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Marine News

Washington Post

The seafood on your dinner plate is starting to look a little fishy.

A new study that examined illegal and unreported marine harvests brought into the United States found that some fish shouldn’t be on U.S. tables. Up to 32 percent of imported wild shrimp, crab, salmon, pollock, tuna and other catch is poached, according to the study.

Scientists are concerned about illegal fishing because the world’s oceans can barely sustain legal seafood harvests. Eighty-five percent of the world’s commercial seafood grounds “are fished up to their biological limits or beyond,” the study said.

Earlier studies have shown that illegal and underreported fishing accounts for up to 31 percent of the world’s catch, but this study is the first to examine how much of it slips past the better-inspected ports of the United States.

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Field Crew, Marine News

Radio Australia

Fiji’s tuna boat owners say Pacific nations must cut the number of licences they give to foreign fishing fleets if they want to save the local industry.

Only a handful of Fiji’s 100 domestic tuna boats are still operating – despite the multi-billion-dollar fishery in its backyard.

Graeme Southwick of the Fiji Tuna Boat Owners Association says tuna stocks are so low that Fiji fishermen rarely bring any in, relying instead on other species like red snapper.

“This is the fish now that we have to chase as none of the boats can make a living out of tuna anymore.” he said.

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Marine News

Bay Nature

Drift gillnets are a fairly ineffective method at capturing swordfish and thresher shark.

The nets are suspended like underwater curtains, a mile long and more than 600 feet wide, and anything that swims into them can get entangled.

In the deep sea waters off the California coast that’s meant everything from sea turtles to gray whales, as well as dozens of other species. Environmental groups call California’s drift gillnet fishing industry one of the nation’s deadliest catches, since more than 60 percent of what’s caught in the nets gets tossed away. They now have the images to lend drama to their statistics.

In February, the nonprofit Oceana obtained a treasure trove of photographs from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) in a public records request. The images — nearly 500 taken from 1997 to 2011— show a gruesome scene of hundreds of dead marine life entangled in nets. The images were obtained by NOAA observers who are by law stationed on fishing boats.

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Marine News

FIS

Several Spanish tuna vessels operating in the Indian Ocean are in the “testing phase” to use technological equipment for replacing aboard observers.

The idea of the promoters of the initiative is to use adaptive technology to work on board vessels in order to monitor fishing activities in waters where the safety is compromised, such as the Indian Ocean. In these waters, the fishermen face constant threats of “pirates.”

The aim is also to have cameras on board the vessels and collect data “to the minute,” the newspaper La Opinión informed.

“For security reasons, it [the project] is about equipping boats with technological, electronic monitors that can do the same control job as a scientist without compromising security,” explains the Secretary General of the Spanish Fisheries Confederation (CEPESCA), Javier Garat.

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Marine News

IPS

The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has estimated that illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing costs about 20 billion dollars annually.

During two days of discussions here, which concluded Tuesday, the primary focus was on the need to implement the FAO Code of conduct for responsible fisheries and the role of regional fisheries management organisations.

“A new development on fishing management is ongoing, but it is still a slow process,” Árni M. Mathiesen, FAO Assistant Director-General, Fisheries and Aquaculture Department, told IPS.

The FAO code, which was adopted in 1995, stresses that countries and all those involved in fisheries and aquaculture should work together to conserve and manage fish resources and their habitats.

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Marine News

FIS News

The Center for Biological Diversity has filed a legal petition urging the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) to prohibit fishing for Pacific bluefin tuna.

The NGO highlights that the population of this once-abundant fish has suffered a 96 per cent decline since large-scale fishing began, triggering a requirement for the Pacific Fishery Management Council (NMFC) to recommend new regulations for managing Pacific bluefin tuna by 8 April. But claims that the council has declined to take any action to help bluefin.

“Despite the bluefin tuna’s great speed and deep-diving, it can’t escape the world’s insatiable appetite for sushi,” said Center Attorney Catherine Kilduff. “Saving Pacific bluefin tuna requires drastic action at all levels, starting by protecting them in the feeding grounds off California and Mexico.”

The petition calls for the NMFS to add Pacific bluefin tuna to a list of imperiled species that must be released immediately if caught, including great white sharks and other fish vulnerable to steep declines from fishing.

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Marine News

NOAA News

U.S. fishermen haul in more seafood in Alaska than all the other states combined. And that bounty, which was worth $2 billion and supported 60,000 jobs in 2011, starts off as just a flurry of tiny larvae helplessly adrift in the water column.

Of those countless billions of larvae, only a tiny fraction grows to adult size, and how many of them make it depends on the conditions they encounter early in life. Fish larvae are at the mercy of ocean currents, which can ferry them to favorable nursery grounds or dump them in hostile seas. Their fate also depends on physical factors such as water temperature, ice cover, and storms, and biological factors such as the availability of prey and the density of predators.

“Fish have to run a gauntlet of threats during their first year of life,” said Jamal Moss, a biologist at NOAA’s Alaska Fisheries Science Center. In a good year, a lot of fish will be recruited into the fishery—that is, they will grow large enough to be caught in fishermen’s nets. But to get high recruitment, Moss said, “a lot of stars need to align.”

Moss is one of more than 50 scientists from 11 institutions who are charting those stars. The Integrated Ecosystem Research Project, or IERP, in the Gulf of Alaska brings together physical oceanographers, fish biologists, and other scientists to decipher how physical and biological forces in the ocean combine to determine fish recruitment.

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Marine News

The San Francisco Chronicle

A dire Yukon River king salmon forecast that could bottom out below last year’s low returns has some rural Alaska residents calling for a moratorium on subsistence fishing for the species.

“These fish are not going to be here forever, not the way we’re catching them,” Orville Huntington said Tuesday during a pre-season planning meeting with fisheries managers from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. “It wouldn’t hurt to take a few years off and say, ‘Let them go.’ There are other fish out there.”

Huntington lives on the Koyukuk River, a tributary of the Yukon. He works as director of wildlife and parks for the Tanana Chiefs Conference.

Walter Stickman, of Nulato, read a letter from the Nulato Tribal Council that called for a moratorium.

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Marine News

The Tribune

If the high seas were closed to fishing, populations of migratory species such as tuna, billfish and shark would increase significantly and that would help the coastal fishing industry to flourish, a Cal Poly assistant biology professor has advocated in a recent study.

Cal Poly assistant biology professor Crow White created a computer simulation to test the theory with co-author Christopher Costello, a UC Santa Barbara professor of environmental and resource economics.

Their study was published March 25 in the Public Library of Science Biology peer-reviewed journal.

“This is very much a conversation starter,” White said, noting that the United Nations is looking into the study. “It will take more detailed analysis on the science side (to implement).”

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Marine News

ABC

The month-long search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 has been made more difficult by the huge amount of debris floating in oceans around the world.

Marine economist Professor McIlgorm says that the Indian Ocean, for example, contains hot spots of debris which if looked at from space may look like aircraft wreckage.

“Just as debris gathers in the corner of a harbour, equally the ocean circulation will actually gather debris in different spots within the ocean,” says Professor Alistair McIlgorm.

Professor McIlgorm is from the Australian National Centre for Ocean Resources and Security at the University Wollongong, and spoke to the ABC’s Ali Moore.

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