Coral reefs offer many fish species camouflage and a variety of nooks and crannies in which to hide. In return, fish offer their urine. When they pee, fish release phosphorous, a vital nutrient. They also excrete nitrogen in the form of ammonium through their gills, another important food for coral.
New research in the journal Nature Communications suggests a lack of fish pee explains the lack of nutrients surrounding coral in waters where commercial fishing is common. “Fish hold a large proportion, if not most of the nutrients in a coral reef in their tissue, and they’re also in charge of recycling them,” lead study author Jacob Allgeier said. “If you take the big fish out, you’re removing all of those nutrients from the ecosystem.”
Coral reefs are the ocean’s most diverse and complex ecosystems, supporting 25% of all marine life, including 800 species of reef-building corals and more than one million animal and plant species. Marine scientists have long thought that the health of coral reefs directly reflects the health of the oceans and our planet in whole. Global climate change has been wreaking havoc on corals worldwide. In 2003, researchers declared Coral Castles, a remote island lagoon halfway between Hawaii and Fiji, dead.
Then in 2015, a team of marine biologists was stunned and overjoyed to find Coral Castles once again teeming with life. But the rebound came with a big question: Could the enormous and presumably still fragile coral survive what would be the hottest year on record? In a letter published in Nature earlier this year, scientists reported a similar coral recovery after they reduced the acidity in three lagoons in the southern Great Barrier Reef, off Australia. “It’s encouraging, because if we do the right things, health might restore in a pretty responsive manner,” said Stanford scientist Rebecca Albright.
Hillary Clinton published a letter this week in support of the “Blue Economy,” supporting coastal adaptation to climate change, ending international pirate fishing, expanding sustainable and transparent U.S. fishing and seafood practices and ratifying the Law of the Seas Convention that has been held up by the U.S. Senate for over 20 years. “Congress sent a strong signal last year that such action will no longer be tolerated by passing the Port State Measures Agreement, and President Obama has taken regulatory action ensure Americans can have greater certainty that their seafood is safe, sustainable and properly identified,” Clinton said in the letter. “We need to go further by expanding U.S seafood traceability programs and implementing a warning system to alert people and countries of illegal fishing practices.”
Today, President Obama and China’s President Xi formally committed the planet’s two largest economies to the Paris climate accord. UK’s Guardian reports on how China is going to reduce its per capita consumption of meat and seafood by half in order to meet its commitments under the Paris Agreement.
Indonesia celebrated its Independence Day with a bang — blowing up several Chinese boats that had been caught fishing illegally in its waters and impounded. China doesn’t dispute Indonesia’s territorial claims, but Chinese fishermen have more pressing concerns. According to reports in Chinese state media, overfishing and pollution have so depleted China’s own fishery resources that in some places — including the East China Sea — there are virtually “no fish” left.
China is the largest fishing nation in the world, and is the largest consumer of seafood. Reckless environmental practices and volume-driven production are key reasons why Asian seafood production went from 10 million tons in 1960 to 80 million tons in 2010. The Asian fleet has doubled since 1980 and there’s an incredible 1.7 million trawlers in the hotly contested South China Sea. We need China and all of Asia’s cooperation to seriously affect the sustainability of wild seafood globally, to the benefit of all.
Congratulations to Ken Toong, Chris Howland, Garrett Distefano, Willie Sng, and the entire UMass dining team for earning The Princeton Review’s number one ranking for the best campus food in the nation. We are proud to be their friends.
All the best,
from the Dimin Family and the Sea to Table team