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Vibrant Environment

A Problem in Small-Scale Fisheries Management in Spain and a Need to Rethink Implementation of the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy

ACERGA fishing skipper Marcos Alfeirán during the protest camp in late 2015, NOS
Xiao Recio-Blanco
Wednesday, May 31, 2017

The Galician Association of Purse-Seine Vessel Owners (ACERGA by its acronym in Galician) is the largest association of purse-seine vessel owners in Spain. Over a year ago, ACERGA fishers and many members of their families camped in front of the main building of the government of Galicia (northwestern Spain), demanding that their voice be heard in the regulatory process for determining Spain’s annual fishing quota distribution of mackerel and horse mackerel.

Ocean Policy and the Trump Administration

The Great Wave, Hokusai
ELR Staff
Monday, April 10, 2017

When it comes to the global commons, President Donald Trump has made his stance on climate change policy pretty clear. What will be his views on ocean policy? Certainly, given the impact of climate change on ocean acidification, last month’s Executive Order on energy independence was not good news for ocean health. But there are a multitude of marine and coastal issues that the Trump Administration will have to face.

New ELI Toolkit Aims to Turn the Tide on Marine Litter

Marine debris, NOAA News
Wednesday, October 26, 2016

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a collection of marine debris swirling around the north Pacific Ocean, is estimated by some scientists to be roughly the same size as the state of Texas. While the Garbage Patch moniker can conjure images of a physical trash island, in reality, it is almost entirely made up of microplastics not always seen by the eye, turning the sea into a cloudy soup. Around 80% of the debris comes from land-based sources in North America and Asia.

Charting the Course: A Survey on Public Engagement in the Natural Resource Damage Assessment Process

Amy Reed
Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Public participation and engagement are easy values to talk about generally, but are difficult to implement meaningfully. In Gulf restoration, the natural resource damage assessment (NRDA) process provides the federal government, states, and the public with an unprecedented opportunity to pursue the difficult actions that put these values into practice.

Square Peg, Round Hole: Sea-Level Rise Adaptation Without Legislative Action

California coast, Ariel E Barry
David Roche
Wednesday, October 19, 2016

The legislative process is complicated. Sea-level rise adaptation is complicated. Combine the two, and a tangled mess can result as the law sorts itself out.

Few laws on the books were written with sea-level rise (or climate change, generally) in mind. As a result, policymakers, lawyers, and property owners are left to their own devices to determine how it all fits together. This round hole-square peg legal setup often requires judicial adjudication to become workable and uniform.

At the national level, the regulation of greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act is a great example.

Our Ocean Conference 2016: Ensuring Effective Enforcement of Marine Protected Areas

 Legal Tools for Strengthening Marine Protected Area Enforcement
Xiao Recio-Blanco
Thursday, September 29, 2016

At the 2016 Our Ocean Conference, nearly 20 countries announced the creation of new Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) or the expansion of existing ones. This is an important step in the right direction, but creating new MPAs will not make a significant difference if new and old MPAs are not effectively enforced. Through the release of its report, Legal Tools for Strengthening Marine Protected Area Enforcement: A Handbook for Developing Nations, the Environmental Law Institute’s (ELI’s) Ocean Program is playing its part to assist countries in ensuring that MPAs are effectively implemented and enforced, delivering positive conservation outcomes.

RESTORE Draft Comprehensive Plan Update: What It Is, What It Does, and Uncertainties

Gulf of Mexico
David Roche
Thursday, September 22, 2016

On August 23, 2016, the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council (Council) released its draft Comprehensive Plan Update. This plan “is intended to provide strategic guidance” to the Council in order to “improve Council decisions…” No projects or programs are proposed in the plan. The public has until October 7, 2016 to comment on the plan. If the plan is approved, it will “supersede[] the Initial Plan approved by the Council in August 2013.”

This post highlights some of the key features of the plan, including where it fits into Gulf restoration, what’s in the plan, and what questions remain.

The January 2016 Gulf Aquaculture Plan: A Contested Impact

Fishing boat catch
Hannah Hauptman
Thursday, August 11, 2016

This past January, NOAA released a landmark final rule (referred to here as the Gulf Plan) establishing a permitting and regulatory framework for offshore aquaculture—fish farming—in federal waters in the Gulf of Mexico. Since the Gulf Plan is the first rule to enable aquaculture in federal waters (3-200 miles offshore), the environmental and economic outcomes are uncertain. This ruling—the product of over a decade of research and revision—has become the subject of intense criticism from both environmental organizations and proponents of offshore aquaculture. NOAA lauds the ruling as a long-overdue policy to create economic growth and meet demands for sustainable seafood. At the same time, some environmentalists predict increased pollution and fish disease, fishermen fear price drops, and potential investors think the regulation is overly complex.

Sand Mining: The Biggest Environmental Issue No One Is Talking About

Sand Mining
David Roche
Thursday, August 4, 2016

It all starts as mountain rock.

That rock erodes from wind and rain and time, getting transported down rivers all the way to the sea, where it accretes onto beaches and into other sediments. That is the origin story of sand. Once that sand is on a beach, or off the coast, or on an inland shore, it is transported through a natural cycle that replenishes the resource over geologic time.

Or rather, that is the way it is supposed to work.

What is a "Good" Project? Breaking Down Our Survey Results on Gulf Restoration Priorities

Gulf restoration project elements diagram
Thursday, July 28, 2016

Note: This blog was cross-posted from ELI's Gulf-specific website, where you can find information on everything you need to know about Gulf restoration.

In June, the ELI Gulf Team released a survey on priorities for Gulf restoration in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. It was designed to understand what elements our partners and collaborators think are most important to good restoration projects. We started with a list of eight project elements: