Monthly Archives: April 2015

Healthy Oceans Require Healthy Policy

Our country has been making serious strides in rebuilding some of our most threatened fish species, but key members of Congress are now threatening to undo that progress and take us in the other direction. Luckily, we all have the opportunity to fight back.
Over the last several decades, our understanding of the ocean has deepened tremendously, although sometimes we have had to learn the hard way that the ocean is not inexhaustible. Decades of intense overfishing have led to severe declines in populations of fish, including Atlantic cod, Gulf of Mexico red snapper, and many Pacific coast rockfishes. Thankfully, we have learned a fair amount about how to restore the health of the ocean, and some of that knowledge has been reflected in updates to our nation’s primary fishing law, the Magnuson-Stevens Act, originally passed in 1976.…

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The Manatee’s Hug

When it comes to wildlife, what is the proper balance between conservation and observation or interaction?
by Ellen Prager, PhD, marine scientist and author

Earlier this year I went snorkeling with manatees in Crystal River, FL. Before going out on a boat to where the manatees congregate near warm water springs, we were given a briefing about how to properly observe the manatees and what not to do. The what-not-to-do was emphasized by video footage of people behaving badly. Snorkelers were shown stepping on, kicking, chasing, and all around harassing the manatees. It was simply horrifying and could lead one to believe that all interaction with the manatees in Crystal River should be strictly forbidden.
We, a small group of wetsuit-clad visitors, then went on a short boat ride to the snorkeling area.…

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Protect Costa Rica’s Hammerhead Sharks from Poachers

By Shari Sant Plummer with contributions by Courtney Mattison (Originally published on National Geographic Ocean Views)

Three hundred forty two miles west of mainland Costa Rica lies an oceanic island so spectacular Jacques Cousteau called it the “most beautiful island in the world.” Cascading waterfalls cut through lush foliage, the symphony of a thousand seabirds echoes in your ears, and the surrounding deep waters host a diversity of wildlife found almost nowhere else on the planet. Isla del Coco’s extreme wild beauty appears Jurassic – and was in fact used in the movie of the same name. It seems as though you’ve gone back in time, to a time before humans.

Our ship, the Argo, was greeted by spinner dolphins who leapt and twirled at her bow as we entered the boundaries of Cocos Island Marine Park.…

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Reality Check: Five Years After Deepwater Horizon

By Courtney Mattison & Rachel Devorah
It’s a heartbreaking yet familiar scene. Oil disasters of catastrophic proportions, seeping and sludging all over marine and coastal habitats; hundreds of dead seabirds and dolphins; sick residents and failing coastal economies. The same irrevocable accidents continue to occur. It’s easy to see history repeating itself, posing the inevitable question: will we ever learn from our mistakes?
As the five-year anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster approaches on April 20, the effects of this devastating accident are still raw throughout the Gulf of Mexico. The 2010 catastrophe spewed approximately 210 million gallons of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico, resulting in America’s worst environmental crisis to date and the second largest oil disaster in world history next to the 1991 Gulf War spill, during which Iraqi forces intentionally released 252-336 million gallons of oil into the Persian Gulf.…

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Northern California National Marine Sanctuaries Double in Size

Mission Blue commends the tremendous efforts of the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary and Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary, which recently announced greatly expanded reach for ocean conservation in the coastal waters surrounding San Francisco, the home of Mission Blue headquarters. This near doubling in geographic protection comes at a time when the Obama administrator is pursuing a more aggressive ocean conservation agenda, most notably with massive tracts ocean set aside in the US Pacific to be off-limits to fishing, energy extraction and other activities.
Mission Blue and Dr. Sylvia Earle look forward to working with the National Marine Sanctuaries and NOAA in calling public attention to the positive impact the federal government is making on increasing the geographic area of Marine Protected Areas within US jurisdiction.…

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Nurturing Conservation in the Water

Mission Blue is excited to partner with Blue Ventures, a science-led social enterprise that works with coastal communities to develop transformative approaches for nurturing and sustaining locally led marine conservation. In cooperation with their many partners, the Blue Ventures team works in places where the ocean is vital to local people, cultures and economies, and where there is a fundamental need to support human development. Over the last decade, their models have guided national fisheries policy and been replicated by communities, NGOs, businesses, donors and government agencies along thousands of kilometers of coastline. Blue Ventures have created the largest locally managed marine protected area (LMMA) in the Indian Ocean, catalyzed a sea change in community-led fisheries management, established sustainable aquaculture and ecotourism businesses, and developed new approaches to financing and incentivizing marine conservation.…

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