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Marine Life & Conservation

UK fisheries urgently need improvement

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The Marine Conservation Society has released its biannual update to the Good Fish Guide, the charity’s one stop shop for sourcing ocean friendly seafood.  

 Seafood is rated Green (Best Choice), Amber (needs improvement) or Red (Fish to Avoid). The ratings consider how and where it was caught or farmed, painting a picture of the impact of our seafood. 

 With some UK species going straight onto the charity’s ‘Fish to Avoid’ list, it could not be clearer: UK governments must urgently deliver better management if sustainable fisheries are to be achieved.  

 Gareth Cunningham, Head of Fisheries and Aquaculture at the Marine Conservation Society said: “As a newly independent coastal state, and on a global stage in the run up to COP26, we have the opportunity to show real leadership and be the first nation in the world to set a course to deliver sustainable fisheries.  

All UK Governments must ensure that fisheries management takes a holistic approach, recognising that the UK’s waters are changing due the impacts of climate change. Whilst some species may flourish in warming waters under the right management, others will not fare so well.” 

A total of 21 ratings on the charity’s Good Fish Guide worsened, including coley and prawns from the North Sea, trawled Arctic cod and haddock and pollack from the southwest.  

Some new species added to the guide went straight to the red list, including UK-caught squid, which currently has no management in place to help protect stocks. American lobster is also a Fish to Avoid, (unless MSC-certified) owing to poor management and concerns about bycatch of the critically endangered northern right whale. All cod populations in UK seas are at low levels, and most are declining further. All ratings for cod, one of the UK’s favourite fish to eat, either failed to improve, or got worse.  

Bycatch of seabirds, porpoise, and sharks in the southwestern UK, endangered golden redfish in the Arctic, and cod in the North Sea and Irish Sea, are all of major concern to the Marine Conservation Society. The accidental capture of various marine animals has affected the Good Fish Guide’s ratings for species including haddock and coley in the Arctic. 

Charlotte Coombes, Good Fish Guide Manager, said: “The latest ratings update for the Good Fish Guide really highlights the impact of poorly managed fisheries on the state of our seas, with so many new ratings going straight onto our Fish to Avoid list. However, there are glimmers of hope, with 20 ratings improving in the latest update, showing that where good management exists, we can recover our seas.”  

On the charity’s Guide, 20 ratings improved, including English Channel sprat and North Sea whiting. Farmed scallops in England join Scottish farmed scallops on the Best Choice list, thanks to their low environmental impact. Hand-dived scallops from Lyme Bay also make a new entry onto the charity’s Best Choice list.  

Gareth Cunningham: “There are clear opportunities to improve UK fisheries. Through adoption of fully documented fisheries and Fisheries Management Plans, UK seafood could be made sustainable for many years to come. Our ratings provide yet more evidence that the UK Governments must act now, or risk tipping the balance too far.” 

What does ‘good management’ look like? 

European Hake is now green rated on the charity’s Good Fish Guide, but in the early 2000s stocks of the fish were at an all-time low. With high catches and very little management, European hake was a red-rated Fish to Avoid.  

 Recognising this, catch limits and a Fishery Improvement Project were brought in. Not only have stocks now recovered, but hake fisheries have improved their environmental credentials by swapping bottom towed nets for static nets with ‘pingers’, to deter porpoises from the area, helping to reduce the risk of accidental bycatch. 

The charity calls for more data 

Without fully documented fisheries, it’s impossible to make informed recommendations on catch limits and wider management measures. The Marine Conservation Society has repeatedly called for the implementation of Remote Electronic Monitoring with cameras (REM), on all fishing vessels as set out in the Fisheries Act, 2020. Disappointingly, Westminster is yet to take action.  

REM would help in identifying high levels of bycatch, and ensure management is appropriate and effective. The charity is calling for Fisheries Management Plans to be put in place across the UK for all commercially caught species, with species on the red list, like cod, herring and squid, given urgent attention to help reverse their fortunes.  

Visit the Good Fish Guide website, www.goodfishguide.org to download the Guide.

 

Marine Life & Conservation

Shark Trust’s Ali Hood wins IFAW Marine Conservation Award

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Director of Conservation at the Shark Trust, Ali Hood, has been awarded the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW)’s Marine Conservation Award for her outstanding dedication to protecting sharks.

The ceremony, held at the House of Lords, saw IFAW present the 2021 Animal Action Awards to an inspiring group of true animal heroes. The awards recognise their steadfast commitment and dedication to animals during difficult times. Their ‘never giving up’ attitude and passion for animals is why IFAW are so proud to honour them this year. IFAW’s 2021 Animal Action Awards honours those who have made incredible achievements in the animal welfare and conservation community.

©IFAW: Left to right: Baroness Gale, James Sawyer (IFAW UK Director); Ali Hood (Shark Trust Director of Conservation), Mark Beaudouin (Chair of the IFAW board of Trustees)

Ali has headed the conservation team at the Shark Trust for nearly 20 years and tirelessly works to secure management and protection for vulnerable shark and ray species, and to hold governments and industry to account for their commitments.

Ali comments, “As a conservation advocate, I’m fortunate to work with a highly dedicated team of people, both within the Shark Trust, and our trusted partners worldwide. Overfishing is the greatest threat to sharks, and securing essential shark conservation objectives is not a straightforward task, given the commercial interest in many species. But we’ve found persistence pays, and we’re committed to seeing science-based management adopted.” 

“It was amazing to receive such an award, and I’m grateful to IFAW for their recognition of shark conservation concerns.”

James Sawyer, IFAW UK Regional Director said “Our winners this year can teach us many valuable lessons. They teach us that we need to reflect a diverse community of animal protectors to be successful. They teach us that being there for animals remains important but that animals can be there for us too. Critically this reminds us how interdependent we are with the animals of the world and how together we need to continue to work to improve things for all of us.”

IFAW have produced a short video about the Animal Action Award winners which you can watch here:

For more information about IFAW visit their website by clicking here.

For more information about the Shark Trust visit their website by clicking here.

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Marine Life & Conservation

Top 5 Party Guests: The Magic of Night Diving in Cozumel

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A blog by Pro Dive International

*Header image: On the day of our planned night dive at the Allegro Cozumel, we had to reschedule, as any water activity during thunderstorms and lightning is considered dangerous. We still thought it was worth sharing this breathtaking spectacle with you.*


Have you ever gazed out at the open ocean at night wondering what happens down there as the sun disappears over the horizon and darkness sets in? If all marine life will be sleeping, or if there’s anything creeping along the reefs?

Here’s what really happens, including a list of our Top 5 Party Guests that make you want to add night diving in Cozumel to your bucket list.

Brief Overview

While the Caribbean Sea is not calming down at night due to the effectively constant trade-winds in the tropics that drive ocean wave trains and cause waves to break throughout day and night, a vibrant party under the sea is just about to begin, as huge basket stars unfurl their arms into the night, parrotfish create their mucus bubble beds, giant lobsters, king crabs and octopus prepare for hunt, and bioluminescence sparkles up the scene.

TOP 5 Party Guests

1. Basket Stars

These sea stars can only be observed in their true glory at night when they unfurl their many branched arms into the darkness to filter food from the water. Some reach nearly a meter in size! Shine your torch on them and watch them curl their huge arms back towards their mouths as they eat the small creatures attracted by your light. 

The perfect party costume, do you agree?

Basket Star by Elizabeth Maleham @Pro Dive International

2. Cephalopods – Octopus & Squid

These fascinating creatures are rarely spotted during day dives, but at night you can see them out and about hunting the reef for their next meal. Watch as they move about changing colors and patterns in the blink of an eye! Below is a picture of an octopus spreading its body wide over the reef like a net to encircle its prey.

Did you know that octopuses were that colorful?

Octopus by Elizabeth Maleham @Pro Dive International

3. Crustaceans

Safely tucked away in the back of a crevice during the day, these creatures venture out under the cover of darkness to hunt. A fantastic opportunity to finally get a close-up look at all those king crabs and plenty of lobsters you have only seen as small eyes peering out from the back of a cave.

Up for a dance?

Crab by Elizabeth Maleham @Pro Dive International

4. Parrotfish

Many fish only half sleep, needing to be alert to the dangers 24/7, but parrot fish have evolved an ingenious warning system so they can get their eyes shut. As night draws in, they find a nook to rest in and start to create a mucus like a bubble encircling their whole bodies. They can rest safely in this for the entire night, but if anything disturbs this veil, they are off like a shot into the dark!

How did this sleepy guy make it into our Top 5?

Parrotfish in Cozumel by Guillermo Reta @Pro Dive International

5. Bioluminescence

For those not familiar with this natural phenomenon, bioluminescence is a chemical process which allows living creatures like plankton, tiny crustaceans, some fish, squid and algae to produce light in their body to either attract prey, confuse predators, or lure potential mates.

As the bioluminescent sea will glow when it’s disturbed by a breaking wave or a splash in the water at night, for most of our divers the best part is covering up the torches and waving our arms about disturbing the bioluminescence into sparkling blue points of light. 

This makes the perfect party glitter!

Bioluminescence @Dreamstime


Already in a party mood? Pack your dive gear!

How to join the underwater party in Cozumel?

  1. Join Pro Dive International’s Cozumel Night Dives as a certified diver.
  2. Boost your skills and make your night dive one of the 5 Adventure Dives of the PADI Advanced Open Water Diver course.
  3. Contact us for guidance.


Contact:

reservations@prodiveinternational.com 

www.prodiveinternational.com/contact-us

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Our special, extended, 14 night charter of MV Carpe Diem in the Maldives will visit some of our favourite sites in the central and near-south atolls. We will be spending 14 nights on-board, specifically because we want to travel and have time to enjoy the sites without rushing too much.

The boat will depart from Male on Saturday 23rd October and guests will disembark on Saturday 06th November. The route will incorporate our favourite manta points, shark diving points and spectacular coral reefs.

 

Please contact us for last minute prices on 01473921888 or email us at info@greatescapesdivingholidays.com

 

 

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