Posts Tagged 'national aquarium conservation'

Do You Know Where Your Seafood is REALLY From?

maryland crab cake infographic

By now, you know that over 1/3 of the seafood purchased in the United States is mislabeled.

According to a comprehensive study by our partners over at Oceana, some seafood is intentionally mislabeled to inflate the value of the fish or to hide illegal fishing practices, which directly impacts restaurant and market owners who then misrepresent their products to the consumer.

Here are some important things to know about seafood labeling procedures/regulations in the US:

  • Ninety-one percent of our seafood is imported from other countries, with a large portion of that product coming from Asia.
  • Only 2 percent of seafood imported into the US is inspected and just .001 percent is inspected for fraud.
  • Over 1,700 different species of seafood are available for sale in the US, including species found both domestically and internationally.
  • The most commonly mislabeled fish types discussed in Oceana’s study were: snapper, tuna, cod, salmon, yellowtail and halibut.
  • Nationwide, the mislabeling of seafood is most prevalent in California, New York City and Miami.
  • Outside of some guidelines put forth by the Food and Drug Administration, there is no current federal legislation to combat seafood fraud (both intentional and unintentional).
  • Some states, including our home state of Maryland, have put forth legislation to regulate these processes.

Have questions/comments about seafood labeling practices in the United States? Share them with us below! 

Thoughtful Thursday: Maryland’s Lt. Governor Visits Masonville Cove

national aquarium conservation expert update

We are all custodians of the environment. - Lieutenant Governor Anthony Brown

The National Aquarium’s Conservation team was excited to welcome long-time friend and environmental champion, Lt. Governor Anthony Brown to our field station at Masonville Cove earlier today!

lt governor Anthony Brown at Masonville Cove

Lt. Governor Brown was on-site to participate in one of the first training sessions that are part of the Small Watershed Action Plan. He was joined by students from Benjamin Franklin High School, National Aquarium experts and community volunteers.

In the fall of 2013, the National Aquarium took the lead on creating a Small Watershed Action Plan (SWAP) for Masonville Cove. A SWAP identifies strategies to bring a small watershed into compliance with water quality standards and goals, in collaboration with local businesses and community volunteers.

The SWAP at Masonville Cove will include a comprehensive watershed assessment that will provide valuable baseline data and guide future protection and restoration projects that will lead to improved water quality. Community members are an integral part of the process and help create a shared vision for the watershed and included neighborhoods.

Background on Masonville Cove
The National Aquarium has been involved in the Masonville Cove Project since 2003, providing opportunities for community-based restoration both within the cove and upstream in the watershed. In partnership with the Maryland Port Administration, Maryland Environmental Service, The Living Classrooms Foundation, the US Fish and Wildlife Service and community partners, National Aquarium’s goal is to provide a thriving natural area in the heart of Baltimore City.

In 2013, our site at Masonville Cove was named the nation’s first Urban Wildlife Refuge System.

If you are interested in joining us in one of our restoration projects at the cove or nearby Farring BayBrook Park this season, you can register here!

national aquarium conservation expert laura bankey

Our Conservation Re-cap for 2013!

2013 has been an exciting year for our Conservation team! We continued our work at some of our existing restoration sites, and also celebrated some exciting new events and projects!

None of our success would be possible without the help of our volunteers and partners. With their help, we restored over 24.6 acres this year! This awesome feat required the help of 1,312 volunteers who spent 3,057 hours planting 50,845 plants and removing 54,227 pieces of debris.

national aquarium conservation debris

Many of our projects this year took place right in Baltimore City. We planted living shorelines at the Masonville Cove Environmental Education Center and planted a forest buffer at Farring-Baybrook Park, the largest open space in Baltimore City! At our wetland field station adjacent to Fort McHenry National Monument and Shrine, we held our annual Spring Fort McHenry field day where we removed debris and planted trees to celebrate Arbor Day.

ft. mchenry

The National Aquarium spread conservation efforts outside of the city as well, with restoration projects all over the state of Maryland. In Salisbury, we worked with local students, community volunteers, and The Nature Conservancy to restore an Atlantic White Cedar swamp. In Southern Maryland we continued our long term efforts to restore shoreline on the shores of Naval Support Facility- Indian Head. In New York, the northern end of the watershed, we worked with local students to restore unique freshwater wetland habitats.

Here are just a few of the groundbreaking initiatives we participated in this year: 

  • In May, we congratulated our first class of Maryland Master Naturalists. This program is run by the University of Maryland Extension program, and trains volunteers in Maryland’s flora and fauna.
  • In June, the Choose Clean Water Conference was held in Baltimore, and the Aquarium hosted multiple field trips for participants to showcase our Chesapeake Bay Restoration work.
  • In May, we were joined by Maryland’s First Lady Katie O’Malley and our partners at the National Wildlife Federation, announced our part in a new initiative to make Baltimore truly a city for the birds! We’re cooperating to make Baltimore one of the greenest cities in the country by certifying Baltimore City homes and businesses as backyard wildlife habitats.
  • In September, The US Fish & Wildlife Service named Masonville Cove the first Urban Wildlife Refuge Partnership. This new initiative is an effort to make more of our nation’s beautiful, natural areas accessible to all populations, including urban ones.

Want to join in the fun and be a part of our conservation successes in 2014? Sign up for our newsletter!

Thoughtful Thursday: The Nation’s First Urban Wildlife Refuge!

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National Aquarium is proud to announce that our circle of partners at Masonville Cove will now include a federal agency: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS)!  Today, the National Aquarium and its partners joined with government officials and community members to formally announce Masonville Cove as the first Urban Wildlife Refuge Partnership in the United States.

John Sarbanes

Congressman Sarbanes speaking at today’s designation.

Through the Urban Wildlife Refuge Partnership program, FWS offices across the nation embarked on a mission to join forces with their local, urban conservation counterparts.  Dozens of worthy applications were submitted for official recognition, and eight partnerships were accepted for designation and support.  We are thrilled to announce that our own Masonville Cove is one of these eight!

Masonville Cove

Part of the recently restored area at Masonville Cove!

About the Urban Wildlife Refuge Partnership Program
While the FWS refuge system encompasses some of our country’s most pristine and unique landscapes, a majority of the refuges are in remote locations, making them inaccessible to large portions of the population.  With 80 percent of Americans living in urban areas, they identified the need to find innovative ways to share the FWS mission with this expanded audience. Cue the Urban Wildlife Refuge Program!

Ultimately, the goal is to work with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people.  Through this new program, FWS aims to have a broader and more effective impact through partnering with existing urban conservation organizations.

At National Aquarium, our mission is to inspire conservation of the world’s aquatic treasures, and we are proud to take that mission beyond our doors with our amazing group of conservation partners. Today was a special day for National Aquarium at Masonville Cove.

National Aquarium is working to engage students and other local citizens in the process of habitat restoration and we are thrilled to be a part of this unique project – one that highlights the importance of creating and supporting a home for wildlife within an urban center and one that helps bring opportunities to connect with wildlife to urban populations.

- Eric Schwaab, Chief Conservation Officer for National Aquarium. 

Eric Schwaab at Masonville Cove

Our CCO, Eric Schwaab, speaking at today’s event.

While this initiative does not make the land at Masonville Cove a National Wildlife Refuge, it does mean that the FWS presence will be felt at the campus.  Already, several benefits have been realized including a FWS intern stationed at Masonville Cove, and the creation of a Wildlife Management Plan to maximize habitat use at the site.  All of the organizations involved share a common goal of environmental conservation and restoration, and by working together we all increase our chances of making this goal a reality in urban centers.

About Masonville Cove

The Masonville Cove Nature Area was opened in 2012 on a restored site owned by the Maryland Port Administration on the Patapsco River, allowing public access to the cove for the first time in over 70 years. The nature area offers opportunities within the city limits for walking, fishing, bird watching and other recreational activities. Currently 11 acres of the nature area are open to the public and, after further restoration in the next few years, 52 acres will be open to the public. National Aquarium helps lead community-based restoration efforts on the sight, engaging more than 1,000 volunteers in planting more than 45,000 native plants along the shoreline so far, including a wetland restoration event just last week.

Conservation Team at Masonville Cove

Our conservation team checking out Masonville Cove’s new official Urban Wildlife Refuge signage!

If you are interested in visiting the cove, there are many opportunities for recreation and educational programming.  Visit www.masonvillecove.org for details.  Masonville Cove is also looking for volunteers who love nature and enjoy sharing their passion with others! Friends of Masonville Cove work to improve and manage this urban wilderness area, as well as introduce other community members to the educational and recreational activities Masonville Cove has to offer. If you are interested in a long-term volunteer opportunity involving everything from debris cleanups to gardening to scientific wetland monitoring, please e-mail friends@masonvillecove.org for more information.

The National Aquarium will be hosting another habitat restoration opportunity at the Cove next Spring.  Sign up for our e-newsletter to keep up-to-date on these and other volunteer opportunities!

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We’ve Hired Our First-Ever Chief Conservation Officer

eric schwaabWe’re excited to announce Eric Schwaab as our first-ever Senior Vice President and Chief Conservation Officer (CCO). With a realignment of priorities that emphasizes an updated conservation mission, Schwaab’s appointment represents the Aquarium’s new dedication to serve as a national leader in ocean preservation and environmental stewardship.

“With the confirmation of Eric Schwaab as our Chief Conservation Officer, we are setting an agenda for National Aquarium’s future,” said John Racanelli, National Aquarium CEO. “We are dedicated to our mission of inspiring conservation of the world’s aquatic treasures. Eric’s wealth of experience and passion will help us expand and better promote conservation action to protect the ocean, our planet’s life support system.”

As CCO, Schwaab, who assumes responsibilities July 1, will provide strategic vision and leadership for the National Aquarium’s Conservation and Science Division, a team of 130 professionals, engaging in initiatives ranging from field conservation and biological programs to legislative advocacy and animal rescue.

Schwaab currently serves as Acting Assistant Secretary for Conservation and Management for the US Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). In this role he works closely with Congress, other agency leaders, partner organizations and local communities to develop policies and take conservation action to ensure sustainable federal fisheries, promote coastal stewardship and enhance protection of ocean habitats. Previously, as Assistant Administrator for Fisheries at NOAA from 2010-2012, Schwaab directed the National Marine Fisheries Service. He was responsible for science, management and conservation of federal fisheries, marine mammals, sea turtles and other protected resources within the United States. Schwaab led the agency’s national requirement to end overfishing, the implementation of “catch share” management programs to better align the interests of commercial fishing businesses with conservation goals, and efforts to improve coastal and ocean habitat conservation.

The National Aquarium is changing the way the world views conservation by instilling a sense of urgency on issues that affect aquatic ecosystems worldwide, including the Chesapeake Bay. In the ocean policy arena, the National Aquarium has recently focused its efforts on a ban on the sale and trade of shark fins, offshore wind development, plastic and beverage container deposits and watershed conservation.

“Through its current work in conservation and science, National Aquarium is redefining the role of public aquaria as catalysts for tangible change in how people care for oceans and aquatic systems,” said Schwaab. “The Aquarium’s role as a trusted source of information and its ability to communicate with millions of people annually provide significant opportunities to influence public policy and personal behavior on behalf of sustainable ocean conservation. I look forward to leading this charge.”

Prior to his work with NOAA, Schwaab spent three years as Deputy Secretary of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, where he worked extensively with legislative leaders and other agencies to support important state conservation initiatives, including Chesapeake Bay restoration, forest and park land conservation and fisheries rebuilding. Schwaab’s 20 plus years of conservation stewardship in Maryland also include service as Director of the Fisheries Service (1999-2003); Director of the Forest, Wildlife & Heritage Service (1995-1999); Director of the Forest Service (1992-1995); and Chief of Resource Management for Maryland Forest & Park Service (1989-1992). From 2003 into 2007, Schwaab served as Resource Director for the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, coordinating conservation work on behalf of fish and wildlife agencies across North America.

Schwaab, who currently serves as the NOAA Administrator designee on the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Biology from McDaniel College and a Master of Arts degree in Geography and Environmental Planning from Towson University. He also completed a leadership program for senior executives in state and local government at the Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University.


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