- World Governments Have Fallen Short of Ocean Conservation Promises
- Costa Rican Coast Guard Busts Shark Fin Poachers
- Scientists Document Deep Water Species with Baited Video Camera
In light of Australia’s announcement that it will be creating the world’s largest marine reserve, it would seem that people are finally paying attention to the state of our oceans’ health and working to improve it. While that may be true in Australia, the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) is calling conservation efforts worldwide “pitiful.” According to ZSL, nearly all of the commitments to ocean conservation that were agreed to by the world’s governments since the 1992 Rio Earth Summit have not been fulfilled, and in some cases, have gotten even worse. For instance, the summit heard promises of “an ecologically sound network of marine reserves by 2015, elimination of subsidies that contribute to illegal fishing, protect critical habitat, look after the needs of local fishermen, and restore depleted stocks to healthy levels by 2015.” Sadly, the reality is that only one percent of our oceans are protected, subsidized illegal fishing still exists, illegal fishing is on the rise, and many local fishermen all over the globe have found themselves replaced by commercial fishing operations. Although ZSL admits there have been a few improvements, they highlight the fact that governments need to be held accountable for future conservation commitments through specific plans for strategy implementation and a process by which their progress can be evaluated.
On a routine patrol looking for drug trafficking and irresponsible fishing vessels, the Costa Rican Coast Guard inadvertently stumbled upon a vessel carrying 58 shark fins with no evidence of the rest of the sharks, a practice that is illegal in Costa Rica’s waters. Upon contact with the offending vessel, the Coast Guard asked for permission to come aboard, which was readily granted. Officers noticed a suspicious sack in one of the coolers, further investigation of which revealed the illegal fins. The three fishermen on board were immediately arrested for violating the fishing law in Costa Rica, a crime that carries a penalty of 6 months to 2 years in prison, and fines that range from 5 to 15 times the median salary for fishermen.
A new project being conducted by the Cape Eleuthera Institute (CEI) out of the Bahamas is aiming at learning more about deep water species of sharks and other fish without ever having to actually catch them. The project involves the use of a specialized underwater video camera, called Medusa, that will record depth, water temperature and salinity, and any activity happening on the ocean floor in the poorest of light. A bait cage is affixed to the front of the camera, allowing for plenty of interaction with deep sea dwellers. Check out the footage of what they saw: