SEANET offers sheepish retraction, but Ray Bosse is still awesome.

6 04 2010

The great Ray Bosse has monofilament recycling up and running in Westport, MA.

Well, at Ray’s prompting, SEANET delved into our old records to see if our dead bird tallies might, in fact, be inflated. As it turns out, Ray was right. Way back when SEANET converted from paper reports to our current web-based data system, some of the reports were duplicated. Our database heroine, Megan Hines, very quickly found and corrected the issue. So now, rather the 100 dead birds we trumpeted last week, Ray’s tally on the SEANET site has dropped to 60 dead birds total. For Seanetters who have been with us since 2006 or earlier, you may also notice precipitous drops in dead bird counts. More recent volunteers should not notice any change at all.

The SEANET blogger would like to point out that Ray’s absurd walk total remains astronomical and is accurate. Also, under the “Ray Bosse is awesome” heading, the photo shown here depicts one of the monofilament fishing line recycling bins that Ray has installed in Westport, MA. Ray has been so diligent in getting these bins placed, and we really want to recognize his efforts. Volunteers Frank Kenny (NJ) and John Fisk (SC) have also installed bins in their respective necks of the woods.

If any other Seanetters would also like to maintain a monofilament recycling bin, we still have a number of them on hand, so please contact us and we’ll ship one (or more!) out to you. They need not be installed on your SEANET beach, and can be placed at either ocean or freshwater fishing spots. Thanks Seanetters!

EU’s proposed ban on fishery discards–bad for gannets?

1 04 2010

A Northern Gannet foraging (photo by A. Wilson)

The fisherman’s common practice of tossing unwanted fish overboard may soon be illegal in European waters. The discards  are mainly young or damaged fish or other sea life that cannot be sold because there is no market for them.  Other fish are thrown back because they would exceed the fishers’ catch quota were they taken back to shore. Most of these discarded fish and and other organisms are dead or dying when they are thrown back.

At first, a ban on this destructive practice seems like a fine idea. But some European researchers are concerned that, while many species would benefit from the ban, the Northern Gannet in particular might suffer. Northern Gannets, like many seabird species, often follow fishing vessels waiting for discards to be thrown overboard. The supplemental food is a boon to the Gannets especially during the demanding breeding season. The problem, the researchers say, is that rather than being an occasional supplement for many gannets, the discards may actually be a primary food source for a smaller population that has specialized on the waste fish. A sudden ban on discards, the scientists argue, could spell disaster for that subset of birds.

Current research is aimed at determining if there are indeed some gannets feeding almost exclusively on waste fish, and if so, what proportion of the population they represent. Knowing this, the researchers believe they can make recommendations on whether such a ban could safely be implemented immediately, or if it should be instituted gradually so that the specialist gannets could shift to other food sources.

SEANET will follow this story, and hopes that science can, in this instance, effectively inform policy for the good of the North Sea ecosystem. That would be the enlightened thing to do. Good luck Europe, and good luck gannets.