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5 Recent Victories for the Oceans

By Andy Sharpless

In the last several weeks, Oceana and its allies won five important victories that will help protect biodiversity and increase abundance in our seas:

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Watch: Poke Bowls Are Trendy, But Are They Sustainable?

Poke, a dish made from raw tuna, is enjoying huge popularity far beyond its native Hawaii. But where is all that fish coming from? It turns out that tracking down the source of that tasty yellowfin or bigeye can be a hard task—and that raises some major sustainability concerns.

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2017 wasn't all bad. We got to know some fascinating fish, like this magma fairy wrasse. B. P. Shutman

7 Amazing New Fish Species Discovered in 2017

By Amy McDermott

If you think 2017 was a garbage fire, we can't stop you. But the world wasn't the only thing in flames. You know what else was on fire this year? Fish discovery.

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Animals
Starboard, a female right whale, died this summer after getting wrapped up in fishing gear. "Ropeless" crab and lobster traps could end entanglement deaths, experts say. NOAA / NEFSC / Peter Duley

17 Critically Endangered Right Whales Died in 2017—The Time for Systemic Change Is Now

By Allison Guy

Centuries ago, naturalists believed that the animals of the sea mirrored the animals of the land. Elephants were matched by sea-elephants, chickens by sea-chickens. The clergy even got paired with sea-bishops and sea-monks. In 2017, land and sea mirrored each other in a less literal way. As humanity reeled from hurricanes, wildfires, earthquakes and shootings, a rare whale endured its own year of horrors.

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Leungchopan / Shutterstock

How Fishermen and Scientists Joined Forces to Bring Back Kyoto's Snow Crabs

By Winifred Bird

In a nation legendary for taking its fish seriously, Yasuo Shimada is a particularly serious fisherman. The 66-year-old native of Kyoto Prefecture's verdant northern coast drags the bottom of the Sea of Japan for snow crabs and flathead flounder. The crabs, which he catches in winter, live in a band of cold, deep water about 30 miles offshore. Shimada sets out for these fishing grounds on his small, weathered boat around midnight and stays for a day and a half. He pauses neither to sleep nor to eat while he is there. Instead, he mans the bridge around the clock as he and his crew of four haul in net after net, tossing back immature crabs and keeping only the largest of the long-legged, rust-red crustaceans.

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Lia Heifetz of Barnacle Foods hauls kelp for salsa. Bethany Sonsini Goodrich

A Plea for Kelp: These Farmers and Chefs Want to Make Seaweed the Next Superfood

By Sarah Bedolfe

Summer in southeast Alaska is kelp season for the cofounders of Barnacle Foods, Lia Heifetz and Matt Kern. Each week, the pair watches the tides and weather, waiting for the right moment to cruise out to the abundant kelp beds offshore. They lean over the side of the boat and pull up the fronds and stalks, one piece at a time. As soon as they get back to shore, they start processing the day's harvest into a local delicacy: kelp salsa.

Salsa and Alaskan algae might seem like odd bedfellows, but for Barnacle Foods, it's a calculated decision. The kelp's savory notes make the salsa's flavor "a little more explosive," according to Kern. And the pairing is also a practical one. "Salsa is such a familiar food item," Heifetz said. It's "a gateway to getting more people to eat seaweed."

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Animals
Humboldt penguins are vulnerable when they molt. A victory in Chile means they won't be vulnerable to mines and ships. Wikipedia / Creative Commons

In a Victory for 26,000 Penguins, Locals and Activist​s Defeat Giant Mining Project

By Allison Guy

Rosa Rojas has some unusual neighbors. Sometimes, when she looks past her front yard to the sea, she spots a blue whale passing by.

Rojas owns a cluster of guest cabins in Punta de Choros, a quiet, 450-person settlement seven hours north of Santiago. If not for the sea, Punta de Choros wouldn't exist. The scrubby, moon-gray desert surrounding the town doesn't offer much to sustain human life. But the ocean here is as generous as the land is dry. Shellfish beds churn out valuable clams and abalone. Whales and penguins lure in tourists.

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Marcia Moreno-Baez / Marine Photobank

Lawsuit Filed to Protect Whales, Sea Turtles From Drowning in Drift Gillnets

Oceana filed a lawsuit in federal court in California late Wednesday challenging the National Marine Fisheries Service's decision to withdraw a proposed rule that would have protected endangered species, including whales and sea turtles, and taken an important step forward in efforts to clean up one of the nation's dirtiest fisheries—drift gillnets targeting swordfish off California. The rule would have required an immediate closure of the fishery if limits on the injury or death of nine protected species were reached.

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A short-finned pilot whale hangs lifelessly in a California drift gillnet. NOAA

Trump Administration Denies Protection for Endangered Species Killed by Gillnets

The new federal administration withdrew a proposed rule Monday that would have protected endangered species—including whales, dolphins and sea turtles—caught and killed in the drift gillnet fishery targeting swordfish off California. Monday's decision demonstrates the administration's blatant disregard for recommendations of its own fishery advisors and reverses course on commitments made by the previous administration.

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