Time for a Stretch
(photo by Lalith Ekanayake)
SPECIES: Southern Bluefin Tuna (Thunnus maccoyii)
CURRENT RANGE: Found in the open southern hemisphere waters of the Atlantic, Indian and Pacific oceans.
CURRENT THREATS: Over-fishing
CONSERVATION STATUS: Critically endangered
WHERE CAN YOU SEE THEM: In southern waters from 30° to 60° south, except during spawning season, when the Southern Bluefin Tuna migrates to the tropical seas off the west coast of Australia.
Good news! The Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI) Government recently approved the recommendations we made with our ‘TCI Turtle Project’ partners to improve management of their traditional turtle fishery.
Mats of algae and seaweed have shrouded the once-thick coral in shallow reefs off Jamaica’s north coast. Warm ocean waters have bleached out the coral, and in a cascade of ecological decline, the sea urchins and plant-eating reef fish have mostly vanished, replaced by snails and worms that bore through coral skeletons.
Now, off the shores of Jamaica, as well as in Caribbean islands from Bonaire to St. Croix, conservationists are planting fast-growing coral species to try to turn things around by “seeding” reefs. The strategy has doubters, with one expert joking that prayer might be as effective, but conservationists say the problem is so catastrophic that inaction is not an option.
According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, live coral coverage on Caribbean reefs, which provides a home to many marine species, is down to an average of just 8 percent, from 50 percent in the 1970s.
Atlantic Dolphin and Calf
(photo by Becky Kagan Schott; Bahamas)
"It’s not that people don’t care about the environment; it’s that more pressing needs like feeding their families and paying their bills trump environmental concerns. As a marine biologist, I worry about how poverty can hinder the sustainability of fishing, and therefore endanger the future of fishing communities. The “teach a man to fish” adage can only hold true if there are fish left to catch."
The big question: How we can enable people to take a longer-term view, to fish today but save some for later?