Barbara Taylor’s work to save the vaquita from extinction to be honored at NACCB

Learn about vaquita conservation efforts on 60 Minutes on Sunday, May 22, 2016.

The Society for Conservation Biology (SCB) annually awards the Edward T. LaRoe III Memorial Award to an individual who has been a leader in translating principles of conservation biology into real-world conservation. Preference is given to employees of government agencies or individuals who have spent at least part of their career in public service. Dr. LaRoe was chief scientist for NOAA’s coastal zone management program, a founder and former director of the Coastal Society, and a principal author of the National Wetland Classification system. Past recipients have included leaders in a wide range of disciplines.

This year, the award will be given at the North American Congress of Conservation Biology (NACCB; www.scbnacongress.org ) held in Madison, Wisconsin from July 17 to July 20, 2016. The award will be given to Dr. Barbara Taylor of NOAA’s Southwest Fisheries Science Center to recognize her outstanding career achievements in translating conservation science into real-world conservation efforts, most recently in the case of vaquita conservation.

The vaquita (Phocoena sinus), or Gulf of California harbor porpoise, is one of the rarest and most endangered marine mammals in the world.  The vaquita, which is Spanish for “little cow”, is especially vulnerable to drowning in gillnet fishing nets. Recent surveys document that only around 60 vaquitas remain. Results of the acoustic monitoring between 2011-2015 showed an 80% decline over that period. Results from the acoustic monitoring prompted the emergency 2-year ban of gillnets that began on May 10, 2015. Although almost no gillnets were seen on the survey between October and early December, 42 illegal totoaba gillnets were recently removed by the Sea Shepherd in collaboration with the Mexican Navy. 3 vaquitas died in March from gillnet entanglement.

At 8 pm on Sunday, May 22, 2016, the program 60 Minutes will air a segment on vaquita. The crew came to San Felipe and interviewed Lorenzo Rojas-Bracho and Barbara Taylor during the 2015 vaquita survey. They also filmed the presentation of the SMM Conservation Merit Prize and interviewed Mexico’s Secretary of the Environment and Natural Resources Rafael Pacchiano afterwards in San Francisco. Most importantly, they filmed vaquita themselves. The program will be available after May 22 on http://www.cbsnews.com/videos/preview-the-last-vaquitas/

SCB, led by its Marine, Latin America and Caribbean, and Asia sections, has worked for several years to advance vaquita conservation. More information can be found on SCB’s vaquitawebpage, and via the following policy statements from 2015 and2012.

See also this video, and articles in the LA Times, and CNN.

SCBNA members: your vote needed on bylaws revisions!

The bylaws of the SCB North America Section have been updated and approved by the SCBNA Board of Directors in March. In order for these changes to take effect, they must be voted on by the membership. To do so, please visit the SCB website (www.conbio.org) and log in to your member homepage. In the blue box on top of the page you will see a link to the voting page. The voting page will have more information of the proposed changes and rationale. Please cast your vote before 1 August 2016.

Why do SCBNA’s bylaws need to be amended?

Bylaws are the legally binding rules that outline how the board of a nonprofit will operate. Carefully crafted bylaws and adherence to them can help ensure the fairness of board decisions. They can protect the organization from potential problems by clearly outlining rules around procedures, rights, and powers. SCBNA creates bylaws at the time the organization was established in 2002. The board of a non-profit should regularly review the bylaws to ensure that they accurately reflect how the organization works. The board periodically amends the bylaws to ensure that they remain relevant. When amending its bylaws, SCBNA follows a two-stage process: the board first approves any amendments to the bylaws, and then the amendments must be approved by the membership.

SCBNA’s bylaws have not been revised since 2004, shortly after SCBNA was first established (see attached copy of 2004 bylaws). In March 2016, the SCBNA board voted unanimously to approve changes to the bylaws and place these changes before the membership for a vote. These changes were necessary due to several factors. Firstly, several aspects of how SCBNA currently operates (such as the existence of a Chapters Representative and a Policy Committee) are not reflected in the 2004 bylaws. Additionally, recent revisions of the SCB-Global bylaws in conjunction with a governance reform process have suggested bylaws revisions that may be beneficial for SCBNA as well, in that they would strengthen the capacity of SCBNA’s board to achieve its mission. This includes changes such as establishment of vice-president positions to manage specific committees. Lastly, SCB-global now allows regional sections to incorporate as SCB affiliates (with their own non-profit status) in order to increase their ability to manage staff, finances, and long-term strategic planning. SCB-Oceania and SCBNA are the first 2 sections to incorporate under the new affiliation policy. The IRS requires organizations seeking non-profit status to include certain standard clauses in their bylaws.

ASM and SCBNA comment on proposal to remove ESA protections for Yellowstone grizzly bears