Showing posts tagged as "conservation"
Good News for Sea Otter Conservation in Southern California
The Aquarium applauds this week’s decision by a federal judge to dismiss a lawsuit by fishing groups wanting to reinstate the controversial “no-otter” zone in waters off southern California.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service established the “no-otter” zone in 1987 as part of a larger sea otter translocation program, but the program ended in 2012 after it was deemed a failure. In 2013, fishing groups sued the Fish and Wildlife Service for ending the program. A federal judge dismissed the lawsuit on Monday, but the fishing groups have 21 days to amend their lawsuit.
Under the translocation program, the Fish and Wildlife Service hoped to establish a colony of sea otters at San Nicolas Island off Santa Barbara and was required to relocate any sea otters found south of Point Conception. Wildlife officials determined that the “no-otter” zone prohibited sea otters from being able to naturally expand their range into areas and habitats where they had historically been present. Scientists believe such expansion is necessary for recovery of the southern sea otter, a threatened species.
Before they were hunted to the brink of extinction during the fur trade of the 18th and 19th centuries, it is estimated that more than 16,000 southern sea otters inhabited the west coast. Today’s population hovers below 3,000, and extends from just south of Half Moon Bay to south of Point Conception.
Sea otters play a critical role in ocean health, helping keep nearshore ecosystems in balance by eating sea urchins and other invertebrates that graze on giant kelp. If left unchecked, these grazing animals can destroy kelp forests and leave barren zones in their wake. Recent research from Elkhorn Slough has shown that an increased presence of sea otters directly contributes to recovery and expansion of eelgrass beds, which serve as nurseries for numerous species and as important filters of carbon and contaminants in estuary waters.
California residents, “Check the Coast” at tax time! Being a friend to the California coast and ocean is as simple as checking a box on your tax form. It’s an investment in the protection of our spectacular coastline.
Our own Patrick Webster, Guest Experience Program Specialist, just won the Youth in Yosemite Short Film Contest, celebrating art, nature and a personal connection to Yosemite. Plenty of ocean imagery to enjoy, too!
It’s international #WorldWildlifeDay! We encourage kids of all ages to visit an aquarium, zoo, national park, botanical garden or any other place that helps reconnect with other species. Let’s help raise awareness of the benefits that conservation provides to people worldwide!
Learn more: http://www.un.org/en/events/wildlifeday/
The tax man cometh! Why not use the opportunity to do something good for our oceans? “Check the box” on your California return to fund research and conservation that will help save sea otters.
Shaping the Future for Healthy Oceans: Together, We Can
Aquarium Executive Director Julie Packard was the opening keynote speaker for the World Ocean Summit convened in Half Moon Bay, Calif. by The Economist and hosted in association with National Geographic. The summit brings together leaders from business, government, academia and the nonprofit world to talk about ways to reconcile economic development and ocean conservation, and to shape debate about future governance of the ocean.
Julie’s remarks, and those of former Aquarium trustee Leon Panetta, delivered a powerful and inspiring call to action as the three-day conference begins. Here’s what she had to say:
Welcome everyone and thank you for making the journey to the coast of California for the important work of the next few days.
I grew up just a few miles away, over the mountains, in what’s today known as Silicon Valley. I’m just one of many who have drawn inspiration and energy from this very special piece of ocean along our coast. For the past 30 years, along with my involvement as a trustee of the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, it’s been my privilege to direct the Monterey Bay Aquarium – where we’ve introduced over 50 million people to the incredible ocean life just off our coast.
This evening we stand on the shores of a vast ocean system whose health will determine the future prosperity of the human species, and our very survival. Right now we are, both literally and figuratively, on the edge. The collective action of everyone in this room – whatever we decide to do – will shape the future for humanity on this planet.
The oceans: Key to our our survival
By being here, I am assuming that each of you already understands the critical role the oceans play in enabling life on Earth to exist. They make the oxygen we breathe and buffer us from the impacts of rising greenhouse gases and global temperatures. They serve up protein for millions of families and children. They’re our pantry, our lungs, our playground, and a massive driver of global commerce. And, they’re a source of inspiration and innovation for technologies that will sustain us into the future.
This stretch of coast where we stand has inspired generations of ocean leaders, from scientists to policy makers, from technology innovators to ocean advocates. The shores of Monterey Bay are home to two dozen public and private research institutions that are using new technology – and new thinking – to understand the living ocean and inform a course for the future.
The Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, founded by my father 25 years ago, is a pioneer in developing new technology to accelerate our understanding of the rapidly changing ocean and the role of human impact in that change. Other institutions here are focusing on understanding changing ocean chemistry and food webs, documenting the epic migrations of tunas to inform fisheries management, and analyzing weather systems that affect everything from shipping safety and national security to rainfall patterns on our farmlands.
California is leading the way
Indeed, Monterey Bay is one of most studied pieces of ocean on the planet. And in turn, California has demonstrated huge leadership in environmental policy, from legislation limiting greenhouse gas emissions to the largest marine protected area network in the United States. And yet, the more we learn, the more complexity the ocean reveals to us. We’re scrambling for predictability and solutions in an era of escalating change.
It’s fantastic to see so many great thinkers gathered to talk about the ocean. Based on my long term experience as a trustee of the Packard Foundation, I can tell you that 30 years ago, few funders and nonprofits were focused on ocean issues. Today, it’s gratifying to see growing attention to the ocean – after all, it is Earth’s largest natural system.
The work of government, nonprofits and learning institutions has driven much of this progress, fueled with a lot of help from private funders and leaders who care. But there’s still a missing factor that’s not fully engaged, and it’s one that I believe is the critical key to reversing the trajectory we’re on – and that factor is business leadership.
A vital role for business
That’s where you all come in. In recent years, new ocean initiatives are focusing on partnerships among business, government and nongovernmental organization players. These initiatives are yielding promising results, but collectively we can and must do more.
The 2012 Economist Ocean Summit concluded that the health of the oceans must be included in Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives. It’s a long-overdue and welcome idea – because business leadership has so much to contribute to solving the challenges we face.
The Monterey Bay Aquarium itself is a product of a transformational collaboration between technology business leaders and conservation scientists. Today, the Aquarium hosts nearly 2 million people a year. It’s an anchor for a thriving tourism economy, in turn supporting conservation science and building a constituency for the oceans.
Success for Seafood Watch
The Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program, now in its 15th year, is an example of how successful business partnerships can improve the health of the oceans, and the well-being of people worldwide – blending science, market data, and technology to generate environmental, social, and economic benefits.
Today, more than 100,000 business locations in North America rely on Seafood Watch science to inform their purchasing practices. We have partnerships with the two largest food service companies on the continent – Compass Group and ARAMARK – along with global food products companies like Mars. They all have made firm commitments to shift their seafood purchases to sustainable sources, and they’re reaping market benefits as a result.
In 1996, with support from the Packard Foundation and other funders, Unilever and World Wildlife Fund partnered to create the Marine Stewardship Council, to change the way fish are caught, marketed and purchased. Why? Because Unilever knew that if nothing changed, it would run out of fish to sell. Staying in business is a powerful driver. And, this collaboration will help assure global food security.
Sustainable seafood commitments are growing
Today, global retailers who have made sustainable seafood commitments represent 76 percent of the market, with more than $22 billion in estimated seafood sales. In North America, retailers with seafood commitments represent 97 percent of market share among the top 25 retailers. Similar commitments are growing among companies worldwide.
For enduring change, governments must be central players, and when governments make a commitment to protect and restore ocean resources, they are seeing strong results. At the Packard Foundation, we’re working with partners around the world to strengthen fisheries and coastal management – especially in regions where marine productivity or biodiversity are threatened. As one example: In Indonesia, WWF and The Nature Conservancy are working with private sector seafood buyers, USAID, local fishers and government agencies to collect hard-to-gather fisheries data to inform more effective management.
This work results in a triple bottom line: healthier fish populations & ecosystems, a higher standard of living for local communities, and a competitive edge in the global sustainable seafood marketplace.
Investing in the oceans
So why was technology leader David Packard willing to invest a considerable amount of his resources – financial and intellectual – into ocean science, education and conservation solutions through the Packard Foundation and its initiatives and institutions? Why are Eric and Wendy Schmidt and other contemporary leaders contributing to transformational strategies for oceans now? Because of the power that technology, science and business thinking can bring to ocean management solutions.
Today, more than ever, business needs to drive the solutions, through new approaches and commitments that will ensure economic prosperity in a world of declining resources. In turn, the pioneers will prosper in a world where clients and customers increasingly measure businesses by a triple bottom line.
At the Packard Foundation and our family of ocean enterprises, we are continually inspired by the example of David and Lucile Packard, and by their values. These values – to innovate, to take risks and be willing to adjust course, and to invest in people – have served us well. We have been proud to support the great ideas and hard work of many of you here in this room.
One vision: Improve people’s lives
When my father co-founded the Hewlett-Packard Company he put forward a statement of underlying principles that shaped business management practices for years to come. The main idea in those principles was that a company’s primary purpose should be to make a contribution that improves peoples’ lives. It was a radical idea at the time.
But I would venture to say that everyone in this room, from business leader to environmental advocate, shares that goal: to improve peoples’ lives. To achieve it, in today’s new reality of rapid environmental change, we must push beyond business as usual. And we must do it soon.
Business leaders have a compelling opportunity – and I believe an imperative — to lead success, through your resources, relationships, intellectual talent and corporate policies. There is no shortage of great ideas and opportunity before us, so let’s get to it.
I look forward to the outcome of this gathering and thank you all again for your commitment to the future of the ocean.
Photos: Julie Packard © Motofumi Tai; sea otters © Monterey Bay Aquarium/Tyson Rininger; coral reef © Monterey Bay Aquarium/Charles Seaborn
Help Us Find the Person Who Shot Three Sea Otters
In early September 2013, members of our Sea Otter Research and Conservation team recovered three sea otters that had been shot to death near Asilomar Beach, in Pacific Grove. State and federal authorities are actively investigating the fatal shootings, and now they need your help finding the perpetrator.
We and other sea otter conservation groups are offering a $21,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the individual(s) responsible for the crime.
Southern sea otters are slowly recovering after being driven nearly to extinction by fur traders in the 19th century. Today, they’re protected under federal law by the Endangered Species Act and the Marine Mammal Protection Act. Killing a California (or southern) sea otter is a crime punishable by federal and state fines, and possible jail time.
If you have any information about the shootings, contact Special Agent Souphanya of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at 650-876-9078. Anonymous reports can also be made by calling the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service contact line at 703-358-1949, or the California Department of Fish and Wildlife CalTIP line at 1-888-DFG-CALTIP.
Reward contributions have been provided by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Defenders of Wildlife, Friends of the Sea Otter, the Humane Society of the United States, the Humane Society Wildlife Land Trust, the Monterey Bay Aquarium, The U.C. Davis Karen C. Drayer Wildlife Health Center and private individuals.
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife is providing a portion of the reward money from the California Sea Otter Fund, which is financed by voluntary contributions from state taxpayers. The fund helps support sea otter research and conservation, including the investigation of sea otter deaths and the enforcement of laws protecting sea otters. When filling out your California income tax form 540, look for line 410, labeled California Sea Otter Fund, under Contributions.
Study Documents Crude Oil’s Toxic Impact on Tuna Hearts
Scientists from Stanford University and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) have discovered that crude oil interferes with tuna heart cells in ways that can lead to cardiac arrest and sudden cardiac death.
The specific mechanism behind the cardiotoxic effects of crude oil were documented for the first time in work by the Stanford team at the Tuna Research and Conservation Center, a 10-year collaboration between Stanford and the Aquarium.
Because heart function in tunas is similar to that in humans, marine mammals and other vertebrates, the Stanford team is recommending further study to determine if human hearts are at risk when they’re exposed to the same hydrocarbon compounds in polluted air.
The Aquarium, Stanford and NOAA funded the research project.
Did you know that the seafood choices you make can help support healthy oceans? Not all fish are caught or farmed in environmentally responsible ways, but each of us has the power – by the way we choose to spend our money – to shape demand for seafood that’s been caught or farmed sustainably.
This new video from our Seafood Watch program quickly shows you how you can help protect the ocean just by asking your local grocery store or restaurant if they serve sustainable seafood. The oceans will thank you for it!
The Seafood Watch program provides scientifically based recommendations on what seafood options are best for the environment. You can also download the free Seafood Watch app or pick up a consumer pocket guide today.
Need an easy way to help our oceans? Check the box for the “Protect Our Coast and Ocean Fund" on your CA state income tax form! The fund supports education, cleanups, habitat restoration and public awareness that improve the health of the state’s marine and coastal resources.