Welcome!

News Feed Item

NRDC: Cost Of Putting Seafood On Dinner Table - 650,000 Marine Mammals Killed Or Hurt By Foreign Commercial Fishing Each Year

Consumers Can Take Action & U.S. Can Protect Endangered Marine Mammals by Cracking Down on Foreign Fisheries Supplying Some of America's Favorite Wild-Caught Seafood Like Shrimp, Tuna, Crab, Lobster, and Salmon.

LOS ANGELES, Jan. 7, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In order to put wild-caught seafood on dinner tables, more than 650,000 marine mammals are killed or seriously injured every year in foreign fisheries after being hooked, entangled or trapped in fishing gear, and enforcement of a U.S. law to protect marine mammals could help prevent tens of thousands of these deaths, according to a new report issued today by the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Net Loss: The Killing of Marine Mammals in Foreign Fisheries finds that 91% of seafood consumed in the United States is imported and nearly every foreign fish product sold in the U.S. violates a federal marine mammal protection law. The wild-caught seafood most enjoyed by Americans – shrimp, tuna, crab, lobster, and salmon – present a particularly significant risk to marine mammals due to the dangerous fishing practices associated with them abroad. Until the U.S. enforces the law, which requires importing countries to prove they are meeting American standards, consumers can play a role in protecting whales, dolphins and sea lions by choosing American-caught seafood.

"No one wants their shrimp cocktail to come with a side of dolphin, but that's essentially what's happening when we eat imported fish that isn't held to the same standard as American seafood," said Zak Smith, attorney with NRDC and co-author of the report. "For 40 years, federal watchdogs have failed to enforce a law that could save thousands of whales and dolphins from negligent foreign fishing practices. At the same time, well-meaning U.S. fishermen are being undermined by their own government, which holds them accountable, but not their foreign counterparts." 

This report examines the failure of the U.S. government to enforce protections under the Marine Mammal Protection Act, which requires countries exporting fish products to prove the fish were not caught in violation of U.S. standards that limit serious injury and death of marine mammals. It identifies the primary species and populations at risk of extinction that would be helped by enforcement of the U.S. import protections law, the key fishing practices that endanger marine mammals, and regions of the world where bycatch is a critical concern. The unintentional capture of animals in fishing gear, or bycatch, is pushing some marine mammal populations to the brink of extinction.

Species most affected by seafood exports for American markets:

  • North Atlantic right whale: at risk from Canada's lobster and crabbing practices
  • New Zealand sea lion: at risk from New Zealand's squid industry
  • Mediterranean sperm whale: at risk from Italy & Turkey's lack of enforcement
  • Vaquita: at risk from shrimp fisheries not complying with Mexico's regulations
  • Spinner dolphins: at risk from India and Sri Lanka's tuna industry
  • Baltic and Black Sea harbor porpoises: at risk from inadequate regulatory measures
  • J-Stock minke whale: at risk from a range of Japanese and South Korean fishing practices
  • False killer whale: at risk from Pacific Ocean tuna, swordfish and marlin fishing practices

"Bycatch isn't just a moral issue, it's simple economics," said Acy Cooper, vice president of the Louisiana Shrimpers Association. "Foreign fishing companies can undercut our prices because they don't have to invest in ensuring that their exports to the U.S. were caught in a manner that protects marine mammals. Until foreign fleets see real consequences for failing to abide by the law, marine mammals will continue to be harmed around the world and American fishermen will be disadvantaged."

The key types of fishing gear that threaten marine mammals around the world include: 

  • Gillnets: mesh nets that can be set on the sea floor or floated in the water column depending on the targeted species. Marine mammals that dive for food around gillnets tend to become entangled and drown when they are unable to surface for air.
  • Purse seines: nets that hang vertically in the water column using weights at the bottom and buoys at the top. They can enclose marine mammals in the nets, along with fish.
  • Trawls: funnel-shaped nets that are dragged behind boats at different depths, depending on target species. Marine mammals are attracted to trawls, which they become entangled in, because they often target the species that mammals prey upon.
  • Bottom-set traps: (commonly called "pots") crustacean traps with ropes that connect them to surface buoys and to one another. Large whales are particularly prone to getting entangled in the ropes, which wrap around their bodies, making it difficult for them to move or feed.
  • Longlines: baited hooks on lines varying in length from 15 to 100 kilometers set with floating buoys or sunk with weights depending on the targeted species. Sea lions, fur seals, toothed whales, and other marine mammals can get caught on the hooks or tangled in the lines.

However, there are smart and targeted methods that can be employed to reduce risk and harm to marine mammals from dangerous gear, including time and area exclusions, warning systems, and gear modifications that make escaping entanglement more likely. An aggressive, science-based plan adopted by the U.S. in 1994 has reduced marine mammal bycatch by nearly 30% over 20 years and put special measures in place to save populations at highest risk.

"In many parts of the world, poor fishing practices are driving populations and species of marine mammals to extinction," said Dr. Andrew J. Read, Stephen Toth Professor of Marine Biology, Division of Marine Science & Conservation, Nicholas School of the Environment, Duke University. "We have lost one species already and several others are in imminent danger.  Most Americans would be shocked to learn of the hundreds of thousands of whales, dolphins, and porpoises killed each year in bringing wild seafood to our tables."

For other countries to take action, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), the federal agency with jurisdiction over the interpretation and enforcement of the MMPA, needs to hold other nations to the same bycatch standards.  These include requiring all imported fish or fish products be accompanied by information on the status of affected marine mammal populations, proof that protective measures were utilized, and proof that fisheries were monitored for their compliance and are working towards a goal of zero marine mammal deaths. In response to petitions and comments filed years ago by NRDC and other environmental groups, the administration began preparing regulations to enforce the law, but has not released them.

Until the U.S. enforces the law, consumers can also play a role in protecting marine mammals by purchasing American-caught seafood that abides by U.S. safety standards. It is critical to identify wild-caught seafood as American, due to the significant threat posed to marine mammals by imported shrimp, tuna, crab, lobster, and salmon. Federal law requires seafood be clearly marked with the country of origin, but consumers should also ask the retailer, restaurant and producer for more information about where the fish was caught. 

"It is time to enforce our laws protecting the world's marine mammals," said Smith. "American consumers and fishers as well as some of the world's most unique and captivating creatures deserve no less. Fortunately, after years of neglect, the federal government is developing rules to enforce the provision. We need to hold them to it." 

ABOUT NRDC

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 1.4 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists, and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world's natural resources, public health, and the environment. NRDC has offices in New York City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Bozeman, MT, and Beijing. Visit us at www.nrdc.org and follow us on Twitter @NRDC.

MEDIA CONTACT: Jessica Lass, (415) 875-6143 (office), (202) 468-6718 (cell), [email protected].

EDITOR'S NOTE: Broadcast quality video, slideshow, and infographics available.

SOURCE Natural Resources Defense Council

More Stories By PR Newswire

Copyright © 2007 PR Newswire. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of PRNewswire content is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of PRNewswire. PRNewswire shall not be liable for any errors or delays in the content, or for any actions taken in reliance thereon.

Latest Stories
SYS-CON Events announced today that ContentMX, the marketing technology and services company with a singular mission to increase engagement and drive more conversations for enterprise, channel and SMB technology marketers, has been named “Sponsor & Exhibitor Lounge Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, New York. “CloudExpo is a great opportunity to start a conversation with new prospects, but what happens after the...
SYS-CON Events announced today that AppNeta, the leader in performance insight for business-critical web applications, will exhibit and present at SYS-CON's @DevOpsSummit at Cloud Expo New York, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. AppNeta is the only application performance monitoring (APM) company to provide solutions for all applications – applications you develop internally, business-critical SaaS applications you use and the networks that deli...
As organizations shift towards IT-as-a-service models, the need for managing and protecting data residing across physical, virtual, and now cloud environments grows with it. Commvault can ensure protection, access and E-Discovery of your data – whether in a private cloud, a Service Provider delivered public cloud, or a hybrid cloud environment – across the heterogeneous enterprise. In his general session at 18th Cloud Expo, Randy De Meno, Chief Technologist - Windows Products and Microsoft Part...
The cloud era has reached the stage where it is no longer a question of whether a company should migrate, but when. Enterprises have embraced the outsourcing of where their various applications are stored and who manages them, saving significant investment along the way. Plus, the cloud has become a defining competitive edge. Companies that fail to successfully adapt risk failure. The media, of course, continues to extol the virtues of the cloud, including how easy it is to get there. Migrating...
As machines are increasingly connected to the internet, it’s becoming easier to discover the numerous ways Industrial IoT (IIoT) is helping to shape the business world. This is exactly why we have decided to take a closer look at this pervasive movement and to examine the desire to connect more things! Now if you need a refresher on IIoT and how it is changing the world, take a moment and listen to Greg Gorbach with ARC Advisory Group. Gorbach believes, "IIoT will significantly change the worl...
WebRTC is bringing significant change to the communications landscape that will bridge the worlds of web and telephony, making the Internet the new standard for communications. Cloud9 took the road less traveled and used WebRTC to create a downloadable enterprise-grade communications platform that is changing the communication dynamic in the financial sector. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Leo Papadopoulos, CTO of Cloud9, will discuss the importance of WebRTC and how it enables companies to fo...
SYS-CON Events announced today the Docker Meets Kubernetes – Intro into the Kubernetes World, being held June 9, 2016, in conjunction with 18th Cloud Expo | @ThingsExpo, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. Register for 'Docker Meets Kubernetes Workshop' Here! This workshop led by Sebastian Scheele, co-founder of Loodse, introduces participants to Kubernetes (container orchestration). Through a combination of instructor-led presentations, demonstrations, and hands-on labs, participants learn ...
The IoT is changing the way enterprises conduct business. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Eric Hoffman, Vice President at EastBanc Technologies, discuss how businesses can gain an edge over competitors by empowering consumers to take control through IoT. We'll cite examples such as a Washington, D.C.-based sports club that leveraged IoT and the cloud to develop a comprehensive booking system. He'll also highlight how IoT can revitalize and restore outdated business models, making them profitable...
SYS-CON Events announced today that MangoApps will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. MangoApps provides modern company intranets and team collaboration software, allowing workers to stay connected and productive from anywhere in the world and from any device. For more information, please visit https://www.mangoapps.com/.
SYS-CON Events announced today the How to Create Angular 2 Clients for the Cloud Workshop, being held June 7, 2016, in conjunction with 18th Cloud Expo | @ThingsExpo, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. Angular 2 is a complete re-write of the popular framework AngularJS. Programming in Angular 2 is greatly simplified. Now it’s a component-based well-performing framework. The immersive one-day workshop led by Yakov Fain, a Java Champion and a co-founder of the IT consultancy Farata Systems and...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Super Micro Computer, Inc., a global leader in Embedded and IoT solutions, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Supermicro (NASDAQ: SMCI), the leading innovator in high-performance, high-efficiency server technology, is a premier provider of advanced server Building Block Solutions® for Data Center, Cloud Computing, Enterprise IT, Hadoop/Big Data, HPC and ...
In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Andrew Cole, Director of Solutions Engineering at Peak 10, will discuss how the newest technology advances are reducing the cost and complexity of traditional business continuity and disaster recovery solutions. Attendees will: Learn why having a full disaster recovery strategy is more important now than ever before Explore the key drivers of a successful disaster recovery solution Achieve measurable operational and business value from a disaster recovery ...
How will your company move to the cloud while ensuring a solid security posture? Organizations from small to large are increasingly adopting cloud solutions to deliver essential business services at a much lower cost. According to cyber security experts, the frequency and severity of cyber-attacks are on the rise, causing alarm to businesses and customers across a variety of industries. To defend against exploits like these, a company must adopt a comprehensive security defense strategy that is ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Hanu Software will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Leveraging best-in-class people, processes, and technologies, Hanu provides high-quality, high-value software development and business process outsourcing services to independent software vendors (ISVs) and enterprises.
What a difference a year makes. Organizations aren’t just talking about IoT possibilities, it is now baked into their core business strategy. With IoT, billions of devices generating data from different companies on different networks around the globe need to interact. From efficiency to better customer insights to completely new business models, IoT will turn traditional business models upside down. In the new customer-centric age, the key to success is delivering critical services and apps wit...