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Policy Forum

Overfishing & overpopulation: Too many fishers chasing too few fish?

By Julia Mason, Nereus Program fellow at Stanford University

There’s a tendency among conservation scientists to attribute the world’s environmental crises to the growing global population. Fisheries science is no exception—the issue of overfishing is often condensed to one of “too many fishers chasing too few fish,” leading to inevitable fisheries declines.

In Pursuit of Parrotfish: Fieldwork in Antigua and Barbuda

By Julia Mason, Nereus Fellow at Stanford University

I got to spend a few weeks this August doing my very favorite activity: playing field assistant for a friend in a beautiful place. The closest I get to fieldwork for my own research is interviewing fishermen—fun and exciting in its own way, but it’s still a treat to put on my ecologist hat (or rather, mask) and jump in the water.

Understanding how marine species use the high seas: The Migratory Connectivity in the Ocean (MiCO) system

By Guillermo Ortuño Crespo, Nereus Program Fellow at Duke University

Due to their wide-ranging swimming behaviors, migratory fish, marine mammal, seabird and sea turtle species experience a variety, and an increasing amount, of anthropogenic pressures over the course of their lives. These threats, including climate change, overfishing, and marine pollution, combined with conservation strategies that largely fail to consider spatial connectivity over the life cycle, are resulting in declining populations worldwide.

How polluted your tuna is depends on where it comes from

By Colin Thackray, Nereus Fellow at Harvard University

It’s fairly common knowledge that tuna is high in methylmercury, a neurotoxin that bioaccumulates in marine food webs. This means that methylmercury magnifies further up the food web – tuna eat smaller fish that eat even smaller fish or plankton — all of which could contain the contaminant.

One small bay in Japan has been attracting marine scientists from around the world for more than 100 years

By Robert Blasiak, Nereus Program Fellow at Stockholm University

Let’s turn the clock back 113 years. The prominent German zoologist Franz Doflein is about to embark on a two-year journey with the dream of becoming one of the first scientists to study the marine flora and fauna of the deep-sea trenches off the coast of Japan. Reports that the Japanese and Russian empires have just declared war on each other are troubling, yet months of preparation cannot be abandoned, and in the summer of 1904, he boards the Prince Heinrich, a steamship bound for East Asia.

Measuring mercury levels in the ocean: A scientist at sea on the Research Vessel Endeavor

By Colin Thackray, Nereus Fellow at Harvard University

The oceans are very expansive. Their enormous size and distance from where people stay long term presents a challenge for scientists monitoring the oceans. Unlike many atmospheric measurements for meteorology which we can make just outside of cities, often at airports, to get good measurements for ocean science, a journey on the sea is often required. Around the world, there are many ships designed or outfitted specifically for bringing scientists to the ocean – so called Research Vessels (RVs).

The UN Oceans Conference and Sustainable Development Goals: Are partnerships providing the way forward?

The global oceans provide hundreds of millions of people with livelihoods, food and nutritional security, and are crucial for employment, economic development, and export earnings in many countries and coastal communities around the world. The status of these important ecosystems and its fisheries resources are however rapidly declining, following decades of unsustainable exploitation patterns, overcapacity, and unsuccessful governance interventions.

Global spatial distribution of marine species and diversity in the context of climate change

The world is intuitively divided by the existence of recognizable, bounded units of landscape with characteristic climatic regimes and land cover that drives the distribution of existing life on earth. On a global scale, terrestrial ecosystems are grouped into major biomes such as boreal forest, savannah, desert, tundra and grasslands, each with distinct climates, landscapes, species, and vegetation.