@conservationorg map of marine hot zones where human pressure & biodiversity clash (orange). The paper.

@conservationorg map of marine hot zones where human pressure & biodiversity clash (orange). The paper.

Fine  @nytmag story of man-overboard survival recalls a chilling memory of an empty sloop sailing onto a Sri Lanka beach. In 1979, when I was first mate on the circumnavigating sailboat Wanderlust, we finished our transit of the Bay of Bengal and arrived in Trincomalee, Sri Lanka.

A familiar sailboat was at the pier, but its rig was in tatters. I’d met the owner, a shy Belgian singlehander, in Bali, Indonesia, a few months earlier. The Trincomalee harbormaster said the boat had sailed up onto the beach with nobody aboard, held on course by a wind-vane autopilot.

He showed me the odds and ends taken from the boat, which he’d stored in a caged area in his office. It was clear from the log, and the situation, that the singlehanded sailor, obviously unharnessed, had fallen overboard in mid ocean…  

Sri Lanka is a very hot place, but I felt a very deep chill that day.  

NOAA ocean heat data show why “global heating” better term than “global warming.” More in ‘08 @dotearth

NOAA ocean heat data show why “global heating” better term than “global warming.” More in ‘08 @dotearth

.@Reuters jumps PNAS embargo & utterly botches story on new @PIK_climate study of sea level rise per degree warming.

Story headline: “Models point to rapid sea-level rise from climate change”

Paper title (italics added): “The multi-millennial sea-level commitment of global warming

Paper: “[W]e are committed to a sea-level rise of about 2.3 meters [per 1ºC] within the next 2000 years.”

At least Reuters got in a solid quote from lead author Anders Levermann that makes the right point on the right time scale: 

"Continuous sea-level rise is something we cannot avoid unless global temperatures go down again," Levermann said. "Our results indicate that major adaptation at our coastlines will be necessary. It’s likely that some currently populated regions can’t be protected in the long run." 

Much more on sea level realities on Dot Earth, including this recent Google Hangout with top NASA scientists and many earlier posts.

 

China’s “large-scale algae disaster.”

Via @pewenvironment: Big problem for big tuna (wasted catch):

According to new data just released by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Fisheries Service (NOAA Fisheries), the surface longline fishery in the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic wasted almost 25 percent of the entire U.S. bluefin tuna quota. These new estimates show the highest levels of dead discards of bluefin caught on surface longlines since 1987.Surface longlines intended for swordfish, yellowfin tuna, and other tunas (excluding bluefin) stretch for up to 40 miles with hundreds of baited hooks. 

 

In 2012, surface longline vessels discarded an estimated 239.5 mt of dead Atlantic bluefin. Many of those were caught in the Gulf of Mexico—the western population’s only known spawning area. The 239.5 mt statistic does not include 89.6 mt of fish landed (kept and sold) or those thrown back “alive,” many of which will die following release.

 

In response to these staggering numbers, as of June 25, NOAA Fisheries will prohibit surface longline vessels from keeping any more bluefin tuna caught this calendar year. However, that solution does nothing to prevent those same vessels from catching bluefin tuna while targeting yellowfin tuna and swordfish. Fishermen will need to throw overboard all of those bluefin; many will already be dead or dying.

 

A solution at hand

NOAA Fisheries is drafting new proposed bluefin tuna regulations, due out this summer. The agency could finally put forth a comprehensive solution to this decades-old problem that is only getting worse. The rule must:

·       Close the Gulf of Mexico to surface longlining to protect spawning bluefin tuna and support the transition of surface longlines to more selective fishing methods;

·       Reduce bluefin mortality in the western Atlantic by enforcing a firm annual limit on the incidental catch of bluefin for the entire surface longline fleet; and

·       Improve monitoring of the surface longline fleet.

 

Once the agency publishes its rule, a comment period will immediately follow. During this time, the public can contact NOAA Fisheries and urge it to put forth a strong rule that stops the waste of bluefin tuna.

 

On a related note, fisheries managers and scientists from around the world are preparing to meet in Montreal, Canada next week (June 26-28). They will debate the potential recovery of western Atlantic bluefin tuna; the same fish that these new data suggest are being senselessly wasted. The outcome of the meeting will signal whether fisheries managers will choose tofollow the sound science that is necessary to allow this tuna population to recover or ignore precaution and return to crippling levels of overfishing. The latter could result in the collapse of the western Atlantic bluefin population. 

 

Tom Wheatley, who manages bluefin tuna conservation efforts in the U.S. for The Pew Charitable Trusts, is available to discuss the new bycatch data, its implications and the forthcoming proposed bluefin rule. Amanda Nickson, director ofglobal tuna conservation for Pew, will moderate a tele-press briefing this Thursday at 10 am EDT on next week’s bluefin meeting. Please let me know if I can get you any more information or set up any interviews.

Tags: oceans fish tuna

Good @jeffnesbit piece on GRL study finding #AGW ocean temp. signal even with sparse old expedition temperature data. Here’s a presentation on the work, done by scientists at NASA and the University of Tasmania.

To see what students can do to fill the communication gap on tough environmental issues, read on! My Pace students are wrapping the third film in our series on natural-resource conservation (shrimp farming, cork forests, now sea turtles).



The previous films were featured on my New York Times blog, Dot Earth.

The new film, “Viva La Tortuga: Meshing Conservation and Culture in Magdalena Bay,” is 15 minutes long (like a 60 Minutes segment). Two public screenings will be followed by q&a with the team (me included).

May 7 at Pace University in Pleasantville 



May 8 at Pace in Manhattan (near City Hall).

Any help spreading word would be greatly appreciated. This is a great example of students tackling tough subjects and making a difference!

Two posts from student blog give the latest on the production and some tough news from Mexico:


http://pacebaja.wordpress.com/2013/05/01/the-final-cut-for-a-turtle-documentary/

The Final Cut for a Turtle Film
Posted on May 1, 2013by Travel Course to Magdalena Bay, Baja Mexico

Our class met for the last time Tuesday evening and to the average passerby, the room probably resembled more of a loony bin than it did a traditional classroom. Within this frenzy of students, laptops, and even a mandolin and guitar, progress was being made. Although this is our last official meeting, both students and professors alike will be working on the various aspects of our film right up until our release date at 4pm on May 7th! This was the final push and what Dr. Luskay described as the “night of perfection.” Lou Guarneri continued to sweeten up the film’s transitions, color and sound and also worked closely with Professor Revkin, who supplied some original scoring with his mandolin.  As soon as we finalize the credits, “¡Viva la Tortuga!” will be ready for export!
The work does not stop there. From here on out, in addition to researching a variety of different film festival submission deadlines, editing a final trailer and flooding the Internet withtweets about our film, each of us will find a way to market “¡Viva la Tortuga!” to  ensure a solid turnout for both our Pleasantville andNew York City premieres. Join us there!

Turtle Conservationists Demand Action From Mexican President
Posted on May 1, 2013by Travel Course to Magdalena Bay, Baja Mexico

Sea Turtle Restoration Project, a California based conservation group that has worked to protect and restore sea turtle populations worldwide, recently wrote a letter to President Enrique Peña Nieto of Mexico pressing him to act promptly to cut turtle deaths in Baja fishing nets.
The letter is open for anyone to sign. On the ground in and around Magdalena Bay we met many fishermen whose lives would be disrupted by a total clampdown on gillnet fishing. But we also saw the devastating impact on loggerhead turtles. There are no easy answers, but a lot of people are working hard to find the balance.
Mexican officials don’t seem inclined to press for turtle protection. As recently as today, senior officials have challenged years of peer-reviewed studies demonstrating that a recent spike in loggerhead deaths in the region is from gillnets set on the bottom off the Pacific coast.

To see what students can do to fill the communication gap on tough environmental issues, read on! My Pace students are wrapping the third film in our series on natural-resource conservation (shrimp farming, cork forests, now sea turtles).

The previous films were featured on my New York Times blog, Dot Earth.
The new film, “Viva La Tortuga: Meshing Conservation and Culture in Magdalena Bay,” is 15 minutes long (like a 60 Minutes segment). Two public screenings will be followed by q&a with the team (me included).
May 7 at Pace University in Pleasantville 
May 8 at Pace in Manhattan (near City Hall).
Any help spreading word would be greatly appreciated. This is a great example of students tackling tough subjects and making a difference!
Two posts from student blog give the latest on the production and some tough news from Mexico:

The Final Cut for a Turtle Film

2013-04-30_18.19.58Our class met for the last time Tuesday evening and to the average passerby, the room probably resembled more of a loony bin than it did a traditional classroom. Within this frenzy of students, laptops, and even a mandolin and guitar, progress was being made. Although this is our last official meeting, both students and professors alike will be working on the various aspects of our film right up until our release date at 4pm on May 7th! This was the final push and what Dr. Luskay described as the “night of perfection.” Lou Guarneri continued to sweeten up the film’s transitions, color and sound and also worked closely with Professor Revkin, who supplied some original scoring with his mandolin. photo (2) As soon as we finalize the credits, “¡Viva la Tortuga!” will be ready for export!

The work does not stop there. From here on out, in addition to researching a variety of different film festival submission deadlines, editing a final trailer and flooding the Internet withtweets about our film, each of us will find a way to market “¡Viva la Tortuga!” to  ensure a solid turnout for both our Pleasantville andNew York City premieres. Join us there!

Turtle Conservationists Demand Action From Mexican President

letter2Sea Turtle Restoration Project, a California based conservation group that has worked to protect and restore sea turtle populations worldwide, recently wrote a letter to President Enrique Peña Nieto of Mexico pressing him to act promptly to cut turtle deaths in Baja fishing nets.

The letter is open for anyone to sign. On the ground in and around Magdalena Bay we met many fishermen whose lives would be disrupted by a total clampdown on gillnet fishing. But we also saw the devastating impact on loggerhead turtles. There are no easy answers, but a lot of people are working hard to find the balance.

Mexican officials don’t seem inclined to press for turtle protection. As recently as today, senior officials have challenged years of peer-reviewed studies demonstrating that a recent spike in loggerhead deaths in the region is from gillnets set on the bottom off the Pacific coast.

Nice @simonsfdnorg piece on efforts to improve Southern Ocean element in climate models. “Scientists Parse Ocean’s Dynamic Role in Climate Change.” Here’s caption/credit for image: 
A schematic of global ocean circulations developed by DIMES principal investigators John Marshall of MIT and Kevin Speer of Florida State University in 2012, based on the current understanding of ocean dynamics. Cooler colors indicate denser water masses. (Illustration: John Marshall and Kevin Speer)

Nice @simonsfdnorg piece on efforts to improve Southern Ocean element in climate models. “Scientists Parse Ocean’s Dynamic Role in Climate Change.” Here’s caption/credit for image: 

A schematic of global ocean circulations developed by DIMES principal investigators John Marshall of MIT and Kevin Speer of Florida State University in 2012, based on the current understanding of ocean dynamics. Cooler colors indicate denser water masses. (Illustration: John Marshall and Kevin Speer)

New study: Sea turtle bycatch losses way up. Background from @conservationorg. (Samantha Finch photo of loggerhead carcass on Baja beach.)
Turtles in Trouble: Sea Turtles in East Pacific, North Atlantic, Southwest Atlantic and Mediterranean Face Higher Bycatch Mortality Rates
New study shows that nearshore fisheries pose a significant bycatch threat that rivals the impacts of large-scale open ocean fisheries
 
 
Arlington, Va. (April 1, 2013) – The most comprehensive global evaluation ever conducted of fisheries bycatch impacts on large marine species, published this month in the journal Ecosphere, revealed that sea turtle populations in the East Pacific, North Atlantic, Southwest Atlantic and Mediterranean face much higher bycatch and mortality rates than previously estimated. The study also highlighted information gaps that are blocking further assessments of impacts, and found that bycatch rates in small-scale fisheries in nearshore areas rival those of large-scale fisheries in the open ocean. Currently, six out of the seven species of sea turtles are endangered globally, and without effective measures to reduce bycatch, many sea turtle populations around the world could face local extinction.  
 
“We lose hundreds or thousands of turtles each year in populations that are already at risk,” said Dr. Bryan Wallace of Oceanic Society and Duke University, a co-author of the study. “Many sea turtle populations around the world could face local extinction if we don’t reduce bycatch.” 
 
The findings are the result of a comprehensive assessment of fisheries bycatch – the accidental capture and injury of marine animals in fishing gear that are not the target catch species – from multiple fishing gears to-date for any large marine species. Researchers at Conservation International, Oceanic Society, San Diego State University, Duke University and Stanford University analyzed data from more than 1800 bycatch records over the last two decades to determine the regions and types of fishing gear with the highest impacts on sea turtles.
 
“This study should serve as an initial roadmap to prioritize investment of limited resources to sustainably manage fisheries to minimize bycatch,” Wallace continued. “Our analyses demonstrate where and how sea turtles are being accidentally killed and inform decisions on what steps we can take to reverse the decline of turtle populations.”
 
Sea turtles play important roles in maintaining healthy marine ecosystems. They feed on sea grasses, sponges and jellyfish, which can help to maintain habitats that serve as nurseries for other species and support healthy fish populations.
 
The analysis also exposed significant gaps in available bycatch data around Africa, in the North Indian Ocean and in Southeast Asia, which prevented researchers from evaluating bycatch rates in these regions. Turtle populations in these regions are already under high threat from human exploitation of their eggs, meat and shell material, and fishing activity in areas that turtles inhabit is high.
 
Researchers assessed bycatch impacts of three different categories of fishing gear and found that on a global scale, mortality from nets and trawls was greater than that from longlines. “This came as a bit of a surprise because longlines have been thought to be the primary source of bycatch of turtles and other non-target species such as seabirds,” said Rebecca Lewison of San Diego State University, a study co-author. “These results show that while mitigating sea turtle bycatch in longlines—like those anchored to the bottom—is still necessary, reducing turtle bycatch in net and trawl fisheries worldwide should be given more attention than it has received in the past.”
 
Sea turtles were also found to face high bycatch threats from small-scale, near-shore fisheries, especially in areas where turtles concentrate to feed and nest. “Bycatch in small-scale fisheries is rarely monitored or regulated, but can have disproportionately large impacts on turtles and other bycatch species,” Wallace added. “But these fisheries are also disproportionately important for the socioeconomics of coastal communities worldwide, so bycatch reduction has to be balanced with the livelihoods of fishermen.”
 
In fact, the highest bycatch rates in the world have been documented in small-scale fishing gear off Baja California, Mexico. Despite numbering only 100 boats, this small fishing fleet accidentally catches and kills as many loggerhead turtles each year as all other fisheries in the North Pacific combined. Just last year, more than 2,000 turtles of this endangered population were killed—a 600-percent increase over previous mortality estimates.
 
Though this situation is dire, Wallace says that there is still hope. “Fisheries and environment managers in Mexico can reduce loggerhead bycatch by protecting turtles in their important feeding and breeding areas, managing the amount and types of gear being used and working with small-scale fishermen to implement techniques that reduce bycatch,” he said. “The loggerhead bycatch situation is being closely watched around the world, so if it is handled well, it could be a great model for other places to follow.”
 
A study published last year in Biological Conservation, which Wallace co-authored, illustrated that several tools are available to managers to reduce mortality of sea turtles due to bycatch. For example, bycatch reduction measures, including use of turtle excluder devices in shrimp trawlers, implemented in U.S. fisheries reduced overall accidental sea turtle deaths by 90 percent over two decades.
 
"The presence of sea turtles is a sign of a healthy ecosystem with a high level of biodiversity, which can support healthy fisheries," said Sebastian Troeng, Senior Vice President for the Global Marine Program at CI, who conducted his doctoral research on sea turtles. "This landmark study provides decision makers with a guide on how to prioritize bycatch prevention, which is a key component of sustainable fisheries management and absolutely necessary for global food security." 
###
 

Full study: http://www.esajournals.org/doi/full/10.1890/ES12-00388.1
Images available for download here: http://bit.ly/163XP1q
Learn more at: www.conservation.org/seaturtleseptember
 
 

New study: Sea turtle bycatch losses way up. Background from @conservationorg. (Samantha Finch photo of loggerhead carcass on Baja beach.)

Turtles in Trouble: Sea Turtles in East Pacific, North Atlantic, Southwest Atlantic and Mediterranean Face Higher Bycatch Mortality Rates

New study shows that nearshore fisheries pose a significant bycatch threat that rivals the impacts of large-scale open ocean fisheries

 

 

Arlington, Va. (April 1, 2013) – The most comprehensive global evaluation ever conducted of fisheries bycatch impacts on large marine species, published this month in the journal Ecosphere, revealed that sea turtle populations in the East Pacific, North Atlantic, Southwest Atlantic and Mediterranean face much higher bycatch and mortality rates than previously estimated. The study also highlighted information gaps that are blocking further assessments of impacts, and found that bycatch rates in small-scale fisheries in nearshore areas rival those of large-scale fisheries in the open ocean. Currently, six out of the seven species of sea turtles are endangered globally, and without effective measures to reduce bycatch, many sea turtle populations around the world could face local extinction.  

 

“We lose hundreds or thousands of turtles each year in populations that are already at risk,” said Dr. Bryan Wallace of Oceanic Society and Duke University, a co-author of the study. “Many sea turtle populations around the world could face local extinction if we don’t reduce bycatch.” 

 

The findings are the result of a comprehensive assessment of fisheries bycatchthe accidental capture and injury of marine animals in fishing gear that are not the target catch species – from multiple fishing gears to-date for any large marine species. Researchers at Conservation International, Oceanic Society, San Diego State University, Duke University and Stanford University analyzed data from more than 1800 bycatch records over the last two decades to determine the regions and types of fishing gear with the highest impacts on sea turtles.

 

“This study should serve as an initial roadmap to prioritize investment of limited resources to sustainably manage fisheries to minimize bycatch,” Wallace continued. “Our analyses demonstrate where and how sea turtles are being accidentally killed and inform decisions on what steps we can take to reverse the decline of turtle populations.”

 

Sea turtles play important roles in maintaining healthy marine ecosystems. They feed on sea grasses, sponges and jellyfish, which can help to maintain habitats that serve as nurseries for other species and support healthy fish populations.

 

The analysis also exposed significant gaps in available bycatch data around Africa, in the North Indian Ocean and in Southeast Asia, which prevented researchers from evaluating bycatch rates in these regions. Turtle populations in these regions are already under high threat from human exploitation of their eggs, meat and shell material, and fishing activity in areas that turtles inhabit is high.

 

Researchers assessed bycatch impacts of three different categories of fishing gear and found that on a global scale, mortality from nets and trawls was greater than that from longlines. “This came as a bit of a surprise because longlines have been thought to be the primary source of bycatch of turtles and other non-target species such as seabirds,” said Rebecca Lewison of San Diego State University, a study co-author. “These results show that while mitigating sea turtle bycatch in longlines—like those anchored to the bottom—is still necessary, reducing turtle bycatch in net and trawl fisheries worldwide should be given more attention than it has received in the past.”

 

Sea turtles were also found to face high bycatch threats from small-scale, near-shore fisheries, especially in areas where turtles concentrate to feed and nest. “Bycatch in small-scale fisheries is rarely monitored or regulated, but can have disproportionately large impacts on turtles and other bycatch species,” Wallace added. “But these fisheries are also disproportionately important for the socioeconomics of coastal communities worldwide, so bycatch reduction has to be balanced with the livelihoods of fishermen.”

 

In fact, the highest bycatch rates in the world have been documented in small-scale fishing gear off Baja California, Mexico. Despite numbering only 100 boats, this small fishing fleet accidentally catches and kills as many loggerhead turtles each year as all other fisheries in the North Pacific combined. Just last year, more than 2,000 turtles of this endangered population were killed—a 600-percent increase over previous mortality estimates.

 

Though this situation is dire, Wallace says that there is still hope. “Fisheries and environment managers in Mexico can reduce loggerhead bycatch by protecting turtles in their important feeding and breeding areas, managing the amount and types of gear being used and working with small-scale fishermen to implement techniques that reduce bycatch,” he said. “The loggerhead bycatch situation is being closely watched around the world, so if it is handled well, it could be a great model for other places to follow.”

 

A study published last year in Biological Conservation, which Wallace co-authored, illustrated that several tools are available to managers to reduce mortality of sea turtles due to bycatch. For example, bycatch reduction measures, including use of turtle excluder devices in shrimp trawlers, implemented in U.S. fisheries reduced overall accidental sea turtle deaths by 90 percent over two decades.

 

"The presence of sea turtles is a sign of a healthy ecosystem with a high level of biodiversity, which can support healthy fisheries," said Sebastian Troeng, Senior Vice President for the Global Marine Program at CI, who conducted his doctoral research on sea turtles. "This landmark study provides decision makers with a guide on how to prioritize bycatch prevention, which is a key component of sustainable fisheries management and absolutely necessary for global food security." 

###

 

Full study: http://www.esajournals.org/doi/full/10.1890/ES12-00388.1

Images available for download here: http://bit.ly/163XP1q

Learn more at: www.conservation.org/seaturtleseptember