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Fishing Activities Putting Ecologically Important Shark Hotspots Worldwide in Danger

These findings are concerning because as top predators, sharks help maintain healthy ocean ecosystems

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Shark, Fishing, Hotspots
Currently, little to no protection exists for sharks in the high seas. It's clear from our study that immediate conservation action is needed to prevent further declines of open-ocean sharks. Pixabay

Fishing activities are putting ecologically important shark hotspots worldwide in danger, researchers have warned.

“Currently, little to no protection exists for sharks in the high seas. It’s clear from our study that immediate conservation action is needed to prevent further declines of open-ocean sharks,” said study co-author Neil Hammerschlag from the University of Miami in the US.

“These findings are concerning because as top predators, sharks help maintain healthy ocean ecosystems,” said Hammerschlag.

For the study published in the journal Nature, the international team of over 150 scientists from 26 countries combined movement data from nearly 2,000 sharks tracked with satellite tags.

Shark, Fishing, Hotspots
Fishing activities are putting ecologically important shark hotspots worldwide in danger, researchers have warned. Pixabay

Using this tracking information, researchers identified areas of the ocean that were important for multiple species, shark “hot spots,” that were located in ocean frontal zones, boundaries in the sea between different water masses that are highly productive and food-rich.

Researchers then calculated how much shark hotspots overlapped with global longline fishing vessels — the type of fishing gear that catches most open-ocean sharks.

The study found that 24 per cent of the space used by sharks in an average month falls under the footprint of longline fishing.

For commercially exploited sharks such as blue and shortfin makos sharks in the North Atlantic, the overlap was much higher, with on average 76 per cent and 62 per cent of their space use, respectively, overlapping with longlines each month.

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Even internationally protected species, such as great whites, had over 50 per cent overlap with longline fleets, said the study.

“Our results show major high seas fishing activities are currently centred on ecologically important shark hotspots worldwide,” said Professor David Sims, who led the study as part of the Global Shark Movement Project based at the Marine Biological Association Laboratory in Plymouth, UK. (IANS)

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Here’s How Fish Sticks Can Generate Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Shipping has a massive influence on climate and a shift to cleaner fuels will diminish the cooling effect from sulfur oxides and increase the climate impact

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fish
A study found that Alaskan pollock is a relatively fuel-efficient fishery: Pollock are caught in large nets called midwater trawls that are towed behind boats, hauling in a lot of fish in each landing and reducing the climate impact of the fishing process. Pixabay

Researchers have found that transforming ‘Alaskan pollock’ into fish sticks, imitation crab and fish fillets generates nearly twice the greenhouse gas emissions produced by fishing itself.

Post-catch processing generates nearly twice the emissions produced by fishing itself, which is typically where the analysis of the climate impact of seafood ends, according to the findings, published in the journal Elementa: Science of the Anthropocene.

“The food system is a significant source of global greenhouse gas emissions, and Alaskan pollock is one of the biggest fisheries in the world,” said study researcher Brandi McKuin from Unviersity of California in the US.

“These findings highlight the need to take a comprehensive approach to analysing the climate impacts of the food sector,” McKuin added. “Alaskan pollock is sold as fillets and trim pieces that are used to make products like fish sticks and imitation crab, it’s a huge market,” she said.

Unlike previous studies that have largely overlooked the downstream processing activities associated with Alaskan pollock, this study examined all the components of the supply chain, from fishing through the retail display case.

The results identify “hot spots” where the seafood industry could concentrate its efforts to reduce its climate impacts, said the researchers. For the findings, the research team analysed the climate impacts of transoceanic shipping of exported seafood products.

They found that Alaskan pollock is a relatively fuel-efficient fishery: Pollock are caught in large nets called midwater trawls that are towed behind boats, hauling in a lot of fish in each landing and reducing the climate impact of the fishing process.

After the catch, Alaskan pollock are shipped for processing, and in some cases, transported on large container ships that burn copious amounts of fuel, including cheaper, poor-quality bunker fuel that produces high levels of sulfur particles. The researchers noted that sulfur oxides from ship fuels have a climate-cooling effect.

fish
Post-catch processing of fish generates nearly twice the emissions produced by fishing itself, which is typically where the analysis of the climate impact of seafood ends, according to the findings, published in the journal Elementa: Science of the Anthropocene. Pixabay

“Seafood products that are exported have a lower climate impact than domestic seafood products,” she said, adding that the climate impacts of shipping will change this year as new regulations for cleaner marine fuels take effect.

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“Shipping has a massive influence on climate and a shift to cleaner fuels will diminish the cooling effect from sulfur oxides and increase the climate impact of products that undergo transoceanic shipping, including seafood,” said McKuin. (IANS)