- Super Trawler Banned from Australian Waters for Two Years
- Czechs Implant Transmitters to Monitor Eel Population
- New Study Defines Sea Otter’s Role in Slowing Global Warming
To the delight of environmental groups and a vocal majority of the Australian public, the super trawler Margiris has been effectively banned from Australian waters for at least two years, due to the introduction of new fishing laws by Environment Minister Tony Burke. Though Burke admitted his decision was largely influenced by pressure from environmental groups and growing negative public sentiment, he emphasized that his main agenda was the protection of Australian fisheries and marine environments. The two-year ban will allow time for further investigation to be conducted as to the short and long term impacts a super trawler of Margiris’ size and haul quotas could have on the seas surrounding Australia.
In an effort to understand the dramatic decline in eel populations over the last 2-3 decades, Czech scientists have been sewing transmitters into the bellies of eels, 70 of which have already been implanted out of the 100 selected for the study. The incisions are treated with antibiotics and anti-parasite substances to ensure the animals are not harmed as a result of the operation. A large number of eels die every year by way of turbines used by hydro-electric companies, and the information gained from the transmitters may be able to help scientists better predict the timing of eel migrations and work with hydro-electric companies to cease using their turbines during this time. The eel is critically endangered throughout Europe, with just one percent remaining of the population it had in the 1980-90s.
A new study conducted by researchers from the University of California shows that sea otters indirectly help keep CO2 levels low in the atmosphere simply by matter of nature. Sea otters prey on sea urchins, spiny sea creatures who have few natural predators and a voracious appetite for algae, sea grasses, and kelp. While the food preferences of sea urchins are also beneficial to a marine ecosystem, an overabundance can result in “urchin barrens,” or patches of sea floor that have been decimated by their constant munching. According to 40 years of data on the Pacific Northwest region of the US, from Vancouver Island to the Aleutian Islands of Alaska, kelp blooms in areas that had a healthy population of sea otters could absorb 12 times the carbon dioxide than those who had little protection from sea otters. Although the study acknowledges that sea otters are not likely to be the solution to rising CO2 levels in the atmosphere, it does note that the activities of animals do have an influence on the carbon cycle, which opens the door for conservation scenarios for many species that also reduce carbon emissions.