Archive for the ‘oceans’ Category

more about our emptied oceans

September 30, 2008

It seems like a challenging task to demonstrate how vast our negative impact on the oceans is. Most obviously because, when we look out at an open sea, we can’t see below the surface.

Randy Olson, documentarian and one-time marine biologist, shows us how depleted the oceans have become in a one minute video. He simply compares the observations of two ocean voyages 50 years apart. Pretty compelling stuff.

Read the NYT blog about it here.

Related post
fin, finito, bye bye fishies

fin, finito, bye bye fishies

September 22, 2008

The oceans are being depleted of their onetime abundance. Overfishing is something we can all help stop if we want to save fish from extinction. There is a sobering article in GOOD magazine about the imminent global collapse of fishing. It is a must-read for anyone who eats fish. Some eye-opening highlights:

The end of fishing = global food (and economic) crisis

The demise of commercial fishing is beyond the limits of even our darkest environmental imaginations. And yet the evidence of the ocean’s diminishment is everywhere. Leaving aside the legitimate concerns of conservationists, the possibility of a broad fish collapse is harrowing for other reasons. At a time when we are mired in a global food crisis, nearly 1.5 billion people depend upon the sea as a source of food or income. The destabilizing effect of such a collapse would be tremendous, bringing communities and countries into conflict over a resource we once considered boundless. It is fair to say that the endgame has begun.

Government support for an unsustainable industry

Many experts think that governments have been too kind to the fishing industry. The European Union, China, Japan, and the United States spend as much as $20 billion a year to subsidize a $90 billion industry. The number of industrial-sized fishing boats in the world, which the U.N. estimates at 1.3 million, will have to be reduced by more than a third to reach sustainable levels of fishing (and some conservation organizations put the number at closer to half).

Overfishing isn’t the only problem, but it’s the easiest to fix

We have imperiled what is perhaps the last wilderness on earth, for the simplest reason: We believed it was so vast it couldn’t be harmed. The signs of our folly are now too numerous to ignore. Massive, swirling gyres of plastic have formed in the North Pacific, as have toxic dead zones in the Gulf of Mexico, the Black Sea, the Baltic Sea, and dozens more places. Coastal pollution and construction is destroying critical wetland habitats worldwide. And the ocean itself is warming, a development that will have consequences we can hardly imagine. Amid these challenges, overfishing represents the most immediate threat and possibly the easiest problem to remedy.

We are all responsible

Because of our role as consumers, we’re no less culpable than fishermen for the state of the oceans. Global seafood consumption has doubled since 1973 and, just as its health benefits are becoming known, it seems clear that we will have to eat less fish, and that the fish we do eat will have to be smaller and lower on the food chain, where the effects of fishing are less pernicious. A cod caught by a bottom trawler carries with it a different set of environmental implications than a cod caught by a hook and line—and we ought to recognize and pay for the difference. And we would do well to contemplate, too, why it is that we become indignant at the thought of a world without wolves or elephants, yet stand idly by as bluefin tuna, for instance, are hunted into obsolescence. This animal, as grand as any we know, can live for 30 years, weigh as much as 1,200 pounds, and cross thousands of miles of ocean in a single year.

Please read the whole article.

You can do something!

  1. Follow the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch Guide. They have a free downloadable (or mail order) pocket guide you can take with you to restaurants.

    –Some common fish to avoid: Atlantic halibut, Atlantic cod, Atlantic salmon, flounder, sole, monkfish, Chilean sea bass, trawl-caught haddock, skate*

  2. Tell your favorite restaurant or fishmonger to offer sustainable seafood
  3. Help the Director of the National Marine Fisheries Service make the right decision about shaping new commercial fishing regulations

*I realize this may be hard for many people to do, but if we don’t change our actions now, these species will be fished into extinction. There are many viable (and delicious) alternatives, including: Arctic char, Pacific halibut, longline-caught Pacific cod, striped bass, tilapia, mackerel, U.S. Atlantic pole-caught Mahi Mahi, trap-caught lobster, plus farmed oysters, clams, mussels and more!

there are whales out there!

September 19, 2008

Right here in NYC, not far from the isle of Manhattan, whales are dodging cargo ships and singing their melancholy songs. It’s a first for the city, not their presence, but the recording of their sounds — of humpback, northern right, and fin whales.

This is an exciting time for New Yorkers. Just think, just miles from the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building, Carnegie Hall and Times Square, the great whales are singing,” says Chris Clark, the Director of the Bioacoustics Research Program at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. “These are some of the largest and rarest animals on this planet trying to make a living just a few miles from New York’s shores. It just goes to show us that there are many important and wonderful discoveries to be made about the living world right here, right in our back yards.

Read more at Science Daily.

sustainable seafood news

August 3, 2008

another reason to choose organic

July 17, 2008

Choosing organic isn’t just about not consuming pesticides. It’s also a choice that affects the ecosystem, big time. I’ve mentioned the dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico before. Well, I hate to be all doom-and-gloomy, but it’s getting bigger — it’ll be about the size of New Jersey this summer, according to the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium. Runoff of agricultural chemicals is doing the trick. From the New York Times :

The scientists said high nutrient levels in the water stimulate the growth of algae whose eventual decomposition depletes oxygen to the point that most marine life cannot survive.

plastic pile

July 7, 2008

I have a confession. I have a large collection of plastic that can’t be recycled in NYC. Mostly #6 (PS or polystyrene) and some #5 (polypropylene) objects are piling up in our “office” (aka, second bedroom; aka, junk room). Coffee cup lids, containers that held mushrooms, yogurt containers — I can’t get myself to throw them away. I have a big project in mind for them, but yesterday I was thinking, maybe there’s a place I can send this stuff to be recycled.

And I found out today, there is! Thanks to Ideal Bite, I found out that Park Slope Food Co-op in Brooklyn will be happy to take my #5s and some of my number #4s (although these aren’t as common) to send to Recycline. As I’ve mentioned before, they have a partnership with this maker of Preserve products. So the plastics that were destined to go to the dump (or the ocean) are now the stuff of toothbrushes, razors, and other household goods.

Now what to do with those #6s?

clearing up the fish fog

June 6, 2008

Trying to figure out which fish are okay to eat can be tricky. So many questions enter my mind when attempting to decide on the fish I’ll consume. Does the fish I’m about to eat contain mercury? Is it overfished? Is there trawling involved, which damages the sea floor? Are other sea creatures getting unintentionally trapped in the nets?

One little tool which helps in the decision process is the handy Monterey Bay Aquarium fish card I carry around with me. On their Seafood Watch site, you can order a free pocket fish card of your own (or more for friends, if you’d like) or just print one out for your particular region. They break it down simply: Best Choices, Good Alternatives, and Avoid. If you’re curious about a particular fish, you can also search their online database.

And if you’re really curious, they’re hosting a webcast next Friday, June 13th where they’ll talk about how to cook and eat the fish that are sustainable and how you can be an advocate for our oceans.

hittin’ the bottle of a different kind

May 31, 2008

Have you jumped on the reusable water bottle bandwagon? With all the news about bisphenol A and other endocrine-altering chemicals leaching from baby bottles and other water bottles, I wonder why everyone isn’t carrying around a safer container for drinking water. Like the Sigg or Klean Kanteen bottles that are now widely available.

Not only are they safer to drink from, they don’t contribute to the giant waste stream we’ve created, like the Great Pacific Garbage Patch — a veritable island of plastics estimated to be anywhere from the size of Texas to more than twice the size of the US.

So what kind of water does one fill these nifty reusable bottles with? Good ol’ fashion tap. You can attach a filter to your sink, use a Brita, the office water cooler, or find a public water fountain.

And which to get? I have a couple of Siggs (which come in lots of fun designs) but if I were to buy them again, I think I’d go with the pure stainless steel construction of Klean Kanteen.

You can get both Sigg and Klean Kanteen at: