Right Whales and Cashes Ledge: How to Make a Good Thing Last

Feb 5, 2016 by  | Bio |  Leave a Comment

Right whale critical habitat

Photo via GARFO GIS Datasets.

In late January, North Atlantic right whales scored a big win when the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) expanded the critical habitat for the endangered whale from 4,500 square nautical miles to 28,000 square nautical miles.

The original area included only a portion of Cape Cod Bay and an area east of Nantucket near the Great South Channel. This major expansion adds almost all of the Gulf of Maine, east to Georges Bank, and south all the way to Cape Canaveral, Florida. The Gulf of Maine expansion includes Cashes Ledge – an area known for its rich biodiversity and abundance of fish and marine mammals and a place that CLF has been fighting to permanently protect for years.

This is great news for the North Atlantic right whale – the world’s most endangered large whale – and for those of us who care about saving it. Expanding the whale’s critical habitat means that federal agencies are thinking more systemically about what the right whale needs not just to survive but to once again thrive – designating not only places where the whales congregate to forage, but also the places that are critical for mating and calving.

This expansion is also a terrific example of ocean use planning in action. Before announcing the final decision, NOAA, through its National Marine Fisheries Service, called for public dialogue and input about the proposed expansion. It also allowed for new information to guide and influence its decisions around how to manage and permit other activities (like clean energy projects or industrial exploration) in the expanded areas going forward.

Critical Habitat is Good; Permanent Protection is Better – and Necessary

Right whale calf and mother

Right calf and mother. ©Brian Skerry

According to NOAA, calling an area “critical habitat” means that it contains physical or biological features essential to the conservation of a particular species – and those features may require special management considerations or protection.

Federal agencies looking to issue permits or companies seeking permits have to work with NOAA to avoid or reduce impacts from their activities on critical habitats. But, a critical habitat designation isn’t as protective as it sounds. It’s more like a “caution” sign than a stop sign. The designation doesn’t establish a refuge for the right whale or its food sources. And it doesn’t specifically put the area off limits or dictate that certain activities cannot occur.

For endangered species, functional critical habitat is the key to survival. We understand this concept well on land. One ongoing success story is China’s giant panda. People around the world are working to secure permanent protections for its habitats to ensure survival of the species. The Nature Conservancy, for example, has worked with the Chinese government to protect 27,000 acres of Pingwu County for the benefit of just 10 giant pandas.

Today, approximately 1,800 giant pandas remain worldwide. In comparison, just over 500 individual North Atlantic right whales are struggling to survive. Yet we have failed to to permanently protect even one acre of the habitat it needs to recover.

Considering that we know where some of the areas so critical to the North Atlantic right whale are, we need to ask why we’ve been successful in protecting lands critical for terrestrial species, but we haven’t given this same level of protection – or attention – to marine species. Cashes Ledge, a small area in the Gulf of Maine, is uniformly recognized as a scientific marine treasure, and already closed to most fishing. Permanently protecting this area would have little negative impact – yet the positive impact protection might have on the North Atlantic right whale could mean the difference between the species’ survival or its extinction.

Conservation Law Foundation believes that it is time to embrace the familiar land-based conservation principles and apply them, based on the best available scientific information, to permanently protect some of the most impressive and ecologically important ocean habitats and resources in the North Atlantic.

Dramatically expanding the critical habitat area for North Atlantic right whales was without question a good thing – and so was including Cashes Ledge in that designated area.

Let’s now take a good thing and make it even better by permanently protecting Cashes Ledge. Otherwise, this designation will just be a good thing that wasn’t quite good enough.

 

Five Questions for: Dr. Sylvia Earle

Dec 11, 2015 by  | Bio |  Leave a Comment

Sylvia dives at Cashes Ledge. Photo:Kip Evans/Mission Blue

Sylvia dives at Cashes Ledge. Photo:Kip Evans/Mission Blue

In August, Dr. Sylvia Earle, world-renowned conservationist, oceanographer, National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence, and founder/chairman of Sylvia Earle Alliance/Mission Blue, launched a dive expedition to Cashes Ledge, the underwater mountain range 80 miles off the coasts of Portland. Dr. Earle joined the expedition to amplify the efforts of CLF and Mission Blue, as well as scientists, business leaders, environmental groups, and faith leaders, in calling for the White House to declare Cashes Ledge a Marine National Monument.

1. What was it like to dive on Cashes Ledge?
Diving on Cashes Ledge was an experience of a lifetime, in a lifetime of amazing underwater experiences. I saw for myself what scientists have been raving about for years – a miraculous mountain peak that comes close enough to sunlight to be crowned with a thriving forest of kelp and a richly diverse assemblage of coastal marine life in the open sea.

2. What most surprised you about your experience?
It’s so unlikely to have kelp growing out in the open ocean 80 miles from shore. Instead of blowing in the wind, the kelp blows in the currents. I felt like a dancer with these golden silken scarves surrounding me. Fish swam by, found our eyes, and just looked at us. You could almost see the wheels turning in their minds asking, “What are you doing here?” I thought I went down to look at the fish but the fish were looking at me!

3. Why have you declared Cashes Ledge one of your Hope Spots?
Cashes Ledge is the Yellowstone of the North Atlantic. It’s an amazing gathering of fish and other wildlife that wasn’t known outside the fishing community until recent years, when divers and scientists began exploring and documenting the nature of this glorious, golden forest. It’s a place that is a natural for permanent protection – full and enduring protection. That’s what a Hope Spot is about. We look at unique areas, special places that harbor diverse forms of life, and seek to protect them for renewal and survival. Taking care of Cashes Ledge is a symbol of hope – not just hope for the fish, but for us, too.

Dr. Earle dives on Cashes Ledge for the first time. Video: Kip Evans/Mission Blue


4. What do you wish more people understood about the world’s oceans?

Life itself depends on the ocean – and most of life on Earth is under the ocean’s surface. Look at the Earth from outer space – it’s mostly blue. There’s a lot of talk these days about the green movement, but if there’s no blue, there won’t be any green. We have to care for the ocean as if our lives depend on it, because they in fact do.

5. What makes you optimistic about the future of our oceans?
Historically we have thought of the ocean as a place to extract things – fish, oil, gas. But now we know that all life depends on taking care of the ocean. The most important thing we extract from the sea is our very existence. Today, we have a chance with the blue United States to give back to the ocean that gives us so much. Taking positive action to protect the ocean and restore its health is an idea whose time has come.

Governor Baker: The People Have Spoken, and They Want a Marine National Monument

Nov 6, 2015 by  | Bio |  2 Comment »

The people of New England, and especially Massachusetts, have spoken – and they want a Marine National Monument in the Atlantic.

More than 160,000 people have signed their name in support of a monument designation, including over 10,000 from Massachusetts alone. We’ve received public letters of support from coastal businesses, faith-based organizations, and aquaria. And more than 200 U.S. marine scientists, including the most prominent marine ecologists in the region, have stated that the Cashes Ledge Area and the New England Canyons and Seamounts hold special ecological value and need permanent protection as national monuments. There is no dispute about the scientific importance or vulnerability of these areas.

Our coalition said: Here’s the science; here’s what’s at stake; here are the risks to these incredible habitats. We asked the public to stand with us in support for permanent protection, and overwhelmingly, they have said – and keep saying – “yes.”

They showed up at an event at the New England Aquarium in the week before Labor Day (when they could have been doing many other things) to learn about these places and what makes them so important. They signed comment cards, and took home buttons and posters to share with colleagues and friends to spread the word. And then they showed up again, when NOAA held a town hall meeting for the express purpose of gathering public feedback. And NOAA is still accepting public comment. The Cashes Ledge Area has been studied for over ten years in a public forum. If that’s not public process, what is?

The Obama Administration should be lauded for seeking to take the steps necessary to protect critical ocean habitats from human threats – which include more than threats from fishing – and therefore require more comprehensive protection than a fishery management council has to offer. A monument is necessary to protect the health of our ocean, restore its natural productivity, and make it resilient to climate change impacts, already putting stress on iconic fish like Atlantic cod.

New Englanders are champions and leaders for the ocean, as evidenced by our commitment to drafting the first-in-the-nation regional ocean plan, due out next year. This plan will make great strides for managing the region’s ocean resources over the long term but it is not at all clear if and when this plan would consider permanent and full habitat protection of vitally important ecological areas like Cashes Ledge and the New England Canyons and Seamounts.

A marine monument designation is not an overreach of power, but rather exactly what the Antiquities Act was created to do. These areas are in federal waters and the President has critical stewardship obligations for those resources that transcend fisheries politics. Economically, scientifically, and morally, saving our ocean treasures makes sense. We hope you’ll come to agree with the thousands of people and businesses in Massachusetts who have already stood up for our future.

The Death of Atlantic Cod: The Convenience of Denial

Oct 29, 2015 by  | Bio |  Leave a Comment

Kelp Forest and Cod at Cashes Ledge; 70-miles off the coast of MaineAtlantic cod’s future in New England is overshadowed with existential dread. With so many opinions flying around about what the “science” says or what the fishermen “see,” trying to make sense of what is going on with Atlantic cod with any precision seems a fool’s errand. However, we must not fall victim to the convenience of denial. If anything, recent cod stock assessment shadows have only darkened.

In August, the Northeast Fisheries Science Center, a NOAA entity charged with conducting ecosystem-based research and assessments of fish stocks and other marine resources to promote their recovery and long-term sustainability, completed a series of “operational assessments” for 20 groundfish stocks. The purpose of these quick assessments was to shed light on changes in stock status in the time between major stock assessment reviews, which typically happen every 1 to 3 years.

The news was not good for a number of stocks. The assessments show that, of the 20 stocks the Science Center reviewed, at least 8 groundfish populations are either in worse condition or are still not showing any recovery, despite mandated catch reductions (such as those implemented for Gulf of Maine cod). Furthermore, there are now seven assessment models that they say have “diagnostic problems,” adding a level of uncertainty about the data.

The Science Center determined Georges Bank cod populations were at an unfathomable 1% of where they should be and that 2014 fishing pressure was estimated to be 994% higher than the overfishing limit. In other words, to ensure the population of cod in a given area is sustainable, the estimated numbers of cod should be 100 times higher than what the models estimate is actually in the water – a deplorable condition made all the more troubling given the intense fishing pressure estimated on this species.

After a quick peer review, however, the New England Fishery Management Council’s Science and Statistical Committee (SSC) threw out the Science Center’s assessment model, deeming the Georges Bank cod models now so unreliable that they were unusable for management advice.

Rejecting the Georges Bank cod models conveniently means the Council can move another stock off the formal “overfishing” list and into the “unknown” category, but that doesn’t mean that the stock is in any less trouble. “Unknown” in this context means that the stock has gone off its scientific rails – which is not a comforting situation when that fish is Atlantic cod, the region’s most iconic fish species, and cod populations are estimated to be lower than at any point in history!

No good news

Models or not, certain fundamental signals of the severity of the current cod problem remain. All of the U.S. and Canadian Georges Bank cod surveys continue to show the lowest levels in decades. The number of juvenile cod has been below average since 1990.

Additionally, the fish from the recent trawl survey were smaller at various ages than in previous surveys, and the older, more productive cod seem to be virtually gone. And 2014 was the first year the Canadian survey didn’t catch any fish older than 8 years old and above 36” in length. Not very hopeful circumstances for a species that should be living longer than 20 years and growing to twice that size. The assessment scientists, once again, could not point to a single positive biological indicator for the species.

Why are cod so unproductive? It seems everyone has an opinion, so here’s mine: As the scientists tell us, these cod populations have been pummeled by rampant overfishing for 37 years in a row. Add to that the stresses of rapidly changing sea water temperatures, plankton crashes, increased predation on larvae and juvenile cod, and unreported discards… and you have a species on the ropes.

In this context, the Fishing Management Council Science and Statistical Committee’s recent catch advice to the managers for the upcoming fishing years with respect to Georges Bank cod seems only barely scientific. The Science and Statistical Committee recommended that 2016-2018 catch limits should be based on an average of the most recent three-year catches, reduced by the catch declines seen in the recent NOAA trawl surveys—a decrease of 24%. At the risk of exposing my mathematical limitations, isn’t that just about the same as scientifically blessing continued declines rather than making any recommendations that would reverse them?

The overfishing limits (OFL) they have recommended for both are reduced by identical “scientific uncertainty” adjustments– 25% –to produce their recommended acceptable biological catch (ABC).

Directionally, the Science and Statistical Committee’s advice for cod has some merit: catches should certainly be cut. But at a time when, one, there is such scientific uncertainty that the committee has to throw out the assessment model and, two, there is not one positive biological sign of any basis for hope of recovery, I have to ask: Are there any circumstances under which the science advisors will tell the managers that we must stop catching cod?

Apparently, not yet.

This Week on TalkingFish.org – October 19-23

Oct 23, 2015 by  | Bio |  Leave a Comment

October 20 – Fish Talk in the News – Tuesday, October 20 – In this edition of Fish Talk in the News, WSJ covers the Maine lobster boom; Eileen Sobeck has a message about at-sea monitors and observers; the market divide between Maine crab and lobster is growing; 18 local fishermen receive safety training; and local NPR station WCAI features Cashes Ledge and the New England Coral Canyons and Seamounts. In the News, by Talking Fish.

October 21 – Fish Styx: The convenience of denying the death of Atlantic cod – Atlantic cod’s future in New England is overshadowed with existential dread. With so many opinions flying around about what the “science” says or what the fishermen “see,” trying to make sense of what is going on with Atlantic cod with any precision seems a fool’s errand. However, we must not fall victim to the convenience of denial. If anything, recent cod stock assessments shadows have only darkened. New England Fisheries, by Peter Shelley.

October 22 – Experts say: In the case for marine protection, the science begs for accelerated decision-making – The Earth is over 70% ocean, but our efforts to preserve our blue planet lag far behind terrestrial protections. Former NOAA Administrator Jane Lubchenco and fellow Oregon State University researcher Kirsten Grorud-Colvert published a paper in Science last week acknowledging recent global progress in ocean conservation but emphasizing the need to do much more. Protecting Ocean Ecosystems, by Talking Fish.

October 23 – Fishing in Hot Water – Taking a broader approach to fisheries management allows for increased ecosystem resilience through adaptive management, which in turn can prepare our fisheries and fishermen for the impacts of climate change. Scientific studies continue to provide evidence of warming ocean waters being the product of climate change and excessive carbon pollution. The Gulf of Maine is warming faster than 99% of the world’s oceans, so being prepared MUST be a priority for Maine’s fishermen who rely on species that are dependent on cool waters. Protecting Ocean Ecosystems, guest post by Lucy Van Hook (Maine Coast Fishermen’s Association).

October 23 – Fish Talk in the News – Friday, October 23 – In this edition of Fish Talk in the News, 2015 will likely be the hottest year on record; Maine suspends its sea urchin swipe card system; Maine closes sea urchin fishing off Southport; Maine reduces scallop fishing to 60 days for southern part of the state; GMRI receives $6.5 million grant to expand climate change education program; Cape Cod selectman calls for creation of Cape Cod Shark Watch; U.S. Senate passes IUU fishing bill; NOAA Fisheries launches mobile-friendly FishWatch.gov; and nations fully protect over 1 million square miles of ocean in 2015. In the News, by Talking Fish.

This Week on TalkingFish.org – October 5-9

Oct 9, 2015 by  | Bio |  Leave a Comment

October 6 – Fish Talk in the News – Tuesday, October 6 – In this edition of Fish Talk in the News, President Obama announces the first new marine national sanctuaries in 15 years; President Obama says he will protect more U.S. waters; new research shows many young fish are moving north as ocean waters warm; NOAA delays the deadline for industry-funded at-sea monitoring; UNE receives federal funding for Atlantic cod research; GMRI is hosting a workshop on improving stock assessments; CT Senator urges New York to support pesticide legislation to help lobster population; and will seaweed be New England’s next big local food? In the News, by Talking Fish.

October 7 – Council Delivers Blow to River Herring in New England – The New England Fishery Management Council voted in favor of increasing river herring catch caps at its September 2015 meeting last week. This post provides an update to our readers following last week’s post, River Herring at Risk in New England Waters. New England Fisheries, by Mandy Helwig.

October 8 – Council Makes a Wrong Move for River Herring – The New England Fishery Management Council has again shown that they are unwilling to protect river herring and shad at sea. Last week at their meeting in Plymouth, Massachusetts, the Council voted to increase the amount of river herring and shad that can be caught by the herring fleet, even though the current caps have not even been in place for one year, and no science was presented suggesting that these populations have recovered. New England Fisheries, cross-post by Talking Fish.

October 9 – Fish Talk in the News – Friday, October 9 – In this edition of Fish Talk in the News, a new bill calls for NOAA to pay for at-sea monitoring or an end to the program; American eels will not be listed under the Endangered Species Act; UMass Dartmouth researchers use Saltonstall-Kennedy grant to study fish movement patterns; NOAA Fisheries seeks comments on regional recreational fishing action plan; local mackerel are a delicious, sustainable seafood; victories for ocean conservation at Our Ocean 2015; and the U.S. announces a new program to crack down on IUU fishing.

Call Your Senators Today to Save Ocean Treasures!

Oct 7, 2015 by  | Bio |  1 Comment »

Cashes Ledge

Over the last few months, support has grown to permanently protect our most precious ocean areas, the Cashes Ledge Area and the New England Canyons and Seamounts. If you are among those who signed our petition to President Obama, thank you! Your voice is making a difference.

But now we need your help once again. Your Senators need to hear from as many constituents as we can rally that you support this Marine National Monument. Please, call your Senators today with this urgent message. Just a few minutes of your time could help create a remarkable legacy of protected areas for future generations.

Step 1: Call the United States Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121 and ask to speak with one of your senators.

Step 2: When someone answers, say:

“Hello! My name is ________. I am a constituent, and I ask Senator ________ to support a Marine National Monument designation for Cashes Ledge and the coral canyons and seamounts in order to save vulnerable species and ensure a healthy ocean for future generations.”

That’s all you have to say! Want to add more? Here’s what permanently protecting New England’s ocean treasures will ensure:

  • Protection from industrial exploration, including oil and gas drilling
  • Insights from scientific research, which are especially crucial in the face of climate change
  • A healthy economy: thriving fish and whale populations boost local fishing and tourism industries

Step 3: Click here to let us know how your calls went. It helps us to know that you’ve called, and your feedback helps us in determining our next steps in this critical campaign.

Thank you for your continued commitment to CLF and the creation of the Atlantic’s first Marine National Monument. We can’t do it without you.

Setting the Record Straight: Marine Monuments Have a Long, Proud Legacy

Sep 29, 2015 by  | Bio |  Leave a Comment

A cunner swims through healthy kelp forest at Cashes Ledge

A cunner swims through healthy kelp forest at Cashes Ledge

Former Conservation Law Foundation Staff Attorney Roger Fleming, who is now a part of the Oceans litigation team at EarthJustice, details how the National Monument establishment process through the Antiquities Act serves the public’s interest. 

By Roger Fleming

One hundred-nine years ago this week President Teddy Roosevelt created the first national monument, protecting the magnificent Devil’s Tower formation in Wyoming. Since then, sixteen presidents – eight from each party — have used the power granted by Congress in the Antiquities Act to create more than 115 monuments protecting the nation’s natural and historic heritage on land and at sea, from the Statue of Liberty to the Marianas Trench.

Now we have a chance to see that proud tradition in action again to protect a national treasure right here in our backyard with a Marine National Monument off New England’s coast. On September 15, 2015, NOAA hosted a town hall meeting in Providence, Rhode Island, in order to discuss the possible establishment of a monument that could include deep sea Coral Canyons and Seamounts and Cashes Ledge. Scientists have identified these areas as deserving of special protection due to unique undersea terrain and nutrient upwelling that supports cold water coral gardens, our largest cold water kelp forest, fish, marine mammals, seabirds, and more.

A broad coalition of scientists, small business owners, fishermen, faith groups, civic leaders, and conservationists have sent a clear message that we need to save these ecologically important places before irreparable damage is done, so that future generations can enjoy their unimaginable beauty and a healthier marine environment. That is exactly what the Antiquities Act is intended to do.

Unfortunately, opponents in the fishing industry have attempted to muddy the waters with unfounded concerns about the “process” being used to provide protection for these areas.

Opponents who spoke at NOAA’s town hall event argued that the monument designation process is undemocratic, and that decisions about how to manage these areas should be left to the New England Fishery Management Council, which oversees fishing in the region’s federal waters.

Many who gave comment also complained about a lack of opportunity for public comment on the monument designation. Let that sink in for a moment: complaints about a lack of public comment were made while giving public comment.

Let’s set the record straight on a few things.

First, the monuments process is democratic.

President Obama has the authority to establish permanent protection of these areas through designation of a monument under the Antiquities Act. This Act is another tool provided to the democratically-elected president by our democratically-elected Congress to preserve areas identified as historic landmarks and areas of scientific interest before it is too late – before the opportunity to save a valuable resource is lost. This president’s predecessor, George W. Bush, created four monuments in the Pacific Ocean covering a total of 860,000 square kilometers. None exist in the Atlantic Ocean.

Second, there has been—and continues to be—public input into the process.

Already in this nascent proposal for a new marine monument there has been a town hall meeting where anyone wishing to do so was given the opportunity to speak and an ongoing public comment period through which over 160,000 people have already written in support of saving these important places. Arguably, the Obama administration has gone out of its way to provide opportunities to be heard on a proposal, in circumstances where it is not at all required to by law.

Leading up to the monument proposal, there were years of study of these areas and numerous opportunities for the public and other stakeholders to provide relevant scientific, economic, and other information, and to otherwise make their views known as possible protections were discussed in different venues, including the fishery management process.  Because the President’s decision must be based on science, this will all be considered.

Third, the New England Fishery Management Council has a checkered history regarding public and scientific involvement, and an even worse record as a steward of the public’s ocean resources.

The fishery management process remains dominated by the fishing industry and fails to adequately consider broader public interests. One need only look to the status of New England’s iconic fish species, the Atlantic cod, for evidence of this. Cod stocks have collapsed and the region’s groundfishing sector was declared a disaster, costing taxpayers millions of dollars. The record clearly shows that New England’s Council ignored repeated warnings from science about the deteriorating condition of cod stocks until it was far too late. Just last year more than a hundred-forty scientists and more than 150,000 members of public implored the council to protect more habitat for these and other depleted fish. But the Council instead voted to slash the amount of essential fish habitat protected by more than 60 percent.

The Council did succeed in identifying the ecological, economic, and social importance of the Cashes Ledge Closed area, and has closed the area to most bottom fishing. However, this action came only after an earlier vote to strip existing protections from that area. Further, the limited protections in place leave nearly all of the area open to other fishing, including the East Coast’s largest fishing vessels – industrial midwater trawlers – which are capable of stripping the area of essential forage fish, catching non-targeted fish, mammals and other marine animals as bycatch, and are known to contact the bottom when fishing. The protections in place are not permanent and could be removed at any time through the fishery management process.

Similarly, the New England canyons and seamounts have been identified by the Council as important ecological areas but they have received very few protections which are not worthy of their unique ecological importance.

Finally, this is not just about fishing.

New England’s “Fishery Management” Council has no authority to address other potential threats that could surface for the area, such as marine mining, drilling, or other industrial activity. Unlike the tenuous, partial protections now in place for Cashes Ledge and New England’s Canyons and Seamounts, a national monument provides permanent protection against all types of harmful extraction.

Such protection would benefit critically endangered right whales, which are known to depend on Cashes Ledge, fantastic deep-sea corals in the Canyons and Seamounts, and the important sea birds that feed on the surface of these rich waters.  Many coastal businesses, including many fishermen, support the proposal because they recognize there will also be broad economic benefits that will result from protecting these unique treasures and a healthier marine environment.

These areas belong to the U.S. public, and overwhelming evidence shows that the monument process is fair and that a marine monument would best serve the public’s interests now and into the future.

Last Week on TalkingFish.org – September 21-25

Sep 28, 2015 by  | Bio |  Leave a Comment

lobster shoalsSeptember 22 – Fish Talk in the News – Tuesday, September 22 – In this edition of Fish Talk in the News, NEFMC Habitat Committee meets tomorrow; NEFMC Council meeting is next week; RI DEM investigates menhaden die-offs; RI oyster festival promotes local oysters and composting; NH Senator hosts meeting regarding at-sea monitoring; NOAA announces commercial scup quota increase; NOAA announces no change to surfclam and quahog quotas; and UNE signs letter of intent to sponsor marine business incubator. In the News. By Talking Fish

September 23 – Why is Managing Fish in the World’s Oceans Like an Episode of ‘I Love Lucy’? – Fish scientist Jason Link says he often feels like he’s living the classic chocolate factory episode of the 1950s TV show “I Love Lucy,” in which Lucy and Ethel can’t wrap candies as fast as the conveyor belt spits them out. “We’re trying to keep up with rules on individual species whose populations are frequently changing. Our conveyor belt is moving faster and faster.” Protecting Ocean Ecosystems. By Lee Crockett.

September 24 – The Pope’s Climate Speech Reminds Us: Act Now for Saving Our Oceans – Pope Francis began his visit to the United States yesterday in our nation’s capitol where he addressed thousands of people on the White House lawn. The Pope’s visit is always expected to make headlines, and on this visit, his comments on climate change are top news. Protecting Ocean Ecosystems. By Talking Fish.

September 25 – Fish Talk in the News – Friday, September 25 – In this edition of Fish Talk in the News, Happy National Lobster Day!; Fish Locally Collaborative is organizing an Amendment 18 demonstration for next week’s NEFMC meeting; nearly half of U.S. edible seafood is wasted each year; ASMFC postpones limited entry program for Maine’s northern shrimp fishery; Aquamesh celebrates 35 years; NOAA awards GMRI nearly half a million dollars; reinforced shorelines may impact estuary recovery; an unusual cold spot in the North Atlantic worries some scientists; and NOAA will provide over half a million in funding to three aquaculture projects. In the News, by Talking Fish.

September 25 – Setting the Record Straight: Marine Monuments Have a Long, Proud Legacy – Opponents who spoke at NOAA’s town hall event argued that the monument designation process is undemocratic, and that decisions about how to manage these areas should be left to the New England Fishery Management Council, which oversees fishing in the region’s federal waters. Let’s set the record straight on a few things. Protecting Ocean Ecosystems, by Roger Fleming