neeson. Fifty bucks he plays the Captain in this story’s movie adaptation.

Sharks and Their Protection, or Lack Thereof

For the fourth and final article, Andrew and Nathan discussed the story we posted a couple days back about Costa Rica pushing for less protection for shark species. In a time where shark species have declined 95% in the last 40 years, Costa Rica claimed that it will implement laws to make it more difficult to regulate shark finning and open up new tuna and shrimp fisheries without any scientific basis. This is such a shock that Costa Rica, of all places, is saying this. Historically, they have been a model for protecting biodiversity at a national level. According to Nathan, this decision may have been a knee-jerk reaction to protests by fishermen due to unclear fishing regulations. However, when backed into a corner, the Costa Rican government made a nearsighted economic decision rather than a sustainable economic and ecological decision focused on long-term growth.

Well, that’s it for this week’s Ocean Talk episode. Have a great weekend readers, get outside and stay away from single-use plastics.

Enjoy the Podcast!

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