President Obama: "“In the coming months, I will look for opportunities to protect even more waters.”
Image via www.whitehouse.gov (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza).
Yesterday via video, President Obama addressed the second “Our Ocean” Conference where hundreds of world leaders, academics, and members of society have gathered in Chile for one reason: their commitment to protecting the world’s oceans. At last year’s conference, Obama announced the expansion of the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument, and this year, he announced the creation of two new marine sanctuaries in the United States, the first in 15 years. One sanctuary will protect a collection of shipwrecks in Lake Michigan, and the other will protect ecologically significant habitat in Maryland’s tidal waters.
In his video address at Our Ocean, Obama emphasized the importance of the oceans to our economies and livelihoods and acknowledges that our society’s actions around the globe, from green house gas emissions to illegal fishing, are changing the oceans. The President referred to new partnerships with developing nations to help fight illegal fishing, and he also stated, “In the coming months, I will look for opportunities to protect even more waters.”
A new study from NOAA’s Northeast Fisheries Science Center indicates a “general northward shift” for larval and adult fish species in northeast U.S. waters. Researchers compared species distribution between 1977-1987 and 1999-2008. Research showed 43 percent of larval stages and 50 percent of adult stages shifted distribution, and due to ocean warming, most of these shifts were to the north. A few species also shifted inshore, to deeper waters, or southward. The study also suggests that habitat choice changes throughout fish life history due to changes in larval and adult distribution.
The deadline for industry-funded at-sea monitoring has been delayed one month to December 1. To date, NOAA has been funding the region’s at-sea monitoring program, but the expense will now shift to the fishermen. Regional Administrator John Bullard said the budget has allowed for the delay. Many are thankful for the extra month, but still feel strongly that NOAA should continue to pay the cost because of the fear that this will drive fishermen out of business.
NOAA’s Bycatch Reduction Engineering Program awarded the University of New England $244,040 to support Atlantic cod research. The project will focus on best practice methods to promote survival of Gulf of Maine cod fish that are unintentionally caught in lobster gear. Researchers will study the best “capture-and-handling” methods, and using transmitters, will gather mortality data.
After a series of successful meetings in the spring, the Gulf of Maine Research Institute is hosting its next Fish Tank Workshop on November 9-10 in Plymouth, MA, entitled “Taking Stock: A Workshop to Collaboratively Improve Stock Assessments. More information, including the working agenda, can be found here.
The Connecticut General Assembly passed legislation banning two pesticides that fishermen say are contributing to Southern New England’s declining lobster populations. Senator Chris Murphy is now calling on the New York delegation to support the legislation. Murphy said, without NY also banning the pesticides, “Connecticut’s restrictions [are] much less effective and harder to evaluate.”
A recent Boston Globe article highlights Sarah Redmond and Paul Dobbins, two aquaculture growers experimenting with seaweed farming in New England. Redmond works for the Maine Sea Grant, and Dobbins is cofounder and president of Ocean Approved in Portland, ME. The U.S. imports most seaweed from Asia, but Dobbins sees “an opportunity to provide a local alternative to that, and the response has [already] been tremendous.” Redmond emphasizes the environmental benefits of seaweed farming, such as improving water quality and fighting ocean acidification.