January 30, 2014
If no one uses an ecosystem service, is it still a service? Marine scientist Mark Spalding examines the different ways we value nature.
October 11, 2013
Based on these new findings, says Conservancy marine scientist Mark Spalding, the world should be investing a lot more in preventing mangrove loss and restoration.
August 8, 2013
Mangroves have had a hard-knock life, with coastal development destroying at least 35% of the world’s tidal forests in recent decades. Scientists have feared that rising seas would be the final blow. But mangroves just might be able to rise above, says a new report.
June 5, 2013
Mangroves are tough, opportunistic weeds, says Conservancy senior marine scientist Mark Spalding. But that doesn’t just mean you can restore them anywhere — there’s a narrow line above mid-tide that works, and legalities and laziness cause many restoration projects to fail. Communicate the science of proper mangrove planting, though, and you’ve got one of the most optimistic conservation tools around.
April 11, 2013
According to a new report led by Nature Conservancy scientists and policy experts, the number of marine protected areas (MPAs) has increased fivefold in the last 10 years and the world is actually on track to meet its goal of protecting 10% of the oceans by 2020.
Sounds like something to shout from the rooftops, right? Not quite, say the authors. Instead, they want the marine conservation community to see this as an opportunity for reassessment: A call-to-action to step up and look beyond the numbers.
“It’s certainly progress and we should celebrate that,” says Mark Spalding, a Conservancy marine scientist and lead author on the report. “But there’s a lot of nuance behind these targets. More than that, is 10% really what we should be fixated on?”
The study — developed in conjunction with the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre and published in the Ocean Yearbook — assessed the state of ocean protection efforts to date and provides recommendations for how to achieve real success for the future. The authors reviewed 10,280 MPAs, covering 8.3 million square kilometers or 2.3% of the world’s ocean area, and found:
March 28, 2013
I have a confession to make: I’m a marine scientist who thinks marine protected areas (MPAs) aren’t going to be nearly enough to save our oceans, and that fishing needs to be part of the solution too.
Here’s why: As a conservationist, I’ve seen how MPAs can protect habitat and allow fish populations to flourish, but I’ve also seen how effective fisheries management can balance economic needs with those of a healthy ocean. Within the next generation the global population will reach 9 billion, and it’s our shared challenge to implement the next generation of ocean management techniques to allow us to restore and maintain our oceans against this ever-rising wall of pressure.
That means working together.
March 22, 2013
It’s a little hard to get your head around what Australia did last November. I live in a country, the United Kingdom, that covers 250,000 km² – not a huge country for sure, but not tiny. Australia declared new marine protected areas that cover almost ten times that area – some 2.3 million km².
Well, as you might imagine, there have been some pretty big celebrations about this, certainly among conservationists, but also among a public that widely supported the declaration.
I’m delighted that Australia has upped the ante for marine conservation everywhere in this way. This sort of move should excite and inspire, in much the same way that Australia’s Great Barrier Reef has already done.
They have shown us that large-scale conservation can be done, and can be done with full participation and broad support, and that it can be income-generating – good for people as well as nature.
But not everyone’s happy. Some – including Bob Pressey, a highly regarded conservation scientist in Australia – has called these new sites “residual protected areas.”
He suggests that these sites are not in the best places either for averting threats or protecting diversity. He also says that they don’t really have teeth, and it’s true that, on declaration, the new parks required no immediate changes “in the water” – that ongoing activities such as fishing, and even mineral extraction can carry on.
That’s worrying of course, and might lead to a sense that they aren’t going to do as much good as might be hoped. But it’s an important first step.
February 21, 2013
A strange scandal is sweeping across Europe at the moment.
We’ve all been unwittingly eating horse meat, thinking it was beef.
This is not the delicious foal steak that can be bought in the best restaurants of Northern Italy; this is minced offal of unknown provenance sold as beef and packaged into the cheapest burgers and pre-cooked meals.
It’s a big story.
Chances are that many of us here in Europe have, at one time or another, tucked in to a little bit of some old nag or young filly. I’m not as upset about it as others. I think it’s pretty likely that most of these horses were simply surplus free-range animals.
Perhaps we should even prefer to eat them over the poor creatures reared indoors or in feed-lots, tight-packed and hormone-pumped, with no access to grass.
A similar scandal has been bubbling over with fish: studies have drawn attention to mislabelling across Europe, South Africa, and Australia, but most especially the United States, where it seems that most of what you buy is not what it claims to be.
In a recent Californian study every single fish sold as “snapper” wasn’t, and 9 out of 10 sushi samples were mislabeled.
This should upset us even more than horse meat, especially when you learn, for example, that escolar (a fish that can cause severe food poisoning if eaten in larger portions) is widely sold as white tuna in sushi restaurants, and regularly turns up as cod, grouper and sea bass elsewhere.