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Why This Matters: Fish populations need functional habitat to survive and procreate. Climate change is making finding this habitat more challenging for many species. Marine protected areas — places where fish and their habitat are free from harmful gear and other types of development — are crucial. If we want to eat wild-caught seafood in the future, then we need to conserve more essential habitat (30% by 2030 according to scientists) for them to have a chance.
Water Too Warm
The new study on warming ocean waters shows that many fish stocks are reaching their maximum tolerance for temperature increases. The study, published in the journal Science, found that “the temperature safety margins during the moments of spawning and embryo might be very precise, and over hundreds of thousands of years of evolution, marine and freshwater species have worked out just what is best for the next generation. Rapid global warming upsets this equilibrium.” The lead author of the study said that because “fish have adapted their mating patterns to specific habitats over extremely long timeframes, and have tailored their mating cycles of specific ocean currents and food sources, it has to be assumed that being forced to abandon their normal spawning areas will mean major problems for them.”
Fish Habitat Does Not Get Enough Protection
The authors of a report published by the Center for American Progress (CAP) found that the current U.S. federal law that manages fisheries requires the National Marine Fisheries Service to identify “essential fish habitat” but then does not require fisheries management councils and the rules they develop to actually protect those areas that are crucial for healthy fish stocks. The authors of the study looked at the “essential” habitat designated by agency scientists. They then considered that the regional fishery management councils, which are tasked by the law with developing management regulations, are only required by the law “to minimize the adverse effects on this so-called essential habitat to the extent practicable.” They determined, as a result, that very few councils have found it practicable to do so. It may seem counterintuitive, but the more that critical habitat is conserved, the more fish will spawn and remain plentiful. The authors recommend that “improved EFH protections would provide the largest benefit and best chances of long-term economic prosperity to those council regions with the fewest protected habitats and the lowest coverage of fishing-restrictive area.”
The Hill and Time Magazine report that, despite all his pandering, President Trump is not winning over Maine’s lobster fishers nor is he helping Maine’s embattled Republican Senator Susan Collins. Trump’s trade war with China and the coronavirus have delivered a one-two punch to the lobster industry in Maine.
We like to highlight the truly wonderful things happening in conservation during these difficult times, and opportunities are growing to create innovative solutions to solve the ocean’s biggest and toughest challenges. The Ocean Solutions Accelerator is a great way to get both access to funders and experienced entrepreneurs who can help young people with great […]
In the aftermath of a mother being killed by a great white shark on a Maine beach this summer, some are once again calling for the culling of seal populations to keep sharks away from popular beaches. As Yahoo News reported, this latest attack was not an anomaly. Beaches across the Northeast have closed repeatedly […]
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