Register Now! March 8, 2017

A new study shows that catch or effort limits are effective for successful fisheries management. (Credit: PROVirginia Sea Grant/ Flickr)

Investing In Fisheries Management Improves Fish Populations

Research published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences suggests that successful fisheries management can be best achieved by implementing and enforcing science-based catch or effort limits. The study is authored by researchers from the University of Washington and California Environmental Associates. The paper shows that, among 28 of the world’s major fishing nations, there is wide variation in the effectiveness of fisheries management systems at meeting their objectives for productive fish populations. The authors considered several aspects of management systems and three elements seem to be critical to their success.

Deep sea corals will be protected from destructive fishing gear in a new protected area in the Atlantic. (Credit: NOAA National Ocean

Atlantic Ocean Area The Size Of Virginia Protected From Deep-Water Fishing

Coral in an area in the Atlantic Ocean stretching from Connecticut to Virginia has been protected from deep-sea commercial fishing gear, by a new rule issued this week by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The protected area covers some 38,000 square miles of federal waters, NOAA says, which is about the size of Virginia. It’s the “largest area in the U.S. Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico protected from a range of destructive fishing gear,” according to the NRDC, an environmental advocacy group.

Both the House and Senate have passed the the American Innovation and Competitiveness Act (S. 3084). The bill will soon be sent to the President's desk for President Obama to sign into law. (Credit: Pete Souza/The White House)

Conferenced American Innovation and Competitiveness Act Lands On The President’s Desk

While students around the country were recalling organic chemistry processes and physics formulas during their end-of-semester exams last Friday, Congress was also at work. Following in the Senate’s footsteps, the House passed the American Innovation and Competitiveness Act (S. 3084), a reauthorization of the America Creating Opportunities to Meaningfully Promote Excellence in Technology Education and Science Act of 2007, or America COMPETES, which was last reauthorized in 2010. The 2016 bill outlines policies for the National Science Foundation (NSF); the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST); and other federal science and innovation programs, including science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education programs.

Dr. William Easterling will lead the Geosciences Directorate at the National Science Foundation starting in June 2017. (Credit: NSF)

Geography And Earth Systems Expert Will Head NSF’s Geosciences Directorate

Dr. France Córdova, director of the National Science Foundation (NSF), selected Dr. William E. Easterling to lead NSF’s Directorate for Geosciences. The Directorate supports basic research to advance knowledge and innovation in atmospheric, earth, ocean, and polar sciences, providing over 60 percent of federal funding for basic research in the geosciences at academic institutions across the country.

Innovations and new visions for STEM education were discussed at a briefing by the STEM Education Coalition. (Credit:

Strengthening STEM Education Is Crucial for American Prosperity

Instead of sitting quietly at a desk with a pencil and notebook, schoolchildren are now encouraged to explore virtual ecosystems through an online game, build their own website, or propose and conduct an experiment. Technology and innovation are helping education become more interactive, engaging, creative, and hands-on in the 21st century, and improving literacy in the sciences, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) has become increasing important to prepare the next generation of America’s workforce.

(Click to enlarge) Incidents of data manipulation at a U.S. Geological Survey laboratory were scrutinized by the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations. (Credit: Dennis Tang/Flickr)

U.S. Geological Survey Defends Its Scientific Integrity

A ‘Steps of the Scientific Method’ poster hangs in a middle school science lab. Students quickly learn that during the ‘results’ stage, if the outcome is not what you expect, you cannot just go back and change the data. This principle is taught from the very beginning of science education, but a Department of Interior (DOI) Scientific Integrity Review Panel found that a few employees at the United States Geological Survey (USGS) failed to adhere to this while collecting data from a mass spectrometer at the Energy Resources Program (ERP) Geochemistry Laboratory in Colorado.

The House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure discusses future of marine shipping and inland waterways. (Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Protecting Our Ports

During a cruise to see the Statue of Liberty on a trip to “The City That Never Sleeps,” you might be surprised to learn that over three million cargo containers traverse those same waters to the Port of New York and New Jersey every year. Ports are part of our nation’s surface infrastructure, which also includes railways, pipelines, and tunnels. The Senate Commerce, Scienceand Transportation Subcommittee on Surface Transportation and Merchant Marine Infrastructure, Safety and Security held a hearing to discuss the security of our nation’s critical transportation infrastructure.

The Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2017, passed both chambers last week and now awaits President Obama's signature. (Credit: Greg Bishop/Flickr)

Congress Approves National Defense Authorization Act For Fiscal Year 2017

One of Congress’ most reliably-passed bills, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) (S. 2943) sits on President Obama’s desk after passing both chambers late last week with a veto-proof majority (375-34 in the House and 92-7 in the Senate). The president issued veto threats on previous versions of the annual bill, which authorizes activities for the Department of Defense (DoD) and the national security activities of the Department of Energy for Fiscal Year (FY) 2017; however, many provisions he objected to have been removed.

The House Republican Conference officially elected leadership positions for the next Congress. (Credit: Penn State/Flickr)

House Committee Leadership Firming Up For The 115th Congress

The House Republican Conference officially elected leadership positions for the next Congress. Representative Rodney Frelinghuysen (NJ-11) will chair the powerful Appropriations Committee. The New Jersey Republican is the longest-serving GOP appropriator after Harold Rogers (KY-5), the current chairman, who is barred by House Republican rules from wielding the gavel for another term.

After the 115th Congress was sworn in on January 3, bills were introduced in the House that would significantly impact executive branch regulations and rulemaking. (Credit: Wikimedia commons)

Congress Extends Fiscal Year 2017 Funding Continuing Resolution To April 28

With less than an hour to go before the continuing resolution (CR) funding the federal government expired last Friday, Congress passed an extension through April 28th, narrowly averting a government shutdown. Responding to the president-elect’s request for input on Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 appropriations, the stopgap measure pushes appropriations decisions until after President-elect Trump is sworn in.