Associated Press, NYTIMES.COM
Sacramento Bee: Starving sea lions spotlight overfishing
Federal regulators on Wednesday approved an early closure of commercial sardine fishing off Oregon, Washington and California to prevent overfishing.
The decision was aimed at saving the West Coast sardine fishery from the kind of collapse that led to the demise of Cannery Row, made famous by John Steinbeck’s novel of the same name set in Monterey, California.
Meeting outside Santa Rosa, California, the Pacific Fishery Management Council voted to direct NOAA Fisheries Service to halt the current season as early as possible, affecting about 100 fishing boats with sardine permits, though far fewer are actively fishing at the moment. The season normally would end June 30.
Frank Lockhart of NOAA Fisheries Service estimated it would take one to two weeks to notify fishermen and bring sardine fishing to a close.
Earlier this week, the council shut down the next sardine season, which was set to begin July 1.
The action was taken based on revised estimates of sardine populations, which found the fish were declining in numbers faster than earlier believed, and fears that without action sardines could soon reach the status of being overfished.
The council did not take Wednesday’s decision lightly and understood the pain the closure would impose on the fishing industry, said council member Michele Culver, representing the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. She added that it was necessary because a new assessment of sardine stocks showed they were much lower th
Read more via Federal Fisheries Regulators Halt West Coast Sardine Season – NYTimes.com.
Mary Callahan, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Experts meet to develop strategy to combat carbon dioxide-related changes affecting sea creatures
SAN JOSE — Members of a multidisciplinary panel tackling the related problems of ocean acidification and low-oxygen zones off the western shore of the continent conceded Sunday they had little to offer yet in the way of solutions beyond what most of us know: We need to dump less carbon dioxide into the air.
But scientists associated with the West Coast Ocean Acidification and Hypoxia Science Panel offered hope in a uniquely collaborative, cross-jurisdictional approach set up to move quickly toward a more complete understanding of shifting ocean conditions that enables direct feedback to government decision-makers who can compel action.
The 20-member panel includes representatives from varied research areas across California, Oregon, Washington and British Columbia, but also has the support of governors of those regions and an urgent desire to develop action strategies, members said during a session of the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s annual convention in San Jose.
The idea is to accelerate the already growing body of research on changing ocean chemistry and tailor studies specifically so government regulators, industry and scientific innovators can adapt problem-solving techniques.
“We want to make sure we have the answers while they’re still useful,” said Francis Chan, an assistant professor in the department of integrative biology at Oregon State University.
Read more via Effort afoot to ramp up study of West | The Press Democrat.
Carl Zimmer, NYTIMES.COM
Ultimately, Dr. Palumbi warned, slowing extinctions in the oceans will mean cutting back on carbon emissions, not just adapting to them.
A team of scientists, in a groundbreaking analysis of data from hundreds of sources, has concluded that humans are on the verge of causing unprecedented damage to the oceans and the animals living in them.
“We may be sitting on a precipice of a major extinction event,” said Douglas J. McCauley, an ecologist at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and an author of the new research, which was published on Thursday in the journal Science.
But there is still time to avert catastrophe, Dr. McCauley and his colleagues also found. Compared with the continents, the oceans are mostly intact, still wild enough to bounce back to ecological health.
Read more via Ocean Life Faces Mass Extinction, Broad Study Says – NYTimes.com.
Mary Callahan, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
A series of public hearings on the North Coast last week unsurprisingly revealed overwhelming support for extending national marine sanctuary protections to the Sonoma and southern Mendocino coasts, federal officials said.
But with long-sought, permanent bans that would forbid oil drilling and other potentially harmful human activity in coastal waters within reach, many conservationists are looking to the details. They are seeking refinements in federal plans that would optimize conditions for wildlife in newly protected waters.
Reservations expressed during public hearings in Point Arena, Gualala and Bodega Bay are not enough to dampen enthusiasm for a proposal to more than double the combined size of the Cordell Bank and Gulf of the Farallones marine sanctuaries. The plan would extend sanctuary designation to 2,771 square miles of ocean, creating a band of protected waters along about 350 miles of California coastline. Protections would extend from Cambria to Manchester Beach, when combined with the Monterey Bay sanctuary.
But several concerns have come to light in recent weeks that advocates hope can be ironed out to the advantage of marine wildlife.
via West Sonoma County forums show support for marine protections | The Press Democrat.
Samantha Kimmey, POINT REYES LIGHT, 05/30/2013
A handful of what looks like damp, grayish cereal sits in a plastic tub on Hog Island Oyster Company owner Terry Sawyer’s desk. It looks like small cornflakes, or maybe cooked quinoa. But actually these are spat: many hundreds of tiny “seed” oysters, each barely a millimeter wide. The hope is that each spat will grow into a tasty treat on the half-shell—but most of this batch is already dead.
Like many terrestrial farmers, Mr. Sawyer buys his seed from distributors. In recent years, however, it has become harder to get and harder to grow. Since 2006, West Coast oyster hatcheries have suffered catastrophic collapses, which have led to widespread shortages. The reason? Ocean acidification, a phenomenon that many call the evil twin of climate change.
via Impacts of ocean acidity feed oyster grower’s research | The Point Reyes Light.