Should you stop eating fish?

Should you stop eating fish?

We asked legendary oceanographer Sylvia Earle for her menu advice.

Oceanographer (and TED Prize winner) Sylvia Earle (TED Talk: My wish: Protect our oceans) has spent half a century campaigning to save the world’s seas. A new Netflix original documentary about her life’s work sheds light on the environmental impact of the commercial fishing industry and Earle’s crusade to create underwater “hope spots” through her organization, Mission Blue. After watching the film, it’s hard not to wonder: Are any fish still okay to eat? We turned to our favorite aquanaut for advice. Below, check out Earle’s take on wild fish, tuna rolls, and her ideal meal.

To restore the ocean ecosystem, you’re saying we must put an end to overfishing and bottom trawling, which you liken to “catching songbirds with a bulldozer.” Is there such a thing as eating fish responsibly these days?

Except for those living in coastal communities — or even inland if we’re talking freshwater species — for most people, eating fish is a choice, not a necessity. Some people believe that the sole purpose of fish is for us to eat them. They are seen as commodities. Yet wild fish, like wild birds, have a place in the natural ecosystem which outweighs their value as food. They’re part of the systems that make the planet function in our favor, and we should be protecting them because of their importance to the ocean. They are carbon-based units, conduits for nutrients, and critical elements in ocean food webs. If people really understood the methods being used to capture wild fish, they might think about choosing whether to eat them at all, because the methods are so destructive and wasteful. It isn’t just a matter of caring about the fish or the corals, but also about all the things that are destroyed in the process of capturing ocean wildlife. We have seen such a sharp decline in the fish that we consume in my lifetime that I personally choose not to eat any. In the end, it’s a choice.

Read on:

From Finding Nemo to minerals – what riches lie in the deep sea?


From Finding Nemo to minerals – what riches lie in the deep sea?

As fishing and the harvesting of metals, gas and oil have expanded deeper and deeper into the ocean, scientists are drawing attention to the services provided by the deep sea, the world’s largest environment. “This is the time to discuss deep-sea stewardship before exploitation is too much farther underway,” says lead-author Andrew Thurber. In a review published today in Biogeosciences, a journal of the European Geosciences Union (EGU), Thurber and colleagues summarise what this habitat provides to humans, and emphasise the need to protect it.

“The deep sea realm is so distant, but affects us in so many ways. That’s where the passion lies: to tell everyone what’s down there and that we still have a lot to explore,” says co-author Jeroen Ingels of Plymouth Marine Laboratory in the UK.

“What we know highlights that it provides much directly to society,” says Thurber, a researcher at the College of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences at Oregon State University in the US. Yet, the deep sea is facing impacts from climate change and, as resources are depleted elsewhere, is being increasingly exploited by humans for food, energy and metals like gold and silver.

“We felt we had to do something,” says Ingels. “We all felt passionate about placing the deep sea in a relevant context and found that there was little out there aimed at explaining what the deep sea does for us to a broad audience that includes scientists, the non-specialists and ultimately the policy makers. There was a gap to be filled. So we said: ‚Let’s just make this happen’.”

In the review of over 200 scientific papers, the international team of researchers points out how vital the deep sea is to support our current way of life. It nurtures fish stocks, serves as a dumping ground for our waste, and is a massive reserve of oil, gas, precious metals and the rare minerals we use in modern electronics, such as cell phones and hybrid-car batteries. Further, hydrothermal vents and other deep-sea environments host life forms, from bacteria to sponges, that are a source of new antibiotics and anti-cancer chemicals. It also has a cultural value, with its strange species and untouched habitats inspiring books and films from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea to Finding Nemo.

“From jewellery to oil and gas and future potential energy reserves as well as novel pharmaceuticals, deep-sea’s worth should be recognised so that, as we decide how to use it more in the future, we do not inhibit or lose the services that it already provides,” says Thurber.

The deep sea (ocean areas deeper than 200m) represents 98.5% of the volume of our planet that is hospitable to animals. It has received less attention than other environments because it is vast, dark and remote, and much of it is inaccessible to humans. But it has important global functions. In the Biogeosciences review the team shows that deep-sea marine life plays a crucial role in absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, as well as methane that occasionally leaks from under the seafloor. In doing so, the deep ocean has limited much of the effects of climate change.

This type of process occurs over a vast area and at a slow rate. Thurber gives other examples: manganese nodules, deep-sea sources of nickel, copper, cobalt and rare earth minerals, take centuries or longer to form and are not renewable. Likewise, slow-growing and long-lived species of fish and coral in the deep sea are more susceptible to overfishing. “This means that a different approach needs to be taken as we start harvesting the resources within it.”

By highlighting the importance of the deep sea and identifying the traits that differentiate this environment from others, the researchers hope to provide the tools for effective and sustainable management of this habitat.

“This study is one of the steps in making sure that the benefits of the deep sea are understood by those who are trying to, or beginning to, regulate its resources,” concludes Thurber. “We ultimately hope that it will be a useful tool for policy makers.”

The research was the result of a workshop at the International Research Institute of Stavanger in Norway, supported by INDEEP (the International Network for Scientific Investigations of Deep-Sea Ecosystems) through a grant awarded by the Total Foundation. The authors declare no competing interests and that the funding agency had no input into the content of their review article.

This research is presented in the paper ‘Ecosystem function and services provided by the deep sea’ to appear in the EGU open access journal Biogeosciences on 29 July 2014.

Full citation: Thurber, A. R., Sweetman, A. K., Narayanaswamy, B. E., Jones, D. O. B., Ingels, J., and Hansman, R. L.: Ecosystem function and services provided by the deep sea, Biogeosciences, 11, 3941-3963, doi:10.5194/bg-11-3941-2014, 2014.

The team is composed of A. R. Thurber (College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences, Oregon State University, Corvallis, USA), A. K. Sweetman (International Research Institute of Stavanger, Randaberg, Norway), B. E. Narayanaswamy (Scottish Association for Marine Science, Scottish Marine Institute, Oban, UK), D. O. B. Jones (National Oceanography Centre, Southampton, UK), J. Ingels (Plymouth Marine Laboratory, UK), and R. L. Hansman (Department of Limnology and Oceanography, University of Vienna, Austria).

Straßenkunst wehrt sich gegen die Grundschleppnetzfischerei


Straßenkunst wehrt sich gegen die Grundschleppnetzfischerei

Today, while the Council of European Fisheries Ministers is meeting in Brussels, seven renowned street artists will perform live and simultaneously across Europe to call on Member States to take the will of European citizens into consideration and to adopt a historical and indispensable measure to safeguard the oceans: the ban of deep-sea bottom trawling.

Deep-sea bottom trawling has been recognized as the most destructive fishing method of all: it is the marine equivalent of giant bulldozers smashing corals thousands of years old and reducing bottom habitat to rubble. The nets pull up anything in their path, including large numbers of endangered fish such as deepwater sharks.

The bulk of deep-sea bottom trawling in the EU is carried out by French and Spanish vessels. Portuguese deep-sea fishing mainly consists of sustainable, small-scale operations using longlines and handlines. Portugal has even recently issued a decree prohibiting deep-sea bottom trawling in more than 2 million square kilometres.

Over 300 international scientists have called on European policymakers to adopt the ban of deep-sea bottom trawling, which was proposed by the European Commissioner of Fisheries Maria Damanaki in July 2012. But nations such as France and Spain have been gutting the deep-sea fishing regulation in order to protect a few industrial, heavily subsidized vessels, which are often unprofitable and whose economic and ecological model belongs to the past.

France, Spain, and the few nations they have managed to convince to block the ban of deep-sea bottom trawling thus oppose the will of more than 860,000 European signatories to the BLOOM petition who want to see this destructive and unsustainable fishing practice come to an end. The surprise comes from the UK, which supports France on opposing the ban although French and Spanish vessels thoroughly trawl off its own coast.

“France and Spain both fail at protecting the common interest in this case. They echo the vested interests of a few powerful industrial lobbies, ignore the will of citizens, and use their master knowledge of political procedures to jeopardize the gear ban although everything is arguing in its favor: science proves the utter ecological disaster of deep-sea bottom trawling, economic analyses show the appalling performance of these fuel-greedy, subsidy-dependent fishing vessels, and last, civil society refuses the destruction of a unique natural heritage for a handful of fish that nobody cares about” explained Claire Nouvian, founder of BLOOM.

“French and Spanish officials even dare talk about “sustainable” deep-sea bottom trawling! This is an insult to reason and to science”, concluded Claire Nouvian, who called on the Italian Presidency and on Germany to ensure that the ban would be adopted at Council.

As current holder of the European Union Presidency, Italy has a great opportunity to promote an ambitious reform for the safeguard of the deep ocean and to act as a leader for the deep-sea bottom trawl ban. Together with Germany, which has championed the Common Fisheries Reform, Italy can ensure a truly sustainable future to the European fishing sector by steering it clear from destructive and unsustainable practices.

On July 14, the European street art community will directly express its indignation as well as its hopes and expectations to European governments. The Italian Presidency has requested EU Member States to confirm their position on the deep-sea fishing regulation by July 15.

N.B : The street artists which team up with BLOOM for the simultaneous performance:

POPAY in Brussels (Robert Schuman round-about in front of the Ministers Council)
JB ROCK in Rome (In front of the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries)
SP38 in Berlin (Stattbaden in Wedding)
SPOK BRILLOR in Madrid (Utopicus, Calle Colegiata)
David ‘JAE’ Antunes in Lisbon (Praça do Comércio)
PANIK in London (Kensington Road)
DELWOOD in Biarritz – France

To follow live the mobilization and the street artists’ performances on social networks: #DeepStreetArt #deepsea #trawling, @Bloom_FR –


Großes Kaltwasserkorallen-Ökosystem im Golf von Mexiko entdeckt

Fliegenfänger-Seeanemone im Korallendickicht; Wassertiefe 500 – 600 Meter. Foto: MARUM, Universität Bremen

Großes Kaltwasserkorallen-Ökosystem im Golf von Mexiko entdeckt

Auf einer Expedition mit dem Forschungsschiff MARIA S. MERIAN entdeckte ein internationales Wissenschaftler-Team im südlichen Golf von Mexiko eines der weltweit größten bislang bekannten Kaltwasserkorallenriffe. Mit Hilfe eines unbemannten Tauchfahrzeugs stießen die Forscher in 500 bis 600 Metern Wassertiefe auf zahlreiche, zwanzig bis fünfzig Meter hohe Korallenhügel, die eine Fläche von mehr als vierzig Quadratkilometern bedecken. Das Team unter Leitung von Prof. Dierk Hebbeln berichtet in der aktuellen Ausgabe der Zeitschrift Biogeosciences über seine Entdeckungen.

In kühlen tieferen Ozeanstockwerken lebende Kaltwasserkorallen stehen seit mehr als einem Jahrzehnt im Fokus der Meeresforschung. Auf Schiffsexpeditionen wurden etliche derartige Ökosysteme entdeckt: Von Norwegen entlang Europas und Nordafrikas bis Mauretanien und in verschiedenen Regionen des Mittelmeers, aber auch auf der anderen Seite des Atlantiks vor North-Carolina oder den Bahamas. Hinsichtlich der Biodiversität können es diese Tiefwasserkorallensysteme durchaus mit ihren Verwandten in tropisch-subtropischen Flachwasserzonen aufnehmen. Im südlichen Golf von Mexiko waren Kaltwasserkorallenfunde bislang indes eher selten. „Aus Echolot-Untersuchungen wussten wir allerdings, dass es von Mexiko hügelartige Strukturen gibt, die den Kaltwasserkorallen-Hügeln in anderen Regionen sehr ähneln.“ sagt Expeditionsleiter Prof. Dierk Hebbeln. Eine Ausfahrt mit der MARIA S. MERIAN im Frühjahr 2012 sollte genauere Aufschlüsse bringen.

Am 21. März erreichte das 95 Meter lange Forschungsschiff die Campeche-Bank etwa 140 Seemeilen nördlich der mexikanischen Halbinsel Yucatan. In den folgenden Tagen untersuchten die Wissenschaftler und Wissenschaftlerinnen rund 180 Quadratkilometer Meeresboden mit dem bordeigenen Fächerecholot; sie nahmen u.a. Wasser- und Bodenproben und ließen den mit Kamerasystemen und Greifarmen ausgerüsteten Tauchroboter MARUM-CHEROKEE zu Wasser. „Wir stießen auf bis zu 50 Meter hohe, längliche Hügel“, sagt Korallenexpertin Dr. Claudia Wienberg. Manche dieser Hügel erstrecken sich über eine Länge von mehr als tausend Meter. „Lebende Korallenkolonien besiedeln insbesondere die oberen Bereiche der Hügel“, sagt die MARUM-Forscherin. „Dort entdeckten wir regelrechte Korallendickichte. Die unteren Hangbereiche waren zumeist mit Korallenschutt oder weichem Sediment bedeckt.“

Videoaufzeichnungen belegen die Vielfalt und Schönheit dieses Ökosystems (siehe In den lebenden Korallendickichten im oberen Bereich der Hügel tummeln sich Dornenkrabben, Seeigel, Seesterne, Schnecken und Seelilien. Unterhalb der Kammlagen prägen abgestorbene Korallenskelette das Bild. Sie sind Lebensraum für Glasschwämme und gelbe Seeanemonen.

„Das Korallenökosystem auf der Campeche-Bank ist in seiner Ausdehnung mit den großen norwegischen Riffen vergleichbar und zählt damit zu den größten Vorkommen weltweit“, sagt Prof. André Freiwald vom Forschungsinstitut Senckenberg am Meer, Wilhelmshaven. Kaltwasserkorallen ernähren sich von tierischem und pflanzlichem Plankton, das als winzige Partikel aus dem obersten, lichtdurchfluteten Meeresstockwerken in die Tiefe sinkt. „Die Versorgungslage im südlichen Golf ist geradezu perfekt: Hohe Produktion an der Meeresoberfläche und starke Bodenströmungen, die herabsinkende Nahrungspartikel in Richtung der Korallenhügel transportieren“, sagt Expeditionsteilnehmer Freiwald. „Zudem fanden wir in 520 Meter Wassertiefe, also genau dort, wo die Korallen leben, Dichtesprünge. Diese unsichtbare Grenze zwischen den Wassermassen verlangsamt das Absinken von Nahrungspartikeln aus dem obersten Ozeanstockwerk und verbessert die Chance der Korallen, diese Nahrung mit ihren Tentakeln zu fangen.“

Unklar bleibt, seit wann die Kaltwasserkorallen die Campeche-Bank besiedeln. Vergleichbar hohe Korallenhügel vor Irland entstanden bereits vor mehr als zwei Millionen Jahren während Korallenhügel vor Norwegen seit dem Ende der letzten Eiszeit vor 10.000 Jahren anwuchsen. „Aus der Höhe der Hügel auf das Alter zu schließen, wäre allzu spekulativ“, sagt Dierk Hebbeln, Erstautor des jetzt erschienen Papers. „Dazu bedarf es weiter gehender Untersuchungen.“

Wissenschaftlicher Artikel:
D. Hebbeln, C. Wienberg, P. Wintersteller, A. Freiwald, M. Becker, L. Beuck, C. Dullo, G. P. Eberli, S. Glogowski, L. Matos, N. Forster, H. Reyes-Bonilla, M. Taviani, and the MSM 20-4 shipboard scientific party:
Environmental forcing of the Campeche cold-water coral province, southern Gulf of Mexico
In: Biogeosciences, 11, 1799–1815, 2014; doi:10.5194/bg-11-1799-2014

Quelle Marum

Deep-sea Baton Passes to Full European Parliament

Deep-sea Baton Passes to Full European Parliament

Fisheries Committee Fails to Remove Threat

November 4th 2013: A proposal for a new European Union regulation to protect the deep sea from overfishing and destructive fishing practices in the north-east Atlantic survived the long awaited vote in the European Parliament’s Fisheries Committee today as the 25 members of the committee voted on a series of amendments, resulting in both potential gains and losses for the ocean.

Although the committee voted for several measures that would help to protect deep-sea ecosystems such as corals, sponges, and seamounts, it rejected a proposal from the European Commission to phase-out deep-sea bottom trawling and bottom gillnetting, fishing methods widely recognised as posing a particular threat to deep-sea species and ecosystems. The proposal adopted today will now go to the plenary ofthe European Parliament for a vote currently scheduled for December 2013.

“While some important measures were accepted, others were rejected and the final proposal adopted by the Fisheries Committee is not sufficient to provide the protection required for the deep sea. Now we must rely on the plenary of the Parliament to champion the conservation of the deep ocean’ said Matthew Gianni, policy advisor to the Deep Sea Conservation Coalition and The Pew Charitable Trusts.

The proposal adopted by the Fisheries Committee includes requirements to somewhat strengthen the scientific basis forsetting quotas for deep-sea species and reduce bycatch of vulnerable deep sea species. The committee also adopted proposals to provide protection for vulnerable deep-sea marine ecosystems. These measures include, for example, requiring environmental impact assessments of deep-sea fisheries and closure to bottom fishing of areas where such ecosystems are known or likely to occur. However, a majority of the members of the European Parliament on the committee supported the Scottish, French, and Spanish deep-sea trawl fleet interestsand voted against a phase-out of the most destructive deep-sea fishing practices—bottom trawling and bottom gillnet fishing. Moreover, the proposal adopted would create loopholes allowing continued depletion of vulnerable deep-sea species.

Progress in the Fisheries Committee had been hampered by continuous delays and an aggressive campaign bythe deep-sea trawling industry. This hindrance stands in stark contrast to the Environment Committee of the European Parliament, which in March voted overwhelmingly (58-1) for a regulation that would phase-out deep-sea bottom trawling and bottom gillnet fishing and set strict limits on the catch and bycatch of deep-sea species.

“It’s now up to the 766 members of the European Parliament to represent the broader opinion of all European citizens” said Gianni. “We all have a stake in a healthy, biologically rich, and productive deep sea and the benefits it supplies to the planet. Conserving it will be a great legacy.”

The deep ocean is one of the largest, most biologically diverse areas of the Earth. Deep-sea species and ecosystems are slow growing, much more easily overexploited than shallow-water species, highly susceptible to damage,and slow to recover from the damage caused by bottom trawling.

Notes to Editors

The European Commission released the proposal (COM[2012]371) for a new deep-sea fisheries regulation in July 2012.

The European Parliament plenary vote is currently scheduled for Dec. 10th2013, although this is subject to change. The European Council of Fisheries Ministers from the 28 European Union member States also needs to agree to a new regulation for it to become law; however, negotiations in council have not yet begun, in part because of opposition from France.

Many scientists, marine conservation organizations, and a growing number of small-scale fishers have made their opposition to destructive deep-sea fishing well known

The recently agreed upon basic regulation of the Common Fisheries Policy requires, among other measures, establishing science-based catch limits, applying the precautionary approach when science is inconclusive, minimising bycatch, and protecting vulnerable marine species and habitats. The current negotiation for a new deep-sea fisheries regulation provides an opportunity to ensure that such principles are effectively implemented, as well as carry out the European Union’s obligations under U.N. General Assembly resolutions on deep-sea fisheries.

The Deep Sea Conservation Coalition was founded in 2004 to address the issue of bottom trawling on the high seas in the absence of an effective governance regime. The coalition is made up of over 70 nongovernmental organisations, fishers’ organisations, and law and policy institutes, committed to protecting the deep sea