Texas bans shark fin trade, closing the biggest US source

Texas has banned shark fin trading, ending what had become a major US source for the Chinese buying the fins, which are considered a delicacy used to make soup. But the world cannot afford such profligacy, according to conservation groups, which blame shark finning for driving shark populations into a steep decline. Texas’ move may help turn things around for the oceans apex predators.

Sea World squirms as stock plummets; announces new plan for orcas

Sea World’s squirming like a wet sea mammal as Wall Street takes a dim view of its anticipated revenue losses. Animals rights advocates are celebrating the fallout from the documentary Blackfish, which uncovered mistreatment of the park’s orcas as well as the dangers that Sea World’s trainers face in working with these wild animals.

Austin-based Whole Foods Market takes top place for seafood sustainability

How’s your favorite grocery doing when it comes to selling only sustainable seafood? Greenpeace puts out a report every year so you can see how well Whole Foods Market, Safeway, Tom Thumb, Trader Joe’s and many more are doing. Check out who’s received top marks for helping oceans, and who’s lagging.

Let’s start treating climate change like the enemy

Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is hovering at a landmark 400 parts per million, a level never before experienced by human beings. Scientists say we’re playing with fire, risking the planet’s future if we don’t start to lower the greenhouse gas levels forcing climate change. How should we react to this news? First, we need to envision climate change more accurately, as a deadly threat.

The state of our oceans, in a clamshell

Our oceans, long taken for granted, are being stressed by pollution, over-fishing and climate change. Plastic gyres, swirling pools of plastic refuse, occupy several spots in the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. The largest one, in the North Pacific, is estimated to exceed the size of Texas….These linked, but disparate problems — pollution, unsustainable fishing practices, jobs at risk — won’t be solved easily. That’s why several environmental and conservation groups working around the globe have formed the Global Partnership for Oceans. The groups hope that together they can work to save the marine environment before human pressures cause natural fisheries to collapse.

Food crisis hits fish sticks

By Barbara Kessler

Remember the global food crisis of earlier this year? Unfortunately, the intervening mortgage, energy and banking crises have not solved it.

The next food shortages appear to be headed our way from the oceans, where overfishing has led to the steep decline of shark populations worldwide, the closing of West Coast salmon fisheries and now, the potential slide of the Alaskan Pollock.

This latest fish-in-trouble was once so prolific that it became the world’s most omnipresent, affordable everyman’s seafood, sliced into faux crab, minced and pressed into fish sticks and filleted into fast food McFishwiches.

Now, the workhorse Pollock, once vastly abundant, is experiencing a sudden unanticipated population decline of about 50 percent, jeopardizing the world’s supply of fish sticks (which may or may not alarm you), the survival of the Stellar Sea Lions of and countless Alaskan fishing jobs, according to a survey by the National Marine Fisheries Service.

The findings have conservationists calling for a reassessment fishing limits in the seas along the Bering Strait. They want the North Pacific Fishery Management Council to set new reasonable catch limits on the Pollock that consider sustainability when the council meets in December.

Vanishing Sea Ice

By Barbara Kessler

Satellite pictures of the Arctic suggest that this year’s summer melt likely will be worse than last year’s, providing a dramatic demonstration of how global warming can snowball — no pun intended.

As the ice melts back farther and farther each summer, it loses its ability to reflect heat from the earth, becoming a contributor to, as well as a victim of, global warming. In addition, as the permafrost of the Arctic regions warms, it releases stored carbon, adding to greenhouse gases, and furthering the escalation of warming temperatures, scientists say. All this bad news, unfortunately doesn’t have any quick fixes, but will continue escalating until and unless global warming is stalled or reduced.