85% of reefs in Coral Triangle threatened – previous figures revised upward

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A new report finds that more than 85 percent of reefs in the Coral Triangle are directly threatened by local human activities, substantially more than the global average of 60 percent. Reefs at Risk Revisited in the Coral Triangle shows that the greatest local threats to reefs in the countries that make up the Coral Triangle —Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Solomon Islands, and Timor-Leste—are overfishing, watershed-based pollution, and coastal development. When these threats are combined with recent coral bleaching, prompted by rising ocean temperatures, the percent of reefs rated as threatened increases to more than 90 percent. read more

41 marine scientists sign open letter criticizing CITES for abject failure in protecting sharks

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In a recently released open letter to the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (seen by many as protecting unstainable shark harvesting in that region), 41 marine researchers – including leading elasmobranch biologists Gregor Cailllet, Jeffrey Carrier, Michael L Domeier and John Stevens – sharply criticize CITES and other institutions for failing to protect declining shark populations. Among their criticisms: – Despite meeting the scientific criteria for listing, numerous shark species have been denied CITES protection because politics prevented them from receiving the two-thirds of the votes necessary for a CITES listing.  read more

Giant cannibal shrimp invasion growing

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An invasion of giant cannibal shrimp into America’s coastal waters appears to be getting worse. Researchers from the U.S. Geological Survey and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported Thursday that sightings of the massive Asian tiger shrimp, which can eat their smaller cousins, were 10 times higher in 2011 than in 2010. “And they are probably even more prevalent than reports suggest, because the more fisherman and other locals become accustomed to seeing them, the less likely they are to report them,” said Pam Fuller, a USGS biologist. read more

High Praise for Coral Triangle Initiative

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Calling it “a beacon of hope,” NOAA administrator Dr. Jane Lubchenco called the Coral Triangle Initiative on Coral Reefs, Fisheries, and Food Security (“CTI”) “the broadest and deepest engagement in regional ocean governance to date.” CTI is a multilateral partnership of six countries working together to sustain extraordinary marine and coastal resources by addressing crucial issues such as food security, climate change and marine biodiversity.  Although the U.S. is not a member county (Indonesia, Malaysia, PNG, Philippines, Solomon Islands and Timor-Leste) NOAA has directed substantial technical assistance and resources to supporting CTI. read more

Australian Great Whites are two distinct species: impact on conservation

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As reported in this article, despite inhabiting the same waters two populations of Great White sharks living in the coastal waters of Australia are genetically distinct, according to a new study published in the journal Marine Ecology Progress Series. The two groups of Great Whites, or white sharks, are separated by the Bass Strait, a stretch of water between the Australian mainland and Tasmania to the south. Genetic tests from 97 shark tissue samples dating back to 1989 confirmed this geographical divide. read more