On today’s episode of Ocean Talk Friday, Andrew and I discuss the U.S. taking a stand on illegal fishing, three companies that are turning plastic pollution into profit, a new method of assessing marine habitat health, and a lab that is working on breeding corals that are less susceptible to bleaching.
- Cracking down on illegal fishing
Last week, the United States became the fourteenth country to sign the Port States Measures Agreement, an international treaty aimed at reducing illegal fishing and activity at sea. Though the treaty will not come into effect until 25 nations sign it, the fact that the U.S. signed on is a big deal. As the second largest importer of seafood globally, the U.S. has to lead the way in terms of ocean conservation and sustainable fishing. Even more promising is the fact that this treaty had bipartisan support within Washington D.C. It’s good to know that of the few things Congress can seem to agree on, illegal fishing is one of them.
- Companies Using Plastic Pollution
Next up is plastic pollution. And before you ready a buzzfeed tab showing 26 pictures of husky puppies to cheer you up, let me say that this is actually a positive story on plastic pollution. OneGreenPlanet this week highlighted three companies that are actually turning discarded plastic items found along beaches into revenue. While I won’t analyze each of these ventures for you, I will say that making money while cleaning up the beaches is a genius idea. Hopefully we’ll see more similar business pop up in the near future, and ultimately fail due to a supply shortage a little further down the road.
- Assessing Ecosystem Health
A new study by a team of private researchers and NOAA scientists claims to have identified three features that can be used to assess ecosystem functioning for various marine habitats. While unfortunately Andrew and I don’t have access to the journal (A subscription to Trends in Ecology & Evolution makes a wonderful gift), we agree that this study could greatly increase agencies’ capacity to monitor marine habitats. Though it’s always a little suspicious when you hear someone has developed a “universal” method for something, studies such as this may be a great first step in equipping researchers with the tools they need to determine which marine habitats need further, more detailed monitoring on a site-specific level.
- Artificially Selecting Corals
Finally, Andrew and I discuss the notion of artificially selecting corals that have shown resiliency to bleaching for future restoration efforts. I have a feeling this is an issue we’ll be discussing more thoroughly in the future, as coral bleaching is still a major threat to these economically and ecologically critical species. And while it certainly is a good idea to study the few corals that contain zooxanthellae capable of withstanding higher temperatures, we should stay focused on the root cause of coral bleaching rather than just address the symptoms. A multi-faceted strategy of reducing carbon emissions, utilizing more renewable energy sources, and funding more research on coral bleaching would be a great primary approach, with artificially-selected coral bred for restoration being our last hail-mary effort.
Enjoy the Podcast!