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Marine Resources


January 2013 Issue

NOAA Names 66 Endangered Or Threatened Species
NOAA Fisheries is proposing Endangered Species Act (ESA) listings for 66 coral species. Before this proposed listing is finalized in late 2013, there will be a 90-day public comment period.

NOAA is proposing seven species as endangered and 52 as threatened in the Pacific, and five as endangered and two as threatened in the Caribbean. It is also proposing that two Caribbean species listed under ESA be reclassified from threatened to endangered.

Corals have measurable economic value for communities. One independent study reported that coral reefs provide approximately $483 million in annual net benefit to the U.S. economy from tourism and recreation activities, and a combined annual net benefit from all goods and services of about $1.1 billion.

NOAA also estimates the annual commercial value of U.S. fisheries from coral reefs to be more than $100 million. Reef-based recreational fisheries generate an additional $100 million annually.

Listing species as endangered does not prohibit activities like fishing or diving, but prohibits the specific take of those species, including harming, wounding, killing or collecting them. Imports, exports and commercial activities dealing in the species are also prohibited.

NOAA has identified 19 threats to the survival of coral, including rising ocean temperatures, ocean acidification and coral disease.

Regional Project Aims to Improve Health of Ailing Baltic Sea
The Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI) is implementing a project until 2015 to increase investments into good management of the transboundary rivers in the Eastern Baltic Sea Region, and promote smart and green growth.

The intention is to facilitate official dialogue, cooperation and investment on the shared river basin systems between Kaliningrad Oblast, Russia; Poland; Lithuania; and the broader Baltic Sea community, providing incentives for stakeholders to seek more information on how to transform degraded water resources into opportunities.

SIWI has partnered for the project with the Northern Dimension Foundation, the Institute of Economy of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Global Water Partnership and the Swedish Agency for Marine and Water Management, with support from the Stockholm Environment Institute.

The health of the entire Baltic Sea ecosystem is severely degraded due to pressure from agriculture, energy production, industries and maritime sectors. Most areas are now affected by eutrophication, hazardous substances and degraded biodiversity.

Clothing to Come From Slime of Eel-Like Fish
The sturdy slime from the hagfish has been found to be a possible source of fiber for clothing, according to a study published in Biomacromolecules in the fall.

Petroleum is the raw material for modern synthetics, but rising prices and the quest for sustainable alternatives have led scientists to consider using protein-based raw materials, such as a thick slime that the eel-like hagfish produces to protect itself against predators. One hagfish can produce quarts of slime in seconds.

The slime consists of tens of thousands of remarkably strong threads, each 100 times thinner than a human hair.

The authors developed a method to draw the slime thread proteins into spider-silk-like fibers. This involves casting a thin film of thread proteins on the surface of a salt solution, grabbing it with forceps and lifting it up so it collapses into a single strand.

The threads in hagfish slime could be models for synthetic fibers made from renewable, natural proteins.

UK Data Network for Marine Species Gets Accredited
The Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas) and Marine Scotland have been accredited as a combined Marine Environmental Data and Information Network (MEDIN) Data Archive Centre for fish, shellfish, fisheries and related samples data.

The Fisheries Data Archive Centre (FishDAC) holds predominantly marine species but covers migratory species and transitional waters as well. Data from England, Wales and Scotland are available, with data from Northern Ireland to be added.

FishDAC has prioritized European Union-mandated fish surveys that are part of established series. It has data collected by U.K. research vessels on the most recent international bottom trawl surveys. Other data sets available include fish stomach-record contents, and nursery and spawning area data (including GIS layers).

Future additions to FishDAC will include other research surveys; market sampling and observer schemes; data gleaned from physical samples such as otoliths, scales and plankton; aquaculture; and other related environmental data.

FishDAC joins five other MEDIN data archive centers that cover seafloor geophysics and geology, water column oceanographic data, marine species and habitats, bathymetry and marine meteorological data.

Collective Effort in Hawaii to Aid Whales Caught in Fishing Gear
Scientists and first responders arrived in November at U.S. Coast Guard Station Maui at the start of humpback whale season to prepare to aid marine mammals that have been entangled in fishing gear or suffered from vessel collisions. Finding out what the gear is, where it came from and how an animal may have become entangled is the goal of this effort to gain information towards prevention.

Humpback whales complete their annual migration here usually between November and April. They remain in the waters surrounding Hawaii to breed, give birth and nurse their young.

  NOAA’s Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary Program leads the effort to respond to entangled or injured humpback whales, working with the Coast Guard and the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources.

Entanglement and ship strikes are among the primary threats to large whales. Since 2002, response efforts have freed 16 whales from life-threatening entanglements and more than 1 mile of gear has been removed from the animals.


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