Bathing suits are not the only things that have gotten smaller in the past fifty years.

All these photos were taken on the same dock after fishing trips in the same waters. The last one was taken by post-doc Loren McClenachan, the rest were compiled by her from the records at Key West’s Monroe County Public Library.

Using the display boards as a size reference (they haven’t changed in half a century), McClenachan was able to plot just how much smaller trophy fish have become. The change is mainly due to changing composition of the catch - first fishermen target the larger species, and when their numbers have been depleted, they turn to a smaller species … and so on.

Read more about big fish stories getting littler — from Robert Krulwich — here.

“Seamount fisheries have often been described as mining operations rather than sustainable fisheries. They typically collapse within a few years of the start of fishing and the trawlers then move on to other unexploited seamounts to maintain the fishery.”  

Philip Mladenov, author of Marine Biology: A Very Short Introduction, explores the future of seamount ecosystems on the OUPblog.

Image credit: By NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons



Too late to save Maui’s dolphin, experts says

Marine experts say it is too late to stop the Maui’s dolphin becoming extinct and New Zealand sea lions will be next unless changes are made.

Despite mandatory monitoring and recent restrictions on fishing zones, the Maui’s dolphins days are numbered.

“[The] stand out amongst them is bycatch in the southern squid fisheries.” (…)“It’s not the fishermen, it’s the Government. The Government is paid to keep the species such as the Maui dolphin safe, and they’re not doing it,” Roger Payne said.

New devices within nets have heavily reduced the number sea lions accidentally caught in fishing nets, but their numbers are still falling.The only way to ensure marine mammals are safe is to change fishing methods.


We’ve tried lots of strategies for getting salmon over dams to their spawning grounds – fish ladders, fish elevators, fish trucks … even fish helicopters. But all of those methods are expensive and none of them are efficient.

Enter the salmon cannon.

(This reminds me of the old joke: What did the fish say when it ran into a wall? “Dam.”

Maybe they’ll have to change the punchline to “Shoot.”)

etsyfindoftheday 3 | 7.22.14

‘wild & free’ tote bag by aksalmonsisters

this canvas & burlap tote is adorned with one of my favorite earthy quotes and a sweet salmon screen print — perfect for seller aksalmonsisters, a pair of sisters from alaska selling ‘ocean-inspired wearable art’ to spread awareness for the future of sustainable fisheries <3 so kind! if you’re into the boho/rustic vibe, be sure to check out all their clothing and accessory options.
How the Harper Government Committed a Knowledge Massacre

Scientists are calling it “libricide.” Seven of the nine world-famous Department of Fisheries and Oceans [DFO] libraries were closed by autumn 2013, ostensibly to digitize the materials and reduce costs. But sources told the independent Tyee in December that a fraction of the 600,000-volume collection had been digitized. Irreplaceable documents like the 50 volumes produced by the H.M.S. Challenger expedition of the late 1800s that discovered thousands of new sea creatures, are now moldering in landfills.

Renowned Dalhousie University biologist Jeff Hutchings calls the closures “an assault on civil society.”

“It is always unnerving from a research and scientist perspective to watch a government undermine basic research. Losing libraries is not a neutral act,” Hutchings says. He blames political convictions for the knowledge massacre.

“It must be about ideology. Nothing else fits,” said Hutchings. “What that ideology is, is not clear. Does it reflect that part of the Harper government that doesn’t think government should be involved in the very things that affect our lives? Or is it that the role of government is not to collect books or fund science?” Hutchings said the closures fit into a larger pattern of “fear and insecurity” within the Harper government, “about how to deal with science and knowledge.”

Many scientists have compared the war on environmental science to the rise of fascism in 1930s Europe. Hutchings muses, “you look at the rise of certain political parties in the 1930s and have to ask how could that happen and how did they adopt such extreme ideologies so quickly, and how could that happen in a democracy today?”


Hacking for Healthy Oceans

For 36 hours over Father’s Day Weekend, the Aquarium hosted an unusual sleepover. Few of the participants got much rest.

We were one of five sites for a first-ever State Department-sponsored Fishackathon. The goal was to find technological solutions so fishermen in the developing world can make their catch more sustainable.

Teams of coders, designers and project managers created website solutions and apps for smartphones and cell phones - tools that small-scale fishermen can use in places like West Africa and the Philippines to document their catch and report illegal fishing.

Nearly 40 participants gathered on a Friday night in Monterey with laptops, sleeping bags - and novel ideas for creating tools that will be effective in parts of the world where internet access and high-tech equipment is limited. By Sunday morning, they had solutions to offer.

In addition to tackling two State Department problem statements, we also asked our hackers to help with a Seafood Watch challenge: How can information about how fish were caught travel through the supply chain from the boat where it’s landed to the market or restaurant where it’s finally sold?

The outcome? Incredible.

The results were beyond our wildest expectations.

A four-person team we welcomed from the UC-Berkeley School of Information won the top national prize for “Fish DB”, a multi-layered solution to one of the State Department challenges. And a three-person team that formed during the Fishackathon won the Seafood Watch challenge with its “Go Fish!” app: a simple labeling system using colors and numbers to show sustainability and freshness of seafood items. The app incorporates gaming principles, rewards and social sharing features to encourage consumers to buy ocean-friendly seafood.

“I can’t believe what great results these teams produced over the weekend!” said Jennifer Dianto Kemmerly, director of Seafood Watch. “We will definitely tap into the talents of hackers in the future.”

An appealing location

It might not be too hard to lure them back to Monterey, if comments from the Berkeley team are any indication. They used words like “epic” and “thrilled” to describe sleeping in front of the Kelp Forest and Open Sea, and having access to the knowledge of Aquarium staff and State Department experts.

“We had a blast!“ team member Isha Dandavate told the UC-Berkeley news service. "I can’t even express how cool it was. Having the hackathon in an aquarium has sort of ruined us for all other hackathons.”

The State Department was equally thrilled, and is now making plans for a 2015 Fishackathon around World Oceans Day.

Learn how your everyday choices can support healthy oceans

The Largehead Hairtail (Trichiurus lepturus)

… is one of the most important commercial capture fish species in the world.  Adults of this predatory fish can grow to 2.34 m (7.7 ft) in length and weigh up to 5 kg (11 lb). In Asia and Europe they are known as “sword fish” and are widely eaten.

Generally found over muddy bottoms of shallow coastal waters).  They often enter estuaries. Juveniles feed mostly on euphausiids, small pelagic planktonic crustaceans and small fishes; adults feed mainly on fishes and occasionally on squids and crustaceans.

Large adults usually feed near the surface during the daytime and migrate to the bottom at night. Juveniles and small adults form schools 100 m above the bottom during the daytime and form loose feeding aggregations at night near the surface…

More about this species: Encyclopedia of Life

Image by 俊仁 (Toshihito) 小林 (Kobayashi) via Wikimedia Commons


The Atlantic bluefin tuna (Thynnus thunnus) is a sleek, 300-pound fish and a top predator in the ocean—but it is endangered from overfishing. Bluefin tuna is one of the most highly-prized fishes used in sushi and single fish will sell for tens of thousands of dollars.

Because it is endangered, there are strict regulations on how many fish can be caught each year. On Monday, the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) met and decided to raise the quota (number of allowed fish caught), but by less than previous years.

Conservationists are celebrating this as a victory because the commission took the advice of the fisheries scientists to give the fish more time to recover before raising catch limits.

A related species of bluefin tuna, the Southern bluefin tuna (Thunnus maccoyii), is critically endangered, which means there is no sign that its population is growing.

Living tuna photo: by Aziz Saltik
Dead tuna photo: by Flickr user 4-6


Atlantic Bluefin Tuna

The Atlantic bluefin tuna is one of the largest and fastest of all the world’s fishes. This particular species of tuna is capable of reaching 990 pounds but the average weight is 550 pounds. The average size of a bluefin tuna is 6.5 feet long. The color of the Atlantic bluefin tuna is dark blue above and gray below with a gold coruscation covering the body and has bright yellow finlets.

Atlantic bluefins are warm blooded, a rare trait for fish and they are comfortable in the cold waters of Newfoundland and Iceland. Atlantic bluefins once swam in the Black Sea but have since become extinct in that particular body of water.

In the 1970s, demand for the Atlantic bluefin soared, particularly in Japan. In January 2012, a prime 523 pound tuna was sold in a Japanese market for a whopping $736,000, a world record. Despite repeated warnings, overfishing continues to decline this species’ population. Since the 1930s, the bluefin tuna has been one of the most important big-games species sought after by fishermen. With less numbers than the polar bear, the Atlantic bluefin tuna is listed as endangered.
The tiny islands where Canada and America are at war
Tensions are rising again over the area called the grey zone, the last disputed lands between Canada and the U.S.—and this time, someone could get hurt

Canada is one wrong move away from a border war with the United States—if you believe a group of boiling-mad Maine lobstermen. Unfathomable as armed conflict between Canada and the United States seems, if it’s going to happen, it will be in the ocean between Maine and New Brunswick, where two tiny, treeless islands—North Rock and Machias Seal—are the last remaining disputed lands between the two countries.

The islands have no obvious value. They aren’t strategically located for military purposes and there are no natural resources to be mined. In fact, the islands’ primary residents are 5,800 pairs of nesting puffins. However, the waters around the islands, known by locals as “the grey zone,” because both Canada and the U.S. claim that part of the ocean, contain a lucrative lobster fishery.

Continue Reading.

Cod Make a Comeback Thanks to Strict Cuts in Fishing

by Debora MacKenzie

Cod is the poster fish for how excessive catches can lead to devastating crashes in fisheries. But now it is making a comeback in two fisheries that some feared were gone forever: the North Sea and Newfoundland.

The International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) in Copenhagen, Denmark, has recommended the first major catch increase for North Sea cod since 2000, as it says the stock has climbed back above danger levels.

And figures to be released later this year by Canada’s fisheries ministry show cod stocks on the Grand Banks, off Newfoundland, are up for the third year in a row – although they aren’t out of danger yet.

There’s no mystery to it, say fisheries experts on both sides of the Atlantic: fishers stopped killing so many cod, and the population recovered, although it took its time. The recovery seems to settle fears that the ecology of the fishing grounds was so severely altered by overfishing, especially in Canada, that these cod stocks would never recover…

(read more: New Scientist)

photograph by Alex Mustard/


Opah are large fish commonly harvested at least in Hawaii, so it’s a bit of a shock there are some rather fundamental aspects of its biology that have only been properly described quite recently. And by basic, I mean how large they get and what their coloration is. Many sources claim a maximum size of 6 feet and 600 pounds — or 2 meters and 270 kg on Fishbase — however, out of 17,590 fish measured in Hawaii, the largest measurements were a fork length of 1.63 meters (5'4") and a weight of 89 kg (196 lbs). As for coloration, most descriptions from the 20th and 21st centuries were based on dead specimens with sloughed-off scales and failed to mention the orange to vermilion coloration with (except in one species) white spots; unexpectedly, one description from 1776 described the coloration perfectly accurately!

The first image shows a Lampris sp. with its coloration intact and the second shows a L. immaculatus with extensive scale loss. While commonly treated as one species, there are at least two (L. immaculatus is smaller and lacks white spots, L. guttatus has them) and it appears white spotted individuals may actually be several species.

Hawn, D. & Collette, B. (2012) What are the maximum size and live body coloration of opah (Teleostei: Lampridae: Lampris species)? Ichthyological Research 59(3) 272-275.


Steelhead Eggs Hatching  

Watch as Steelhead Trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) hatch at the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s Quilcene National Fish Hatchery in WA state.

Read more about the effort to conserve these fish here:

Video Credit: Florian Graner

(via: U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service)

Haida Nation win injunction against commercial fishery on Haida Gwaii

A federal court has ruled that the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans cannot open a fishery in Haida Gwaii this year.

An injunction was given to the Haida Nation, against the federal government, to prevent the re-opening of a commercial herring fishery on the nation’s north coast.

“This win is another step to building herring stocks, and in doing so, contributes to an economy that will provide a reasonable living for our people, and the path of reconciliation with Canada,” said Haida Nation President Peter Lantin in a statement.

Continue Reading.

Overfishing Numbers At All-Time Low

Happy Ocean News!

NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) released last week amazing news concerning overfishing and the state of America’s fisheries. In its 2014 Status of Stocks report, NMFS reported that the number of U.S. domestic fishing stocks listed as overfished or threatened by overfishing declined to the fewest number since 1997. NOAA has only been compiling the report since 1997, so that’s the lowest number yet!

The percentage of stocks facing overfishing or already overfished has actually been decreasing since 2007, even though fishing is increasing. This is such a positive rebuilding progress for the US’s fisheries.

NOAA’s report highlights that three fishing stocks were rebuilt to target levels in 2014: Gulf of Maine/Cape Hatteras butterfish, Gulf of Mexico gag grouper and Mid-Atlantic Coast golden tilefish. Including those three, 37 stocks have been rebuilt since 2000.

(See full resolution)

Behind this success is the Magnuson-Stevens Fisheries Conservation and Management Act, which was initially passed in 1976 to oversee fishing in federal waters. The Sustainable Fisheries Act of 1996 amended the original legislation to define overfishing, require regular assessment of overfished populations and mandate plans for the recovery of overfished populations as well as the reduction of bycatch—unwanted marine life caught in the process of fishing.

The Magnuson-Stevens Act really shows that it is possible for lawmakers, fishermen and scientists to work together for efficient and successful resource-management for a sustainable future. While this is fantastic and encouraging news, we cannot stop now, and we must keep working for a complete recovery of the US stocks and for better conservation of the marine resources. 

(Photo Source)