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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.”
UNESCO has launched a new program to collect, analyze, and monitor environmental DNA (AKA eDNA) to better understand biodiversity at its marine World Heritage sites. Scientists will collect genetic material from fish cells, mucus, and waste across multiple locations along with eDNA from soil, water, and air. The two-year project will help experts assess […]
It’s about time we had a conversation about the birds and the bees…or in this case, the otters and the seagrass. A new study found that the ecological relationship between sea otters and the seagrass fields where they make their home is spurring the rapid reproduction of the plants. Otters dig up about 5% of […]
By Amy Lupica, ODP Daily Editor An abandoned oil tanker off the coast of Yemen is deteriorating rapidly, and experts say that a hull breach could have far-reaching environmental impacts and threaten millions of people’s access to food and water supplies. The FSO SAFER tanker holds 1.1 million barrels of oil — more than four […]
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