In the News

Fish Talk in the News – Friday, January 22

Global fish catch is much higher and falling much faster than official UN figures suggest. Image via NOAA.

  • A federal district court has ordered the National Marine Fisheries Service to conduct a thorough environmental analysis for establishing a fishery management plan for river herring and shad in the Mid-Atlantic. The order is the result of a lawsuit filed by Earthjustice in 2014 that argued the importance of these fish to the greater marine ecosystem. River herring and shad, however, are often caught and killed as bycatch, which has greatly lowered their populations. The agency has until October 2016 to complete the analysis.
  • The New England Fishery Management Council’s January meeting begins next Tuesday, January 26th in Portsmouth, NH. The meeting is open to the public and also available via webinar.
  • A thresher shark washed ashore on a Wellfleet beach last week. The occurrence is unusual for this time of year since thresher sharks and other species usually migrate south. Local experts say they do not know why the shark washed ashore.
  • Overfishing on a global scale has been largely underestimated according to a study led by University of British Columbia researchers and published this week in Nature Communications. The study analyzed the state of our global fisheries beyond the level of the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization, which often neglects to record data on small-scale and subsistence fisheries and discarded bycatch. According to the researchers’ new data, global fisheries catches reached their zenith in 1996 with a total catch of 130 metric tons per year, and have dropped significantly since. By way of comparison, the FAO reports that global fisheries catches peaked in 1996 at 86 metric tons and have only slightly dropped since then.
  • Ipswich Shellfish, a Massachusetts-based company, is marketing “Sharck Bites” to college campuses. The company hopes that the nuggets of dogfish will help boost the market for underutilized species, which is important as populations of iconic species such as Atlantic cod continue to suffer.
  • Lobster Tough LLC, a startup company in Maine, is developing a children’s bandage made from lobster shells. The bandages are coated with chitosan, a substance extracted from the crushed shells, which is intended to promote blood-clotting and act as an anti-bacterial. The product is an innovative way to utilize a part of the lobster that would otherwise be thrown out. Lobster Tough LLC hopes to market the bandages in the U.S. in 2017.
  • The ocean absorbs over 90 percent of man-made heat energy, and a recent study indicates that the amount of heat energy absorbed has doubled since 1997. As reported by the Associated Press, the ocean absorbed about 150 zettajoules of energy from 1865 to 1997; the ocean has absorbed the same amount in only the last 18 years, which is the equivalent of exploding a Hiroshima-style atomic bomb every second for 75 years. The researchers say the real concern is the rapid increase in heat absorption and its likely effects on Earth’s climate system.
  • 2015 was the hottest year in recorded history. Although more data is needed to indicate a pattern, back-to-back record hot years seem to indicate a trajectory of rapid global warming once again.
  • Plastic production continues to rise, and it’s estimated that nearly one third of all plastic products will find their way into the natural environment. The World Economic Forum reported that, by 2050, the amount of plastic in our ocean will outweigh the amount of fish. WEF estimated that plastic production will reach 1,124 million tons by 2050 and consume 15% of the global carbon budget. WEF said the only hope is to encourage people to reduce, reuse, and recycle.


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