Think You Have What it Takes to Be an Ocean Survivor?


Life isn’t always rosy for a top predator in the ocean. For there is always a predator that higher up the food chain trying to chase you down and make you its next meal! And that top-most of predators are humans. As we continue to overfish our seas, fish cannot reproduce fast enough to keep up with consumer demand.


The Pew Trusts have established the Conserve Our Ocean Legacy website to build a “broad national effort to build support for ocean and fish protection.” There is much good information, but the real kicker is their game, Ocean Survivor! Designed to raise awareness for the dangers of fishing equipment, you can guide a bluefin tuna through the maze of trawls, purse seines and long lines to rack up points and experience life in the crowded open ocean. More importantly, use their form letter to send a message to the National Marine Fisheries Service to end overfishing and sign their petition to conserve our ocean’s legacy.


10 Replies to “Think You Have What it Takes to Be an Ocean Survivor?”

  1. Let’s be clear here: no-one in the U.S. Atlantic fishery targets bluefin tuna with trawl nets, or even pelagic longline gear, for that matter. The number of domestic purse-seiners operating has also declined to two boats, and from what I’ve heard from those owners, they might not even fish this year — they didn’t last year either. This stands in stark contrast with the various national fleets within the European Community, which variously target juveniles, under-report their catches, and still manage to make themselves somehow the victim of their own poor fisheries management history.

    I can’t argue that the stocks of bluefin tuna are in a good place right now; the recent stock assessments have been horrible, actually. However, to conflate the highly regulated commercial U.S. fleets for tunas with the problems of the European fleets isn’t really intellectually honest, especially given the 100% federal fisheries observer status within the Gulf of Mexico pelagic longline fleet. (The U.S. fishery is also the only one that’s required to use circle hooks.) As with much of Pew’s advocacy regarding fisheries, we should all be cautious of throwing out the baby with the bathwater.

  2. not to put too fine a point on it, but who cares whether the finger points to us fleets or europe fleets… you can quibble all you want with numbers, but the unfortunate truth is the bluefin fishery is fucked…

    to borrow language i’ve seen over on shifting baselines by jennifer, “Rather than actually fixing problems, we seem more inclined to talk about who we should blame and with whom we should sympathize. For the record, at fault are all the eaters and fishers of bluefin tuna and, most of all, the governments (and, lest we forget, the citizens behind them) mandadated to regulate our public resources.”

    that pew is attempting to impact the thinking and behavior of future generations of bluefin tuna consumers (if there actually will be any) through an interactive and interesting game is commendable… maybe those kids will also have some impact on their parents purchases as well… i can live with the “intellectual dishonesty” at this more pragmatic level of action…

  3. One cannot have a complete understanding of the politics behind bluefin tuna without consideration of ICCAT, the international fishery management body to which the US is bound, wherein sensible conservation measures are defeated by a single vote and stock assessment reports and quotas are put forward without peer-review. .

    The language above seems more like a tap dance to me. Who’s responsible? ICCAT. In my opinion, we can do better if we can gain control of of the West Atlantic population off North America, and leave the Mediterranean to the Europeans.

  4. our hands our bound with bluefin tuna through the iccat…
    our hands are bound with a host of pacific market species through wespac…

    that’s a lot of playing the victim to these eyes… i’m not so quick to wash our hands of the responsibility just yet…

    carl safina wrote last year, …in [the ICCATs] 40-year history, they have never once managed a fish population sustainably or allowed a recovery. All the fish species under their authority are at historic lows, with one exception: North Atlantic Swordfish. But it took a chefs boycott and a successful lawsuit to arrest and turn around that fish’s plummet.

    sounds like a formula for the “victims” to take control of a dismal situation…

  5. Good point, Rick. I read this and see the consumer looks to the vendor for guidance. We need to encourage more of sense of responsibility in those that hold it.

    Personally, I can’t hold seafood lovers accountable for the bluefin’s demise. The seafood consumer loves the ocean. If bluefin tuna sales were boycotted, limited, or listed at CITES, I believe consumers would adapt.

  6. I tend to agree with Peter that consumers may throw up their arms initially, but will soon adapt. There will be a fond reminiscence of delicious tuna steaks, the broiled smell of charred meaty fish, the soft moist flesh melting in your mouth, the hint of lemon and pepper on the taste buds…

    *sigh* No we will adapt. Tilapia is fine, no really. *sniff*

  7. Frankly,U.S. fishermen across the board are blameless for the curent condition of Atlantic bluefin tuna. We have followed the scientific advice and reduced quotas in 1982, 1991 & 1992 and have strickly lived within those quotas and size limits or paid back overages. The flaw in the process is both the lack of any conservation and or even infrastructure for management in the East and Mediterranean Sea and the lack of scientific understanding of the extent of mixing of east and west fish on the forage and fishing grounds. The 45 degree arbitrary line has mandated a wasted 26 years of attempted one sided conservation where only the U.S and Canada were conserving costing U.S. recreational and commercial fishermen probably in excess of a billion dollars of economic activity while western fish were being plundered in the central and eastern Atlantic.

    Now, with the new tagging data demonstrating that you cannot conserve the west without the east contributing we have to force the European Community that BFT is a shared resource and demand conservation. It does not help that our State department will not lift a finger to pressure the east on a fish matter.

    Pew does not help the cause as they continue to villify U.S. pelagic longline fishery which practicies the most ecosystem friendly fishery with mandatory circle hooks and safe handling and release tools and closed areas to minimize bycatch and maximize survival of released interactions. Where is the incentive for other countries to clean up their fisheries if the bashing continues even after industry does the research and spends the resources and reduces catches to produce a cleaner fishery.

    Prohibiting imports of countries not complying with ICCAT ort U.S. standards may begin to get some of the bad actors to take note but it will not change the situation overnight.

    Folks that demand the U.S. do even more unilaterally are naive because this will only stall getting to a long term sustainable, equitable and efficient conservation plan.

  8. RE: FishGuyDave
    Commenting on whether or not the bluefins are targeted with trawl nets or pelagic longlines is rather superfluous, seeing as this is a game, and should be treated thereof. For the facts and reports, you could go to Ocean Legacy’s websites and see what you can dig up there.

    As for Ocean Survivor however, it’s main purpose is to be entertaining, and it would be hard to keep it that way if all the tuna had to do was to avoid the same repeating net all the time…

    Well, to the rest of you guys: What do you think of this kind of promotion? Do you think Ocean Legacy would do wisely in attempting a similar project when they want to raise attention to a similar campaign?

    Erlend S. Heggen, designer and project manager of OE.

  9. Erlend, I think this is a great promotion, especially when factoids are incorporated into the game. I used this in one of my marine conservation classes to illustrate the bluefin issue and the diversity of fishing gear types.

    Rich R. is talking serious business about BFT above. This is a good example of the kind of dialogue and representation we want to encourage. The questions remain. Why won’t the State Department talk tuna? How do you target non-compliant countries in today’s economic environment without placing blame on those who adhere to the rules?

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