SUFB 055: Ocean Talk Friday with Genetically-Altered Salmon and Marine Protected Areas

Speak Up For Blue Podcast

Happy Friday, Speak up for Blue Crew! Today Andrew and I take a break from our busy days to bring you some ocean news!

First off, Andrew and I discussed the recent “FDA OK” of genetically modified salmon. These modified Atlantic salmon grow faster than their wild counterparts, making it possible for farmers to grow and sell more salmon than they previously could. However, there’s always the question of what happens when these modified salmon mix with native salmon and reproduce. To prevent this, the company behind these genetically modified salmon has made all the individuals infertile females. This approval could potentially ease situations of malnourishment in impoverished countries, making this decision a big step for global health as well as biotechnology.

Next, we discussed an article published in Science magazine by Jane Lubchenko and her colleague, Dr. Kirsten Grorud-Calvert from Oregon State University. The article is titled “Making waves: The science and politics of ocean protection,” and details the current and future possibilities for marine protected areas (MPAs). Though this article didn’t necessarily introduce any groundbreaking MPA research, it did once again convey the necessity of setting up protected regions of our ocean.

And for the rest of the podcast, we just couldn’t get off the subject of MPAs. Our next article came from National Geographic, where Ayana Elizabeth Johnson of the Waitt Institute outlined six lessons for successful ocean conservation projects. Perhaps the most interesting point brought up was how much politics and economic factors impact the implementation (or rejection) of any decision to protect the ocean. While we may think the short-term loss of revenue caused by fishing restrictions will not be significant compared to the long-term gain in revenues caused by increased fish abundance, that isn’t always the case. Many low-income fishing communities are those hurt most by these restrictions, and may not necessarily be able to afford a 10-year ban on fishing within their coastal waters. Though it doesn’t necessarily change my mind regarding the overall benefits of MPAs, it does help me see the other side of these fishing restrictions a little better.

And more MPAs. Our final Ocean Talk Friday discussion centered on the agreement reached earlier this week between the U.S. and Cuba to collaborate on ocean protection. These two nations will partner to more effectively manage Cuba’s Banco de San Antonio and the States’ Flower Garden Banks and Florida Keys. This is great news for the Gulf of Mexico, as all three sites share a similar ecosystem and exhibit some level of connectivity between sanctuaries. Hopefully this cooperation will lead to more effective management and research for our marine resources in the Gulf of Mexico.

Enjoy the Podcast!

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