By David Elliott
Dive beneath the brilliant blue waters surrounding Thailand's Koh Tao island and you might come face to face with a giant sculpture of the sea goddess Mazu.
But a closer look reveals an even bigger surprise – Mazu is alive.
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Small Pieces, Big Impact<p>Angeline Chen, Executive Director of Global Coralition – who spoke recently at the World Economic Forum's <a href="https://www.weforum.org/events/virtual-ocean-dialogues-2020/sessions/uplink-ocean-solutions-sprint" target="_blank">Virtual Ocean Dialogues</a> event – is effusive about the benefits of growing coral on land and the role it could play in rebuilding damaged ocean habitats.</p><p>Coral can be grown up to 50 times faster this way, she says, using a technique called <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0925857418303094" target="_blank">microfragmentation</a>. This involves dividing a piece of coral into much smaller fragments, which<a href="https://www.researchgate.net/publication/287204400_The_cultivation_of_massive_corals_using_micro-fragmentation_for_the_reskinning_of_degraded_coral_reefs" target="_blank"> stimulates the tissue</a> to grow. The pieces are grown a short distance apart and – because<a href="https://www.bbcearth.com/blog/?article=saving-coral" target="_blank"> corals are clonal animals</a> – they fuse together when their edges meet, forming a single mass.</p><p>Combined with other scientific methods, like<a href="https://www.globalcoralition.org/our-approach" target="_blank"> larval propagation and assisted evolution</a> to increase the resilience and reproductive rate of corals, Chen believes the impact of such projects, practiced all around the world, could be massive.</p><p>"With these farms, we could be growing a diverse array of resilient coral on a huge scale," she says.</p><p>Many organizations are practicing these methods, including <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0925857418303094" target="_blank">Mote Marine Laboratory</a> in Florida, US, and the government of Hawaii, which is out-planting 1 meter by 1 meter (3.2 foot) corals grown in one year – the <a href="https://dlnr.hawaii.gov/blog/2020/05/28/nr20-072/" target="_blank">largest to be grown in a land-based</a> nursery.</p>
<div id="507c8" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="e2c57fd8c727e7692e37866d6fc81164"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1266170721882890240" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">In the world of nursery raised corals, a one-meter coral is considered big. Yesterday, a team of biologists and te… https://t.co/wNWMyaARVf</div> — DLNR (@DLNR)<a href="https://twitter.com/dlnr/statuses/1266170721882890240">1590713599.0</a></blockquote></div>
Empowering Communities<p>Driving the work of Global Coralition and organizations like it is a simple fact: coral is vital to the planet.</p><p>Coral reefs are among the <a href="https://oceanservice.noaa.gov/education/tutorial_corals/welcome.html" target="_blank">most diverse ecosystems</a> on Earth, and they support nearly<a href="https://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/features/Coral" target="_blank"> 1 million species of fish</a>, invertebrates and algae. They're crucial to humans, too. They<a href="https://oceanservice.noaa.gov/facts/coral_protect.html#:~:text=Coral%20reefs%20provide%20a%20buffer,%2C%20property%20damage%2C%20and%20erosion." target="_blank"> protect our coasts from storms</a> and floods, and<a href="https://scripps.ucsd.edu/projects/coralreefsystems/about-coral-reefs/value-of-corals/" target="_blank"> provide work, medicine and food</a> to more than 1 billion people. In fact, coral <a href="https://www.unenvironment.org/news-and-stories/story/coral-reefs-we-continue-take-more-we-give#:~:text=Coral%20reef%20ecosystems%20provide%20society,the%20tourism%20and%20fisheries%20industries." target="_blank">reef ecosystems give society resources</a> and services worth $375 billion per year, according to the United Nations.</p><p>But coral faces myriad threats, including overfishing, pollution and climate change. Almost <a href="https://www.statista.com/chart/17126/reef-building-corals-under-threat/" target="_blank">half of reef-building coral species are under threat</a>, according to UN figures. And scientists predict we'll lose up to <a href="https://phys.org/news/2020-02-acidic-oceans-coral-reef-habitats.html" target="_blank">90% of all reefs</a> in the next 20 years if something isn't done soon.</p><p>For Chen and the Global Coralition, the answer lies in engaging and empowering local communities with the knowledge, tools and resources to reduce the local impacts of reef degradation while increasing key habitats and species.</p><p>The organization uses art, like the sculpture of Mazu, to bring people together around cultural themes that are <a href="https://www.globalcoralition.org/our-approach" target="_blank">meaningful to their communities</a>.</p><p>It then works with parties including local officials, marine ecologists, fisherman, students and dive centers to foster the unique skills to rehabilitate their local ecology. This work in turn improves quality of life, water quality, food security, income and employment opportunities and education in the region.</p>
The world's reef-building corals. Statista
Global Effort<p>Global Coralition is currently building a marine farm in a fishing village in the Dominican Republic. It consists of an expansive underwater sculpture garden inspired by Taino wisdom, a land-based coral farm, mangrove and oyster restoration and a community education center.</p><p>As part of this project, Chen says, it used the World Economic Forum's <a href="https://uplink.weforum.org/uplink/s/uplink-contribution/a012o00001G7i5TAAR/global-coralition" target="_blank">UpLink</a> platform to connect the community with a recycling facility that pays locals to collect trash, which can be turned into material to be sold back into the economy.</p><p>The organization wants to create <a href="https://www.weforum.org/events/virtual-ocean-dialogues-2020/sessions/uplink-ocean-solutions-sprint" target="_blank">200 of these marine hubs</a> across the globe in collaboration with local communities and governments, fishing villages, dive communities, restoration groups, hotels and local officials.</p><p>"Based on recovery rates, scientists predict we can rebuild marine life by 2050 if we can mitigate climate change, reduce local pressures and increase the abundance of our keystone habitats and species," Chen says.</p><p>"If these methods were applied all over the world, we could scale our collective rates of restoration."</p>
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Sonya Angelica Diehn
Dams are often touted as environmentally friendly. Although they do represent a renewable source of energy, a closer look reveals that they are far from green. DW lays out the biggest environmental problems of mega-dams.
1. Dams Alter Ecosystems<p>Water is life — and since dams block water, that impacts life downstream, both for ecosystems and people. In the case of the <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/ethiopia-egypt-sudan-make-slow-progress-in-nile-dam-row/a-52015611" target="_blank">Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD)</a>, which is being built in Ethiopia and is set to be Africa's largest source of hydroelectric power, Egypt is concerned it will receive less water for things like agriculture.</p><p>Downstream ecosystems rely not only on water, but also on sediment, both of which are held back by big dams. As solid materials build up in a manmade reservoir, downstream land becomes less fertile and riverbeds can become deeper or even erode away. <a href="https://www.pnas.org/content/115/47/11891" target="_blank">Emilio Moran</a>, a professor of geography and environment at Michigan State University in the US, described sediment loss of 30 to 40% as a result of large dams.</p><p>"Rivers carry sediment that feeds the fish, it feeds the entire vegetation along the river. So, when you stop sediment flowing freely down the streams, you have a dead river."</p><p>And ecosystems may have adapted to natural flooding, which dams take away. </p><p>Mega-dams also often have a large footprint on land upstream. Aside from displacing human communities, flooding to create a reservoir also kills plants, and leaves <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/tanzanias-biggest-wildlife-reserve-under-threat/a-43902762" target="_blank">animals to drown or find new homes</a>. Reservoirs can also further fragment valuable habitat and cut off migratory corridors. </p>
2. Dams Reduce Biodiversity and Cause Extinction<p>Aquatic species, particularly fish, are vulnerable to the impacts of dams. Moran says the Itaipu Dam, which was constructed on the border between Paraguay and Brazil in the 1970s and 1980s, resulted in a 70 percent loss of biodiversity.</p><p>"On the Tucuruí Dam that was built in the 80s in the Amazon," he added, "there was a 60% drop in productivity of fish."</p><p>Many fish species rely on the ability to move about freely in a river, be it to seek food or return to where they were born. Migratory species are badly affected by the presence of dams. In 2016, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) reported a 99% drop in catches of <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/poaching-dams-imperil-ancient-danube-fish/a-43907515" target="_blank">sturgeon</a> and paddlefish — both of which are migratory — over a period of three decades. Overfishing and river alteration were cited as major threats to the species' survival. </p><p>A <a href="http://www.mrcmekong.org/highlights/the-study-on-sustainable-management-and-development-of-the-mekong-river-including-impacts-of-mainstream-hydropower-projects/" target="_blank">2018 study</a> predicted that fish stocks on <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/a-dam-building-race-threatens-the-mekong-river/a-50049206" target="_blank">Asia's Mekong River</a> could drop by 40% as a result of dam projects – with consequences not only for biodiversity, but for the people whose lives and livelihoods depend on those fish.</p><p>The stakes for biodiversity are particularly high for animals threatened with extinction. And not only for aquatic species. The <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/new-orangutan-species-found-in-indonesian-forest/a-41217498" target="_blank">Tapanuli orangutan</a> — the Earth's rarest ape, with only 500 individuals left — could finally be pushed to the brink if a planned hydroelectric project in Sumatra, Indonesia, is completed. Dams can literally snuff out species. </p>
3. Dams Contribute to Climate Change (and Are Affected by It)<p>As reservoirs fill, upstream forests are flooded, eliminating their function as carbon sinks. As the drowned vegetation decomposes, decaying plants in manmade reservoirs release methane, a powerful greenhouse gas. That makes reservoirs sources of emissions — particularly those in <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/forest-sos-earths-green-lungs-disappear/a-44908586" target="_blank">tropical forests</a>, where there is dense growth. It's estimated that greenhouse gas emissions from dams amount to about <a href="https://academic.oup.com/bioscience/article/66/11/949/2754271" target="_blank">a billion tons annually</a>, making it a significant global source.</p><p>And as the climate changes, more frequent and prolonged drought means dams will capture less water, resulting in <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/hydropower-supply-dries-up-with-climate-change/a-42472070" target="_blank">lower electricity production</a>. Countries dependent on hydropower will be especially vulnerable as temperatures keep rising. </p><p>Moran described a vicious circle, for example in Brazil, which gets 60 to 70% of its energy from hydropower: "If you wipe out half the rainforest, there will a loss of half the rainfall. And then there won't be enough water to provide the amount of power from those dams," he explained. </p>
4. Dams Reduce Water Quality<p>Manmade reservoirs trap fertilizers that run into the water from surrounding land. In addition, in some developing countries, sewage flows directly into the reservoirs. This kind of pollution can result in algae blooms that suck the oxygen out of the water, making it acidic and potentially harmful to people and animals.</p><p>Still water in large manmade lakes is warm at the top and cold at the bottom, which can also affect water quality. While warm water promotes the growth of harmful algae, the cold water that is often released through turbines from the bottom of a reservoir may contain damagingly high mineral concentrations. </p><p>In some cases, water in manmade reservoirs is of such bad quality that it is not even fit to drink. </p>
5. Dams Waste Water<p>Since more surface area of the water gets exposed to the sun, reservoirs result in much more evaporation than the natural flow of the river before that dam existed. It's estimated at least 7% of the total amount of freshwater needed for human activities evaporates from the world's reservoirs every year.</p><p>This effect is made worse in hot regions, Moran pointed out. "Certainly if you had a reservoir in a tropical area with high temperatures, there is going to be a lot of evaporation," he said. And big reservoirs "are, of course, evaporating constantly."</p><p>Reservoirs are also a haven for invasive plant species, and weed-covered reservoir banks can lead to evapotranspiration — or the transfer of water from the land to the atmosphere through evaporation from soil and transpiration from plants. Such evapotranspiration amounts to six times more than the evaporation from the water's surface. And there is even evidence that dams increase water use and promote water waste by creating a false sense of water security. </p><p>In the face of <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/water-shortages-pose-growing-risk-to-global-stability/a-50394997" target="_blank">dwindling global freshwater resources</a>, some question whether dams should be reconsidered. </p>
So What Are the Alternatives?<p>The evidence is damning. But if mega-dams have so many harmful environmental effects, what are the alternatives? Although some green groups point to small hydropower as being more ecologically sound, Moran is skeptical. "A dam is a dam - it's blocking the fish, it's blocking the sediment."</p><p>He pointed to the need to consider not just how to maximize energy production, but also maintain ecological productivity. One option he cited is the use of in-stream turbines. </p><p>And many environment advocates agree that other renewable energies such as solar and wind can provide clean electricity at a far lower environmental cost. </p>
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Scientists have concluded of the largest freshwater fish species in the world is now extinct because of human activity.
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Scientists continue to uncover more ways climate change poses a threat to our health, such as the spread of tropical diseases northward and the loss of crucial nutrients in crops. Now, researchers at Harvard have added another risk to that list: increased neurotoxins in seafood.
By Eoin Higgins
The climate crisis is hurting the New England fishing industry, claims a new report published Monday, with a decline of 16% in fishing jobs in the northeastern U.S. region from 1996 to 2017 and more instability ahead.
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Illegal fishing appeared to spike during the Philippines' lockdown period as commercial fishers took advantage of reduced patrols to ply coastal waters that they're prohibited from fishing in, satellite tracking data indicate.
Satellite data record illegal fishing vessels, appearing as red dots, encroaching within municipal waters, shown as blue lines, from May 16 to 22, 2020. Karagatan Patrol
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By Kaya Bulbul
The ocean is our lifeline - we rely on it for the food we eat, the air we breathe, as well as for millions for jobs worldwide.
As we continue to grapple with the issues of overfishing, plastic pollution, and climate change, there exists an opportunity to address these existential threats with new innovations, many of which unidentified or insufficiently supported.
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By Peter Yeung
A pair of pink Amazon river dolphins emerges for just a moment, arcing above the chocolate brown waters inside the Mamirauá Institute for Sustainable Development, a research facility at the tropical heart of the Brazilian Amazon. Powerful jets of water spray out of their blowholes as these freshwater mammals take in air before submerging.
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By Tara Lohan
Most of us have never been to the world's immense last wilderness and never will. It's beyond the horizon and often past the limits of our imaginations. It contains towering underwater mountain ranges, ancient corals, mysterious, unknown forms of life and the largest seagrass meadow in the world.
The Need for Protection<p>We're all connected to the high seas, even if we never actually see them, says Morgan Visalli, a project scientist at Benioff Ocean Initiative at U.C. Santa Barbara. "It's incredibly important for helping to regulate the climate, for providing oxygen, food and jobs."</p><p>Even on land we depend on a healthy ocean. Phytoplankton in the ocean <a href="https://therevelator.org/phytoplankton-climate-change/" target="_blank">generate half our oxygen</a>, and the ocean plays a key role in mitigating climate change — absorbing 25 percent of our CO2 emissions and 90 percent of heat related to those emissions. It's also home to a rich diversity of species, some of which we're still discovering.</p><p>But marine ecosystems face grave threats from an onslaught of abuses: chemical, plastic and noise pollution; deep seabed mining and other kinds of resource extraction; increased shipping; overfishing and illegal fishing; and <a href="https://therevelator.org/ocean-climate-change/" target="_blank">climate change</a>, which is altering both the temperature and chemistry of the waters.</p>
Cargo ship at sea. Bernard Spragg / public domain<p>Numerous strategies are needed to tackle these problems, including the bedrock component of reducing greenhouse gases.</p><p>But a key tool that scientists have identified to help restore biodiversity is establishing reserves, often referred to as ocean parks or marine protected areas.</p><p>We know pretty well how to do this in national waters — there are <a href="https://www.pewtrusts.org/en/research-and-analysis/articles/2018/02/22/how-much-of-the-ocean-is-really-protected" target="_blank">more than 15,000</a> of them already in places like Australia's Great Barrier Reef and the Florida Keys. But few such protected areas exist in the high seas because there is no international framework to guide the process. One such effort to establish a marine protected area in Antarctica's Ross Sea took years of research and diplomacy to implement.</p><p>It's simply not feasible to scale the process — especially in the time we'd need to do it. That's why creating such a framework for marine protected areas in waters outside of national waters is a key part of the new high-seas treaty negotiations.</p><p>And that fits into a larger global vision.</p><p>The participant nations in another international treaty, the Convention on Biological Diversity, are set to convene this fall. The agenda includes a goal of enacting an international framework to protect 30% of the oceans by 2030.</p><p>It's a goal that scientists call a bare minimum. And it's one that may be impossible to meet without the high-seas treaty.</p><p>"The science is clear, if we're going to sustain a healthy, functioning ocean ecosystem, we need to be protecting at least 30% of the world's oceans," said Liz Karan, who leads <a href="https://www.pewtrusts.org/en/projects/protecting-ocean-life-on-the-high-seas" target="_blank">efforts to protect the high seas</a> for Pew Charitable Trusts, a member of the High Seas Alliance.</p><p>In anticipation of the treaty's passage, scientists like Visalli and McCauley have already started modeling how new <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0308597X19309194#!" target="_blank">priority areas could be identified</a>.</p>
The Challenges<p>Of course the devil is in the details.</p><p>While thousands of marine protected areas already exist, they come with varying levels of protections — much like we see with public lands. Some can be very restrictive, like national parks, or continue to allow extractive activities, such as in national forests.</p><p>Current marine protected areas range from no-take reserves that ban all extraction to areas allowing multiple uses — the latter are more common. Not surprisingly, though, <a href="https://academic.oup.com/icesjms/article/75/3/1166/4098821" target="_blank">scientific studies</a> have shown that the no-take reserves do a much better job at protecting and restoring biodiversity.</p><p>Whether the treaty will be a landmark conservation effort or enshrine the status quo has yet to be determined, said Karan. "Both potential pathways are currently reflected in the draft treaty text" at this time.</p><p>From a scientific standpoint, McCauley says, marine protected areas should actually protect the wild character of the area and that means no activities — like mining or bottom trawling — that would disturb habitat. And the protections need to extend down from the ocean's surface, through the water column, to the seafloor.</p>
A kelp forest in a marine protected area off the coast of California. Camille Pagniello / CC BY 2.0<p>To do that means figuring out how the new treaty would fit with a tangle of more than 20 existing governance organizations that regulate seabed mining, fisheries management and shipping regulations.</p><p>"One of our hopes is that this treaty would knit those pieces together and provide a little bit more coherence and compatibility with those issues, particularly with regards to conservation and sustainable use," said Karan.</p><p>There would also need to be a process for scientifically evaluating areas proposed for protections, and how the established reserves would be managed, and the restrictions enforced.</p><p>"The whole process, the whole vision and opportunity to think about doing something smarter and better — for the ocean, for biodiversity, for us — ends if we don't get strong language in the treaty and get that treaty to pass," said McCauley. "There's historical potential for the oceans, but we need to make sure people on the outside are watching the people on the inside [at the United Nations] in New York."</p>
Road Ahead<p>Even though official treaty negotiations are on hold awaiting a decision on rescheduling the talks, work continues among governments as they review and refine their positions on numerous proposals submitted by states and NGOs.</p><p>The United States has been a participant in the talks, but the treaty process has largely flown under the radar among the general public so far. Given President Trump's position on <a href="https://therevelator.org/environment-deregulation-trump-two-years/" target="_blank">environmental protections</a> and distain for <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2019/11/04/climate/trump-paris-agreement-climate.html" target="_blank">multilateralism</a> (like the Paris climate agreement), that's been pretty intentional on the part of environmental NGOs.</p><p>But as efforts may be nearing the finish line, this is starting to shift. Karan says there's more interest from legislators about high seas governance and more need to have an engaged public who can advocate for strong conservation protections.</p><p>Things are complicated, though, by the fact that the United States never ratified the 1982 Law of the Sea Convention, widely considered a "Constitution" for the ocean.</p><p>There is hope from some of the participants that the United States could ratify the high seas treaty if it comes to fruition, say Karan. But no one is holding their breath for that. Kalas says the goal is that the treaty, once completed, would be widely supported, although it remains to be seen how many countries will sign on. "If only 40 countries ratify it, that wouldn't make it as strong of an agreement as if all the United Nation's 193 nations ratified the agreement," she said.</p><p>But there's a fine line between having an agreement that's universally supported and one that establishes concrete conservation actions and protections.</p><p>"Our concern is that in trying to get everyone in the tent as it were, we're going to wind up with a status-quo agreement," said Karan. "As much as we want a treaty, we want one that will make concrete change on the water."</p><p>And it's worth remembering, we're talking about a lot of water. When the next session convenes, she said, "states will decide the ocean's fate."</p>
By Julia Conley
Sen. Elizabeth Warren expanded her vision for combating the climate crisis on Tuesday with the release of her Blue New Deal — a new component of the Green New Deal focusing on protecting and restoring the world's oceans after decades of pollution and industry-caused warming.
By Jodi Helmer
In Georgia there are just 213 game wardens to enforce state fish and wildlife laws, investigate violations, assist with conservation efforts and collect data on wildlife and ecological changes across 16,000 miles of rivers and 37 million acres of public and private lands. Statewide 46 counties have no designated game warden at all. The shortage could lead to wildlife crimes going undetected.
The Environment Pays the Price<p>Environmental crimes like poaching, overfishing and illegal dumping threaten healthy ecosystems, and without adequate patrols can lead to declining wildlife populations, disease spread, increases in invasive species, erosion and contaminated waterways.</p><p>"People who want to cheat resources know which [ranger] stations are vacant and know that the odds of seeing a warden in the field are rare because regular patrols aren't happening," explains Larry Bonde, chairman of the <a href="https://dnr.wi.gov/about/wcc/" target="_blank">Wisconsin Conservation Congress</a>, a group of elected delegates who advise the state department of natural resources. "It's not just fish and game violations; if no one is visiting sensitive sites…there are a lot of things that get overlooked that could be spotted by [a game warden] patrolling the area."</p><p>In California, for example, game wardens with the Department of Fish and Wildlife are often the first to spot illegal cannabis cultivation sites — called trespass grows — where growers raze paths through national forests to access secluded sites, divert significant amounts of water to irrigate cannabis plants, and apply massive amounts of pesticides to keep wildlife from gnawing on the crops. Too few game wardens in the field could lead to massive environmental degradation before trespass grows are spotted.</p><p>Even when issues are spotted, Rick Langley, wildlife program manager for the <a href="https://www.azgfd.com/" target="_blank">Arizona Game and Fish Department</a> and president of the <a href="https://www.naweoa.org/" target="_blank">North American Wildlife Enforcement Officers Association</a>, believes that having too few game wardens in the field could have a negative impact on investigations and enforcement.</p><p>"[Game wardens] work really hard to fill in the gaps to protect natural resources," he says. "In areas with less officer presence or where officers are spread thin to cover vacant districts, it has the potential to leave investigations incomplete or not responded to or followed up on as thoroughly as they would have been if you had one officer assigned to the area."</p><p>Bonde agrees, adding, "If the station is vacant and there's a complaint, it won't be ignored, but it certainly isn't going to get the amount of attention it would if it had been a full-time posted station."</p>
COVID Challenges<p>These existing challenges are poised to get worse. The COVID-19 global health pandemic has triggered major budget cuts, further threatening funding for environmental conservation and could result in additional cuts to conservation districts that are already cash-strapped and understaffed.</p><p>"For agencies that receive funding [through state taxes and revenues], the repercussions from reduced tourism and businesses closing could have a very serious effect," says Langley. "We're hearing rumors about budget cuts and, in many areas, budget is one of the main reasons these positions go unfilled."</p><p>In 2019 the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources had 21 open positions across its 155 patrol areas; the number decreased (from 27 vacancies in 2019) but the state is facing a <a href="https://mn.gov/mmb-stat/budget/may-interim-budget-projection-slides.pdf" target="_blank">projected $2.42 billion budget deficit</a> as a result of the pandemic, which could threaten funding for the department.</p><p>In Montana the wardens working for Fish, Wildlife & Parks wrote 2,194 citations in 2018 compared to 4,027 a decade earlier. Game wardens suspect that there are not fewer wildlife crimes, just fewer officers to catch perpetrators. That number could drop again. The state, anticipating "significant revenue shortfalls" due to the pandemic, led legislators to request reducing state spending; the department of Fish, Wildlife & Parks could feel the sting.</p><p>To complicate matters, stay-at-home orders have led people to spend more time outdoors, hiking in national forests and boating and fishing on lakes. States like Vermont, North Dakota, Minnesota and New York have reported significant increases in the number of fishing licenses being issued, which means more anglers to monitor and too few game wardens to ensure no one is violating catch limits.</p>
Targeting Solutions<p>The seriousness of the issue has led some states to implement strategies to increase the number of game wardens in the field and provide additional support to keep them in their roles.</p><p>In fiscal year 2018-2019, the Minnesota legislature allocated an additional $2.8 million to help the Department of Natural Resources recruit, hire and train additional game wardens to help fill 28 vacant positions. The Arizona Fish and Game Department, which has 16 vacancies across its 80 conservation districts, ramped up recruitment efforts too, adding three classes to the law enforcement academy in 2020 (up from just one in previous years). It also hired an advisor to educate students graduating from Arizona State University and the University of Arizona about conservation careers.</p><p>Most departments also have ranger "tip lines" where the public can report violations. In addition to the hotlines, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources also installed 400 cameras across the state to help catch wildlife violations.</p><p>"Instead of a game warden sitting out at night for eight hours to watch for hunters spotlighting deer [an illegal practice that involves using a flashlight or headlights to locate wildlife while hunting after hours], we use cameras," England explains. "If we have problems with people dumping trash, sneaking in certain areas and fishing after hours or illegal hunting, we can hide one of these cameras and it sends the game warden a picture or a video of what's going on."</p><p>While Bonde supports the use of high-tech tools and hotlines to report potential conservation violations to help protect wildlife and the environment, he believes additional funding to get more game wardens in the field is essential, adding, "Without proper enforcement, there will always be people who cheat our natural resources."</p>
By Emily Petsko
For many, the end of October evokes images of falling leaves or Halloween's ghosts and ghouls. But those of us focused on oceans also know October as National Seafood Month.
1. Seafood can provide a healthy source of protein to a growing population.<p>Right now, 821 million people around the world are living in hunger. This problem isn't likely to disappear anytime soon, especially with the population projected to grow by 2 billion people over the next 30 years. But by ensuring that fisheries are managed sustainably, and within scientifically sound parameters, we can restore ocean abundance and put enough fish in our waters to feed a sizable portion of the planet. If we look after our oceans properly and avoid overexploiting their resources, they could provide a nutritious meal every day for 1 billion people.</p>
2. Seafood could fill the micronutrient void that exists in many developing countries.<p>Enough fish are caught in many developing countries to nourish their populations, and yet malnutrition remains a persistent problem. How can this be? A team of researchers, including Oceana Science Advisor Dr. Eddie Allison, found that the fish being caught in tropical countries are chock full of important micronutrients — including calcium, iron, zinc, selenium, omega-3 and vitamin A — but they don't always end up on local people's plates. That's because much of the catch is exported, sometimes for the sole purpose of being churned into fishmeal and fed to carnivorous farmed fish like salmon, which are ultimately consumed by people in higher-income countries.</p><p>This has consequences for both local people and the economy. "A lack of fish-derived nutrients has been found to have a large effect on public health, notably infant mortality and hence GDP," Oceana Board Member and fisheries scientist Dr. Daniel Pauly wrote in a <a href="https://oceana.org/blog/daniel-pauly-having-access-fish-good-us" target="_blank">response</a> to the <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-019-1592-6" target="_blank">study</a>, which was led by Dr. Christina Hicks. That's why, when we consider the benefits of seafood, it's important to also consider who has access to those benefits.</p>
3. Seafood tends to be a low-carbon food, so it reduces the strain on the environment.<p>Compared to land-based animal proteins like beef and pork, wild-caught seafood has a significantly lower carbon footprint (as long as it's not being carted around the planet by plane). Plus, it requires virtually no fresh water or arable land to harvest it. At a time when concerns over habitat destruction and <a href="https://oceana.org/blog/climate-change-and-oceans-what-you-need-know-united-nations%E2%80%99-new-report" target="_blank">climate change</a> are growing, it's more vital than ever to rethink our global food systems.</p><p>A recent <a href="http://dev-oceanpanel.pantheonsite.io/sites/default/files/2019-09/19_HLP_Report_Ocean_Solution_Climate_Change_final.pdf" target="_blank">report</a> from the High Level Panel for A Sustainable Ocean Economy suggested that climate change could be mitigated, in part, by shifting global diets towards plant- and ocean-based options. "Food from the sea, produced using best practices, can (with some notable exceptions) have some of the lowest greenhouse gas emissions per unit of protein produced of all protein sources," the panel wrote.</p>
4. The fishing sector provides jobs to millions of people — half of whom are women.<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMjA0NTkxMC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY0MjQ1NzU4MX0.oXvmpilVB0-MJEhsqxKrSRD_AU855m0QPizlAXoIoe4/img.jpg?width=980" id="a29f6" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="2913e41194d8df4252bfc88b9adb73ed" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Women and children fish in Pemba, Mozambique. © OCEANA / Ana de la Torriente<p>Roughly 120 million people work in capture fisheries around the world. Over 95% of those people live in developing countries, and nearly half of them are women. Although fishing is typically viewed as a "masculine" occupation, many women make a living by spearing octopus, digging for clams, diving for abalone and packing and processing seafood. This industry is particularly important in small island nations. In Palau and Seychelles, for instance, 10% to 50% of their GDPs may be derived from fisheries, according to <a href="https://www.forbes.com/sites/jamesellsmoor/2019/01/26/rethinking-our-oceans-investing-in-the-blue-economy/#603e11983531" target="_blank"><em>Forbes</em></a>.</p>
5. Fisheries are vital to many Indigenous coastal communities.<p>Indigenous peoples eat roughly 2 percent of all the seafood caught annually around the world, according to a 2016 <a href="https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0166681" target="_blank">study</a> written by Dr. Andrés Cisneros-Montemayor and co-authored by Dr. Pauly. Considering that Indigenous groups comprise just 5% of the global population, their seafood consumption works out to be 15 times higher than that of non-Indigenous peoples.</p><p>So what exactly does this mean? As the study's authors put it: "Marine resources are crucial to the continued existence of coastal Indigenous peoples, and their needs must be explicitly incorporated into management policies." Canada's revamped <em>Fisheries Act</em>, which was championed by Oceana and our allies, is a good example of how this can be achieved. The new version of the Act recognizes Indigenous knowledge and states that the Minster of Fisheries and Oceans has a duty to consider any adverse effects that decisions may have on Indigenous peoples.</p>
Fish at a market in Punta Gorda, Belize. © OCEANA / A. Ellis<p>From coastal communities to octopus fishers to people living in the tropics, it's clear that millions of people around the world depend on abundant oceans. Of course, when we talk about the benefits of seafood, sustainability is an important caveat. <a href="http://www.ecowatch.com/tag/overfishing" rel="noopener noreferrer">Overfishing</a> and destructive fishing methods are still ravaging marine habitats, rendering them less capable of providing for people's nutritional needs in the future. That's why, when you select a fish from a restaurant or your local supermarket's seafood counter, it's important to check the source. The Monterey Bay Aquarium has a helpful tool called <a href="https://www.seafoodwatch.org/" target="_blank">Seafood Watch</a> that simplifies the process.</p><p><em>Want to learn more about how Oceana is helping to save the oceans and feed the world? Visit their campaign page <a href="https://oceana.org/feedtheworld" target="_blank">here</a>.</em></p><p><em>Reposted with permission from our media partner <a href="https://oceana.org/blog/5-ways-sustainable-seafood-can-benefit-people-and-environment" rel="noopener noreferrer">Oceana</a>.</em></p>
By David Shiffman
These related species — which, along with chimaeras, are known collectively as chondrichthyans — include some of the most threatened marine fishes in the world. Sharks and rays face a variety of threats depending on where they live and swim, but the biggest risk comes from overfishing, which takes a noticeable toll on these slow-growing, slow-to-reproduce animals. As a result, nearly 1 in 4 species of chondricthyan fishes is estimated to be, or assessed as, threatened, according to the IUCN Red List.
Sand tiger shark
Blacktip reef shark
Mark Nadon / NOAA
White cheek sharks slaughtered for the illegal shark fin trade.
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