The series is intended to provide a research and social focus for university lecturers, research staff and postgraduate students interested in conservation research. The primary aim is to inform university colleagues of what research is going on in different departments and to bring in high quality outside speakers. Equally, members of conservation organisations are welcome to attend. A key element is the opportunity after each talk to socialise with colleagues from different departments and organisations.
As the Thunder, a trawler considered the world’s most notorious fish poacher, began sliding under the sea a couple of hundred miles south of Nigeria, three men scrambled aboard to gather evidence of its crimes. In bumpy footage from their helmet cameras, they can be seen grabbing everything they can over the next 37 minutes — the captain’s logbooks, a laptop computer, charts and a slippery 200-pound fish. The video shows the fishing hold about a quarter full with catch and the Thunder’s engine room almost submerged in murky water. “There is no way to stop it sinking,” the men radioed back to the Bob Barker, which was waiting nearby. Soon after they climbed off, the Thunder vanished below.
It was an unexpected end to an extraordinary chase. For 110 days and more than 10,000 nautical miles across two seas and three oceans, the Bob Barker and a companion ship, both operated by the environmental organization Sea Shepherd, had trailed the trawler, with the three captains close enough to watch one another’s cigarette breaks and on-deck workout routines. In an epic game of cat-and-mouse, the ships maneuvered through an obstacle course of giant ice floes, endured a cyclone-like storm, faced clashes between opposing crews and nearly collided in what became the longest pursuit of an illegal fishing vessel in history.
Route from Left to Right
Further Information: NY Times Story
This map shows the 2.8-million-square-kilometre area in the central Arctic Ocean that lies beyond the exclusive economic zone of the five Arctic coastal states: Canada, Russia, Norway, the U.S. (Alaska) and Denmark (Greenland.)
By Magdalena A K Muir, Climate Editor
The five Arctic coastal countries (Canada, Russia, United States, Denmark and Norway) have signed a moratorium on commercial fishing in the Central Arctic Ocean. Canada, the United States, Russia, Denmark and Norway reached an interim agreement in February 2014 to work toward protecting Arctic waters beyond the 200-kilometre territorial limit of their respective shores, which is an area of ocean the size of the Mediterranean Sea.
The agreement calls for a moratorium on commercial fishing in international waters that lie beyond the five Arctic coastal states 200-mile (320-kilometre) exclusive economic zones pending further research on fish stocks and the development of a sustainable management regime. Inuit traditional knowledge will be used in assessing the fish stocks and developing the management regime. The Inuit Circumpolar Conference was represented in discussions that led to this moratorium, providing Inuit perspectives to the five Arctic countries
The agreement will block ships from the five coastal states from dropping their nets in the Central Arctic Ocean until the completion of a full scientific assessment of the fish stocks and how they can be sustainably harvested. While the Arctic countries cannot stop boats from China, Japan, South Korea and the European Union from entering the region, it is hoped that this agreement can set an example, pending a binding international agreement.
Inuit peoples from Canada, Greenland and US have been uniformly supportive:
- Okalik Eegeesiak, Inuit Circumpolar Conference Chair stated, ICC supports such a precautionary approach and we encourage other nations to follow this lead and sign the agreement.
- The reduction in multi year ice and longer ice free time in high Arctic waters as a result of climate change have mad this region more accessible to foreign ships and potential environmental damage. We are not saying we oppose commercial fishing but rather we must take a precautionary approach, listen to the Inuit and do the appropriate studies, stated Jimmy Stotts, President, ICC (Alaska).
- Healthy and abundant fish stocks are essential to the cultural, nutritional and economic well-being and way of life of the Inuit villages and peoples who live along river drainages and coasts; and the Inuit welcome this announcement and have a great deal of traditional knowledge about these stocks to share, stated Duane Smith, President of ICC (Canada).
Officials from Canada, the U.S., Denmark, representing Greenland, Norway and Russia met in Nuuk, Greenland, Feb. 24-26, 2015 to discuss the fishing implications of an increasingly ice-free Arctic Ocean. Delegates, pictured above, agreed that more scientific research needs to be conducted on the Arctic Ocean ecosystem.
Fishermen in South Devon, UK, have turned their boats into “massive data platforms” for a citizen science study
They have become the first commercial fishers to gather data for the Secchi Disk Study, which is gathering data on the state of the oceans’ phytoplankton. To date, there is little scientific information on the health of the tiny marine plants that form the basis of global food chains. The data will also help fishermen manage stocks, a skipper told BBC News. We’ve been working with scientists on-and-off for several years, doing studies on crabs and lobsters, migration patterns and it’s been an easy progression to work with the Secchi disk to measure the plankton because nothing has really been done on the plankton,” explained Alan Steer, a third generation fisherman and skipper of the Superb-Us. “Understanding the plankton has a real relevance to what we do because it is the food source for everything in the sea.”
Mr Steer and other members of the South Devon and Channel Shellfishermen association have been collecting data for the Secchi Disk Study, a citizen science project. Launched in 2014, the project allows sailors and fishermen to download an app to their smartphone that allows them to upload readings taken from their Secchi Disk. The white disk measures 30cm (1ft) in diameter and is lowered into the water on the end of a tape measure. When it is no longer visible from the surface, the reading – known as the Secchi depth – is recorded. “It’s very important to the fishing industry that we know the abundance of phytoplankton in the water because it determined the productivity right the way up through the whole food chain,” explained Richard Kirby, founder and lead scientist of the Secchi Disk Project. “They determine the amount of fish in the sea, the amount of crabs or lobsters on the seabed, even up to the number of polar bears on the ice.”
BBC News article
The Department of Commerce and the National Marine Fisheries Service have the final say about changes in protections and observer coverage. In particular, the latter has repeatedly stressed that any changes to habitat conservation must show that they will improve rather than degrade habitat conservation. This is a high bar that the current council proposal will have a hard time overcoming.
The European Union’s Blue Growth agenda aims to harness further the potential of Europe’s oceans, seas and coasts for jobs, economic value and sustainability. A new report published today by the European Environment Agency (EEA) shows that, despite some improvements, the way we use our seas remains unsustainable and threatens not only the productivity of our seas, but also our wellbeing. Human activities and climate change are increasingly putting a number of pressures on Europe’s seas, the cumulative effects of which threaten the functioning and resilience of marine ecosystems.
In line with the development of the European Union’s (EU) Blue Growth objectives, which aspire to greater and sustainable use of the seas’ potential, the EEA’s new ‘State of Europe’s seas’ report examines whether the EU is meeting its policy goals for the quality of the marine environment.