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  World Watch Institute 21 Sep 07
10 Solutions to Save the Ocean
Brian Halweil

The most inspiring thing I’ve read lately about the oceans is “10 Solutions to Save the Ocean,” a series of short, upbeat, and to-the-point essays in the latest issue of Conservation magazine.

Featuring such oceans luminaries as Daniel Pauly of the University of British Columbia’s Sea Around Us Project and Carl Safina of the Blue Ocean Institute, the essays neatly capture the major threats facing the planet’s marine life.

And they honestly describe the relatively simple solutions that can diffuse those threats—assuming that politicians, the fishing industry, and seafood companies can muster the will.

Consider this idea: alter harvesting laws that encourage fishers to go after the biggest fish. Based on assumptions that protecting small, juvenile fish is the best way to protect a fish population, fishing regulations often set a size limit under which fish cannot be caught.

But marine scientists now realize that the bigger fish are the most effective breeders, and current regulations are leading to schools of fish of ever- declining age, size, and sexual maturity, which could cause fishery yields to dropby as much as 50 percent within only a few generations.

Among the other low-hanging fruit: give microloans to women in poor coastal communities, make fishers take responsibility for bycatch through tradeable permits, eliminate fuel subsidies to fishing fleets, establish international ocean zoning, and mandate simple modifications to fishing gear that dramatically reduce unwanted catches of turtles, sharks, seabirds, and other species (but which aren’t used because they cost a bit more and aren’t required).

For a detailed assessment of these and other threats to ocean life, check out Worldwatch's latest release in parnership with Greenpeace International's oceans campaign, Oceans in Peril: Protecting Marine Biodiversity, released on Tuesday.

Conservation Magazine July-September 2007 (Vol. 8, No. 3)

10 Solutions to Save the Ocean
Great ideas can pop open whole new vistas. And they can come in many forms. They can be as big and sweeping as a new business model or as focused as a single piece of equipment. What’s key is that they are leverage points that have the potential to turn tides. Saving the world’s oceans is going to take more than passionate declarations. So we asked a select group of innovative thinkers to go out on a limb. What string should we pull to give marine conservation a decided edge? Here are their answers. Edited by Sarah Simpson

Eat More Anchovies
Eat lower on the marine food web and tap into a bountiful supply of protein
by Martín Hall

Small But Mighty
Elevate the role of small-scale fishers in the world market
by Daniel Pauly

Size Matters
Alter harvest strategies to account for evolutionary change
by David Conover

Good Credit Risk
Invest in microcredit schemes for women in poor coastal communities to curtail overfishing
by Amanda Vincent

Healthy Competition
Tap into the firsthand expertise and ingenuity of fishermen and backyard inventors
by Kimberly Davis

Gifts for Ancient Mariners
Simple modifications to fishing gear save thousands of turtles and seabirds each year
by Carl Safina

Tradable Bycatch Credits
Create new markets that reward careful fishing
by George Sugihara

Running on Empty
Eliminate fuel subsidies to reduce destructive bottom trawling on the high seas
by Ussif Rashid Sumaila

Use Your Thumbs
Text messaging is changing the face of marine conservation
by Amanda Vincent

A Separate Peace
Move toward wholesale zoning of the oceans—rather than piecemeal protection schemes by Tundi Agardy

Related articles on global marine issues
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