Southern resident killer whales, like this one off San Juan Island, Washington, have suffered a significant population decline in the late 1990s and are now listed as endangered under the U.S. Endangered Species Act. NOAA

With Just 76 Orcas Left, Washington Gov. Orders Protections for Beloved Killer Whales

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee signed an executive order this week to aid the recovery of critically endangered southern resident killer whales and the Chinook salmon they eat.

There are only 76 orcas left in Puget Sound, down from 98 in 1995. Their numbers have dipped due to pollution, underwater noise and disturbances from boat traffic, and lack of their favored prey. Recent deaths, particularly among calves, mothers and pregnant whales, appear to be driven by food scarcity.

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73% of Deep-Sea Fish Have Ingested Plastic

Microplastics can really be found everywhere, even in the stomachs of creatures living deep underwater.

Marine scientists from the National University of Ireland (NUI) in Galway found the plastic bits in 73 percent of 233 deep-sea fish collected from the Northwest Atlantic Ocean—one of the highest microplastic frequencies in fish ever recorded worldwide.

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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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An important fishing port of the French Atlantic Island Ile d'Oleron is Port La Cotinière. Robert Schüller / Flickr

Fishing Limits Set Too High Again by Council of the EU

As their annual end-to-the-year meeting closed on Dec. 13, the 28 fisheries ministers who sit on the Council of the European Union again set some fishing limits for Atlantic Ocean and North Sea stocks higher than scientists had advised and higher than the European Commission had proposed. Council deliberations went through the night and officials have not yet made all the details available on how 2018 fishing limits were calculated.

As in previous years, participants in the Council meeting announced that good progress had been made towards achieving the EU Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) deadline to end overfishing by 2020. We can only hope the figures bear out this optimism when a full analysis comparing the decisions to scientific advice is completed.

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Kem Soth casts his net in the Mekong River. Savann Oeurm / Oxfam

Planned Mega-Dam Threatens Fish Populations and Food Security in Cambodia

By Sabrina Gyorvary

Auntie Punleu has spent most of her life on Koh Dambang, an island set in the middle of the Mekong River in Cambodia. A small, grandmotherly woman, she paints an idyllic picture of life there.

"We catch fish as our main food every day. We eat fish nearly six days a week," she said. With her gentle strength and keen knowledge of community affairs, people on the island look to her as a natural leader. "My children and grandchildren have enough food to eat every day and they are healthy. We do not need to spend money to buy fish. We do not need to beg people for them. They come naturally from the river."

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Tyson Poultry Pleads Guilty to Clean Water Act Violations, Fish Deaths in Missouri

Tyson Foods, the nation's largest chicken producer, has taken "full responsibility" for accidentally releasing an acidic chemical used in chicken feed into the city of Monett, Missouri's wastewater treatment system that resulted in the deaths of more than 100,000 fish.

The poultry giant unit pleaded guilty on Wednesday in federal court in Springfield, Missouri on two criminal charges of violating the Clean Water Act that stemmed from discharges at its slaughter and processing facility in Monett, Missouri, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) said.

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Anchovies are eating plastic because it smells like prey, study finds. Photo credit: David Abercrombie/Flickr

Another Reason to Ditch Plastic—It Smells Like Food to Fish

We know that the massive amount of plastic that's continually dumped into our oceans can end up in the stomachs of marine species (and ultimately on our plates), but why would they want to eat it?

Well, new research suggests that fish are not just accidentally gobbling up our plastic trash—they could be actively seeking it out because they like how the debris smells and are confusing it for their natural prey.

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Farmed Salmon Industry Causing Global Sea Lice Crisis

A tiny bug is behind a major problem in the global farmed salmon industry.

The sea louse, or salmon louse, is eating into farmed Atlantic salmon supplies in Scotland, Norway, Iceland and Canada, driving salmon prices higher and creating a "chemical arms race in the seas," the Guardian reports.

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Japan Ice Skating Rink Freezes 5,000 Fish

Space World—a theme park in Kitakyushu City, Japan—has apologized after drawing intense criticism for putting 5,000 fish into the floor of an ice skating rink.

According to the Tokyo Reporter, the spectacle was part a limited winter and spring exhibition called "Freezing Port" that opened Nov. 12.

The park said that the point of the attraction was to allow visitors to skate above fish, shellfish and other marine animals in different oceanic zones.

"We wanted customers to experience the feeling of skating on the sea, but after receiving criticism, we decided that we could not operate it any more," Space World general manager Toshimi Takeda told AFP.

Space World shut the attraction down on Sunday following the flood of criticism and is now melting the rink, a process that will take about a week. The park will also hold a memorial service for the fish.

The exhibition was touted as "not only a Japan-first, but undeniably a world-first." The theme park started posting preview photos of its fish-filled ice rink onto its social media pages last month.

The photos, especially ones of larger creatures such as whale sharks and rays, sparked online fervor. One particularly incendiary image showed half-frozen fish with a caption that read, "I'm d..d..drowning…It h…h..hurts…"

Commenters condemned the attraction, with one saying that Space World should not "make life into a toy."

However, a park official said that live fish were not used and that the photos of the larger sea creatures were not real.

“The real fish we used were provided wholesale from public fish markets, and these fish sellers are all aware of the purpose of this project," the official told Tokyo Reporter. “Many of these fish don't meet standards for selling to customers. And the big fish like whale sharks, sharks, and rays aren't real, they're simply photos that were blown up and embedded in the ice."

As for the "drowning" caption, the official said that a park employee wrote it "hoping people would find it funny," but added, "I do feel that not enough caution was taken. I apologize."

"We received critical voices saying it is not good to use creatures as a toy, and that it is bad to let food go to waste," Space World spokesman Koji Shibata told AFP.

Let's also note that global fish stocks are currently being depleted at unsustainable rates and we are on the brink of running out of fish. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization revealed this summer that due to vast overfishing, nearly 90 percent of global fish stocks are either fully fished or overfished.



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