Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

BP Oil Spill Threatens More Species Than Legally Protected

13.05.2011
Marine species facing threats from the 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico far exceed those under legal protection in the United States, a new paper in the journal BioScience finds.

University of New Hampshire professor Fred Short and others found 39 additional marine species beyond the 14 protected by federal law that are at an elevated risk of extinction. These species, which range from whale sharks to seagrass, should receive priority for protection and restoration efforts, the authors advocate.

“A lot of species in the Gulf of Mexico are going to be damaged by this oil spill but aren’t on the U.S. radar screen, although they’re threatened globally,” says Short, who is a research professor of natural resources and the environment at UNH. Along with lead author Claudio Campagna of the Wildlife Conservation Society and others, Short was a major contributor to the paper, “Gulf of Mexico Oil Blowout Increases Risks to Globally Threatened Species,” which appears in the Roundtable section of the May 2011 issue of BioScience.

“It is imperative to understand the global consequences of environmental disasters, as a local perspective underemphasizes the incidence on widely distributed species,” says the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Campagna. “The IUCN Red List data has an unmatched, so far neglected potential to inform policy decisions at a regional level.”

The researchers consulted the extensive species database of the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List, which assesses species’ global survival status via a rigorous scientific process. They found 53 species with a distribution that overlaps the area of the oil spill that are categorized as critically endangered, endangered, or vulnerable by the IUCN Red List. Of these, only 14 receive legal protection in the United States under the Endangered Species Act, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, or the Marine Mammal Protection Act.

“There are species that are surely threatened that could be driven to extinction because of this oil spill,” says Short.

Among the Red List species that are not protected by U.S. law are the commercially valuable Atlantic bluefin tuna (western stock), 16 species of sharks, and eight corals. Many species are particularly vulnerable because they return to the Gulf of Mexico to spawn, and the oil spill coincided with peak spawning periods. The researchers also write that the whale shark, the largest fish in the world, is uniquely at risk from oil and oil dispersants because of its filter-feeding behavior; its long lifespan and slow reproductive rate compound the threat to its recovery. It is listed as vulnerable on the IUCN Red List but not protected by the Endangered Species Act.

“Threatened species not yet listed in national legislation should nevertheless be the subject of damage assessments, targeted research, and monitoring, as well as recovery efforts when needed,” the authors write. The U.S. Natural Resource Damage Assessment, which is the primary legal authority for assessing damages and providing for recovery of coastal and marine species, may not account for injury to these globally threatened species.

Further, the authors advocate that environmental impact assessments conducted for future offshore oil and gas development should incorporate available data on globally threatened species, including species on the IUCN Red List.

“Next time this happens – and we know there will be a next time – we need to take this broader list into consideration,” says Short.

In addition to Short and Campagna, authors were Beth A. Polidoro, Roger McManus and Kent E. Carpenter of the Global Marine Species Assessment at the IUCN Species Programme; Bruce B. Collette of the National Marine Fisheries Service Systematics Laboratory at the Museum of Natural History; Nicholas J. Pilcher of the Marine Research Foundation in Malaysia; Yvonne Sadovy de Mitcheson of the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Hong Kong; and Simon N. Stuart of the IUCN Species Survival Commission at the United Nations Environment Programme World Conservation Monitoring Centre.

Core funding was provided by Tom Haas and the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation.

The University of New Hampshire, founded in 1866, is a world-class public research university with the feel of a New England liberal arts college. A land, sea, and space-grant university, UNH is the state's flagship public institution, enrolling 12,200 undergraduate and 2,300 graduate students.

Media contact: Beth Potier
UNH Media Relations
603-862-1566
beth.potier@unh.edu
Twitter: @unhnews
@unhscience
Reporters and editors: Fred Short is available at fred.short@unh.edu or 603-862-5134. For a PDF copy of the article, contact Short or Beth Potier at beth.potier@unh.edu.

Beth Potier | Newswise Science News
Further information:
http://www.unh.edu

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Plant seeds survive machine washing - Dispersal of invasive plants with clothes
11.09.2018 | Gesellschaft für Ökologie e.V.

nachricht Air pollution leads to cardiovascular diseases
21.08.2018 | Universitätsmedizin der Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Scientists present new observations to understand the phase transition in quantum chromodynamics

The building blocks of matter in our universe were formed in the first 10 microseconds of its existence, according to the currently accepted scientific picture. After the Big Bang about 13.7 billion years ago, matter consisted mainly of quarks and gluons, two types of elementary particles whose interactions are governed by quantum chromodynamics (QCD), the theory of strong interaction. In the early universe, these particles moved (nearly) freely in a quark-gluon plasma.

This is a joint press release of University Muenster and Heidelberg as well as the GSI Helmholtzzentrum für Schwerionenforschung in Darmstadt.

Then, in a phase transition, they combined and formed hadrons, among them the building blocks of atomic nuclei, protons and neutrons. In the current issue of...

Im Focus: Patented nanostructure for solar cells: Rough optics, smooth surface

Thin-film solar cells made of crystalline silicon are inexpensive and achieve efficiencies of a good 14 percent. However, they could do even better if their shiny surfaces reflected less light. A team led by Prof. Christiane Becker from the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB) has now patented a sophisticated new solution to this problem.

"It is not enough simply to bring more light into the cell," says Christiane Becker. Such surface structures can even ultimately reduce the efficiency by...

Im Focus: New soft coral species discovered in Panama

A study in the journal Bulletin of Marine Science describes a new, blood-red species of octocoral found in Panama. The species in the genus Thesea was discovered in the threatened low-light reef environment on Hannibal Bank, 60 kilometers off mainland Pacific Panama, by researchers at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama (STRI) and the Centro de Investigación en Ciencias del Mar y Limnología (CIMAR) at the University of Costa Rica.

Scientists established the new species, Thesea dalioi, by comparing its physical traits, such as branch thickness and the bright red colony color, with the...

Im Focus: New devices based on rust could reduce excess heat in computers

Physicists explore long-distance information transmission in antiferromagnetic iron oxide

Scientists have succeeded in observing the first long-distance transfer of information in a magnetic group of materials known as antiferromagnets.

Im Focus: Finding Nemo's genes

An international team of researchers has mapped Nemo's genome

An international team of researchers has mapped Nemo's genome, providing the research community with an invaluable resource to decode the response of fish to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

"Boston calling": TU Berlin and the Weizenbaum Institute organize a conference in USA

21.09.2018 | Event News

One of the world’s most prominent strategic forums for global health held in Berlin in October 2018

03.09.2018 | Event News

4th Intelligent Materials - European Symposium on Intelligent Materials

27.08.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Astrophysicists measure precise rotation pattern of sun-like stars for the first time

21.09.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Brought to light – chromobodies reveal changes in endogenous protein concentration in living cells

21.09.2018 | Life Sciences

"Boston calling": TU Berlin and the Weizenbaum Institute organize a conference in USA

21.09.2018 | Event News

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>