Humans now have the technology to find and catch every last fish on the planet. Trawl nets, drift nets, longlines, GPS, sonar... As a result, fishing operations have expanded to virtually all corners of the ocean over the past century. That, in turn, has put a strain on fish populations. The world's marine fisheries peaked in the 1990s, when the global catch was higher than it is today.* And the populations of key commercial species like bluefin tuna and cod have dwindled, in some cases falling more than 90 percent. So just how badly are we overfishing the oceans?
The California Current System along the U.S. west coast is among the richest ecosystems in the world, driven by nutrient input from coastal upwelling and supporting a great diversity of marine life. Like coastal regions in general, it is also heavily impacted by human activities. A new study led by scientists at the University of California, Santa Cruz, reveals areas along the west coast where human impacts are highest on marine predators such as whales, seals, seabirds, and turtles.
Nearly three percent of the world's oceans – an area slightly larger than Europe – now lies within designated marine protected areas, according to new data from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). This is a significant increase from 2010 when the area protected was just 1.2 per cent. However, many of the new protected zones may be of little value in terms of conservation.
The head of the General Secretariat of the Sea of Spain, Juan Maneiro, defended the sustainability of the longline fleet given the ban by the European Union (EU) of shark finning (cutting off the fins of sharks and dumping the maimed body into the sea) on board ships.
At a time when momentum seemed to be on our side and conservation leaders and international decision-makers were prepared to build a road map for the ocean's future, indecision and partisanship yet again intervened.
The United States government is finally back to work after a 16-day shutdown. The immediate crisis may be over, but the negative effects if the shutdown will continue to impact fisheries management and ocean conservation for weeks, or even years to come.
Environmental campaigners should stop wasting money trying to save “totemic symbols of cuteness” such as the giant panda and focus instead on more pressing political conservation issues, the wildlife presenter Chris Packham has said.
In recent years, eco-tourism has become a hot buzzword for environmentally minded travelers, but the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) advises tourists to research visitor attractions to ensure they are operating responsibly, keeping in mind the welfare of animals and the environment, and avoid those that are simply greenwashing.
The European Commission has launched a public consultation on marine litter and is asking for opinions on how we can best address this problem. The Consultation will be open until 18th December 2013 and you can find it here.
Documentary filmmaker Gabriela Cowperthwaite didn't set out to make a moving film about whales. "I knew nothing about whales. I knew nothing about SeaWorld," she told us in New York this week. "I'm not an animal activist.
Sharks may look scary, and sometimes an encounter with them can be fatal. (Note: On average, five out of 70 to 100 attacks result in death). But as humans, we are causing far more harm to them than they ever will to us through the shark fin trade.
The aim of the second World Ocean Summit is to find solutions that reconcile the need for economic growth with the increasing challenges of global ocean conservation. Chaired by John Micklethwait, Editor-in-Chief, The Economist, the summit will bring together more than 200 global leaders from government, business, international organisations, NGOs, think tanks and academia at The Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay, California from February 24th to 26th, 2014.
This year a high level Global Ocean Commission has been convened to consider what can be done to turn the tide. For the sake of all of us, let’s hope the world’s leaders listen and act when it reports next year.
Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2013, Adult awards, World in Our Hands - This category explores the increasingly complex relationship between people and the environment by documenting both destructive and constructive influences. Images may be newsworthy, symbolic or graphic, but must always be thought-provoking and engender a greater awareness of how our actions affect the natural world.
In the 2013 Ocean Health Index (OHI) -- an annual assessment of ocean health led by Ben Halpern, a research associate at UC Santa Barbara's National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS) and professor at the Bren School of Environmental Science & Management -- scientists point to food provision as the factor that continues to require serious attention.