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Tuesday, 13 November 2018 03:06

Untouched ocean habitats shrinking rapidly, study says

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Shipping, pollution and overfishing have reduced areas of “wilderness” to just 13 % of the world’s oceans, a study, warning that untouched marine habitats could completely vanish within half a century. International researchers analyzing the impact of human activity on underwater ecosystems — from fertilizer runoff to increased sea transport — have mapped the dwindling zones considered pristine.

The bulk of remaining ocean wilderness, classed as “mostly free of human disturbance,” was found in the Arctic and Antarctic, and around remote Pacific islands.

Just 5 % of the wilderness areas are in protected zones, leaving the rest vulnerable, according to the study published in the journal Current Biology. It called for greater international coordination to regulate the world’s oceans, clamp down on overfishing, limit destructive ocean-mining and reduce sediment runoff.

Last year, the United Nations began negotiating its first conservation treaty for the high seas, which would be a legally binding act governing the sustainable use of oceans outside national maritime boundaries.

Source: AFP, 27 July 2018

Thursday, 16 August 2018 01:31

New Zealand approves innovative trawl technology

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Fisheries New Zealand approved the use of an innovative trawl technology for commercial operations in some deepwater fisheries, called the Precision Seafood Harvesting Modular Harvest System (MHS). The MHS is the first innovative trawl technology to be approved under amendments to the commercial fishing regulations introduced last year, director of fisheries management at Fisheries New Zealand, said in a statement.

The regulations were amended to support innovations in trawl gear that provide opportunities to achieve better quality of catch, add value across the sector, and ensure the sustainable use of fisheries resources, he said.The performance of the MHS was tested in trials over the last six years in deep water and middle-depth fisheries, he said.

Fisheries New Zealand will monitor the use of the MHS to ensure compliance with the terms and conditions, and to ensure environmental impacts from the MHS are no more than from traditional commercial trawling, he added.

Source: Xinhua, 11 June 2018

Wednesday, 24 January 2018 06:59

Satellite data to map mangroves in India

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India's Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute (CMFRI) would utilize the satellite data for a spatial mapping of marine fisheries and mangroves in the country, said CMFRI director.

As part of the marine fisheries management, the CMFRI has already launched a research project to analyze the productivity of the sea waters utilizing the data. The study is aimed at correlating the data on the presence of chlorophyll in the water bodies collected physically with the data generated from the satellites. Also, CMFRI has inked a pact with the national remote sensing centre (NRSC), Hyderabad, of the Indian space research organisation (ISRO), to conduct a collaborative study to assess the blue carbon emissions and its sequestration," he said during an interaction with participants of the Winter School organized by the CMFRI to train young researchers in using satellite remote sensing data. The data would also be used be for locating suitable sites for cage fish farming in sea waters. "Selection of ideal sites is important for expanding the cage farming ventures systematically by ensuring a better yield, and at the same time site selection is also crucial for not disrupting the environmental equilibrium of coastal ecosystem," he said.

Organized with an aim to strengthen research network for the utilization of satellite technology for the favour of India's marine fisheries sector, the Winter School, which began on 1 December 2017, was attended by 22 participants from various research institutes, agricultural universities and colleges from across the country.

Source: TNN, December 24, 2017


A new method of fishing for Pacific swordfish off the West Coast of USA is proving its value to both fishermen and protected species. The new design by Pfleger Institute of Environmental Research (PIER)uses heavy weights to lower baited hooks to depths of more than 1,000 feet during the day, avoiding unmarketable or federally protected species that reside in shallower waters. The method is showing promise as another way to operate sustainable fisheries that minimize by catch and interactions with protected species, such as marine mammals and sea turtles. Deep-set buoy fishing takes advantage of the fact that different marine species feed at different depths at certain times of the day. Sea turtles, whales,and many fish are most commonly found in warm surface waters known as the upper mixed layer. Other fish, such as swordfish, opah, and big eye thresher sharks, pursue food resources in deeper waters. The deep-set buoy system uses heavy weights to rapidly lower baited hooks to target swordfish between 1,000and 1,500 feet. The buoy gear’s strike detection system alerts fishermen when a fish is on the line and allows for its quick retrieval once hooked. It also preserves the quality and freshness of the catch and allows for the live release of any unwanted catch. The rapid processing of the catch and high quality of the landed product brings a premium price at market. This helps compensate fishermen for the additional time and effort involved in buoy fishing. To assure that buyers are getting what they pay for, PIER has designed a unique tagging program that links the deep-set-buoy-caught fish with the plate of the consumer. A tag one very fish allows consumers to track the fish from vessel to plate. Consumers can use a project webpage on PIER’s website to verify that their product came from one of the deep-set buoy vessels.



The EU project SMS is developing an in-situ real time monitoring system for seawater quality control. It aims to effectively and quickly detect worrisome levels of pollution in order to help the better management of oceans and coastal areas, as well as work towards solving the problem of seawater pollution. The idea behind the research is to develop a device that will be placed on a buoy in the ocean and that will be able to analyse the quality of seawater in real-time and without the intervention of men.

The device will be able to alert, through wireless connection, about water pollution in two hours, as against the methods currently used for the detection of water pollution which are expensive and takes up to five days before scientists are able to alert public authorities and professionals when the status of water quality becomes worrisome. The sensors developed by the team allow the device to detect dangerous substances listed under the Water Framework Directive.

This device will be able to detect four categories of pollutants- marine algal toxins (Okadaic Acid, Saxitoxin, Domoic Acid and Palytoxin), toxic algal species, pharmaceuticals (sulphonamides), chemical compounds (pesticides (Tributyltin), herbicides (Diuron) and flame retardants (PentaBDPE)). All the data collected by the sensors are stored locally in coastal buoys and platforms and will be forwarded to a remote Central Node through a wireless connection. The traditional methods require specialized workers and heavy equipment, as researchers have to use boats to go on-site, sample the water and return to the laboratory. Once in the laboratory, tests have to be run to analyse seawater quality.


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