World Penguin Day 2013

Open-Ocean Aquaculture Would Harm the Gulf of Mexico

Statement of Recirculating Farms Coalition Executive Director, Marianne Cufone

Recirculating Farms CoalitionNew Orleans, LA, February 8, 2013 – Today, the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council – the body that advises the National Marine Fisheries Service on fish and fishing in the Gulf – voted to push forward regulations that would permit industrial fish farming in the Gulf of Mexico. The Council did so in violation of a number of procedural laws, as well as in direct conflict with the members’ oath of office to conserve and manage the marine resources of the Gulf of Mexico for the benefit of the nation. Open water fish farming is well documented to be highly problematic for both people and our planet. [Read more...]

Action Alert: Stop Offshore Factory Fish Farming in the Gulf of Mexico

Action Alert
Stop Offshore Factory Fish Farming in the Gulf of Mexico

Ship Deploys Offshore Fish Farming Cage (Source: NOAA)
Ship Deploys Offshore Fish Farming Cage (Source: NOAA)
Interior of Offshore Fish Farming Facility (Source: NOAA)
Interior of Offshore Fish Farming Facility (Source: NOAA)
Pair of Divers Outside Offshore Aquaculture Facility (Source: NOAA)
Pair of Divers Outside Offshore Aquaculture Facility (Source: NOAA)

Background

The Gulf of Mexico has been battered by hurricanes, covered in oil and then sprayed above and below with chemicals in an effort to mask the terrible effects of the spill. Now, the Gulf faces another serious threat that can harm the rest of our ocean waters, marine wildlife and people too. [Read more...]

Action Alert: Protect Alaska’s Waters from Cruise Ship Dumping

Action Alert
Please Take 5 Minutes to Protect Alaska’s Waters from Cruise Ship Dumping

Background

Cruise ships are floating cities that produce and discharge large volumes of sewage and other harmful wastes.  In 2006, Alaska voters passed a statewide ballot initiative requiring cruise ships to reduce their pollution dumping in Alaskan waters (i.e., from the shoreline out to 3 miles).  In response, cruise ship lobbyists pushed through legislation in 2009 to establish an industry-dominated “Science Panel,” which immediately set out gathering information to weaken the 2006 citizen initiative (industry lobbyists excluded the most knowledgeable public interest voice in Alaska from the panel because they did not want any opposition to their pollution rollback plans). [Read more...]

Great Whales Still Face Grave Threats

by Gershon Cohen, Ph.D.  — Co-Director, Great Whale Conservancy

A magnificent Blue Whale fluke (Image courtesy of Michael Fishbach, Great Whale Conservancy)

A magnificent Blue Whale fluke (Image courtesy of Michael Fishbach, Great Whale Conservancy)

The Great Whales need our help.  They face multiple threats today in many parts of the world: “scientific whaling,” ship strikes, habitat encroachment, decreasing food supplies, ocean acidification, etc.; it is up to us to take on these threats and do what we can to protect these magnificent, sentient beings.

The Great Whale Conservancy was created in 2010 to answer this call, and the first problem we are focusing on is the ship strike issue that plagues whales in oceans around the planet –where great whales and cargo ships, oil tankers, and cruise ships try to occupy the same place at the same time.  The whales have no choice: they need to follow their food and consumes tons of protein every day to survive.  The ships have a choice: they can adjust their transits to minimize the time they spend in Great Whale habitat. [Read more...]

Lessons of BP Deepwater Horizon: Unlearned and Now Unleashed in Alaska

Shell's Kulluk platform aground at Stikalidak Island, Alaska

Shell’s Kulluk platform aground at Sitkalidak Island, Alaska (USCG Photo)

Just a short time ago the world was mesmerized by a mile-deep live feed of an unstoppable tempest of brown crude and an unprecedented frenzy of human activity undertaking desperate, inadequate attempts to halt the flow and skim, burn, disperse, and boom the rest. In the countless hearings by Congress and the National Commission on the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling that would follow, talk of a cold, distant frontier was unavoidable:  The chilling thought of such a disaster occurring in the Arctic, where remoteness, vastness, heavy weather and unforgiving seas combine to make even simple tasks at sea profoundly more difficult. In the face of the largest oil spill in history, many of us found consolation in that we were finally paying attention to the perils of offshore drilling and these lessons would finally be learned.

What BP Deepwater Horizon illustrated vividly was that civilization’s striking advances in deepwater drilling have far outpaced its ability to clean up should a disaster occur. Perhaps the most chilling of all the Congressional testimony was the revelation by oil company CEOs that the essence of their plan for dealing with a catastrophic oil spill was to not have a catastrophic oil spill. A great idea on paper, but in the real world, an arrogant denial of the limits of technology, human error, and Mother Nature’s merciless power. [Read more...]

A Small Gift as a Token of Our Appreciation

Show Them How You Feel About Salt Water! [Read more...]

An Important Message from Ocean Doctor





Too Much Love for the Fish Everyone Hates

Spiny Dogfish (Squalus acanthus)

The much-maligned, misunderstood and now treasured “trash fish,” the spiny dogfish (Squalus acanthius). Photo: © Boris Pamikov

It was a sadly typical meeting of the Board of Collier County (Florida) Commissioners in the late nineties. As the meeting droned on, I tuned it out and fell into deep concentration, obsessively rewriting now long-forgotten remarks I would deliver to the Commission about conservation in Southwest Florida on behalf of The Conservancy of Southwest Florida where I was president and CEO. Our environmental policy director, Michael Simonik, suddenly elbowed me, “Can you believe this?” he gasped. As I looked up, Commissioner Barbara Berry was on her soapbox delivering a monologue, and like Michael, I was stunned to hear what she was saying. She soared into hyperbole to sing the praises of the land developers, declaring Southwest Florida far better than when she arrived, and with a look of disgust tinged with horror, told us how awful it was before the developers came, with all of these unsightly “tangles” of trees and messy vegetation. Nature run amok. Thank god the developers came along and made Southwest Florida a better place, with the neatly manicured lawns of its gated communities (not to mention highest number of golf courses per capita in the world). But as I gazed around the room, there were heads nodding. And I learned something. [Read more...]

What Every Good “Shark Week” Fan Should Read While They Watch

Bluntnose Sixgill Shark Hexanchus griseus ? R. Dean Grubbs

Bluntnose Sixgill Shark Hexanchus griseus ? R. Dean Grubbs

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA, CANADA. August 13, 2012 – At the close of the annual meeting of leading American shark and ray scientists, the IUCN Shark Specialist Group (SSG) is releasing the first compilation of conservation status assessments for nearly 300 sharks, rays, and chimaeras (collectively known as chondrichthyan fishes) found in North American, Central American, and Caribbean waters conducted using the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species criteria. The report and supplementary materials can be downloaded from the IUCN website.

The report documents that 13.5% of the region’s shark, skate, and chimaera species qualify for one of the three “threatened” categories — Critically Endangered, Endangered, Vulnerable — associated with an elevated risk of extinction. Nine rays and 20 sharks qualify as Vulnerable. Sixteen percent of species are classified as Near Threatened, 27% as Least Concern, and 43.4% as Data Deficient. [Read more...]

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