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Murray W. Camp, MASNA's ILOC (Industry, Legislation, Conservation) Director, will post periodic updates on these topics.
By Murray Camp on 7/26/2013 4:32 PM
The Marine Genomics Unit of Okinawa Institute of Science & Technology Graduate University (OIST) has decoded the genome of the algae Symbiodinium minutum.

The Marine Genomics Unit of Okinawa Institute of Science & Technology Graduate University (OIST) has decoded the genome of the algae Symbiodinium minutum.  In 2011, the Marine Genomics Unit decoded the approximately 420-megabase genome of the coral Acropora digitifera for the first time.

The OIST group has now succeeded in establishing for the first time the genomic information of both the coral host and the symbiont. This information will greatly facilitate research on coral biology. For example, it will be possible to investigate whether corals or symbionts, respond first to environmental changes such as seawater temperature rise. Similarly, researchers can examine if corals respond to different stresses via a similar molecular mechanism or different mechanisms. These areas of research are greatly facilitated by both genomes being decoded in the same laboratory.

By Murray Camp on 5/30/2013 9:27 AM
Limiting the amount of warming experienced by the world's oceans in the future could buy some time for tropical coral reefs, say researchers from the University of Bristol.  The study, published by the journal Geophysical Research Letters, used computer models to investigate how shallow-water tropical coral reef habitats may respond to climate change over the coming decades.

Dr. Elena Couce and colleagues found that restricting greenhouse warming to three watts per square metre (equivalent to just 50-100 parts per million carbon dioxide, or approximately half again the increase since the Industrial Revolution) is needed in order to avoid large-scale reductions in reef habitat occurring in the future.

While a significant challenge, restricting ocean warming to those levels is not impossible. 

Source article here

By Murray Camp on 5/30/2013 8:30 AM
According to findings in a May 9 article in Current Biology, coral reefs are in decline, but their collapse can still be avoided with local and global action.  


To predict the reefs' future, the researchers spent two years constructing a computer model of how reefs work, building on hundreds of studies conducted over the last 40 years. They then combined their reef model with climate models to make predictions about the balance between forces that will allow reefs to continue growing their complex calcium carbonate structures and those such as hurricanes and erosion that will shrink them.


One author, Peter Mumby (University of Queensland and University of Exeter) stated that ideally the goal is a carbonate budget that remains in the black for the next century at least. Such a future is possible, the researchers' model shows, but only with effective local protection and assertive action on greenhouse gases.


"Business as usual isn't going to cut it," he said. "The good news is that it does seem possible to maintain reefs—we just have to be serious about doing something. It also means that local reef management—efforts to curb pollution and overfishing—are absolutely justified. Some have claimed that the climate change problem is so great that local management is futile. We show that this viewpoint is wrongheaded."

By Murray Camp on 5/1/2013 11:57 AM
A new study may answer the question of why some corals bleach and others do not, even when exposed to the same environmental conditions.  The study suggests that the corals themselves play a role in their susceptibility to deadly coral bleaching due to the light-scattering properties of their skeletons.

A team from Northwestern University and The Field Museum of Natural History found that reef-building corals scatter light in different ways to the symbiotic algae that feed the corals. Corals that are less efficient at light scattering retain algae better under stressful conditions and are more likely to survive. Corals whose skeletons scatter light most efficiently have an advantage under normal conditions, but they suffer the most damage when stressed.

The findings could help predict the response of coral reefs to the stress of increasing seawater temperatures and acidity, helping conservation scientists preserve...
By Murray Camp on 4/18/2013 12:42 PM

A Chinese boat that ran into a coral reef in the southwestern Philippines held evidence of even more environmental destruction inside: more than 22,000 pounds of meat from a protected species, the pangolin or scaly anteater.

The steel-hulled vessel hit an atoll April 8 at the Tubbataha National Marine Park, a UNESCO-designated World Heritage Site on Palawan island. Coast guard spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Armand Balilo said yesterday that 400 boxes, each containing 25 to 30 kilograms of frozen pangolins, were discovered during a second inspection of the boat Saturday.
Source article can be found here
By Murray Camp on 4/18/2013 8:15 AM
Traditional community-run marine reserves and fisheries can play a big role in helping to restore and maintain fish numbers in stressed developing nations’ coral reef fisheries.


Using genetic ‘fin-printing’, an international team of scientists has gathered the first clear proof that small traditional fishing grounds that are effectively managed by local communities can help re-stock both themselves and surrounding marine areas. The finding has big implications for hundreds of millions of people around the world who depend on coral reefs for food and livelihood.


In an article in Current Biology the researchers report finding the offspring of protected coral trout breeding in community-managed areas in Papua New Guinea were plentiful both in the managed area and in surrounding fishery tenures.


“This is a really important finding, because it shows that small community-run fisheries can preserve their fish stocks – and can boost fish stocks in a surrounding radius of...
By Murray Camp on 4/16/2013 9:06 AM
Leading international marine scientists have called for the protection of more, large marine wilderness areas in a bid to shield the world’s dwindling stocks of fish from destruction.


Working in the world’s largest unfished marine reserve, the remote Chagos Archipelago in the central Indian Ocean, scientists from Australia and the US have shown there is a dramatic difference in the numbers, size and variety of fish compared with smaller marine parks.


Their findings in two new reports provide the world’s first clear evidence that large-scale marine wilderness reserves are better for conserving fish than the far more common, small marine protected areas (MPAs) that many governments and fishing communities are presently implementing.


“The bottom line is that we found six times more fish in the Chagos ‘no take’ area than we did in even the best-managed Marine Reserves elsewhere in the Indian Ocean,” says lead author of the reports, Dr Nick Graham of the ARC Centre of...
By Murray Camp on 4/11/2013 7:57 AM
 A new study by a team of biologists from the Australian Institute of Marine Science and the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies has shown that isolated coral reefs can recover from catastrophic damage.  The study challenges conventional wisdom that suggested isolated reefs were more vulnerable to disturbance, because they were thought to depend on recolonisation from other reefs. Instead, the scientists found that the isolation of reefs allowed surviving corals to rapidly grow and propagate in the absence of human interference.

Scott Reef, a remote coral system in the Indian Ocean, has largely recovered from a catastrophic mass bleaching event in 1998, according to the study published in Science today.

Australia’s largest oceanic reef system, Scott Reef, is relatively isolated, sitting out in the Indian Ocean some 250 km from the remote coastline of north Western Australia (WA). Prospects for the reef looked gloomy when in 1998 it suffered catastrophic mass bleaching, losing around 80% of its coral cover. The study shows that it took just 12 years to recover.

By Murray Camp on 4/10/2013 10:28 AM
Nevada legislation that has been set for hearing in the Natural Resources Committee would make it a crime to sell, or give away, live animals at any “organized event” in the state. Assembly Bill 246 purports to ban the sale of animals at “swap meets” but that term is defined by the bill so broadly that it would literally include any “organized even at which two or more persons offer merchandise for sale or exchange.” Thus, any pet trade or hobby shows such as frag swaps, aquarium shows, dog shows, cat shows, reptile shows, and/or bird shows, at which any animals are sold would be prohibited.


This bill would establish a misdemeanor criminal offense for any person who sells “or attempts to sell, offers for adoption or transfers ownership of a live animal” at any organized event. Any vendor, attendee or other person is covered under the bill. 


Text of the bill can be found here.

By Murray Camp on 4/9/2013 8:39 AM
According to a paper published in the journal Nature Geoscience by a team of climate scientists and coral ecologists from the UK, Australia and Panama, pollution from air particles resulting from burning coal or volcanic eruptions can shade corals from sunlight and cool the surrounding water resulting in reduced growth rates.

Corals have been responding to changes in the concentration of particulate pollution in the atmosphere,

Dr. Paul Halloran of the team explains: "Particulate pollution or 'aerosols' reflect incoming sunlight and make clouds brighter. This can reduce the light available for coral photosynthesis, as well as the temperature of surrounding waters. Together these factors are shown to slow down coral growth."


The authors used a combination of records retrieved from within the coral skeletons, observations from ships, climate model simulations and statistical modelling. Their analysis shows that coral growth rates in the Caribbean were affected by volcanic aerosol emissions...
By Murray Camp on 4/4/2013 2:36 PM

Please read Matt Pedersen views on the proposed ESA coral listing, which can be found here:

By Murray Camp on 4/4/2013 9:45 AM

MASNA has officially submitted its response to the proposed listing of multiple coral species under the Endangered Species Act.   The full response can be viewed here:

response letter ESA listing v3.pdf

By Murray Camp on 4/4/2013 7:35 AM
The MASNA Industry, Legislation and Conservation staff has been hard at work preparing MASNA's response to the proposed listing of 82 coral species under the Endangered Species Act  (“ESA”).   In connection with preparing the response, we have reviewed multiple scientific papers and reviews of the underlying Status Review Report (“SRR”), conducted an independent legal analysis of the proposed action under the ESA, and have worked closely with the legal and legislative issues staff of aligned organizations, including PIJAC (Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council).

The response letter will be submitted to the National Marine Fisheries Service today, with a copy to be made available on MASNA's website.  Please remember that the deadline for submission of public comment on this critical issue is this Saturday, April 6, 2013.   MASNA recommends that public comment be submitted by April 5, 2013, as there may be some confusion as to what specific time on April 6 the public comment period expires. 

By Murray Camp on 4/2/2013 1:17 PM
 On December 7, 2012, NOAA published a proposed rule in the Federal Register (77 FR 73219) in response to a petition submitted by the Center for Biological Diversity to list 83 reef-building coral species as threatened or endangered under the ESA.  NOAA concluded that 12 of the petitioned coral species warrant listing as endangered (5 Caribbean and 7 Indo-Pacific), 54 coral species warrant listing as threatened (2 Caribbean and 52 Indo-Pacific), and 16 coral species (all Indo-Pacific) do not warrant listing as threatened or endangered under the ESA. NOAA also determined that two Caribbean coral species currently listed warrant reclassification from threatened to endangered.

Due to the broad regulatory powers granted under the ESA, the proposed listing could very well shut down aquarium import, sales, or trade of all Acropora, Montipora, Euphyllia and other corals, not just the species listed. The proposed listing would make no distinction between “wild collected,”  “maricultured” or "aquacultured"...
By Murray Camp on 3/12/2013 9:05 AM
From:  Murray W. Camp, MASNA ILOC Director

Although still subject to a formal votes, it looks like the governmental representative delegates to the 16th meeting of the CITES Conference of the Parties have agreed to restrict cross-border trade in the oceanic whitetip, the porbeagle, three types of hammerheads and the manta ray, including requiring any shipment to have stricter documentation regarding how they were harvested.  If countries are found to be non-compliant, they may be subject to sanctions that can cover trade in all CITES-listed species.  Japan and China, major consumers of shark products, opposed the listing, citing difficulties in identifying the specific species' fins.

They also said regional fisheries management bodies should manage marine issues, rather than CITES, but most countries, including the original proponents in Latin America and the European Union, and environmental NGOs rejected that view. "In reality we need fisheries management bodies managing the fishing and CITES managing...
By Murray Camp on 3/4/2013 11:32 AM
 A study published February 24 in Nature Climate Change described how researchers used the latest emissions scenarios and climate models to show how varying levels of carbon emissions are likely to result in more frequent and severe coral bleaching events.  If carbon emissions stay on the current path, most of the world's coral reefs (74 percent) are projected to experience coral bleaching conditions annually by 2045, results of the study show. Around a quarter of coral reefs are likely to experience bleaching events annually five or more years earlier than the median year, and these reefs in northwestern Australia, Papau New Guinea, and some equatorial Pacific islands like Tokelau, may require urgent attention, researchers warn.

"Coral reefs in parts of the western Indian Ocean, French Polynesia and the southern Great Barrier Reef, have been identified as temporary refugia from rising sea surface temperatures," said Ruben van Hooidonk, Ph.D., from the Cooperative Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Studies...
By Murray Camp on 2/19/2013 9:49 AM
 Using underwater video cameras to record fish feeding on South Pacific coral reefs, scientists have found that herbivorous fish can be picky eaters – a trait that could spell trouble for endangered reef systems.

In a study done at the Fiji Islands, Georgia Institute of Technology researchers learned that just four species of herbivorous fish were primarily responsible for removing common and potentially harmful seaweeds on reefs – and that each type of seaweed is eaten by a different fish species. The research demonstrates that particular species, and certain mixes of species, are potentially critical to the health of reef systems.

Source article here

By Murray Camp on 2/16/2013 10:56 AM
 The crown-of-thorns starfish (Acanthaster planci) is the greatest natural threat to coral populations. Outbreaks of the species occur periodically in the Indo-Pacific ocean and lead to the devastation of entire reefs, as is observed in French Polynesia.

The archipelago has been suffering from a new population explosion of the predatory starfish since 2004. It is one of the most intense and devastating outbreaks ever recorded.   The reasons for the outbreak remain unclear, as the causes identified in Australia (excessive rainfall increases nutrients from land-based sinks causing increase in algae) doe not seem to exist.

More information can be found here

By Murray Camp on 8/28/2012 9:52 AM
The governor of American Samoa recently signed an executive order banning the catching of all shark species, humphead wrasse fish and bumphead parrotfish in territorial waters. Governor Togiola stated that the order was based on the advice of marine scientists and fisheries managers under the leadership of the Department of Marine and Wildlife Resources.

“These species are so depleted that any further loss will threaten their survival in our waters in our territory. A recent study found that American Samoa only has 48 percent of the sharks that it should. And this executive order I have just signed was put in place to help protect and preserve these central, keystone species.”

Source can be reviewed here.

Murray W. Camp/MASNA ILOC Director

By Murray Camp on 7/16/2012 9:38 AM
Calling it “a beacon of hope,” NOAA administrator Dr. Jane Lubchenco called the Coral Triangle Initiative on Coral Reefs, Fisheries, and Food Security (“CTI”) “the broadest and deepest engagement in regional ocean governance to date.”

CTI is a multilateral partnership of six countries working together to sustain extraordinary marine and coastal resources by addressing crucial issues such as food security, climate change and marine biodiversity.  Although the U.S. is not a member county (Indonesia, Malaysia, PNG, Philippines, Solomon Islands and Timor-Leste) NOAA has directed substantial technical assistance and resources to supporting CTI.

Speaking at the opening of the 12th International Coral Reef Symposium in Cairns, Australia on July 9, 2012, Dr. Lubchenco lauded the CTI as an example of leadership, multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary partnership, peer learning, and cutting edge scientific innovation.

She also stated that the CTI’s unique regional approach to ocean governance...
By Murray Camp on 6/25/2012 9:29 AM
In a recently released open letter to the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (seen by many as protecting unstainable shark harvesting in that region), 41 marine researchers - including leading elasmobranch biologists Gregor Cailllet, Jeffrey Carrier, Michael L Domeier and John Stevens - sharply criticize CITES and other institutions for failing to protect declining shark populations.

Among their criticisms:

- Despite meeting the scientific criteria for listing, numerous shark species have been denied CITES protection because politics prevented them from receiving the two-thirds of the votes necessary for a CITES listing. 

- CITES tends to lag behind domestic and regional management bodies because of the two-thirds majority requirement and should not therefore be used as the benchmark for whether a species is under threat.

- The UN Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES) does not adequately protect endangered shark species....
By Murray Camp on 6/6/2012 8:05 AM
As reported in this article, despite inhabiting the same waters two populations of Great White sharks living in the coastal waters of Australia are genetically distinct, according to a new study published in the journal Marine Ecology Progress Series.

The two groups of Great Whites, or white sharks, are separated by the Bass Strait, a stretch of water between the Australian mainland and Tasmania to the south. Genetic tests from 97 shark tissue samples dating back to 1989 confirmed this geographical divide.

White shark numbers declined in the 20th century as a result of fishing and other human activities, resulting in the species now being protected in South Africa, the United States, Australia, New Zealand, and several other countries under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).

The effectiveness of the...
By Murray Camp on 4/26/2012 6:48 PM
An invasion of giant cannibal shrimp into America's coastal waters appears to be getting worse.

Researchers from the U.S. Geological Survey and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported Thursday that sightings of the massive Asian tiger shrimp, which can eat their smaller cousins, were 10 times higher in 2011 than in 2010.

“And they are probably even more prevalent than reports suggest, because the more fisherman and other locals become accustomed to seeing them, the less likely they are to report them,” said Pam Fuller, a USGS biologist.

The shrimp, which can grow to 13 inches long, are native to Asian and Australian waters and have been reported in coastal waters from North Carolina to Texas.

They can be consumed by humans.

"They're supposed to be very good. But they can get very large, sorta like lobsters," Fuller said.

While they may make good eatin' for people, it's the eating the giant shrimp do themselves that worries scientists.

"Are they...
By Murray Camp on 4/6/2012 6:18 AM
The twenty-sixth meeting of the Animals Committee (AC26) of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) convened from 15-20 March 2012 in Geneva, Switzerland. AC26 was followed by the Joint Meeting of the AC and Plants Committee (PC), which took place in Dublin, Ireland, from 22-24 March 2012.

It had been several years since the CITES scientific committees have had the opportunity to meet for any length of time in tandem, and with preparations for the 62nd meeting of the Standing Committee (SC62) in July and the 16th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (CoP16) in Thailand in 2013 gaining momentum, the committees were under pressure to complete their mandate from CoP15 and provide essential advice to the Convention’s decision-making body. The more than 200 participants attending the meetings over the course of two and a half weeks was an indication of parties’ interest in the scientific committees’ deliberations. The Committees completed their work with...
By Murray Camp on 3/25/2012 9:19 AM
Sea Shepherd Conservation Society has called for and demanded the immediate removal of Dr. Giam Choo-Hoo from the UN’s Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).  Dr. Choo-Hoo is the Asian delegate on the CITES Animal Committee.   Sea Shepherd accuses him of being a representative of the shark fin industry.

Captain Paul Watson has sent a letter to CITES and many other animal protection groups stating, “Sea Shepherd has initiated a campaign to bring the activities of Dr. Giam and CITES lack of a conflict of interest provisos to the world and this campaign will not cease until these issues are addressed.” More info can be found here

By Murray Camp on 3/18/2012 11:52 AM
A prominent Filipina scientist said a laid back attitude to ecological restoration may cost the Philippines further loss of its coral reefs, biodiversity and, eventually, source of food.

“Within the human-dominated system, restoration have to be integrated within the broader context of all the main driving factors of ecosystem degradation, in which agriculture often has central importance,” professor Rhodora Azanza of the University of the Philippines Marine Science Institute said, echoing findings of scientists in 2009. Azanza spoke at the National Research Council of the Philippines general membership assembly last week.

Azanza said previous efforts have been focused on conservation, which has helped increase production of food, “but mostly for aquaculture.”

Citing Bureau of Agricultural Statistics data, Azanza noted that for a decade beginning 1999, commercial and municipal marine fisheries production failed to steadily catch up with aquaculture as total marine production hit nearly 5 million...
By Murray Camp on 3/16/2012 9:03 AM
A recent article describes a study reported in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology describes the result of a study concluding that today's young Americans are less interested in the environment and in conserving resources — and often less civic-minded overall — than their elders were when they were young.   The findings go against the widespread belief that environmental issues have hit home with today's young adults, known as Millennials, who have grown up amid climate change discussion and the mantra "reduce, reuse, recycle." The environment is often listed among top concerns of young voters.

Based on two longstanding national surveys of high school seniors and college freshmen, Twenge and her colleagues found a decline, over the last four decades, in young people's trust in others, their interest in government and the time they said they spent thinking...
By Murray Camp on 3/15/2012 9:34 AM
In Sabah, Borneo, the Gayana Eco Resort is showcasing its coral reef restoration initiative during a "Marine Awareness Month" from March 22-April 22.

The environmental sanctuary on Gaya Island off the coast of Kota Kinabalu is celebrating the return to the wild of revived coral and hand-reared juvenile Giant Clams from its Marine Ecology Research Centre (MERC). The event marks a milestone in the resort’s commitment to restore a coral reef ecosystem ravaged by illegal fishing methods, dumping of waste into the sea and climate change.

Over the past few years, broken coral fragments  have been collected and grown at its research center.  1000 fully grown colonies will now be transferred to a ocean nursery on the island’s reefs. Marine biologists have also spawned all seven Giant Clams species found in Malaysian waters at the resort’s nursery: Tridacna gigas, Tridacna derasa, Tridacna squamosa, Tridacna maxima, Tridacna crocea, Hippopus porcellanus and Hippopus hippopus.  500 of these clams are...
By Murray Camp on 3/14/2012 9:13 AM
The Virgin Island Daily News reports that a US Magistrate agreed to recommend that the plea agreement of Ashu Bhandari, a St. Thomas jeweler charged with six felony counts of falsifying overseas shipments of black coral be reviewed by the presiding US District Judge, who previously rejected a plea deal between Bhandari’s company and the US Attorney.  The judge will determine whether the court will accept the plea deal or continue to trial June 14.

Each count warrants up to five years imprisonment. The plea agreement assigns a $250,000 fine, or twice the gross gain or loss amassed by the unlawful enterprise - whichever amount is more.

Bhandari was in the business of importing raw black coral, according to the plea agreement. He sold high-end black coral jewelry and artwork.

By Murray Camp on 3/13/2012 8:53 AM
According to this article, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (WA) urged the head of the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) today to step up programs to analyze the potential danger of debris from last year’s Japanese tsunami to Washington’s coastal economy.


During an Oceans, Fisheries, Coast Guard, and Atmosphere Subcommittee hearing today, Cantwell questioned NOAA head Dr. Jane Lubchenco on the agency’s readiness to address the threat tsunami debris poses to Washington state’s coastal economy. President Obama’s FY13 budget proposes a 25 percent cut to NOAA’s Marine Debris Program.


After a devastating earthquake and tsunami struck Japan on March 11, 2011, an enormous amount of debris was washed out to sea. Currently, the debris is spread out across an area measuring 2,000 by 1,000 nautical miles and is expected to reach Hawaii later this year and Washington state starting in early 2013. Washington state’s coastal economy supports 165,000 jobs and produces $10.8 billion in economic activity each year....
By Murray Camp on 3/12/2012 10:31 AM
The report of an international workshop to “Review the Application and Effectiveness of International Regulatory Measures for the Conservation and Sustainable Use of Elasmobranchs”, convened jointly by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and CITES in Genazzano, Italy, has been published by FAO.

The workshop was attended by specialists, acting in an individual expert capacity, from a variety of different disciplines, sectors and geographic regions.

Among their key conclusions, the workshop participants agreed that:

international cooperation of States is very important for a species (or stock) with a broad geographic distribution to ensure that necessary management measures are applied over a sufficiently large distribution area; otherwise, the measures taken by one or a few States might not have the desired effect on the status of the species or stock; every regulatory measure will be met with a mixed response by civil society when different groups have different interests;...
By Murray Camp on 3/11/2012 12:07 PM
A long neglected part of the Caribbean, Jamaica coral reefs are finally getting some much-needed attention.

According to this article, the Living Oceans Foundation is sending its research platform, M/Y Golden Shadow, to Pedro Bank, Jamaica, to conduct scuba, planktonic, oceanographic and related research into this reef ecosystem. 

While we have a (generally) good grasp of the current conditions of Caribbean coral reefs, there are blank spots.  Hopefully, this expedition will give us a more complete picture so that a more comprehensive restoration plan can be implemented, including fisheries management, pollution abatement, and in-situ restoration efforts.

Murray W. Camp

By Murray Camp on 3/1/2012 3:23 PM
Cabo Pulmo, a protected marine reserve on the southeastern tip of the Baja Peninsula, is the location of the oldest of only three coral reefs on the west coast of North America. The reef, estimated to be 20,000 years old, is the northernmost coral reef in the eastern Pacific.

About six months ago, Scripps Institute of Oceanography called Cabo Pulmo the “World’s Most Robust Marine Reserve,” citing a journal article authored by Scripps biologists and others that determined that the biomass (at least fish biomass) increased 460 percent between 1999 and 2009.  The reserve’s no-take restrictions were implemented in 1995 and have received strong local support and enforcement.

"The study's results are surprising in several ways," said Octavio Aburto-Oropeza, a Scripps postdoctoral researcher, World Wildlife Fund Kathryn Fuller fellow and lead author of the study. "A biomass increase of 463 percent in a reserve as large as...
By Murray Camp on 2/29/2012 11:25 AM
Palau, an island nation located 500 miles east of the Philippines, created shark sanctuary in 2001.  According to a recent article in the Fiji Times, the country has stepped up its enforcement, has recently fined the operators of a Taiwanese-flagged vessel caught shark fishing in the preserve, and has banned the captain for one year.

This has given hope to those seeking to establish a similar reserve in Fiji.   Fiji’s Ministry of Fisheries, with help from the Coral Reef Alliance and the Pew Environment Group, is working on legislation to turn Fiji's waters into a shark sanctuary.

With the increasing realization that the demise of apex predators has a substantial detrimental effect on the ecology of coral reefs, this type of legislation is seen by many conservationists as necessary to support coral reefs worldwide.

By Murray Camp on 2/28/2012 10:05 AM
By Murray Camp on 2/26/2012 5:53 PM
 As we focus on issues such as overfishing and climate change, the issue of the enormous amount of plastics in the ocean often goes overlooked.  However, according to the Plastic Oceans Foundation:

1.         Over 250 species have been known to have ingested or become entangled in plastic Entanglement rates of up to 7.9% have been discovered in some species of seals and sea lions. A UNEP report estimates that around 130,000 cetaceans are caught in nets each year (US EPA, 1992).  31 species of marine mammals are known to have ingested marine plastic.

2.         Over 100 species of sea birds are known to ingest plastic artifacts . According to Dr Jan Andries van Franeker, around 95% of Fulmers have plastic in their stomachs that affect them in chemical and mechanical ways

3.         The increase in marine litter, in particular plastics, has resulted in a corresponding increase...
By Murray Camp on 2/25/2012 1:28 PM
 At a forum held by the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies in Singapore, Dr. Giam Choo Hoo, a member of the United Nations Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), Professor Steve Oakley, Shark Savers Malaysia chairman, and Hank Jenkins, president of conservation outfit Species Management Specialists, stated that a shark finning ban would not be effective because it will not dramatically reduce the number of sharks killed worldwide.

The three panelists also insist there is no evidence that live finning - cutting sharks’ fins off before throwing the sharks back into the sea - is a prevalent practice.

A forth panel member, Louis Ng, executive director of Singapore animal advocacy group Animal Concerns Research and Education Society , was not convinced.  He cited 2008 data that showed that fins commonly sell for $250 or more per pound (450 grams), far more than the measly dollars per pound for shark meat.

All four panelists agreed that...
By Murray Camp on 2/23/2012 2:52 PM
On January 6, 2009, President George W. Bush established the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument under the authority of the Antiquities Act of 1906.  The monument incorporates approximately 86,888 square miles within its boundaries, which extend 50 nautical miles from the mean low water lines of Howland, Baker, and Jarvis Islands; Johnston, Wake, and Palmyra Atolls; and Kingman Reef.  All these islands have coral reefs.

According to the Marine Conservation Institute, commercial fishing was banned under the presidential order establishing the monument, but NOAA and the US Fish & Wildlife Service have failed to implement the commercial fishing ban.  MCI has filed a petition with the Secretary of the Interior and the Secretary of Commerce requesting enforcement of the ban.


By Murray Camp on 2/22/2012 11:04 AM
 Similar to the market pressures underlying (to a partial extent) the practice of shark finning, a recent article in Scientific American describes how demand for the gills of the manta and mobula rays is threatening these majestic elasmobranchs.   The tragic thing is that the use of manta gills is not supported by traditional Chinese medicine, but appears to be a relatively new fad according to the article. 

By Murray Camp on 2/21/2012 11:26 AM
 While I have tended to view some of the Caribbean nations as far behind the curve in terms of conservation, this article describes the Trinidad and Tobago Cabinet approval of an amendment of the Fisheries Act to ban killing, catching, possessing or sale of sea turtles and eggs.  According to the article, T&T were signatories to CITES, but this act means that sea turtles can no longer be considered by-catch.

Trinidad and Tobago have nesting populations of five of the seven species of marine turtles occurring worldwide and has one of the largest nesting populations of leatherback turtles in the world. 


By Murray Camp on 2/19/2012 1:04 PM
 The Australian government plans a 1,000,000 sq. km marine sanctuary in the coral sea that would be off limits to hydrocarbon exploration and development and have significantly restricted food-fishing quotas, including a 51% no-take area and a gillnet and trawling ban.

Commercial fishing operators and energy interests are opposing the proposal.  The proposal is open to public comment for three months.  I would not be surprised if there was a compromise on the final legislation. 

An interview with Terry Hughes, marine biologist, and industry representatives can be found here.

By Murray Camp on 2/19/2012 12:54 PM
 A municipal government on Sulu (an autonomous island province in the Philippines) has initiated a significant mangrove planting program to restore these habitats that are so critical to reef conservation.

The municipal government of Banguingui entered into an agreement with the Philippine Department of Environment and Natural Resources for planting of mangroves covering 588 acres of coastal area.  The source article can be found here.

This is a good example of where, in my opinion, the most effective conservation efforts should be directed in developing countries – the community and small government level. 






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