Monthly Archives: April 2016

Study finds only 1/3 of 5,000 fisheries assessed were fished at level allowing for recovery

A marine research ecologist at Dalhousie University says a new study is further proof we need to change the way we manage fisheries around the world.

“If you fish these stocks the exact same way you’re fishing them now and you keep that up, then indeed we will face in 30 years or so a world where according to this study almost 90 percent of stocks are depleted,” Boris Worm told CBC’s Mainstreet.

The study, published last week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, shows while there are improvements in some areas of the world, the average state of fish stocks is poor and declining. Worm wrote a commentary on the study that will be published next month.

Of close to 5,000 fisheries assessed, only one third remained at a biomass target that supports maximum productivity. Two thirds have slipped below that threshold.

Even more concerning, Worm says, is the finding that only one third of stocks are currently fished at a level that would allow for recovery.



By Bob Murphy, CBC NewsApr 05, 2016

Feature image: Photo credit Samsul Said/Rueters

Sperm Whales Found Full of Car Parts and Plastics

Fishing gear and an engine cover are just some of the startling contents found inside the stomachs of sperm whales that recently beached themselves on Germany’s North Sea coast.

The 13 sperm whales washed up near the German state of Schleswig-Holstein earlier this year, the latest in a series of whale strandings around the North Sea. So far, more than 30 sperm whales have been found beached since the start of the year in the U.K., the Netherlands, France, Denmark, and Germany.

After a necropsy of the whales in Germany, researchers found that four of the giant marine animals had large amounts of plastic waste in their stomachs. The garbage included a nearly 43-foot-long (13-meter-long) shrimp fishing net, a plastic car engine cover, and the remains of a plastic bucket, according to a press release from Wadden Sea National Park in Schleswig-Holstein.

However, “the marine litter did not directly cause the stranding,” says Ursula Siebert, head of the Institute for Terrestrial and Aquatic Wildlife Research at the University of Veterinary Medicine Hannover, whose team examined the sperm whales.

Instead, the researchers suspect that the whales died because the animals accidentally ventured into shallow seas.

Sperm whale swims near the Azores in the Atlantic Ocean. Photography by Brian Skerry, National Geographic Creative

. . . According to the WDC, whales and dolphins may strand for many reasons, such as excessive noise pollution from ships and drilling surveys or even subtle shifts in Earth’s magnetic field. In addition, pilot whales that beached off the coast of Scotland three years ago showed high levels of toxins from ocean pollution, which scientists linked to stress on their brains that may have caused disorientation.

Schleswig-Holstein environment minister Robert Habeck holds debris found inside beached sperm whales in a picture posted to Instagram.  (Photo Robert Habeck,Instagram)

. . . Siebert adds that if the whales had survived, the garbage in their guts might have caused digestive problems down the line. At the time of death, the animals were in decent shape and, in addition to the debris, the scientists found thousands of squid beaks in the whales’ stomachs.

But when whales and dolphins ingest lots of marine litter, either accidentally or because they mistake the trash for prey, it can cause physical damage to their digestive systems. The trash may eventually give the animals the sensation of being full and reduce their instinct to feed, leading to malnutrition.

While the garbage may not have been lethal for these whales, “the plastic debris in their stomachs is a horrible indictment of humans,” adds Hal Whitehead, a whale researcher at Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia, Canada.


Sperm Whales Found Full of Car Parts and Plastic

Melaque mayors take actions to reduce plastic going into the ocean

The current and former mayors of Melaque, Jalisco, Mexico: Rosa Evelia Vidrio and Adrián Herrera Álvarez.

Following a presentation to local government officials in 2014 about the impacts of plastic debris, the then mayor of Melaque, Adrián Herrera Álvarez, undertook several initiatives to reduce the amount of plastic going into the oceans from litter on the Melaque beach. These included: placing garbage cans at the end of every street that abuts the beach, increasing the number of recyling collection sites in the town, sending notices to owners of restaurant and residential homes and businesses to remind them that they are legally responsible for cleaning the beaches all the way to the water line (most cleanup was only being done in front of their establishments), holding events to raise awareness about the plastic in the oceans, and beach cleanups.

This has resulted in a very substantial decrease in the amount of plastic on Melaque’s beach and thus the amount going into the ocean.  However, this situation changes dramatically when tourists from other parts of Mexico come to Melaque for holidays such as Easter, Christmas, and holiday weekends.  During that time a significant amount of plastic debris is littered along or near the waterline.  Therefore, much more needs to be done to eradicate plastic debris.

The new mayor of Melaque, Rosa Evelia Vidrio, who started her three year term in March, 2016, is enthusiastic about continuing to improve the plastic debris situation in Melaque.