Saturday, April 11, 2015


The following four articles are represent just a few of a myriad of articles I have read in the last 2 weeks each of which is reporting on collapsing fisheries stocks, ocean pollution, loss of habitat, disease and worse. Basically if one takes the time to keep abreast (and if you can avoid falling into a state of depression), to quote my grandmother, “ it does not take a rocket scientist to see the oceans are in serious trouble.”
Something has to be done and done soon and the silly and ill intentioned efforts by most governments are just exacerbating the problem.
Nuff Said.

Eight Chilean fisheries undergoing 'collapse status'

Friday, April 10, 2015, 21:50

A report released by the Undersecretariat of Fisheries and Aquaculture (SUBPESCA) reveals that eight Chilean fisheries are undergoing a collapse status and further eight are overexploited, which highlights the sensitive situation faced by the country’s main fishery resources.
In the report Situation Status of the Major Chilean Fisheries, SUBPESCA presents a bleak picture for several national fisheries, since to these depleted or overfished fisheries further 22 that are in full operation are added.
For the first time in Chile the biological reference points (PBR) are officially defined in order to establish the conservation status of fishery resources.
Out of a total of 38 fisheries that were analyzed, 22 have their respective PBR, which according to SUBPESCA, is the result of a joint effort of international experts, national scientific and SUBPESCA.
The report details the hake is one of the resources facing a difficult conservation status, between Coquimbo and Los Lagos Regions, so the fishery has been classified as undergoing a state of exhaustion or collapse.
While just two years ago the authorised hake quota reached 40,000 tonnes, this year the Technical Scientific Committee recommended a quota of 23,000 tonnes, that is to say, a reduction of 42.5 per cent.
"If we do not take administration measures, no matter how hard or strict they are, in a timely and sustainable manner, we risk that in the coming years the hake will be very hard to find," warned SUBPESCA head Raul SĂșnico.
Other resources that were found in collapse or exhaustion status are the anchovy of the southern-central area, Spanish sardine, golden kingklip, Cardinal fish and alfonsino.
Meanwhile, those resources deemed as overexploited are the northern anchovy, horse mackerel, hoki, southern hake, southern blue whiting, stingray and Patagonian toothfish (Chilean sea bass).
"These results show us a very important challenge for the future," admitted SĂșnico. "As a government, we are committed to recover our fisheries, respecting the scientific criteria for proper management, widen the scope of the fishing activity, especially the artisanal or small scale one, and provide sustainability for the future."

By Mark Godfrey, SeafoodSource contributing editor reporting from Beijing, China
Published on Monday, March 23 2015
Chinese fishery officials are celebrating the launch of a large new trawler, the Ming Kai, which is being promoted in China as giving the country an edge in the hunt for shrimp and other species in Antarctic waters. It is Asia's largest processing trawler, according to a statement by the Qingdao Ocean & Fisheries Bureau, a government body.
Launched by Qingdao Ocean Fishing Co., also a government controlled entity, the vessel (whose name translates literally as ‘Bright Going Out’) the vessel comes in at 120.7 meters in length, with carrying capacity of 7,765 metric tons (MT) and will carry a crew of 122.
Pictured this month in the farming pages of the People’s Daily (the main mouthpiece of the Chinese Communist Party) newspaper, the Ming Kai is expected to land an annual haul of 12,000 MT of Antarctic krill and shrimp worth USD11.7 million (EUR 10.29 million), according to the Bureau’s statement, which described the Antarctic as a “vast area [that] bears abundant marine resources, including six to 10 million tons of krill.”
In words that will give conservationists pause, the Bureau’s statement describes the Antarctic as “the world's largest repository of animal protein, the biological equivalent to the current annual global marine catch, with huge potential for exploitation.”
The statement, which is unusually blunt in its declaration of China’s intent, states that “comprehensive development and utilization of Antarctic marine resources of great strategic importance,” given the “natural resources are relatively scarce” for such a populous country [China].
Qingdao Ocean Fishing Co. released a brief statement saying that it was fulfilling a national “going out” strategy of the Chinese government.
Long a hub for the seafood processing industry, Qingdao has in recent years been issuing policies and subsidies to increase the presence of local long-range vessels on the high seas. Building a “strong ocean city” and “frog-leaping the competition in long-distance offshore fishing” are both central to the city’s published plans for future economic development and requires that it promote the development of offshore fishing, according to a blueprint issued by the city’s government.
Seen by SeafoodSource, a Qingdao government document titled the “Implementation Opinions on Accelerating the Construction of a Blue Granary” promises related support policies to support the development of “large-tonnage, high-power steel boats” and also promises to fund a “multi-channel marketing campaign” to draw investors to local fishing firms targeting the high seas.
A government document titled “Views on the Acceleration of Development of Long Distance Fishing Industry” seems designed as much to expand the presence of local pelagic firms in far-off waters as much as to ramp up processing of those catches in Qingdao. Published by the city’s Ocean & Fisheries Bureau, the document also calls on fisheries firms to support a Qingdao Aquatic Trade and Logistics Center Project (also known as the North China International Seafood Logistics Centre), a blueprint which would make Qingdao the largest seafood processing and trading hub in northeast Asia. The center aims to handle 3 million MT of seafood annually, worth CNY 54 billion (USD 8.7 billion; EUR 7.9 billion).
To achieve their goals, Qingdao officials have listed a series of species and locations to be particular targets for local firms: Tuna resources in the Midwest Pacific and Indian Ocean are singled out, as well as squid in the southeast Pacific and the Southwest Atlantic

IN BRIEF - Lobster growth rates to decline under increasing ocean acidification conditions
Thursday, April 09, 2015

 The growth and molting rates of juvenile lobsters are likely to decrease significantly as the oceans become increasingly acidic from climate change, making the animals more vulnerable to predation and leading to fewer adult lobsters being available for harvest.
 Those are the results of a four-month laboratory study conducted by University of Rhode Island doctoral student Erin McLean. "I'm not sure yet what the mechanism is that is affecting their growth," she said, "but it takes energy for them to regulate the increased acidity, which is energy they cannot then put toward growth."
Source: Phys

Forage fish collapse likely worsened by fishing
Tuesday, April 07, 2015

A new study shows for the first time that fishing is likely to worsen population collapse in species of forage fish, including herring, anchovies and sardines. 

Some of the largest fisheries in the world target these species, which are a key source of food for tuna, salmon, whales, and seabirds.

Scientists have long known about wide fluctuations in the abundance of forage fish, including the occasional population collapse. But they had not figured out whether collapses were entirely natural or related to fishing.

“We’ve identified the fingerprint of fishing on population fluctuations, finding that fishing makes the troughs of population cycles deeper. This is particularly important given the vital role these species play in food webs,” said lead author Tim Essington, a University of Washington professor of aquatic and fishery sciences and a Pew marine fellow.

This research suggests that precautionary management may be particularly important with forage fish. 

The researchers used simulations to look at a specific management strategy. They found that suspending fishing when a population falls to less than half of its long-term average would prevent 64 per cent of collapses, but would reduce the average catch by only 2 per cent over the long term.

“The good news is we find that simple strategies can avoid the worst of the ecological impacts, with little costs to fisheries,” Essington said.

“Widespread application of these types of strategies would sustain the benefits people get from forage fish while allowing for sustainable fishing,” the lead author pointed out.

Essington and his colleagues looked at population data for 55 stocks of anchovies, sardines, and other forage fish from around the world. Of those, 27 had collapsed at some point.

To investigate whether fishing was involved, the researchers asked two questions.

Firstly, what was happening before and during the collapse? They found that fishing was particularly intense, about 50 to 200 per cent higher than the average rate. The population’s growth rate was plummeting at the same time, but this drop could explain only a small number of the collapses.

Secondly, do these collapses follow a pattern that would be expected as part of a natural cycle?

To answer that question, the researchers compared the forage fish fluctuations to simulations of natural, random fluctuations. To generate these simulations, they used the magnitudes and frequencies of fluctuation in each of the 55 stocks in the data set.

They found that collapses were more common in the real stocks than in 97 per cent of the simulations, leading them to conclude that fishing is a likely contributor to forage fish collapses.

Though forage fish eventually rebound, the collapses deprive other species of food and fishermen of income for as long as the population is depressed.

This study was supported by the Pew Charitable Trusts and its fellows program for marine conservation and was published  in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

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