Oceana: Protect Ocean Habitat in the Northern Bering Sea from Destructive Bottom Trawling!

Tuesday, May 15th, 2007

UPDATE, 6/29/07, via Oceana:

It’s official – and unanimous. The North Pacific Fishery Management Council voted to protect from bottom trawling some 180,000 square miles of previously unexploited ocean floor in the Bering Sea, particularly in the North. […]

The Council chose Alternative 2, advocated by Oceana, other organizations and local communities to essentially “freeze the footprint” on bottom trawling, allowing trawlers to continue operations in areas where trawling currently occurs and establishing a boundary to prevent further damage to seafloor habitats. The Council’s decision now goes to the National Marine Fisheries Service, which is responsible for putting into operation the actual regulation for in-the-water protection based on the advice they receive from the Council.

This decision was the result of years of campaigning by Oceana and others. WaveMakers like you made your voices heard throughout the campaign, with thousands of public comments to the council on this issue.

This decision is a great victory for the whales, walrus, seabirds and other animals in the Bering Sea. Thanks so much for being a part of it.

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(More below the fold…)

Oceana: Trawl Boats Need Turtle Excluder Devices!

Thursday, May 10th, 2007

Via Oceana:

Trawl Boats Need Turtle Excluder Devices!

Even 30 years after legislation passed requiring shrimp trawl boats be equipped with escape hatches called turtle excluder devices, sea turtles — all of them either threatened or endangered — are still drowning in trawl nets. This is because the U.S. government allows other trawl fisheries in the Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico to operate without the turtle excluder devices.

Turtle excluder devices, commonly known as “TEDs” are proven to reduce the mortality rate of sea turtles caught in trawls because when the turtles are captured they strike the grid bars on the TED and are ejected through the opening. This allows the turtles to surface and breath rather than being held underwater in the trawl net to drown.

Even trawls with TEDs still pose a threat to sea turtles because being slammed out of the TED after having been held under water for even a short time is physically stressful on the turtles. NMFS should ban trawl fishing in areas that are known to be key habitat areas for turtles.

It is time for the government to take the Endangered Species Act seriously and require the use of TEDs in all trawl fisheries without exceptions. The TEDs required must be of the proper size to allow all ages and species of turtles to escape. In addition, the government needs to prevent trawling from occurring in the most vital areas for sea turtle foraging, reproduction and migration.

Write to the National Marine Fisheries Service and tell them to stop letting so many turtles be injured or killed in trawl fisheries! The comment period ends May 18, so be sure to pass along your input today!

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NET: Tell NMFS We Need a Strong Overfishing Rule

Wednesday, April 11th, 2007

Via National Environmental Trust:

Tell NMFS We Need a Strong Overfishing Rule

From the Arctic to the Antarctic, we are depleting our oceans of fish. Since 1900, many fish species, including swordfish, marlin and the biggest types of tuna, have declined by 90%. In its April 2007 issue, National Geographic magazine focuses on the global fisheries crisis, showing how high-tech harvesting methods, greed, and wasteful management have brought world fish stocks to dangerous lows. If this trend continues, global fisheries will collapse by 2048.

Right now, the U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) is developing new rules to end overfishing and rebuild depleted fish populations in the United States. In order to be sure that these rules are strong enough to fix the problem, we are encouraging people to let the agency know that you support an end to overfishing. Comments must be received no later than April 17th!

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Oceana: Protect Krill – the Heart of the Pacific Food Web!

Thursday, March 8th, 2007

Via Oceana:

Protect Krill – the Heart of the Pacific Food Web!

Krill may be little, ranging from one to 14 centimeters in length, but their role in balancing the ocean’s ecosystem is larger than life. Without them, many fish, seabirds and whales that depend on these small shrimp-like crustaceans for their survival become susceptible to starvation.

Last year, the Pacific Fishery Management Council unanimously recommended a ban on all krill fishing in U.S. Pacific waters. Unfortunately this landmark decision was only a recommendation, not actual legal protection. The Council’s recommendation was sent to the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), which will decide in April whether or not to make it law and protect krill in all U.S. Pacific waters.

Help support a healthy Pacific by telling the federal government to ban fishing for krill today.

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Center for Biological Diversity: Protect Penguins and Whales from Industrial Fishing

Tuesday, December 19th, 2006

Via the Center for Biological Diversity:

Act Now! Comment Deadline This Week-Dec. 26! Protect Penguins and Whales from Industrial Fishing

In the movie “Happy Feet,” the penguins, elephant seals and other wildlife of Antarctica face starvation as a result of industrial fishing fleets depleting the fish these animals rely upon for food. Unfortunately, this part of the movie is not entirely fiction. Industrial fleets fishing for krill and toothfish (marketed in the United States as Chilean Sea Bass) ply the rich waters of the Southern Ocean, catching not just the target species, but seabirds and marine mammals as well. In some areas the fishing pressure is intense enough that food competition with penguins and marine mammals is likely.

Officials within the Bush administration apparently haven’t seen “Happy Feet” – or if they have, they’ve ignored the message. Last month the National Marine Fisheries Service completed its environmental review on a plan that would open the door to increased harvest of krill, icefish, and toothfish, essential food for penguins, seals and whales. The plan also would make it easier for illegally caught toothfish to be imported into the United States; authorizes a new toothfish longline fishery that poses a threat to albatross and whales; allows a trawl fishery that drowns Antarctic Fur Seals; and permits destructive bottom trawling.

Nevertheless, the happy ending of “Happy Feet” is still possible. The National Marine Fisheries Service is accepting comments on its management plan for Antarctic fisheries until Dec. 26. Take action today and demand that fishing for krill and toothfish be banned in Antarctic waters and that imports of toothfish into the U.S. be suspended.

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DawnWatch: ABC Nightline on penguin crisis as their food goes to farm-raised salmon — 11/28/06

Wednesday, November 29th, 2006

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: DawnWatch – news [at] dawnwatch.com
Date: Nov 29, 2006 9:26 PM
Subject: DawnWatch: ABC Nightline on penguin crisis as their food goes to farm-raised salmon 11/28/06

ABC’s Nightline gave us more wonderfully animal friendly coverage on Tuesday, November 28. Using the new movie “Happy Feet” as his jump-off point, reporter Bill Blakemore looked at the real plight of penguins. He told us they are struggling to survive because of global warming, now threatening to melt the frozen sea surface many penguins need for survival, and because of extensive over-fishing. We learned that the colony of emperors made famous in the popular documentary “March of the Penguins” has lost 50% of its number over the past half-century. Blakemore explained that their main source of food is tiny shrimp-like creatures called krill, and that the krill are being taken in enormous catches, mostly to be ground up and fed to farm-raised salmons. He ended his report by telling us that scientists say that unless humanity figures out how to reverse the course down south, the happy ending in “Happy Feet” will be just wishful thinking.

(More below the fold…)

Ocean Conservancy: Right Whales Swimming in the Face of Danger

Monday, November 13th, 2006

Via the Ocean Conservancy:

Right Whales Swimming in the Face of Danger

As of last Friday, scientists reported that between 30 and 50 North Atlantic right whales were swimming in the Bay of Fundy off the coast of New Brunswick, Canada. Typically, they would have migrated south by this time of year. The problem with the right whales staying in these northern feeding grounds longer than usual is that the Canadian lobster fishing grounds are opening this week in precisely this area, putting right whales in the middle of danger. Because there are only about 350 North Atlantic right whales left, the loss of even one animal contributes to the risk of extinction.

Please take action today to help these right whales. Urge the Canadian Minister of Fisheries to delay opening the fishing grounds until the right whales have left the area and will no longer be in danger.

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DawnWatch: Editorial on seal deaths in fishing nets — Hawaii, 10/24/06

Tuesday, October 24th, 2006

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: DawnWatch – news [at] dawnwatch.com
Date: Oct 24, 2006 4:30 PM
Subject: DawnWatch: Editorial on seal deaths in fishing nets — Hawaii, 10/24/06

On Tuesday, October 24, Hawaii’s Star Bulletin includes an editorial (the paper’s opinion) calling for limitations on gill nets. The piece serves as an educational tool for those who are unfamiliar with cruelties associated with the fishing industry that go beyond the suffering of the fish. The editorial is headed, “Seal’s death shows need for gillnet rules.”

It opens:

“On the same day that twin Hawaiian monk seals, carefully nursed to health, were returned to their isle of birth at Midway, another of its breed was found dead, its body snarled in a gillnet offshore of Waimanalo.

“The death of the 5-month-old pup underscores the need to restrict the use of lay gillnets that kill indiscriminately when left unattended by irresponsible fishers. The state, which has proposed but has yet to finalize gillnet rules, should move ahead quickly.

(More below the fold…)

DawnWatch: LA Times op-ed asks if fish feel pain — 10/8/06

Sunday, October 8th, 2006

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: DawnWatch – news [at] dawnwatch.com
Date: Oct 8, 2006 4:53 PM
Subject: DawnWatch: LA Times op-ed asks if fish feel pain 10/8/06

The Sunday, October 8, Los Angeles Times includes an op-ed headed, “Hooked on a Myth” with the subheading, “Do fish feel pain? A biologist says we shouldn’t be so quick to believe they don’t.” (pg M5)

The piece is by Victoria Braithwaite, a behavioral biologist at Edinburgh University.

It opens:

“Every year sportsmen around the world drag millions of fish to shore on barbed hooks. It’s something people have always done, and with little enough conscience. Fish are … well, fish. They’re not dogs, who yelp when you accidentally step on their feet. Fish don’t cry out or look sad or respond in a particularly recognizable way. So we feel free to treat them in a way that we would not treat mammals or even birds.

“But is there really any biological justification for exempting fish from the standards nowadays accorded to so-called higher animals? Do we really know whether fish feel pain or whether they suffer — or whether, in fact, our gut sense that they are dumb, unfeeling animals is accurate?”

She describes an experiment in which she and colleagues injected bee venom under the skin of trout. The animals acted as if in pain — they lost interest in food, their gills beat faster, and they rubbed the affected areas against the wall of their tank. When the fish were given painkillers (which would not remove the irritating substance but would only impact the experience of pain) the fish acted normally.

(More below the fold…)