Friday, October 30, 2009

Protect America's Coastal Communities

The Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA), the nation's framework for managing federal ocean fisheries, was amended in 2006 to reverse decades of costly fishery declines. Back in 1996, Congress required that fishery managers set science-based catch limits to end overfishing by 2011 and rebuild depleted fish populations as soon as biologically possible. These conservation mandates were enacted to ensure the long-term economic benefits from sustainable fisheries and to safeguard the health of ocean ecosystems.


U.S. ocean fish populations are a public trust which must be managed for the benefit of all Americans. From an economic point of view, fisheries are a multi-billion dollar resource and a valuable food source for millions of Americans. According to the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), recreational and commercial fishing provided $185 billion in sales to the U.S. economy and supported two million jobs in 2006. From an ecological standpoint, however, fish play an essential role in intricate food webs as predators and prey and help preserve the diversity of habitats already threatened by pollution and climate change.


Unfortunately, 40 federally managed fish populations are currently experiencing overfishing in the U.S. and 46 are depleted to very unhealthy levels. While some fishing interests object to efforts to address these problems because of short-term economic costs, the economic benefits of ending overfishing and rebuilding all U.S. fish populations to healthy levels are substantial, and the cost of further delay would be significant.


As the MSA's deadlines for establishing annual catch limits and rebuilding depleted fish populations approach, managers must make difficult decisions to achieve conservation objectives. Congress must reject legislative efforts to weaken the law and support effective implementation. Doing so will allow the nation to enjoy the benefits of healthy, sustainable fish populations today while preserving them for future generations.


Take Action and sign the petition at this link:
http://actionnetwork.org/campaign/coastal_communities?qp_source=fish_IFSS

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Take Action to Help Sharks!

Please help the Australian Marine conservation society to protect their World Heritage sharks:The fishery at the heart of our World Heritage Shark Campaign is the Queensland East Coast Inshore Finfish Fishery. During 2000-2004 shark fishing in Queensland increased four-fold. This fishery peaked at around 1400 tonnes (...about 175,000 sharks) per year, but has more recently caught around 900 tonnes of shark a year (about 112,000 sharks). The drop is thought to be caused by a decline in shark populations - however the management regime of this fishery is so poor that the cause cannot be confirmed. AMCS and our supporters are outraged that in an age where shark populations are collapsing around the globe, our own governments allow our World Heritage sharks to be killed, in part to service the international trade in shark fin.
Sign the petition here:
http://www.amcs.org.au/WhatWeDo.asp?active_page_id=382

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

End "Finning" -- Save the Sharks!

Target: U.S. Senate
Sponsored by: Ocean Conservancy

The wasteful practice of finning -- slicing off a shark's valuable fins for soup and tossing the body back to sea -- must be stopped. The situation is grim for a growing number of shark populations who are in peril from overfishing and unsustainable finning -- we must do better.

The U.S. passed a national finning ban in 2000, but the practice continues and is still legal in many other nations. The demand for the fins -- which can sell for up to hundreds of dollars per pound -- remains high for shark fin soup, a delicacy.

The Shark Conservation Act of 2009 closes loopholes in the U.S. finning ban and can revitalize shark conservation efforts on a global scale. It must be passed without further delay. Please join us in sending a powerful message to your senators to end finning and save the sharks!

Go to this link to sign the petition:
http://www.thepetitionsite.com/takeaction/177729296

Friday, October 23, 2009

Palau pioneers 'shark sanctuary'


By Richard Black
Environment correspondent, BBC News website

Hammerheads are among hundreds of species found in Palau's waters

Palau is to create the world's first "shark sanctuary", banning all
commercial shark fishing in its waters.
The President of the tiny Pacific republic, Johnson Toribiong, announced the
sanctuary during Friday's session of the UN General Assembly.
With half of the world's oceanic sharks at risk of extinction,
conservationists regard the move as "game-changing".
It will protect about 600,000 sq km (230,000 sq miles) of ocean, an area
about the size of France.
President Toribiong also called for a global ban on shark-finning, the
practice of removing the fins at sea.

The need to protect the sharks outweighs the need to enjoy a bowl of soup
President Johnson Toribiong.

Fins are a lucrative commodity on the international market where they are
bought for use in shark fin soup.
As many as 100 million sharks are killed each year around the world.
"These creatures are being slaughtered and are perhaps at the brink of
extinction unless we take positive action to protect them," said President
Toribiong.
"Their physical beauty and strength, in my opinion, reflects the health of
the oceans; they stand out," he told BBC News from UN headquarters in New
York.
The president also called for an end to bottom-trawling, a fishing method
that can destroy valuable seafloor ecosystems such as coral reefs.
Local benefits
A number of developed nations have implemented catch limits and restrictions
on shark finning.
Some developing countries such as The Maldives have also taken measures to
protect the creatures; but Palau's initiative takes things to a new level,
according to conservationists close to the project.


Finned Shark

"Palau has recognised how important sharks are to healthy marine
environments," said Matt Rand, director of global shark conservation at the
Pew Environment Group.
"And they've decided to do what no other nation has done and declare their
entire Exclusive Economic Zone a shark sanctuary.
"They are leading the world in shark conservation."
Mr Rand said that about 130 threatened species of shark frequented waters
close to Palau and would be likely to gain from the initiative.
Although the country has only 20,000 inhabitants, its territory encompasses
200 scattered islands, which means that its territorial waters are much
bigger than many nations a thousand times more populous.
Economics is clearly an incentive for the Palau government, which derives
most of its income from tourism.
Sharks are themselves a big attraction for scuba-divers, and may also play a
role in keeping coral reef ecosystems healthy.

See entire article at: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/8272508.stm