Demand from China drives disastrous overfishing of sea cucumbers

FERN’s latest story, in collaboration with National Geographic, takes readers inside the world of the illegal sea-cucumber trade, showing how demand for the delicacy in China is driving a global market that threatens to wipe out many species of the marine animal.(No paywall) 

The last days of the vaquita

Despite a last-ditch effort by a group of radical conservationists, the vaquita — a small porpoise found only in Mexico’s Gulf of California — is going extinct, and will likely disappear this year, reports Ben Goldfarb in FERN’s latest story, published with Pacific Standard. No paywall

Australia proposes more fishing in its marine sanctuaries

More than one-third of Australian waters are are protected by law, and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is asking Parliament to allow fishing in 80 percent of those waters, up from the current 64 percent, reports the New York Times. If approved, "it will be the first time a nation has scaled back its regulations in protected maritime areas."

Looking for a U.S. green light for fish farming in the deep blue sea

A Commerce Department agency has authorized up to 20 permits for deep-water aquaculture in the Gulf of Mexico that eventually could double the finfish output of the gulf. Fish farming in the ocean would help satisfy the growing world appetite for seafood, but it also is a formidable challenge, writes Virginia Gewin. The story, produced in partnership with FERN, was published in Ensia.

New fishing net could help save Maine’s cod

Fishermen in Maine are experimenting with a new kind of trawl net that catches ample flatfish like flounder and sole, but leaves the plummeting cod population alone, says NPR. New Englanders once claimed they could walk across the water on the backs of cod, because they were so plentiful. But the fish is now struggling after decades of overfishing and rising water temperatures. Fishermen who catch them accidentally as bycatch are dinged by a quota manager.

That might not be real cod on your plate, but maybe that’s a good thing

The fish on the menu may be mislabeled, but there's a good chance it's less endangered than the real things, says Grist. About 30 percent of fish is misnamed, whether because of fraud or human error. But when University of Washington researchers collected data from 43 studies that DNA-tested fish for mislabeling, they found that on average the actual fish on the plate were 3 percent cheaper and nearly 10 percent better in terms of conservation status, according to extinction risk data from the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

Now you can spot illegal fishing from the comfort of your laptop

A new program called the Global Fishing Watch lets anyone track the world's 35,000 largest fishing vessels using a free online map, says Vox. The program, which relies on Google software, was created by Oceana and the nonprofit SkyTruth in the hopes of curbing overfishing and illegal harvests.

Greenpeace says scientist failed to disclose fishery funding

A prominent fisheries scientist at the University of Washington, Ray Hillborn, is accused by Greenpeace of failing to disclose funding from the fishing industry in several scientific papers dating back to 2006, says the NPR blog The Salt. The environmental group calls Hillborn a "denier of over-fishing."

Study: Fishermen would make more money if they fished less

A new study by researchers from the University of California Santa Barbara, the Environmental Defense Fund, and the University of Washington demonstrates that adopting “rights-based fishery management” (RBFM) would not only help fish populations recover, but would mean more money for fishermen, reports The Christian Science Monitor.

Yellow perch recovers from overfishing at surprising rate

Yellow perch recovered from overfishing in Lake Michigan much more rapidly - by hundreds of years - than scientists thought possible, says Purdue U.