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What’s a Danajon Bank?

by Michael Ready, Associate Fellow at the International League of Conservation Photographers In April 2013, after four planes, a ferry, and two outriggers, I arrived at Handumon, a remote village and field station on Jandayan Island in the Philippines. As I lay down the first night under a mosquito net, wiped out and bit disoriented,…

The Bottom Line: Rebuilding Plans Work for U.S. Fisheries

A congressional hearing today on the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act examined a new report from the National Academies on the law’s effectiveness in rebuilding depleted fish populations. As a member of the peer-review panel for the report, I can attest to the amount of work that went into this study, which clearly recognizes…

The Ocean’s Unsung Heroes – Hooray for the Little Guys & Just Keep Swimming!

When most people think about ocean creatures, they picture large charismatic species like whales, penguins, polar bears, sharks and turtles. These magnificent animals are the “celebrities” of the oceans and tend to received significant public and scientific attention. In fact, they are even play starring roles in Hollywood movies, such as Happy Feet, Dolphin Tale,…

“Losing Nemo” Video Takes Aim at Overfishing–But Does it Go Too Far?

The above video is a highly produced animation that takes a shot across the bow of large fishing vessels. Capitalizing on the public’s affinity for a cuddly clownfish named Nemo from the 2003 Pixar/Disney film Finding Nemo, this six-minute clip of digital agitprop supports the advocacy group The Black Fish. The Black Fish targets the…

Smooth Dogfish Are Sharks, Too

Overfishing of sharks and their close relatives skates and rays across the globe has in recent decades led to sharp declines in shark numbers. Some species have been reduced by more than 80 percent. Much of that reduction is tied to the international trade in shark fins. The fins of as many as 70 million sharks end up in the coveted Asian delicacy shark fin soup each year. At the same time, some of the most heavily fished sharks and closely related skates and rays are prized primarily for their meat.

The Bottom Line: For New England’s Fishing Fleet it’s Déjà vu All Over Again

Note: This is a special post coauthored by Peter Baker and Lee Crockett As an editorial in the Boston Globe observed, things did not look good for the coming fishing season. Fishermen were “returning from three or four days’ hauling on Georges Bank with near-empty holds.” And while other regions of the country were successfully…

Caribbean Nations Must Think Bigger and Act Boldly and Soon to Sustain Ocean Resources

I was honored to be asked to speak at the Caribbean Challenge Initiative’s Summit of Political and Business Leaders, which took place in the British Virgin Islands May 17th and 18th. (See AP story for an overview of the event.) I spoke from the heart, and here is what I said: At the risk of…

The Bottom Line: Changing Course for America’s Oldest Fishery

“The fish just aren’t there.” This simple observation from Cape Cod fisheries manager Tom Dempsey to the Associated Press sums up the challenge of decreasing cod populations. Recent scientific studies estimate that cod populations are at or near record lows. But this serious problem has not stopped the New England Fishery Management Council from proposing…

Overfishing in Indonesia? What Do You Mean: I Don’t See Any Fishers!

Yes, I am lucky. I have been able to sail the waters of Eastern Indonesia over nearly 20 years, and I have dipped underwater, swimming around some incredible lagoons, reefs, and seamounts. When people ask me where to see some remote coasts I say, go anywhere east. Staring at a coastline from a boat anywhere…

Coming Soon: My Adventures in Ocean Conservation

Hi. My name is Ayana. I’m a marine biologist, and I’m thrilled to join National Geographic’s stellar group of ocean bloggers. Big shoes to fill. My plan is to use this space to share stories of what I have begun to call my “adventures in ocean conservation.” As Director of Science and Solutions at the Waitt…

Insanity Caused By Eating Bluefin Tuna

Recently, the owner of several sushi restaurants in Japan paid nearly $1.8 million U.S. dollars for a single bluefin tuna.  Last year this same individual paid what was then a record price—about $ 740,000. With this year’s fish the man outdid—not to say outbid—himself. But presumably other bidders were pushing the price into orbit before…

A Key tool for Saving our Oceans

Over the past 20 years, scientists have been assembling compelling data that show the world’s oceans are in deep trouble. Once-abundant species are disappearing, habitats are being destroyed, and fisheries are collapsing across the globe (Jackson et al. 2001, Lotze et al. 2006). For example, studies estimate that biomass of tunas and billfish have decreased…

Species Missing in Action: Rare or Already Extinct?

    If we think for a minute about species driven to extinction during the course of human history, chances are most of us will come up with names of large, terrestrial species like the dodo, the mammoth or the Aurochs. And there are good reasons for that: in the past 500 years alone hundreds…

Worldwide Overfishing is Worse Than We Thought

Nobody likes bad news, and this is enough to make an ocean lover cry.  A new study found that overfishing is worse than previous studies have suggested. What changed to reveal this sad conclusion?  New methods allowed scientists to estimate the status of fisheries that were previously “status unknown.” Since these unknown fisheries make up…

Fish on Fridays: Innovations to Increase and Stabilize Fishing Profits

The following piece was originally published by the Center for American Progress. Earlier this week the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released its annual report on the state of U.S. fisheries and overall, the news was fairly positive. U.S. fishermen caught 10.1 billion pounds of fish in 2011, up nearly 20 percent from 2010. They…