Dirk Zeller talks about the new Sea Around Us – Indian Ocean

Starting in the summer of 2017, Dr. Dirk Zeller will be leading the Sea Around Us – Indian Ocean as Professor of Marine Conservation at the University of Western Australia.

While continuing with the project’s global approach towards the study of the impact of fisheries on the marine ecosystems of the world, the Sea Around Us – Indian Ocean will focus on issues affecting this particular region and surrounding areas, and how those issues need to be taken into account when addressing global ocean conservation.

Belated contributions on the biology of fish, fisheries and features of their ecosystems

Photo by Lisa Norwood, Flickr.

Photo by Lisa Norwood, Flickr.

A report (Belated contributions on the biology of fish, Fisheries and features of their ecosystems, Fisheries Centre Research Report 25(1), 2017) edited by Daniel Pauly and Lincoln Hood of UBC’s Sea Around Us and by Konstantinos I. Stergiou of the Hellenic Centre for Marine Research, in Athens- Greece, has just been released which contains mainly contributions initially written several years or even decades ago, but not formally published. They are now because they contained ideas and/or data that may still be valuable.

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The Sea Around Us at Vancouver’s March for Science (PHOTOS)

Photo by Deng Palomares

Photo by Deng Palomares

“It was the most organized, punctual march I’ve ever attended,” the Sea Around Us‘ Graduate Student Madeline Cashion said about the March for Science that took place in Vancouver on April 22, 2017.

Some 500 people gathered at Queen Elizabeth Theatre Plaza and, at 10 a.m., they started walking towards Creekside Park near Science World. Once there, an array of figures such as Dr. Scott Sampson, Paleontologist & CEO of Science World; Erin A’tman Ryan, Research Coordinator with the BC SPCA and member of the Syilx (Okanagan) Nation; and Marine Biologist Abby Schwarz, among others, gave speeches that touched upon the importance of academic freedom and evidence-based policy making, the cuts to scientific research funding proposed by the U.S. government, and climate change denial.

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Missing Catch movies

Sneak peek: The Sea Around Us’ research featured in the film “An Ocean Mystery: The Missing Catch”

Missing Catch movies
Researching and reporting on overfishing and underreported fish catches is not an easy task.

Nevertheless, for the past 18 years, the Sea Around Us has taken on this mission and nowadays its global reconstructed catch data has become a point of reference for scientists, conservation practitioners, fishers, and fisheries managers across the world.

But getting this information and the associated implications to the general public, and inspiring people to take action on it, is a whole different story. Fortunately, filmmaker Alison Barrat, from the Khaled Sultan Living Oceans Foundation, understood how important it is to spread the word about the true amount of fish we are taking out of our oceans and, with the support of the Smithsonian Channel, Rare and the Sea Around Us, produced and directed the documentary An Ocean Mystery: The Missing Catch.

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Photo by Elias Levy, Flickr.

Three cheers for biodiversity

Photo by Elias Levy, Flickr.

Photo by Elias Levy, Flickr.

Text by Daniel Pauly

Yes, the 6th Extinction is underway, and we are going to lose quite a bit of the Earth’s biodiversity, both terrestrial and marine, because of our agriculture, our fisheries, and because there are so many of us. But we should try to minimize the loss, using all the tools at our disposal.

One of these tools is slowing down, or even reversing, the rate at which we expand into and thus transform and ultimately destroy natural ecosystems and their biodiversity. On land, this consists of creating parks where the natural vegetative cover, notably forests, can maintain or reestablish itself, and provide habitats for animals that cannot live in landscapes shaped by agriculture.

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Photo by Nicolas Bailly

Thoughts on UBC’s Reconciliation Totem Pole

Photo by Nicolas Bailly

Photo by Nicolas Bailly

Text by Daniel Pauly

On April 1, 2017, a 17 m totem pole was raised at the south end of the University of British Columbia’s Main Mall. It is the Reconciliation Pole carved by Haida master carver and Hereditary Chief James Hart.

Hundreds of Vancouverites gathered for the event, which started at 1 p.m. with speeches by various First Nations dignitaries and dances. It was only shortly before 5 p.m. that the crowd -to which I belonged- on the small amphitheater to the south of the pole, was called on to tighten up the ropes that were laid along the field and connected to the semi-raised pole which was still resting on scaffolding.

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On meeting the Dalai Lama

Daniel Pauly and the Dalai Lama

Text by Daniel Pauly

On March 17, I met the Dalai Lama for a brief moment, following a long keynote speech he gave at a conference on ‘Buddhism in the 21st Century’, held in Lalanda, in the Indian State of Bihar.

It was not that I had suddenly given up on my freedom from religion. Rather, when I was invited to participate in this conference – along with a few western scientists involved in environmental conservation and animal welfare – I did not find any good reason why I should not accept, given that Buddhism appears to be the rare faith that does not require you to check your knowledge of physics, biology and history, as well common sense at the door.

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Teaching about Filipino sardines in Canada

Amy Coghlan, Eric Sy, Sony de Guzmán, Gordon Tsui, Sarah Popov. Photo by Deng Palomares

Amy Coghlan, Eric Sy, Sony de Guzmán, Gordon Tsui, Sarah Popov

Asunción de Guzmán, aka “Sony” in the underwater-research scene, is passionate about sardines, particularly those caught in the Philippines.

In fact, she is so fond of the tiny pelagic fish that she flew all the way from Manila to Vancouver Island to present at the “Drivers of Dynamics of Small Pelagic Fish Resources” symposium, organized by the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea and the North Pacific Marine Science Organization.  Continue reading

The Sea Around Us expands its global presence

Dr. Dirk Zeller, lead of the Sea Around Us – Indian Ocean node

Dr. Dirk Zeller, lead of the Sea Around Us – Indian Ocean node. Photo by Valentina Ruiz Leotaud

We are proud to announce that Dr. Dirk Zeller, Senior Scientist and the Executive Director of the Sea Around Us has been appointed as Professor of Marine Conservation at the University of Western Australia (UWA), a new position created at the UWA School of Biological Sciences and the UWA Oceans Institute. Dr. Zeller’s appointment supports the establishment of the Sea Around Us – Indian Ocean node at UWA.

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Belize: Too Precious To Drill

More than 20 top marine ecologists gathered last week in Belize City to review the status of the country’s marine biodiversity and the potential impacts an oil spill could have on local marine ecology. After the meeting, the participants unanimously agreed that the Belize government should prohibit offshore oil drillings in Belize’s waters, a referendum that will be voted on in late 2011.

Scientists from the University of British Columbia, Boston University, the American Museum of Natural History, the Smithsonian Institution, and Belize itself discussed Belize’s marine assets in a symposium titled: Too Precious for Oil: the Marine Biodiversity of Belize.

Among the scientists’ chief concerns were how an oil spill would affect the region’s biodiversity and economic gains from marine resources and tourism. Belize boasts bottlenose dolphins, the largest number of Antillean manatees in the world, a breeding ground for at least 7 different species of sharks and rays, hundreds of different types of sponges, and fisheries for groupers, snappers, grunts, and other reef fishes. In 1996, UNESCO declared the Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System a World Heritage Site.

Scientists are also worried that seismic activity makes drilling especially risky. An earthquake in Belize in 2009 had severe impacts on coral reefs. A spill could result in lost revenues to Belize’s fishing and marine tourism industries.

The event was organized by Oceana Belize and the Sea Around Us project, with funding from the Oak Foundation.
ended with the signing of a letter from all the scientists involved urging the government to consider the incredibly rich and diverse marine environment that exists in Belize, the many benefits (tourism and fisheries) this provides and the risk that oil drilling posses to this incredible natural asset.

The conference drew in around 100 people, but there was a media blitz each day and appearances on national radio, television, news and talk shows. Daniel Pauly made daily media appearances and met with the opposition party and other government officials. He and Sarah Harper appeared on two local talk shows. Andres Cisneros aired on Estereo Amour, Belize’s Spanish radio station.

Check back soon for more progress on this initiative.

Daniel Pauly’s Surprise Sail on the Eloquent

Deng Palomares reports on the surprise birthday celebration in the newsletter and below:

Our birthday celebrant, Dr Pauly, was born in post-war Paris in May 1946 and to this day carries a French passport (though he wishes to be Canadian sometime in the future). But, he never really lived in Paris, because Daniel’s roller coaster life seems to always involve traveling. In his younger years, these travels were undertaken as a quest for meaning (which at certain points in his life included religion), purpose and education leading to a doctorate from the Institute für Meereskunde in Kiel, Germany. This degree started Daniel’s journey to far and distant lands, e.g., Indonesia (GTZ project), the Philippines (ICLARM, Manila), Peru and Tanzania (FAO/DANIDA training courses), New Caledonia, Trinidad and Tobago, Kenya and Namibia (FishBase training courses), to name a few. And finally, to Vancouver, where he had the permanent task of being an advisor to graduate students and leader of Sea Around Us team members since the mid-1990s. Still cranking out a long list of publications like a paper mill and still going places as an invited speaker, (the ‘guru’) Daniel, mentor to some of us and professor to many, had an aversion to celebrating his own birthday for some reason he never really identified. This earned him the name ‘KJ’ (for ‘Kill Joy’) among staff at ICLARM in the early days (because Filipinos like parties and especially the food!). We at the Fisheries Centre are lucky that Daniel now seems to enjoy these celebrations (remember his 60th with that big event?). And this year’s birthday (total surprise) bash for our bashful celebrant is unique, his first birthday party onboard a cruise! Daniel had no clue that preparations were under way for his party, thanks to the deft planning committee (Grace, Aylin), those who avidly put their art and cooking skills to work (Leah, Sarah, Kristin, Fred, Veronica) with special mention to Sandra Pauly who provided us with lunch, those who provided the materials for the artwork, the poems and baking paraphernalia, him who told Daniel lies to get him out of the office (Dirk), the photographers and film makers (Dawit, Dalal, Ling Huang) and to all of you who came to the party! It was well worth a sunny afternoon out on a boat, wasn’t it!

Sea Around Us Heads to IMCC2

Join the Sea Around Us and many of our collaborators at the International Marine Conservation Congress, May 14-18, 2011 in Victoria, BC. Find a few of our specific presentations below.

Sunday, May 15
10:15am (15 minutes)
Sarah Harper The fisheries of small island countries

11:05am (5 minutes)
Leah Biery Estimating the Global Distribution and Species Composition of the Shark Fin Supply from the Bottom Up

11:10am (5 minutes)
Rhona Govender Small but Mighty: the Real Contribution of Small-scale Fisheries to Global Catch

2:30pm (15 minutes)
Ashley Strub Global financial investment in marine protected areas

2:45pm (15 minutes)
Daniel Pauly Big reserves are better

4:50 (5 minutes)
Mark Hemmings Changes in Maldivian Fisheries

4:45pm (15 minutes)
Colette Wabnitz The ecological role of green turtles (Chelonia mydas) in Hawaiian and Caribbean marine ecosystems and implications for conservation

6pm (5 minutes)
Megan Bailey Do Europe’s Reduction Fisheries Contribute to Sustainability?

Monday, May 16
10:30am (15 minutes)
Vicky Lam Climate change and the economics of global fisheries

10:45am (15 minutes)
William Cheung Global changes in body size, distribution and productivity of marine fishes under climate change: implications for conservation

6:15pm (15 minutes)
Daniel Pauly (on behalf of Wilf Swartz) The spatial expansion of the world’s marine fisheries: 1950 to present

Tuesday, May 17
10:45am (15 minutes)
Michelle Paleczny Are global marine fisheries starving seabirds?

11am (15 minutes)
Marta Coll Spatial overlap between marine biodiversity, cumulative threats and marine reserves in the Mediterranean Sea

2:15pm (15 minutes)
Jennifer Jacquet Public vs. Personal Impressions of the Gulf Oil Spill

2:45pm (15 minutes)
Ashley McCrae-Strub Oil and fisheries in the Gulf of Mexico: potential impacts on catch

3pm (15 minutes)
Kristin Kleisner (on behalf of Rashid Sumaila) Impact of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill on the economics of U.S. Gulf fisheries

5pm (15 minutes)
Dirk Zeller Arctic fisheries catches in Russia, USA and Canada: Baselines for neglected ecosystems

5pm (15 minutes)
Frederic LeManach Magnitude of missing catches in official fisheries statistics and implications for the local population – the example of Madagascar

Wednesday, May 18
10:15 (15 minutes)
Jennifer Jacquet Intimacy through the Internet: Why Conservation Needs the Web

10:15 (15 minutes)
Sarika Cullis-Suzuki Regional fisheries management organizations: effectiveness and accountability on the high seas

10:45 (15 minutes)
Pablo Trujillo See-Food from Space

11:30 (15 minutes)
Kristin Kleisner Exploring indicators of fishing pressures in the context of the OHI with a focus on correcting the Marine Trophic Index for geographic expansion

3:30pm (15 minutes)
Dalal Al-Abdulrazzak Gaining Perspective on What We’ve Lost

Legislators Meet to Strategize on Global Fisheries Decline

rightOn June 8, World Ocean’s Day, 40 senior Members of Parliament from 15 key fishing nations agreed on a new plan to reverse the decline of global fisheries. The meeting was organised by the Global Legislators Organisation for a Balanced Environment, (GLOBE) to challenge the current international political failure to address the rapid decline of global fisheries stocks. Among the politicians were scientific and policy advisors, including the Sea Around Us Project’s Rashid Sumaila (photographed here with GLOBE Fisheries Commission Chairman and former UK Biodiversity Minister, Barry Gardiner MP).

The group agreed to the following Priority Actions:
Parliamentary Legislation
• Ratify and adopt robust implementing legislation for all existing UN and FAO international fishery agreements.
• Redirect inappropriate fishing subsidies into programmes that improve fisheries management.
• Implement flexible rights-based management schemes for both coastal and high seas fisheries.
• Prevent fisheries authorities from setting catch limits above scientific recommendations.
• Involve the fishing industry in data collection and co-management of fisheries.
• Mandate environmental impact and stock assessments for all commercially fished species.
• Integrate fisheries and environment policy within government.
• Provide economic incentives for industry initiatives to source legal and sustainable fish.
• Introduce legislation to ban the import and domestic trade of illegally-caught fish (e.g. US Lacey Act).
• Implement a ‘Cap and Restore’ approach for all severely depleted fisheries.
• Adopt modern MPA network targets to propel domestic implementation of MPAs that link in to national and regional networks, alongside comprehensive fisheries management outside of protected areas.

RFMO Members
• Review and reform of RFMO conventions to promote sustainable, ecosystem-based management of marine biotic resources.
• Construct new RFMOs or expand existing RFMOs to manage species and areas currently unmanaged.
• Implement UNFSA requirements for a precautionary, ecosystem-based approach.
• Agree new RFMO rules that prevent decision-making bodies from setting catch limits above scientific recommendations.
• Incentivise RFMO membership by linking it to capacity-building assistance, and agree economic sanctions against non-compliant states.
• Establish RFMO mandates for all flag states to ensure their vessels carry tamper proof monitoring and surveillance equipment.

Coastal and Port States
• Increase and harmonise sanctions against illegal fishing and transhipment vessels across coastal and port states in key regions.
• Establish regional agreements for sharing data on fishing activities and resources for monitoring and enforcement, especially in developing country coastal and port states.
International Actions

New Agreements
• Mandate the UN to review and monitor RFMO performance based on existing benchmark standards for RFMOs in the UNFSA.
• Support the development of a multilateral and enforceable agreement on fishing subsidy reform within the World Trade Organisation.
• Require all fishing and reefer vessels to carry unique identification, such as IMO numbers.
• Hold non-compliant states accountable using the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea.
• Adopt modern MPA network targets to propel the creation of marine reserves and networks globally.
• Investigate a new Global Framework Agreement for Marine Spatial Planning in areas beyond national jurisdiction.
New Multilateral Institutions
• Continue and increase support for the International Monitoring Control and Surveillance Network, expanding its mandate to conduct and coordinate global high seas fisheries intelligence-gathering.

Sea Around Us Speaks at the United Nations

This week the Sea Around Us is present for the weeklong UN meeting to review high seas fisheries . Rashid Sumaila’s work is being used to frame fisheries because the $27 billion his team has estimated in yearly subsidies keep unprofitable boats afloat. Former Sea Around Us M.Sc. student Sarika Cullis-Suzuki also joins in the meeting to discuss her work on the effectiveness of RFMOs. As noted in the Pew press release, her study evaluated the 18 regional fisheries management organizations (RFMOs), the intergovernmental bodies tasked with managing fishing on the high seas, and found they have failed to halt dramatic declines of fish stocks. The study by Cullis-Suzuki and Daniel Pauly, Failing the high seas: A global evaluation of regional fisheries management organizations, appeared in print this week at Marine Policy. Update May 28, 2010: Read coverage from Cullis-Suzuki’s presentation the UN meeting in The Guardian.

Mission Blue a Success

Individuals onboard Mission Blue, a week long TED-sponsored journey around the Galapagos to raise awareness and money for the oceans, have donated more than $15 million to ocean conservation groups to sponsor education, protection of the Galapagos, eliminate fisheries subsidies, and more. The Sea Around Us Project’s Daniel Pauly was one of the many qualified speakers onboard the boat. Watch for an online version of Dr. Pauly’s talk on shifting baselines coming soon…

Daniel Pauly and Others Embark on Mission Blue

This week The Sea Around Us Project’s Daniel Pauly is in the Galapagos Island along with many other notable guests of Mission Blue to fulfill Sylvia Earle’s 2009 TEDPrize wish. TED talks, which is normally hosted in Monterey, California, gathers together remarkable speakers and then makes their talks available online.  This time the meeting is taking place in the Galapagos on the National Geographic boat The Endeavor and  over the four days, attendees of Mission Blue will experience seven fully programmed TED sessions, which include fellow marine scientists Jeremy Jackson, Callum Roberts, Enric Sala, as well as the host Sylvia Earle.  Read about the full line-up and  follow the Mission Blue blog.

Sea Around Us Bridges Science and Society

The theme at the 2010 AAAS annual meeting held in San Diego, CA in mid-February was Bridging Science and Society. Sea Around Us members delivered on this theme in three different sessions. Daniel Pauly presented on a panel that showed the growing consensus among fisheries scientists. Although global overfishing is becoming an accepted premise, questions inevitably arose on the future of aquaculture. Pauly explained that it would be wrong to look at gladiator tournaments and vilify sports, when there is curling; similarly, it would be wrong to look at salmon farming and vilify aquaculture, when there are oyster farms.

Metaphors are powerful communication tools. So are 3-D visualizations, especially in a world that is already too big and too fast-paced to keep track of information. Can we help manage the future by allowing people to see it? To address this question, Villy Christensen co-organized a panel on the use of visualizations to bridge science and society for sustainability.

The Sea Around Us Project’s Sherman Lai showed the game-like tool he and Christensen developed to allow users to visualize the real-time effects of their fishing decisions (see photo). Multiple players can watch how their choices would play out on the underwater world using a video game interface that can also display the embedded EcoSim models. These tools, currently used in immersion labs like our own in the Fisheries Centre, are designed to allow managers to experience the results of potential policies. The panel also discussed the potential for these tools online.

Jennifer Jacquet and her other panel members discussed non-regulatory means of enhancing cooperation – namely through reputation and shame. Ralf Sommerfeld, a recent graduate who worked with the Max Planck Institute, presented several of his new game theoretical studies showing that gossip and reputation can lead to increases in overall cooperation. Jacquet proposed we migrate away from guilt-based efforts in conservation (e.g. eco-labels) and toward shame-based strategies, which we can use to motivate large-scale resource users. To show evidence of this in the real world, John Hocevar, head of oceans campaigns for Greenpeace USA, presented Greenpeace work to affect retailer reputation to encourage greater cooperation.

The Sea Around Us members also participated in the COMPASS marine mixer with scientists and journalists and talks on designing and implementing large-scale marine reserves. AAAS was truly a meeting to bridge science and society.

Daniel Pauly Delivers Keynote at Seafood Summit

Daniel Pauly recently gave the keynote address at the 2010 Seafood Summit in Paris. His talk compared industrial fishing to a Ponzi scheme, where instead of extracting a sustainable interest from invested capital, we use up the capital itself, and hope for other ‘investors’. He discussed the three-way expansion of fishing through the 20th century: geographically, by fishing in distant waters and getting access to African, Caribbean and Pacific waters; by fishing in deeper and deeper waters; and a taxonomic expansion. Pauly then addressed aquaculture and its limitations, particularly the double accounting of carnivorous farmed fish. He finished by talking about conservation efforts and the need to include the small-scale fisheries in the developing world in conservation efforts. His full talk is available through the Seafood Summit website.

Sumaila Asked to WTO and British House of Commons

SWITZERLAND WTO GENERAL COUNCILAt the end of October, the Sea Around Us Project’s economist and director of the Fisheries Economics Research Unit Rashid Sumaila teamed up with Oceana spokesperson Ted Danson to meet with WTO Director-General Pascal Lamy to discuss the most recent estimates of global fisheries subsidies and the current state of WTO negotiations on this issue.  The Economist reported on the fisheries subsidies discussion, particularly fuel subsidies here.

Global fisheries subsidies are estimated to be $25-$30 billion a year and encourage overfishing as well as undermine free market philosophy.  The current Doha Round of the WTO is an apt forum for discussing and disciplining harmful subsidies, estimated at $16 billion per year.

From the WTO meetings in Geneva, Switzerland, Sumaila traveled to London to the British House of Commons for another meeting between legislators and scientists.  The Marine Advisory  Group of GLOBE International, a group that supports political leadership on issues of environmental sustainability, gathered to discuss overfishing.

Sumaila found the legislators involved, a multipartisan group primarily from the UK, to be enthusiastic, particularly the MP from the same region as author/journalist Charles Clover.  According to Sumaila, the legislators were very keen on receiving scientific information and data and urged the scientific advisors involved to share their findings candidly.

The Marine Advisory Group will continue to work with Globe International to produce a policy document, which should be completed early 2010, to be taken back to member countries, and presented at a number of UN meetings next year.

HoL GroupSumaila, far left, at a meeting of the Marine Advisory Group of GLOBE International in the UK House of Commons.

Photo by Tak, Flickr.

Thought Antarctica’s biodiversity was doing well? Think again

Photo by Tak, Flickr.

Photo by Tak, Flickr.

Twenty-three experts involved in the study “Antarctica and the strategic plan for biodiversity,” recently published in PLoS Biology, debunked the popular view that Antarctica and the Southern Ocean are in a better environmental shape than the rest of the world. In fact, the difference between the status of biodiversity in the region and planet Earth as a whole is negligible.

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