Monday March 10, 2014
NOAA Fisheries and their Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research is finalizing a method to rapidly assess the vulnerability of US marine stocks to climate change.
In order to estimate the relative vulnerability of fish stocks to potential changes in climate, the methodology uses existing information on climate and ocean conditions, species distributions and species life history characteristics.
Climate change is already impacting fishery resources. Scientists are linking changes in ocean temperatures to shifting fish stock distributions and abundances in many marine ecosystems. These impacts are expected to increase in the future.
Fisheries managers and scientists need tools to identify what fishery resources may be most vulnerable in a changing climate and why certain fish stocks are vulnerable. This methodology will be able to help managers and scientists identify ways to reduce risks and impacts to resources and the people that depend on them.
The methodology will provide information they can use as they consider what additional scientific information is needed and how to adapt management strategies for those fish stocks. This will include information about which species in the region are most vulnerable or adaptable to environmental impacts of climate change.
The Fish Stock Climate Vulnerability Assessment is specifically designed to help:
Identify which stocks may be most vulnerable with changing climate and ocean conditions;
Identify what additional information is needed to understand and address these risks;
Provide a basis for considering what actions might be taken to reduce fish stock vulnerability;
Identify where more information is needed to understand, track, and respond to fish stock vulnerability. That information can then be used to help prioritize research, monitoring and modeling efforts.
NOAA Fisheries is planning to run the first application of the assessment methodology in the Northeast very soon.
Monday March 10, 2014
NOAA Fisheries has announced that $75 million appropriated by Congress as part of the Fiscal Year 2014 federal budget will be for six fisheries across the country that were declared "disasters" by the Department of Commerce in 2012 and 2013.
Those receiving allocations from the disaster relief fund include:
Commercial fisheries in American Samoa following the tsunami of 2009.
Commercial fisheries in Mississippi following the Mississippi River flood of 2011.
The New England multispecies groundfish fishery for the 2013 season.
Alaska's Chinook salmon fishery for 2011 and 2012.
The Florida oyster fishery in the Gulf of Mexico due to a drought in 2012.
Fisheries in New York and New Jersey following Hurricane Sandy in 2012.
According to Eileen Sobeck, NOAA Fisheries assistant administrator, the nation's fisheries are critically important to the lives and livelihoods of many communities and NOAA will work with affected communities, states and tribes to ensure that the funding gets allocated quickly.
Thankfully, funding recipients will have broad latitude to determine the best use of the funds to meet the unique needs of their local businesses and communities. Funds can be used for activities that, restore the fishery or prevent a similar failure in the future, and to assist a fishing community affected by such failure.
Of course, there are many steps that have to take place before the money can be distributed. Funds are allocated out through the federal grant process. NOAA Fisheries will work with the recipients to develop spend plans and ensure that all statutory and grant requirements are addressed.
Thursday February 27, 2014
Iceland and Japan are using Canada as a shipment destination in the trade of meat from endangered fin whales. Canada has agreed to protect the finfish. Canada says it cannot stop the trade, even though it is a signatory of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, which in 1981 listed the fin and other endangered whales for the highest level of protection against commercial trade.
Iceland and Japan are also signatories to the convention but did not agree to the 1981 listing, which means they are legally permitted to trade in the whale's meat and even to use Canada as a trans-shipment destination.
Canada has to allow shipments under customs control to transit provided they meet normal documentation and other requirements.
Norway also refused to support the CITES listing by entering what is known as a reservation.
News of Canada's role in the commercial trade comes as a shock to politicians and environmentalists, including Greenpeace, which received a tip about Iceland shipping 12 containers of whale meat to Halifax.
Greenpeace believes that the containers were then sent across Canada by rail to Metro Vancouver to be shipped to Japan. Environment Canada inspected the shipment under the Wild Animal and Plant Protection and Regulation of International and Interprovincial Trade Act, and conducted DNA samples to confirm it was correctly labelled. Then it allowed it to continue because it lacked authority to do anything else.
Fin whales are globally rated as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. In Canada, they are officially a threatened species, listed under the federal Species At Risk Act.
Iceland suspended the killing of fin whales in 2011 after the Japan earthquake and nuclear accident; the hunt resumed in the 2013 with 134 animals taken.
When about 130 tons of Icelandic fin whale meat arrived in Germany last July, shipping companies declined to take the containers on to Japan, and they were sent back to Iceland.
The fin whale is the second largest creature on Earth after the blue whale.
Courtesy Vancouver Sun
Tuesday February 25, 2014
Louisiana plans to use existing and planned sediment and freshwater diversions as part of a new plan for removing a small share of the fertilizers and other nutrients from the Mississippi and Atchafalaya rivers that are linked to spring low-oxygen dead zones along the state's coastline.
It also seeks farmlands, urban wastewater treatment plants, rural homes and industries to voluntarily reduce their release of nutrients.
The dead zone comes in spring when nutrient-rich freshwater from the Mississippi and Atchafalaya rivers triggers blooms of algae on the Gulf's surface. The algae dies and sinks to the bottom, where its decomposition uses up oxygen. The low oxygen levels kill organisms living in bottom sediments and cause shrimp and fish able to escape to move to more oxygen-rich waters.
In recent years, the low-oxygen areas have covered as much as 8,000 square miles of relatively shallow water along the coast, extending at times into Texas and Mississippi. In 2013, it covered 5,840 square miles. The state strategy contends that the diversions will eventually be able to remove nitrogen equaling more than 250 percent of the amount believed generated within the state's borders, and phosphorous equaling about 40 percent of that generated in the state. But that represents less than 5 percent of the total nitrogen and phosphorus carried by the river to the Gulf, mostly from farmland in midwestern states.
Backing the plan is the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority. The plan calls for the state to continue participating in voluntary measures with upriver states to attempt to reduce their nutrient load.
But the Gulf Restoration Network, has called the state and EPA to adopt regulations that would force both point sources of nutrients such as industries and non-point sources of nutrient runoff, such as farms, to reduce their nutrient releases to levels that would dramatically reduce the size of the dead zone within a few years. The plan was developed by the state Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority and Departments of Agriculture and Forestry, Environmental Quality, and Natural Resources.
News courtesy The Times-Picayune