Morro Bay Aquarium Seeks $20 Mil USDA Loan
Plans for a new Morro Bay Aquarium are counting on $20 million low interest loan from USDA to build and operate it.Those plans are moving forward as far as the City of Morro Bay is concerned says Harbor Director Eric Endersby. “The staff at the Central Coast Aquarium in Avila had a successful fund raiser recently and we understand USDA has indicated they will give the new Morro Bay project a loan.” Central Coast Aquarium will operate both the Avila and Morro Bay venues.
But Avila Aquarium manager Taylor Starkie says although it is true they have applied for a $20 million USDA loan – the agency has not yet approved it.
“There is still lots to do to reach our 2020 construction plan” says Starkie.
Endersby says the addition of a modern aquarium on the Embarcadero should be a huge plus for Morro Bay. He add the new facility will bear little resemblance the dated facility it replaces except for its location. Ironically it was animal welfare complaints from USDA that helped set in motion this new plan because of the old aquarium’s capture of marine animals on display.The new aquarium will feature no captured marine animals.
Endersby says the city will offer the consent of the land owner to build the new aquarium on the Embarcadero as well as work to help out with parking. The USDA loan will fund both the final feasibility plan and start on the design work.
Morro Bay Fish Landings Down 2015 On Lower Squid Catch
Morro Bay’s fish landings, tracked by the state annually, declined in 2015 compared to the 2 years before. In 2015 the California Department of Fish and Wildlife reports all landings here totaled 3.4 million pounds valued at $7.8 million. That compares to 6.6 million pounds landed in 2014,valued at $8.3 million. While there was a large drop in pounds landed the value dipped only slightly. The decline is largely attributed to lower squid landings compared to 2014. In 2015 there was 1.2 million pounds of squid landed valued at $377,539. In 2014 Morro Bay’s fishermen landed 4.2 million pounds of squid valued at $1.3 million. Most squid is exported to China and the far east. The Salmon catch was up in 2015 as was Dungeness crab which gained more than $1 million in value.
U.S. SEAFOOD CONSUMPTION RISES
The average American ate 15.5 pounds of seafood in 2015, an increase of nearly one pound over the previous year, according to NOAA’s annual Fisheries of the United States report, published Wednesday. This is attributed to an increase in availability of fresh and frozen fish, along with a growing appetite for canned products like tuna and salmon, NOAA Fisheries statistician Alan Lowther said during a call with reporters. But there is a long way to go before U.S. consumers eat what is recommended by the most recent Dietary Guidelines: 24 to 39 pounds of seafood each year (8 to 12 ounces a week).
Also in 2015, commercial fisherman landed 9.7 billion pounds of fish and shellfish valued at $5.2 billion, which is similar to levels in previous years. Lobster, crab, shrimp, salmon and Alaska pollock continue to be the most lucrative species. Dutch Harbor, Alaska, landed the most seafood, at 787 million pounds, followed by New Bedford, Mass., at 124 million pounds, a port where sea scallops fetch high prices. On the West Coast, the Pacific sardine and Dungeness crab fisheries were closed due to low abundance and high levels of domoic acid (which can be poisonous to humans), respectively. These problems were largely due to rising ocean temperatures, said Toby Garfield, director of environmental research at NOAA’s Southwest Fisheries Science Center.
“Thanks to longstanding legislation and continued innovation in fisheries science and management, we are seeing real returns on our nation’s efforts to end overfishing and make our fisheries more sustainable,” Eileen Sobeck, NOAA assistant administrator for fisheries, said in a statement.
Will More Tropical Fish Head North?
Movie watchers may have viewed the scene where the cartoon fish “Dory” was in search of her home and was told it was in Morro Bay! Wow. Typically tropical fish would not look this far north with sea temps around San Diego more to their liking.
But a new report suggest waters in tropical seas may be getting a little too hot and some species may be heading north to cooler waters.
Here is one report from Texas.
Ocean warming is occurring at such a rapid rate that fish are searching for cooler waters to call home.
A group of international scientists has new evidence that coral reef fish – which struggle to adapt to the warmer ocean temperatures brought about by global climate change – may instead opt to relocate to cooler parts of the ocean.
In experiments using a common coral reef fish, the blue-green damselfish, Chromis viridis, was acclimated to 2-4 degrees Celsius above their normal summer temperatures over a 27-week period.
“When fish have to deal with increased temperature, there are physical consequences. They need more energy to cope, and they may not be able to handle stress or reproduce or even grow,” says marine scientist Jacob Johansen of The University of Texas at Austin.
Fish that were acclimated to the highest temperatures lost 30 percent of their body weight and some of them died, according to the University of Copenhagen’s Adam Habary, the lead author of a study published this week in the journal Global Change Biology.
“But we found that, when given the slightest chance, fish can seek out temperatures that they’ve evolved to be in over thousands of years, to mitigate the impact of increasing temperatures and not sacrifice critical physiological processes,” says Johansen
Most prior research has focused on the capacity for animals to adapt to increasing temperatures, given that animals have adapted to changes in temperature in the past. However, previous adaptations happened at evolutionary timescales, about 1 degree Celsius temperature change per million years. Global climate change is occurring at a much faster rate, with sea surface temperature predicted to increase 2 to 4 degrees Celsius by the end of the 21st century.
Marine fish are faced with a tough decision. They will need to adapt or move to avoid death.
Instead of looking into how fish can adapt, the new research took a different approach by asking, what if fish moved? In fact, what if entire ecosystems were capable of moving to the cooler temperatures, toward the poles or to deeper water?
There is already evidence that many coral reef fish and pelagic fish such as tuna are moving in response to warmer ocean waters, and that this is beginning to affect global fisheries. “Our study provides a mechanistic explanation for why fish may move, and a way of testing it,” Johansen says.
Picking up and moving may not be the silver bullet for some species, particularly those coral reef fish that are dependent on reefs for habitat. Corals cannot move pole-ward as fast as the temperature increases are predicted to happen, so corals and coral-dependent fish will have to adapt or move to deeper waters where living conditions are less than ideal.
In addition, ocean warming does not occur as a steady slide upward on the thermometer. It often occurs as severe and increasingly frequent heating events. “It’s these transient periods that are causing the most damage,” Johansen notes. This was seen earlier this year on the Great Barrier Reef, when temperatures rose as much as 4 degrees Celsius for several weeks, causing widespread coral bleaching and severe physiological stress in many fish.
Johansen and fisheries biologists from the University of Copenhagen and James Cook University collaborated on the just-published study titled “Adapt, move or die – how will tropical coral reef fishes cope with ocean warming?”
The research was supported by Generalmajor J.F. Classen Foundation, Frøken Ellen Backe & Margaret Munn Tovborg Jensens foundations as well as the Familien Muller-Geiels foundation and an ARC Super Science Fellowship and infrastructure and research allocation from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at JCU.