10 MARCH 2017 • VOL 355 ISSUE 6329 1031SCIENCE sciencemag.org
Poor fisheries struggle
with U.S. import rule
IN THEIR POLICY Forum “U.S. seafood
import restriction presents opportunity and
risk” (16 December, p. 1372), R. Williams
et al. describe some possible effects of the
U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration (NOAA) rule requiring that
seafood imported into the United States
must come from fisheries that comply with
the U.S. Marine Mammal Protection Act
(MMPA). Williams et al. point out that if
fisheries are not adequately supported as
they try to comply with the regulations, the
rule could exacerbate difficulties experienced
in poor fishing communities. We are an
international group of marine mammal and
fisheries scientists funded by NOAA’s Office
of International Affairs to assess the risk
of marine mammal bycatch in small-scale
fisheries in Southeast Asia (1). Based on our
recent research trip to marine fisheries and
research institutes in Thailand, Vietnam,
and Malaysia, we believe that exporting
nations will have trouble achieving and
documenting compliance with the MMPA
within the 5-year grace period.
From our work with local authori-
ties, scientists, and fishing communities
in these developing nations, we believe
that the first hurdle will be galvanizing
action from government agencies, fishery
managers, and fishers. Conservation-driven
Edited by Jennifer Sills
policies will likely hold little weight with
these constituents, given the intense eco-
nomic needs in these countries. Because
top-down management approaches may
be met with resistance, the United States
needs to work closely with regional part-
ners to ensure that the benefits of MMPA
rule compliance are understood across all
levels, from management through to single
fish suppliers and fishers.
The second hurdle relates to the consid-
erable data requirements needed within
the 5-year grace period to fulfill MMPA
standards, such as the calculation of the
Potential Biological Removal of species at
risk. To our knowledge, this has only been
reported for one marine mammal species
in Southeast Asia (2). This knowledge gap
is compounded by the largely unreported
nature of marine mammal bycatches and
marine mammal population distributions
(3). A lack of robust quantitative data
should not, however, mean that manage-
ment (4) and data collection cannot begin
now. Local capacity strengthening should
guide regional monitoring programs and the
identification of at-risk locations over the
next 5 years.
Most of the countries exporting to the
United States are dominated by a small
number of fish products (5), which does
generate hope for future compliance.
Whether this compliance happens before
2022 remains questionable, given that clear
product identifications, certifications, and
traceability are also still widely lacking.
Low MMPA compliance after the grace
period could mean economic losses for these
exporting fisheries and an overall increase
in fishing effort to compensate for new
trades with less lucrative markets than the
United States. This will have clear negative
impacts on both marine mammal and fish
populations. Greater collaboration between
government fisheries and conservation
departments will be essential to codevelop
locally supported strategies that regulate
fisheries, specifically to design a suite of
approaches to measure and mitigate bycatch
of marine mammals.
Andrew F. Johnson,1* Marjolaine Caillat,2
Gregory M. Verutes,3 Cindy Peter,4
Chalatip Junchompoo,5 Vu Long,6 Louisa
S. Ponnampalam,7,8 Rebecca L. Lewison,9
Ellen M. Hines2
1Gulf of California Marine Program, Center for
Marine Biodiversity and Conservation, Marine
Biology Research Division, The Scripps Institution of
Oceanography, La Jolla, San Diego CA 92093-0205,
USA. 2Department of Geography and Environment,
Romberg Tiburon Center for Environmental Studies,
San Francisco State University, Tiburon, CA 94920,
USA. 3National Audubon Society, San Francisco,
CA 94104, USA. 4Institute of Biodiversity and
Environmental Conservation, University Malaysia
Sarawak, Sarawak, Malaysia. 5Department of Marine
and Coastal Resources, Eastern Marine and Coastal
Resources Research Center, Rayong, Thailand.
6Vietnam Marine Mammal Network and The School
of Ocean Sciences, Bangor University, Anglesey, LL59
5AB, UK. 7Institute of Ocean and Earth Sciences,
University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
8The MareCet Research Organization, Shah Alam,
Malaysia. 9San Diego State University,
San Di ego, CA 92182, US A.
*Corresponding author. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
REFERENCES AND NOTES
1. NOAA Fisheries International Cooperation and Assistance
2. E. Hines et al., Front. Mar. Sci. 2, 63 (2015).
A fisherman casts his net
on a lake in Thailand.
DA_0310Letters.indd 1031 3/8/17 11:22 AM
Published by AAAS
3. R. R. Reeves et al., Endangered Species Res. 20, 71 (2013).
4. R. E. Johannes, TREE 13, 6 (1998).
5. National Marine Fisheries Service, Commercial
Fisheries Statistics (www.st.nmfs.noaa.gov/
Fossil data lacking for
insects and fungi
IN THEIR REVIEW “Merging paleobiol-
ogy with conservation biology to guide
the future of terrestrial ecosystems” (10
February, p. 594), A. D. Barnosky et al.
describe the value of using paleobiological
information for conservation manage-
ment. Paleobiological information can
be useful to understand how ecosystems
can be maintained or restored, but lack
of fossil data for many important taxa
(particularly insects and fungi) hampers a
full ecosystem approach.
Insects represent 80% of the described
species (and probably even more of the
undescribed species). They play vital roles
that exceed the function of vertebrates
in many ecosystems (1). Other neglected
taxa, such as fungi, are also crucial for
ecosystem function (2). Focusing on
paleobiological information alone would
neglect the majority of species. A simpli-
fied view on ecosystem function (using
taxon-free measures that ignore species
identities) may even justify the biotic
homogenization of ecosystems in different
locations. Replacing unique communities
of species by functional equivalents may
be easy, but would not halt biodiversity
loss. As Barnosky et al. suggest, tackling
the underlying drivers of biodiversity
loss (particularly controlling human
Insects, such as this mountain grasshopper
(Cophopodisma pyrenaea), are among the most
important primary consumers in many ecosystems,
but paleobiological information about them is lacking.
PHOTO: AXEL HOCHKIRCH
DA_0310Letters.indd 1032 3/8/17 11:22 AM
Published by AAAS
population growth) is crucial to reaching
global conservation targets.
Department of Biogeography, Trier University,
D-54286 Trier, Germany and IUCN SSC
Invertebrate Conservation Sub-Committee.
1. E. O. Wil son, Conserv. Biol. 1, 344 (1987).
2. D. A. Wardle et al., Science 304, 1629 (2004).
invasive species plan
ON 7 DECEMBER 2016, the federal govern-
ment of Mexico published an Agreement
listing Exotic Invasive Species for Mexico
(1). However, the report contains inaccurate
information about the species and ambigu-
ous measures regarding the prevention,
control, and eradication of these species.
Presenting such imprecise information
could undermine the goals of the report.
The Agreement will not be effective until
it provides more information. For example,
it must accurately delineate both the native
ranges and the areas of invasion, particu-
larly for the 46 native taxa listed. It should
link to a database of synonyms that can
help policy-makers and wildlife law enforce-
ment agents deal with the dynamic nature
of taxonomy. It should provide temporal
baselines of invasion, including information
about when each species arrived in Mexico,
as well as degree of invasiveness (not all
exotic species become invasive) (2). The
current version of the list omits several very
damaging species. The Agreement does not
address conflict with other national and
international legislation (3–6). Finally, the
report should clearly specify a procedure for
dealing with exotic invasive species (7).
Two examples serve to illustrate these
issues. First, Boa constrictor, listed as
an exotic invasive, is suspected to have
been introduced in Cozumel Island, but is
native to both coasts of the country. Since
the place of invasion is not specified,
eradication measures might be errone-
ously implemented in its native range.
Alternatively, it could be invasive and
remain unchecked on Cozumel because
it is also on the Mexican official list of
threatened species (4) and in CITES
Appendix II (6).
Second, there are several exotic invasive
fishes not listed in the agreement, such as
cichlids and carps that were introduced
for aquaculture under government initia-
tives (8). They are very profitable, with
~US$20 million in sales of carp alone
in 2014 (9). These fish should be added
to the Agreement’s list so that adequate
measures, such as their contained produc-
tion and environmental assessments of
the potentially threatened species, can be
implemented. This would allow the aqua-
culture efforts to continue while ensuring
that the fish do not cause damage to
native fish and endemic ambystomatid
These issues require urgent attention
for the Mexican government’s initiative to
be effective. We call on the authorities to
Leticia M. Ochoa-Ochoa,1*
Oscar A. Flores-Villela,1 César A. Ríos-
Muñoz,2 Joaquín Arroyo-Cabrales,2
1Museo de Zoología “Alfonso L. Herrera,” Facultad
de Ciencias, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de
México, Mexico City, 04510, Mexico. 2Laboratorio de
Arqueozoología, Instituto Nacional de Antropología
e Historia, Mexico City, 06060, Mexico. 3Herbario
de la Facultad de Ciencias, Facultad de Ciencias,
Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México,
Mexico City, 04510, Mexico.
1. SEMARNAT, Diario Oficial de la Federación DCCLIX (3a.
Sec), 2-52 (2016); www.dof.gob.mx/nota_detalle.php?codi
go=5464456&fecha=07/12/2016 [in Spanish].
2. M. Vilà et al., Ecol. Lett . 14, 702 (2011).
3. SAGARPA, Diario Oficial de la Federación DCCLL (1a. Sec.),
91-65 (2016) [in Spanish].
4. SEMARNAT, Norma Oficial Mexicana NOM-059-
SEMARNAT-2010, Diario Oficial de la Federación
DCLXXXVII (2a. Sec) 1-77 (2010) [in Spanish].
5. SENASICA, Sistema Integral de Referencia para la Vigilancia
Epidemiológica Fitosanitaria (SAGARPA, Mexico City, 2017);
http://sinavef.senasica.gob.mx/SIRVEF/ [in Spanish].
6. CITES, Convention on International Trade in Endangered
Species of Wild Flora and Fauna, Appendices I, II and III
(CITE S, 2017) .
7. C A N S E I , Estrategia Nacional Sobre Especies Invasoras en
México, Prevención, Control y Erradicación (CONABIO-
CONANP-SEMARNAT, México, D.F., 2010) [in Spanish].
8. L. E. Amador-del-Ángel, A. T. Wakida-Kusunoki, in Especies
acuáticas invasoras en México, R. E. Mendoz a, P. Koleff, Eds.
(CONABIO, México, D.F., 2014), pp. 425–433 [in Spanish].
9. CONAPESCA, Anuario de Producción Base de Datos.
(CONAPESCA, 2015); www.gob.mx/conapesca/documen-
10. P. Frías-Alvarez, J. J. Zúñiga-Vega, O. Flores-Villela, Bio di v.
Cons. 19, 3699 (2010).
Erratum for the Letter “The promise of nega-
tive emissions” by K. S. Lackner and 45 addi-
tional signatories, Science 355, aam9284 (2017).
Published online 10 February 2017; 10.1126/science.
Erratum for the Report “Volcanic tremor and
plume height hysteresis from Pavlof Volcano,
Alaska” by D. Fee et al., Science 355, aam7405
(2017). Published online 20 January 2017; 10.1126/
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