Blog | Oceana USA

You may know a lot about long lining, bycatch and sea turtles. You also followed Charlotte on her Mediterranean Sea adventure as a fisher-woman.

But do you know about bycatch of sea birds?

A recent study based on satellite tracking, released on Wednesday Nov. 10, shows "hot spots" where longline fishing trawlers and albatrosses cross paths. And the news is not good for the birds -- they are lured by the baited hooks and then drown.

How do you solve such a problem? As it happens, there may be a fairly low-tech solution:

Conservationists say that fairly simple measures can be used by longliners to reduce seabird mortality.

[Richard Thomas from Birdlife] said Brazilian fishermen use a colorful but effective technique that involves dyeing their bait two shades of blue.

Birds tend not to see blue but fish do. The first dye keeps the birds away but is water soluble and bleaches after the bait sinks. This leaves the fat-soluble blue dye which makes the bait more attractive to the fish, so both fishermen and birds win.

If you want to read the full article you can find it here.

Other links:

It has been announced everywhere and here it is: the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment, the new report on climate change. And what a report! I am actually reading it. I highly recommend it; and please send a copy to those who do not believe...

The Arctic Council called for this assessment, and it is the work of the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme, the Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna, along with the International Arctic Science Committee. The Arctic Climate Impact Assessment is divided into ten "key findings", and is easy to read as well as understand. These keys make for a good summary:

  1. Arctic climate is now warming rapidly and much larger changes are projected.
  2. Arctic warming and its consequences have worldwide implications.
  3. Arctic vegetation zones are very likely to shift, causing wide-ranging impacts.
  4. Animal species' diversity, ranges, and distribution will change.
  5. Many coastal communities and facilities face increasing exposure to storms.
  6. Reduced sea ice is very likely to increase marine transport and access to resources.
  7. Thawing ground will disrupt transportation, buildings, and other infrastructure.
  8. Indigenous communities are facing major economic and cultural impacts.
  9. Elevated ultraviolet radiation levels will affect people, plants, and animals.
  10. Multiple influences interact to cause impacts to people and ecosystems.

If you want to know more about the marine environment, you want to read carefully key finding #4. The marine environment, the marine fisheries and the aquaculture in the region are dissected.

I will end with the beginning of their conclusion:

As the scientific results presented in this assessment clearly illustrate, climate change presents a major and growing challenge to the Arctic and the world as a whole. While the concerns this generates are important now, their implications are of even greater importance for the future generations that will inherit the legacy of the current actions or inaction. Strong near-term action to reduce emissions is required in order to alter the future path of human-induced warming. Action is also needed to begin to adapt to the warming that is already occurring and will continue. The findings of this first Arctic Climate Impact Assessment provide a scientific basis upon which decision makers can consider, craft and implement appropriate actions to respond to this important and far-reaching challenge.

Ever wonder what's with all the Hollywood stars endorsing environmental groups? You're not alone. Three-hundred reporters and editors from around the nation met last week in Pittsburgh at the Society of Environmental Journalists (SEJ) annual convention, to listen to an opening-night panel discussion on "Celebrity, the Media and the Environment." It was an exploration of how celebrities impact how the public views environmental issues.

Ted Danson addressing the SEJThe lead celebrities on the panel were Oceana's own Ted Danson, who is a member of our Board of Directors, and former Pittsburgh Steelers football great Franco Harris, who is now heavily involved in community and environmental work. Representatives also attended from Conservation International and one from the Competitive Enterprise Institute. Andy Rivkind, the New York Times environmental reporter, was moderator.

Earlier that evening, both Danson and Harris had spoken at a political rally in Pittsburgh by Sen. John Kerry. During the SEJ panel discussion, Teresa Heinz Kerry, the candidate's wife, made a surprise appearance. She got a standing ovation from the 300 journalists as she walked in for a very brief visit - she was in and out in under five minutes. She urged those present to vote in the Nov. 2 ballot.

Danson - a 1972 graduate of Carnegie Mellon University, where the SEJ held its convention -- had many interesting things to say about his work with Oceana. Among them were:

  • "I'm the red flag that waves to get attention." He told of how he and Oceana staffers visited Capitol Hill in recent weeks, and while he was capitalizing on his star power, getting his picture taken with a senator and signing autographs, Oceana policy staffers were meeting with the senator's aides, lobbying for our issues. He added: "I'm a fool for the environment. But I take what Oceana does very seriously."
  • He started his American Oceans Campaign group in 1987 after his brother-in-law, a scientist who worked at Woods Hole and later at Scripps, told him about the deep trouble the oceans are in. After his AOC merged with Oceana in 2001, Danson said Oceana became "the biggest group of people working on the ocean alone in the world." He said that while AOC started small, Oceana is now growing so fast, "now I'm holding on to the shirt-tails" of Oceana, as it keeps expanding.
  • "I'm a firm believer that we must work with business... The source of the problem is business and it can also be the solution."

Panelist Myron Ebell, director of Global Warming and International Environmental Policy at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, had this to tell reporters:

"Ted Danson is a serious environmentalist, so that celebrity tag doesn't apply to him.... With great power comes great responsibility. Celebrities have an entrée to the public" and they can use that entrée responsibly. "I think Ted Danson is a good example of someone who's done it - he knows what he's talking about."

Late Friday, Governor Schwarzenegger signed into law AB 2672 (Simitian), making California the first state to ban discharges from sewage from toilets into state waters. This is in addition to the bills passed earlier in the week banning the discharge sewage from sinks, showers and laundries (also called graywater), giving California some of the strictest cruise pollution laws in the country.

"I'm tremendously pleased," Assemblyman Joe Simitian (the bill's author) said Friday afternoon. "This really puts California at the forefront of coastal protection. The cruise ship industry has been a growing economic benefit to the state, but it also poses growing problems in terms of coastal protection."

(Quote from The Contra Costa Times.)

This is exciting news for our oceans and the state of California! Many thanks to all of you who sent e-mails to the state legislature over the last few months -- this couldn't have happened without you.