Environmental Oceanography: Topics and Analysis
For Students

Issues Questions

Please read each question below and type your response into each corresponding box. When you are finished, fill out your name, e-mail address, and instructor's e-mail at the bottom of this form, and click submit to send a copy to your instructor.


1:  What do you think a typical American consumer thinks after reading the label “dolphin safe”?

2:  What was the percentage decrease in dolphin mortality over the 14-year period from 1975 to 1989? The 17-year period from 1989 to 2006?

3:  Estimate the average annual decrease in mortality over that period?

4:  What percentage of the estimated dolphin population was killed by tuna seiners in 1986? In 2006?

5:  Based on an annual recruitment rate of 2% and 1986 incidental mortality you just calculated for the ETP, do you think dolphin populations were threatened by purse seining in 1986? Show any calculations and explain you reasoning. Also, list assumptions you made in arriving at your answer.

6:  Based on an annual recruitment rate of 2% and 2006 incidental mortality you just calculated for the ETP, do you think dolphin populations are currently threatened by purse seining? Show any calculations and explain your reasoning. Also, list assumptions you made in arriving at your answer.

7:  In light of your answer to Questions 19-5 and 19-6, are efforts to reduce dolphin mortality justifi ed from the perspective of threatening the health of the population? Explain your reasoning.

8:  Explain whether this new information on dolphin populations causes you to change your answer to Question 19-7.

9:  Identify a possible disadvantage to tunas of capturing such small fi sh using log sets. Explain your answer.

10:  For each type of previously mentioned bycatch, calculate the ratio of organisms caught during log sets to those captured during dolphin sets (e.g., 36 5,340 dolphins), and complete this table.

11:  For each type of bycatch, in both dolphin and log sets, calculate how many small tunas etc. were captured for each dolphin etc. Fill in the table.

12:  Which method—log or dolphin sets—do you think is more ecologically sound? Explain your answer.

13:  Like most issues, the dolphin–tuna controversy has many dimensions. In Mexico, as many as 15,000 jobs in the tuna fishing and canning industry have been lost, and this loss has been attributed directly to the “dolphin-safe” issue. In 1991, an embargo was placed on Mexican tuna as a result of Mexico’s tuna fleet’s killing too many dolphins. Do you think an embargo was justified in light of the number of jobs lost in a relatively poor country? Do you think regulations should be relaxed? Justify your answer.

14:  Conservation measures reduced dolphin mortality from 15 per set in 1986 to 3.1 in 1991 and even fewer today. Should the current defi nition of “ dolphin safe” be expanded to include methods of dolphin sets that reduce dolphin mortality? Justify your answer.

15:  Dolphins are relatively intelligent animals. What role does this play in your assessment of the issue? How do you weigh killing intelligent animals versus endangering stocks of sea turtles or sharks?

16:  Discuss whether you think consumers (including you) would change your seafood eating habits if you knew that dolphins, sharks, turtles, seabirds, and other marine life were killed during capture of your meal.

17:  Solomon-Greenbaum refers to bycatch as trash fi sh, a term used by commercial fi shers. Loggers sometimes refer to unwanted trees in a clearcut as trash trees. Why do you think fi shers and loggers call these organisms trash? Do you think such terminology is appropriate? Why or why not?

18:  If Joe and Vin net more than 400 pounds of cod (the legal limit) while fi shing for fl ounder, they must toss the excess dead and dying cod overboard. What are the costs and benefi ts of this regulation? Does it make sense to throw back dead or dying organisms that otherwise could be consumed by humans? Explain your answer.

19:  Explain how Joe’s experimental net differs in both structure and function from a typical net.

20:  Characterize Dave Marciano’s opinion about modifying fi shing gear to reduce bycatch. Is his rationale logical? Explain.

21:  What does Dr. Sissenwine of the Northeast Fisheries Science Center say the “main problem” is? Explain what he means.

22:  Which term, bycatch or bykill, is most accurate? Explain which term should be adopted by scientists, fi shery managers, and regulators.

23:  Summarize the issue of bycatch as presented in the report. Include an explanation of the fi ndings of the published study referred to in the report, the different points-of-view, as well as possible solutions.

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