New Study Recognizes Marine Animals as ‘Global Citizens’

Professor Scott A. Shaffer, from the Department of Biological Sciences, and his co-authors from other universities, research centers and nonprofits, have published a new study this month in the journal Nature Ecology & Evolution that highlights how marine animals are global citizens. These animals such as seabirds, turtles, sharks, tuna, and marine mammals migrate through seas and coastlines belonging to multiple countries around the Pacific Ocean. With the aid of tracking tags attached to the animals, scientists have been able to establish the year-round movements and distribution of these animals. This information was used to determine how much time and space a given species resided in the Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ) of each Pacific Rim country.

This information is critical for the future protection of marine animals because stakeholder countries do not always agree on the most effectual policies, measures, or responsibilities to protect marine animals that reside in or simply travel through their EEZ. The results published in this current study reveal the proportion of time spent by each species within a given countries EEZ, thus providing greater insight on the jurisdictional responsibilities of each Pacific rim nation versus a shared governance of the high seas.

“This study really sheds light on the complexities of shared governance for species protection because the animals we tracked range so widely across the Pacific. For example, policies that protect a seabird when traveling through one country’s jurisdiction may do little to protect the same individual when flying through the jurisdiction of another country with different (or no) policies.”

Read the full paper: Harrison2018NatureEcolEvol

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