We have followed the plight of many marine mammals as they have moved to the brink of extinction. As Melissa Mahoney points out in her latest article for the Environmental Defense Fund, the population of the Western Pacific leatherback turtle is now down by 80% while their Eastern Pacific cousins have diminished by more than 97%. These migratory mammals play an out-sized roll in maintaining a balanced ecosystem in our ocean and are often victims of marine by-catch. (photo – www.emaze.com)
Well Meaning But Counter Productive
To reverse these trends we must look to smart marine management internationally. However, as Mahoney describes, new research suggests that many of the regulations created to help these imperiled species escape marine by-catch, may be counter productive.
The “Spill-Over Effect” in Marine By-Catch
For example, if U.S. regulations to protect sharks and turtles from being caught in fishing nets as marine by-catch, leads to less domestic fishing that is replaced by more international fishing with no by-catch regulations, the result might be an overall greater loss of the sea life that you are attempting to protect. A phenomenon called the “transfer or spill-over effect”. (photo – Paul Hilton, Greenpeace)
The report’s conclusions suggest that it is paramount to include local fisherman in crafting solutions that allow both profitable and sustainable fishing. And by extension to ensure that global fisheries also operate at more sustainable levels by prohibiting imports from countries that do not abide by equivalent marine conservation standards. Read more regarding this issue at “Protecting imperiled ocean travelers” from the Environmental Defense Fund.
Plus see our recent post on a Girl’s Science Club project to solve the problem of marine by-catch, see: SOS: Girls’ Science Club Seeks Feedback, Insight from Marine Experts. Also for everything current on whales see our post: A Whale of a Tale. And for the latest on the strange, and wonderful new marine creatures discovered in the deep ocean see: Awesome and a Bit Bizarre Marine Life Discoveries.
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