by Deborah Franklin
It's August-eve and Friday -- a good time, in the heat of summer, to catch up on the health of U.S. beaches and world fisheries.
First, in regards to seafood: An authoritative new survey of the seas, published in Friday's Science, suggests it may not be too late to restore the bounty of world waters after all -- if fishermen act now. Recent strict curbs on fishing in some regions -- some quite painful to the industry -- are working, the survey shows. Some popular fish are coming back from the brink in New England, southern Australia and several other regions.
We're far from home free. As NPR's Richard Harris reports, the new census shows overfishing in some waters is still dangerously depleting some favorite seafood species, such as bluefin tuna in Europe. Harris notes,
The researchers find that 14 percent of the 170 species they studied are now at less than 10 percent of their original numbers. That's how they define a fishery 'collapse.'
(Read past the jump to find out if your favorite beach is clean)
The NRDC released its annual survey of pollution levels this week. Overall, the number of beach closings and health "advisories" because of bacterial, heavy-metal, and other pollutant levels was more than 20,000 -- "the fourth-highest level in the history of the report," Forbes notes. Though that's down from a high in 2006, the decrease likely just reflects less frequent monitoring in cash strapped states, the report says.
Sewage spills are the big problem in some regions, and storm run-off (including animal or even bird waste) in others. The Los Angeles Times writes that though California is famous for its surfing and swimming, and some of its beaches are sparkling clean, "the state ranked among the worst in beach quality nationwide."