Join us September 2 to Protect Ocean Treasures

Aug 21, 2015 by  | Bio |  Leave a Comment

You are invited to join world-renowned National Geographic photographer Brian Skerry for an evening of scientific exploration about two extraordinary underwater Atlantic Ocean landmarks in New England.

RSVP to join us at the New England Aquarium in Boston at 5:30pm on Wednesday, September 2, 2015.

Come learn about the need to permanently protect these special places from human threats – forever.

A red cod swims in the healthy kelp forest on Cashes Ledge

A red cod swims in the healthy kelp forest on Cashes Ledge

Cashes Ledge in the Gulf of Maine and the New England Coral Canyons and Seamounts, 150 miles off Cape Cod, are two spectacular underwater places located off New England’s coast. These precious ecosystems provide refuge for hundreds of species, many of which are rare and unique, and they are critical to the vibrancy of our coastal communities.

But these treasures are under threat from climate change, industrial exploitation and fishing.

That’s why we’re gathering with distinguished guests, including Brian Skerry and some of New England’s most prominent marine scientists.

We hope you’ll attend our free pre-event reception at 5:30, where you’ll meet fellow supporters from CLF and other environmental organizations involved in this historic effort to permanently protect Atlantic Ocean treasures – and make your voice heard in support of these marine treasures.

Now is the time to protect Cashes Ledge and the New England Coral Canyons and Seamounts – and we need your help! Your presence will show that the people of New England care about these underwater ocean landmarks. RSVP today.

September 2, 2015  |  Reception: 5:30   |  Event: 6:15
New England Aquarium, Simons IMAX Theater, downtown Boston

“Her Deepness” Dr. Sylvia Earle is commemorating her 80th birthday with a dive at Cashes Ledge

Aug 6, 2015 by  | Bio |  1 Comment »

Photo courtesy of Mission Blue

Photo courtesy Mission Blue

Dr. Sylvia Earle is many things: Oceanographer. National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence. Scientist. Diver. Founder. Pioneer. Author. Advocate. And, my favorite – conservationist.

As Dr. Earle prepares to dive with Conservation Law Foundation at Cashes Ledge this weekend to celebrate her 80th (yes, 80th!) birthday, I’ve been learning a lot about this inspiring and accomplished person.

Many people have been exposed to Sylvia’s work through her recent Netflix documentary, Mission Blue, but Dr. Earle’s work as an advocate for the world’s oceans began decades ago. Her accomplishments and achievements are many, so I’ll attempt some highlights:

In 1964, Earle embarked on a dive in the Indian Ocean where she was the only woman in a 70-person crew – a pioneer and role model for women in the sciences

  • In 1979, Earle walked untethered on the ocean floor, a world record-setting 1,250 feet below the surface. After this dive, she was fittingly dubbed “Her Deepness” by the New Yorker, a nickname that has stuck
  • In 1990, she became the first female chief scientist of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
  • Earle was named TIME’s first “Hero for the Planet” in 1998

Dr. Earle’s work and accomplishments are seemingly endless. She has led more than 100 expeditions and logged more than 7,000 hours underwater. Having dived at remarkable places all over the world – from the Galapagos Islands, to the coast of China, to Oahu – Dr. Earle is coming to Cashes Ledge for the first time. As a renowned scientist who could visit any of the world’s amazing underwater places, we’re excited that she’s chosen our amazing place, right here in New England’s backyard.

Cashes Ledge underwater mountain range is an ecological hotspot. Its tallest peak, Ammen Rock, disrupts the Gulf of Maine current, creating the conditions necessary

Photo courtesy Kip Evans/Mission Blue

Photo courtesy Kip Evans/Mission Blue

for an abundance of unique wildlife. In recent years, it’s seen threats of a reopening to fishing (which would be disastrous for the creatures and habitats that find refuge there); it is also at risk from climate change and the potential for industrial exploration. Because of this, Cashes Ledge needs permanent protection, and we’re so excited to work together with Dr. Earle to make this a reality.

In Mission Blue, Dr. Earle spoke about areas in the ocean that need special protections, the same way certain land areas are designated as national parks. She calls these places “hope spots” – places where we can still have hope for saving and conserving the ocean — and therefore our future. Because, as she says: “No blue; No green.” No ocean, no us! We are thrilled that Cashes Ledge and the deep-sea canyons and seamounts are being declared a Hope Spot.

The dive at Cashes Ledge is scheduled for Aug. 8-12, 2015, but is dependent upon weather conditions. Follow along on Twitter @theCLF where we’ll be posting updates with the hashtag #HopeforCashesLedge.

This Week on TalkingFish.org – June 29 – July 3

Jul 2, 2015 by  | Bio |  Leave a Comment

June 29 – Fish Feature: Atlantic Sturgeon – Our new Fish Feature series will share posts from New England Ocean Odyssey’s weekly “Fish Fridays.” New England Ocean Odyssey uses breathtaking images and captivating stories to highlight the amazing riches and diversity of New England’s ocean and bring attention to the issues facing it. Fish Feature, cross-post by Talking Fish.

June 29 – Going to the Mat for Fish and Fishermen – For more than four decades, the California-based fishing advocate has worked to find common ground between taking care of the environment and looking out for the needs of family fishermen. Armed with passion and determination, the law school graduate and former U.S. Marine Corps sergeant is a recognized leader in the shaping of fishing and environmental rules that affect millions of people nationwide. Protecting Ocean Ecosystems, by Lee Crockett.

June 30 – Fishing Blind – A recent move by New England ocean fisheries management officials to suspend monitoring of commercial fishing vessels is the latest sign of disarray in a program meant to provide reliable, independent information about fishing. New England Fisheries, by Peter Baker.

July 1 – Consider the Lobster Price: How Climate Change Could Affect Your Lobster Roll – Lobster prices are on the higher end this summer, and scientists are pointing to cooler water temperatures as the cause. Don’t let this fool you, though. Ocean temperatures are still on the rise, and our lobster industry is still at risk. The Future of New England Seafood, by Talking Fish.

July 2 – Fish Talk in the News – Thursday, July 2 – In this week’s early edition of Fish Talk in the News, a UMass and USGS report says climate change is impacting NE fish and wildlife; NOAA uses a new formula for observer coverage; NMFS adopts a new bycatch reporting system for Atlantic fisheries; new stock assessment says that Atlantic smooth dogfish are not overfished; a federal survey reveals a high sea scallop abundance; a CT lobsterman wants NY to curb pesticide use; ASMFC will host an Atlantic menhaden ecosystem management workshop; NJ fishing groups filed a lawsuit to stop seismic testing; proposed revisions to MSA weaken fisheries management; Legal Sea Foods launches a new, possibly controversial ad campaign; and BP oil agrees to $18.7 billion settlement. In the News, by Talking Fish.

Connecticut General Assembly Passes the “Blue Plan” Bill

Jun 8, 2015 by  | Bio |  Leave a Comment

Sunset over Cashes Ledge

Hartford, Conn. – On the evening of May 28th, members of the Connecticut Senate unanimously passed Bill No. 6839, historic legislation that will usher in the creation and implementation of a “Blue Plan” for the Long Island Sound. The passage of Bill 6839 not only serves as a symbolic affirmation of Connecticut’s deep commitment to preserving and sustaining the Sound’s diverse ecosystems, fisheries, and water quality, but also the coastal communities that depend on the Sound as a source of income and identity, and the growing coastal economy that ultimately impacts every Connecticut resident. CLF applauds the Connecticut General Assembly for their regional leadership in estuary conservation.

Championed by Governor Dannel Malloy as part of his February legislative package, Bill 6839, An Act Concerning a Long Island Sound Blue Plan and Resource and Use Inventory, is en route to the governor’s desk for his final signature.

“Through smart legislation passed today, we’re making the future brighter tomorrow.  The Long Island Sound is a critical component to Connecticut’s economy and quality of life – millions of people rely on its resources.  By taking action now, we are planning for our long-term future, protecting our environmental resources while making economic smart decisions,” Governor Malloy said in a prepared statement.

The “Blue Plan Bill” will create a multi-disciplinary team of scientists, state and local officials, representatives from both commercial fisheries and marine industries, environmental advocacy organizations and other stakeholders, charged with drafting a resource and inventory plan no later than March, 2019. The planning process will be comprehensive and multifaceted: up to date analyses of the Long Island Sound’s ecosystem health, coastal economies, industries, tourism, commercial fisheries and aquaculture will be completed, and will be further bolstered by spatial analyses resulting from the completion of satellite and GIS mapping. Throughout the multi-year planning process, the advisory committee will be required to host several public meetings throughout Connecticut’s coastal region, where the public will be encouraged to offer commentary and input regarding the draft’s content and design.

Upon completion, the Blue Plan draft will be submitted for approval to the Connecticut General Assembly, and once formalized, will herald resounding and far-reaching benefits for both the Long Island Sound’s habitats, diverse wildlife, and the local communities that depend on the Sound’s improved vitality and sustained health. While today the Long Island Sound contributes billions of dollars to Connecticut’s economy, the Blue Plan represents the state’s investment in the future, ensuring that generations will be able to enjoy the Sound’s resources, iconic beauty, and productivity for years to come.

 

This Week on TalkingFish.org – June 1-5

Jun 5, 2015 by  | Bio |  Leave a Comment

June 1 – National Oceans Month, 2015 – President Obama has proclaimed June to be National Oceans Month. He points towards a “coordinated, science-based approach to managing our coasts and oceans.”

June 2 – Decision Time for Deep Corals in the Mid-Atlantic – On June 10, regional fisheries officials will have the chance to create the largest protected area in U.S. Atlantic waters when they vote on a proposal to help preserve deep-sea corals and the unique habitat these animals create.

June 3 – Special Edition – Fish Talk in the News – House Approves Controversial Fishing Bill – On Monday, the U.S. House of Representatives approved H.R. 1335, the “Strengthening Fishing Communities and Increasing Flexibility in Fisheries Management Act,” as a reauthorization of the Magnuson-Stevens Fisheries Conservation and Management Act.

June 4 – Georges Bank on the Habitat Chopping Block – The New England Fishery Management Council’s (NEFMC) Habitat Committee continues to show complete disregard for habitat protection. Up for consideration at the Committee’s Monday meeting was an industry-introduced proposal (Alternative 9) to open critical areas of Georges Bank as part of the Omnibus Habitat Amendment.

June 5 – Fish Talk in the News – Friday, June 5 – In this week’s Fish Talk in the News, the House passes MSA Reauthorization Act; an amendment included in H.R. 1335 directs funds to improve fisheries research and management; the House cuts NOAA’s budget by $270 million; NE delegates work to secure funding for daily monitoring of commercial fisheries; Maine delays vote on tribal fishing bill; CT passes Blue Plan; NFWF awards TNC $300K for electronic monitoring systems; the agenda for NEFMC’s June meeting is now available; an animated video explains the impacts of climate change on Maine lobster populations; Maine elver season sets a new record; Massachusetts lobstermen worry about increased onboard observers; NOAA recommends to upgrade humpback whale status; and US and Canadian lobstermen fight over disputed territory.

New England Canyons and Seamounts are the Atlantic’s Deep Sea Treasures

May 20, 2015 by  | Bio |  Leave a Comment

New England is a region full of remarkable marine landscapes. An area like Cashes Ledge speaks to the immense beauty and diversity found in our local ocean, but it is not the only one.

Approximately 150 miles off the coast of southern New England, where the continental shelf drops off into the ocean abyss, lays a chain of undersea canyons and nearby seamounts that are home to an incredible richness of marine life. The canyons plunge thousands of feet deep, some deeper than the Grand Canyon, and the seamounts rise as high as 7,000 feet above the seafloor, higher than any mountain east of the Rockies.

Much like Cashes Ledge, these habitats give rise to an elaborate underwater world of marine species. Communities of brilliant cold-water corals line the walls of the canyons and seamounts supporting a  diverse deep-sea ecosystem and providing refuge for abundant fish and invertebrate species. Nearly 1,000 species have been identified in the New England Canyon and Seamount region, and researchers are discovering more with every expedition.

The nutrient rich cold water brings an abundance of plankton, squid, and forage fish, such as mackerel, This in turn attracts schools of tuna, sharks, seabirds, and marine mammals, such as endangered sperm whales and North Atlantic right whales – both rare, iconic species of the region.

The depth and ruggedness of the region have naturally protected the New England Canyons and Seamounts from human disturbance thus far, but this may not always be the case. This region is particularly vulnerable to fishing and offshore development. One sweep of a bottom trawl would have devastating effects for the fragile deep-sea community, and future any development in the region, such as drilling or mining, would pose great risk to marine mammals and fish.

A colony of bamboo coral observed on Mytilus Seamount. Image courtesy of NOAA Okeanos Explorer.

A colony of bamboo coral observed on Mytilus Seamount. Image courtesy of NOAA Okeanos Explorer.

Scientists have also suggested that deep-sea coral communities are among the most vulnerable to ocean warming and ocean acidification. Maintaining the health of the canyons and seamounts will be imperative in the fight against climate change.

The New England Canyons and Seamounts region is another special place that deserves protection.

This Week on TalkingFish.org – May 11-15

May 15, 2015 by  | Bio |  Leave a Comment

May 15 – On National Endangered Species Day, Lingering Right Whales Are At Increased Risk – Today is National Endangered Species Day. Each year on the third Friday in May, National Endangered Species Day celebrates learning about our endangered and threatened species and how we can help protect them. New England is home to a number of endangered species such as the North Atlantic Right Whale, who’s estimated global population is only about 522 individuals.

May 15 – Fish Talk in the News – Friday, May 15 – In this week’s Fish Talk in the News, a committee will study the possibility of a New England buyback program; NEFMC released its latest Council report; managers and tribes discuss elver fishery management; the Puffin Project is on the radio; NOAA releases red tide predictions; NOAA awards ten scallop research projects; NYTimes opinion article says WWII was a turning point for fisheries; and the House CJS appropriations bill call for budget cuts to NOAA, NASA, and NIST.

This Week on TalkingFish.org – April 27-May 1

May 1, 2015 by  | Bio |  Leave a Comment

April 29 – Menhaden Meals – Atlantic menhaden are sometimes called “the most important fish in the sea” because so many animals depend on them for food. Here are just a few of those birds, fish, and marine mammals enjoying their favorite meal.

April 29 – Tracking Fish Oil Supplements to the Source – Are fish oil supplements really improving our health but hurting our oceans? That’s one question New York Times bestselling author Paul Greenberg is exploring for his next book, due out next year, The Omega Principle: The Health of Our Hearts, the Strength of Our Minds, and the Survival of our Oceans All in One Little Pill.

April 30 – Puffin Project Coming to the New England Aquarium – Director of National Audubon Society’s Project Puffin Steve Kress and award-winning journalist/photographer Derrick Jackson will join the New England Aquarium Lecture Series Tuesday, May 5 to discuss their new book, Project Puffin: The Improbable Quest to Bring a Beloved Seabird Back to Egg Rock.

April 30 – Making the Most of the Most Important Fish – It’s time to modernize management of Atlantic menhaden – Fisheries managers for the Atlantic Coast states face an important decision May 5 about what’s sometimes called the most important fish in the sea: Atlantic menhaden. Officials could increase the allowable catch to appease the East Coast’s largest fishing industry. Or they could begin to manage this forage species in a way that protects fish, seabirds, and whales, as well as the interests of the people who care about and depend on those animals from Florida to Maine.

May 1 – As 2015 Fishing Season Kicks Off, a Still Uncertain Future for Cod Remains – The 2015 fishing season begins today, May 1, and stricter – but necessary – quotas on Gulf of Maine cod will take effect.

May 1 – Fish Talk in the News – Friday, May 1 – In this week’s Fish Talk in the News, new rules take effect as 2015 fishing year begins; House Natural Resources Committee advances MSA reauthorization bill; NEFMC votes down proposal to close Stellwagen Bank; a new report looks at U.S. fishing trends; black sea bass are now frequent visitors in Maine; ME Marine Resources Panel allows alewife migration up St. Croix River; Casco Bay water chemistry is changing; NH, RI, and ME receive fishery disaster relief funds; State reps sponsor a bill that could bring $100 million to fisheries research; Atlantic Herring Amendment 8 comment period closes; a NYTimes story highlights NEAQ’s microgrant program; and construction begins on the first U.S. offshore wind farm.

Fishery Management Council Spares Cashes Ledge But Puts Other Ocean Habitat at Risk

Apr 24, 2015 by  | Bio |  2 Comment »

Cashes ledge, a spectacular underwater mountain range in the Gulf of Maine, has for now been spared by the New England Fishery Management Council, which met this week to vote on whether to open this biodiversity hotspot to the most destructive forms of commercial fishing. But, while the Cashes Ledge Closed Area survived the Council vote intact, that fate is not shared by other important ecological areas found within the Gulf of Maine.

Kelp Forest and Cod at Cashes Ledge; 70-miles off the coast of MaineIn addition to maintaining current protections for Cashes Ledge, the Council voted to add a new area of ocean habitat in the Eastern Gulf of Maine. That’s the good news. The bad news, however, adds up to laundry list of poor decision making that puts the health of our ocean, fisheries, and fishing economy at risk, as the Council also voted to:

  • allow damaging trawls to invade an area of the Western Gulf of Maine that has been closed to commercial fishing for more than 20 years,
  • significantly reduce the size and scope of a new protected area in the Downeast Maine area,
  • permit surf clam dredges, the most damaging fishing gear, in a newly created Great South Channel “protected area,”
  • allow gear modification techniques to serve as habitat “protection” measures, even though those techniques have been panned by the Council’s own technical experts.

The Council also entertained a new proposal put forward by the scallop industry for a protected area for Georges Bank that will – unsurprisingly – permit scallop and clam dredging in a protected area that has been closed for more than 20 years.

CLF has been at the forefront of fighting to keep Cashes Ledge and other protected ocean habitat closed to most commercial fishing practices in order to restore depleted groundfish stocks, including the Atlantic cod population, which is currently at historic lows. During a 60-day comment period, CLF and other environmental organizations collected close to 160,000 comments from the public calling on the Council to keep Cashes Ledge closed to commercial fishing and to increase protected areas across New England waters.

While the initial outcome for Cashes is positive, the Council continues to play a dangerous shell game with our precious ocean resources, ignoring its own scientists’ advice and elevating minimal short-term gains for industry over long-term benefits for the resource (and, ultimately, the fishing community). The current vote is yet another example of one step forward and two steps back for the Council, as it once again spurned the kind of long-term protection and sustainability for New England’s precious marine resources that could lead to economic prosperity for our fishing community.

Fishery management councils across the United States have successfully balanced the protection of ocean habitat with the economic interests of our fishing communities. New England’s fishery council should be the nation’s leader in that effort, but instead they have a long history of making bad management decisions that are depleting our fish stocks and bankrupting our fishing industry.

Our oceans belong to the people and we cannot allow an industry-driven Council to take hostage of vital marine resources decisions. Of the nearly 160,000 people who weighed in on this issue, an overwhelming 96% of them want an increase in protected areas, not a decrease.

If you were among those thousands who weighed in, thank you. Your voice has and can make a difference in this fight. The reality is, even though Cashes has received a reprieve for now, the final vote on the Council’s risky proposal isn’t until June. CLF will continue to ensure that your voice is heard and work to turn back the tide on a legacy of poor management by the New England Fishery Management Council.