The Ecologist


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Milletseed butterflyfishes and snorkeler near surface, taken in 2009 in Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument - which has just quadrupled in size. Photo: Greg McFall / NOAA's National Ocean Service via Flickr (CC BY).

Vast remote ‘marine protected areas’ - a diversion from the real job?

Peter J S Jones & Elizabeth De Santo

8th September 2016

There's quite a fashion now for creating enormous ocean nature reserves, write Peter J S Jones & Elizabeth De Santo. The UK kicked off the trend last year at Pitcairn Island, and now the US has followed up with a 1.5m reserve around Hawaii. But while these look like big conservation gains, the more serious task is to manage sustainably the intensely exploited seas close to home. more...
Once a coral reef, now a construction site. China expanding its land 'reclamation' at Fiery Reef in the South China Sea. Photo: still from report by NHK WORLD NEWSLINE English (see video embed).

China condemned for massive coral reef destruction

Oliver Tickell

12th July 2016

International judges today condemned China's great 'water grab' of the South China Sea - not least for its destruction of over 100 of pristine coral reefs, dredged and ground up to build artificial islands, and the ransacking of their wildlife, from endangered sea turtles to giant clams. more...
Vezo fishers primarily use only traditional fishing methods - their boats have no motors and the dive without scuba gear. Thriving markets for shark fin and sea cucumbers, however, are changing many aspects of the way they live. Photo: © Garth Cripps.

Madagascar's 'sea nomads' are the new ocean defenders

Charlie Gardner

8th June 2016

The Vezo, Madagascar's indigenous 'sea nomads', are travelling hundreds of miles to the remote 'Barren Isles', the Indian Ocean's largest locally-managed marine protected area, writes Charlie Gardner. Drawn by valuable shark fins and sea cucumbers, sold into Chinese markets, the Vezo are now joining with local fishers to protect the ecosystem and expel illegal divers. more...
Mindful living is beautiful in thought and even better in reality. Picture a small-town sanctuary where you can find yourself, live in the moment, and relish the simple things in life. Photo: via Viviane Mahieux.

Brutal, opaque, illegal: the dark side of the Tres Santos 'mindfulness' eco-tourism resort

Viviane Mahieux

29th April 2016

A small fishing community in Mexico's Baja California is playing involuntary host to a gigantic tourism and real estate development, writes Viviane Mahieux. And while the branding of the Tres Santos resort is all about mindfulness, ecology and sustainability, the reality is one of big money, high level politics, and the unaccountable deployment of state violence against those who dare oppose it. more...
Cabbage white butterfly with deformed wings (pinned to an insect board) that was fed an experimental diet enriched with long chain omega-3 fatty acids, 48 hours after emergence. Photo: PLOS One.

Nutritionally-enhanced GM crops? Too bad about the deformed butterflies

Claire Robinson / GMWatch

18th April 2016

It looked like such a good idea: take the pressure off wild fish stocks by growing GM oilseeds that produce health-enhancing long-chain omega-3 fatty acids, writes Claire Robinson. But as a new study has established, those fish oils, novel in terrestrial ecosystems, cause wing deformities in cabbage white butterflies. Yet a third open field trial of these GM crops could soon be under way. more...
Great Barrier Reef, Queensland, Australia. Photo: Skip Nyegard via Fliuckr (CC BY-NC-SA).

Fishing ban is helping the Great Barrier Reef resist and recover from damage

Camille Mellin, Aaron MacNeil & Julian Caley

7th April 2016

New research from Australia's Great Barrier Reef shows that no-take marine reserves don't just mean more and bigger fish, write Camille Mellin, Aaron MacNeil & Julian Caley. They also boost the resistance of reef communities to disturbances like storms, bleaching and predation, and speed their subsequent recovery. It's time for global rollout of coral reef marine reserves! more...
Male Atlantic salmon showing the kype (hook) in the lower jaw, used in battle with rival mates during the spawning season. Photo: E. Peter Steenstra / US Fish and Wildlife Service Northeast Region via Flickr (CC BY).

FDA sued for 'unlawful' approval of GMO salmon

The Ecologist

1st April 2016

A coalition of fishing, consumer, and environmental groups are suing the FDA for its 'unlawful' approval of Aquabounty's GM salmon, as it relied on treating the fish as an 'animal drug' under a 1938 law, and ignored serious risks to wild salmon and fishing communities. more...
Small fishing boat at St Andrews, Scotland, UK. Photo: dun_deagh via Flickr (CC BY-SA).

Brexit could spell disaster for the UK's fishing industry

Bryce Stewart & Griffin Carpenter

30th March 2016

The much-derided Common Fisheries Policy must be one of the EU's most unpopular aspects, write Bryce Stewart & Griffin Carpenter. But in fact it has been a notable success, reflecting public concern over bycatch discards and restoring sustainability to Europe's fishing grounds, and profitability to a long declining industry. more...
Plastic pollution found on a shoreline in Norway. Photo: Bo Elde via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Public Trust Doctrine requires governments to protect our oceans!

Deb Wright

9th March 2016

A legal principle dating from Roman times is ripe for use in protecting our waste-filled and over-exploited seas and oceans, writes Deb Wright. Under the 'Public Trust Doctrine' governments are entrusted to protect shared natural resources from abuse, and can be held accountable for neglect of their duties. more...
Fishing trawler making its way across the Arctic ice. Photo: tpsdave via Pixabay (CC0 1.0)

Arctic warming opens pristine ocean to predatory trawling

Joe Sandler Clarke / Greenpeace Energydesk

3rd March 2016

Ice melt in the Arctic Ocean is opening up previously untouched areas to industrial fishing fleets using ecologically risky bottom trawling methods, writes Joe Sandler Clarke. Ecosystems supporting walruses, polar bears, puffins and other sea birds could be stripped bare. more...
Oil pollution in Ogoniland, Niger Delta. Photo: Milieudefensie via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA).

53,000 Nigerian oil spill victims press new Shell lawsuits

Oliver Tickell

2nd March 2016

A year after Shell was forced into a £55 million settlement with an indigenous community in Nigeria devastated by oil spills, a UK High Court judge has allowed two new such cases to proceed on behalf of some 43,000 subsistence farmers and fishers whose livelihoods have been wiped out by the same cause. more...
A nice box of mackerel brought in from the seas off Newhaven, July 2012. Photo: Rachel Clarke via Flickr (CC BY-NC).

The EU is helping, not harming, UK fisheries

Griffin Carpenter

19th January 2016

With the EU referendum on the horizon, the Common Fisheries Policy is likely to figure in the debate as an exemplar of EU policy failure, writes Griffin Carpenter. But the much maligned and misunderstood CFP is doing a good job: stocks are recovering, bycatch-dumping is banned, and it may even force the UK to give more quota to small-scale fishers. more...

fishing: 1/25 of 131
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Frozen tuna at the early morning fish auction at the Tokyo Fish Market. Many of the tuna sold here are of endangered species such as bluefin and bigeye. Photo: Scott Lenger via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND).

Oceans running out of fish as undeclared catches add a third to official figures

Christopher Pala

19th January 2016

The global catch of fish and seafood is falling at three times the rate reported by the United Nations and urgently needs to be slowed to avoid a crash, reports Christopher Pala. The finding comes in a new study for Nature which quantifies the huge illegal industrial fish pillaging taking place around the world, together with artisanal catches, which in 2010 added over 50% to UN estimates. more...
Drawing in the catch. Photo: Lummi Island Wild.

Sustainable fishing: sockeye salmon and Native American nets in the Pacific Northwest

Kevin Bailey

3rd January 2015

A salmon fishing cooperative in the Pacific Northwest draws on indigenous practices and state of the art technology to be among the world's most sustainable and selective fisheries, writes Kevin Bailey. With its clean harvesting techniques, minmimal bycatch, 99% survival rates for released fish, renewable energy supply and efficient supply chain, it sets a standard for all to follow. more...
Jellyfish shall inherit the ocean ... if we keep on acidifying it. Photo: Stuart Chalmers via Flickr (CC BY-NC).

Attack of the stinging jellyfish: the winners of ocean acidification

Jason Hall-Spencer, Plymouth University

16th December 2015

Rising levels of carbon dioxide don't just cause global warming, writes Jason Hall-Spencer. Another consequence is acidifying oceans - which promises to disrupt marine ecology around the world, killing off oysters and corals, while boosting 'nuisance species' like stinging jellyfish. more...
Southern Resident Orca near East Point, Saturna Island, 12th July 2011. Photo: Miles Ritter via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA).

'Fragile Waters': we must stop starving Southern Resident Orcas to extinction

Kathleen Haase

24th November 2015

The Southern Resident Orcas of Puget Sound have plenty of problems, writes Kathleen Haase. But as the film 'Fragile Waters' makes clear, there's a common thread: us. Whether it's over-fishing Chinook salmon or polluting the ocean with toxic chemicals, we are driving them to extinction - and if we don't soon mend our ways, it will be too late. more...
A bamboo-net FAD on Farquhar Atoll, Seychelles. Photo: ICS.

Time to curb FADs, the tuna industry's floating atoll destroyers

Dr Cat Dorey / Greenpeace

14th October 2015

Declining tuna stocks are not the only consequence of an out-of-control tuna industry, writes Cat Dorey. A major tuna fishing method used in tropical seas is causing serious damage to coral reefs and attracting a huge 'bycatch' of sharks and other species. Now responsible producers and retailers are taking matters into their own hands - and you can help! more...
Fishing in Ayungon, Philippines, among the many places in developing countries where local fishing provides protein and livelihood. Photo: Rare (CC BY).

Local fishing rights + marine reserves are key to small-scale fisheries recovery

Jane Lubchenco & Steven Gaines

29th December 2015

There is a simple formula for restoring life to over-exploited coastal fisheries, write Jane Lubchenco & Steven Gaines, and it has been proven to work from the Philippines and Indonesia to Mexico and Belize: to create local marine reserves for the exclusive use of local fishing communities. more...
Surfing at Noosa Beach, Australia. To avoid shark attack, keep out of the water at dawn and dusk, and avoid turbid estuaries. Even sharks can make mistakes. Photo: m.maddo via Flickr (CC BY).

Culling sharks doesn't work - here's what we can do instead

Jane Williamson

26th August 2015

Following six shark attacks this year on the beaches of New South Wales, Australia, the press are demanding a shark cull as a 'permanent solution' to the problem, writes Jane Williamson. Trouble is, culling is indiscriminate, ineffective, disrupts ocean ecosystems, and diverts resources from more effective responses. more...
The Dalmatian pelican suffered large declines in the last centuries due to habitat loss and degradation and persecution, but thanks to habitat management and restoration the population in Europe is recovering and the species is no longer at risk. Photo: B

One fifth of Europe's birds are in danger of extinction

The Ecologist

3rd June 2015

Conservation projects have pulled several endangered European birds back from the brink of extinction, but habitat loss, industrial farming, over fishing and climate change all represent growing threats that requires broader and deeper change in the EU and beyond. more...
Slieve Gallion in the Sperrin Mountains of County Tyrone, Northern Ireland, at risk from a proposed gold mine. Photo: SHANLISS_SNAPPER via Flickr (CC BY).

EU nature laws are essential to fight off wildlife attacks in Northern Ireland

Andy Atkins

26th June 2015

Northern Ireland shows just how much we need the EU's laws protecting nature, writes Andy Atkins - and for the Government to enforce them. The province's wonderful natural heritage is at risk from aggressive and often unlawful developments. And the EU nature laws are essential for us to fight off a host of threats - among them sand dredging, gold mining, road-building and over-fishing. more...
Swimming seal at Barrel of Butter, Scapa Flow, Scotland. Photo: Dafydd Thomas via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA).

Stop the seal slaughter on Britain's shores!

Dominic Dyer

14th May 2015

A 'summer of protest' is brewing as campaigners vow to protect seals from shooting by salmon farmers in Scotland and managers of wild salmon fisheries, writes Dominic Dyer. The RSPCA's 'Freedom Food' system is driving animal welfare advances on salmon farms - now the model must be extended to wild salmon. more...
Young fishers with their catch on the opening day after a temporary fisheries closure. Small-scale fisheries support the livelihoods of at least 500 million people worldwide - Andavadoaka, Madagascar. Photo: Garth Cripps / Blue Ventures.

Sustainable abundance - rebuilding fisheries to support coastal communities in Madagascar

Alasdair Harris

12th May 2015

Marine conservation is usually expressed in austere and negative terms, writes Alasdair Harris, with strict quotas and exclusion zones. But the truth is the exact opposite: it's about working with natural ecosystems to unlock their productive potential, creating sustainable wealth and abundance for fishing communities while enhancing marine biodiversity. more...
Recovering marine life within the Lamlash Bay 'no take zone'. Photo: Howard Wood / COAST.

Strong marine protection works for fisheries and wildlife!

Bryce Stewart & Leigh Howarth

20th April 2015

The strongly protected marine reserve in Lamlash Bay, Arran, has been a huge success, write Bryce Stewart & Leigh Howarth, with abandant life returning to the once denuded waters. The government's refusal to expand such protections represents a huge wasted opportunity for both fishing and the marine environment. more...
Small fishing boats at Lyme Regis, Dorset, where England's first big marine Protected Area was designated. Photo: Sue Hasker via Flickr (CC BY-ND).

To protect our seas, first we must reclaim them from 'Big Fishing'

Horatio Morpurgo

10th April 2015

There's strong public support for protecting marine wildlife, writes Horatio Morpurgo - so why aren't politicians championing the cause? Labour and Tories alike fear to challenge the big fishing companies that have come to believe they own Britain's offshore waters and seabed. Now it's up to use to prove they're wrong. more...


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