As problematic as Greenpeace can be sometimes, I have to say I love what its activists do.
Just today, the environmental group successfully interfered with a super-trawler leaving from the Netherlands for Australia. Activist climbers and divers sabotaged the 140-meter-long FV Margiris in the Dutch port of Ijmuiden by placing a chain around the ship’s propeller and establishing themselves on the cables between the ship and the quay.
The Lithuanian-flagged FV Margiris, one of the world’s largest fishing trawlers, will be re-flagged as Australian and sent off to catch more than 17,000 tonnes of baitfish off the southern island state of Tasmania. The ship’s operators are waiting to receive government approval to leave for Devonport.
“Wherever this ship has gone it has destroyed fish stocks and ruined fishermen’s livelihoods,” Greenpeace oceans campaigner Nathaniel Pelle argued. “Along with a broad cross-section of the community that has declared the Margiris unwelcome, we will be ramping up efforts to stop it doing the same in Australian waters.”
Pelle said that given its history of “plundering oceans elsewhere,” allowing the Margiris to fish in Australian waters represents a mockery of the country’s recent environmental commitments, including its immense network of new marine reserves. Just two weeks ago, Environment Minister Tony Burke announced that Australia will soon have the world’s largest network of marine parks, consisting of five main zones surrounding each of the country’s states and territories, including extending reef protection in the Coral Sea, although it does not ban all commercial fishing there. It would expand the number of protected areas from 27 to 60 and span 3.1 million square kilometers — one-third of Australia’s waters.
“The Margiris is bad news for Australia and globally irresponsible. Offering this vessel yet another fishing ground to plunder simply perpetuates an unsustainable fishing industry,” he stated.
In Tasmania, a petition against the ship’s imminent arrival has attracted thousands of signatures, including those of celebrities such as singer Guy Sebastian and surfer Kelly Slater. Moreover, Australia’s Green Party wants the vessel banned and Tasmanian independent MP Andrew Wilkie earlier this week encouraged Prime Minister Julia Gillard to do the same.
Unfortunately, the Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) has dismissed concerns about the super-trawler, saying it would have little if any impact on the broader ecosystem in light of the strict catch limits already in place. AFMA also noted that the trawler will be allowed to catch only 10 per cent of available fish, a figure it calls highly precautionary figure because it falls well below international standards.
Seafish Tasmania assured that on-board observers will make sure it complies with the rules. I’m sure we can trust a corporation that makes its money off fishing when it tells us that it will abide by the rules and that its gigantic ship will not cause harm to the ecosystem, right?
Seafish Director Gerry Geen said the AFMA-set quota was estimated to be 5 per cent of the total Australian fishery for baitfish.
“It’s not the size of the boat that matters, it’s the size of the quota,” Geen commented. “The normal process is under way now for Margiris to be registered as an Australian vessel.”
He said his company plans to start fishing in August.
I hope Greenpeace wins this one.
Climate change will bring a combination of rising temperatures and increased predation that will result in biodiversity loss – and it may be worse than currently predicted, claims a study by University of British Columbia (UBC) zoologist Christopher Harley.
“Global warming is already having significant ecological impacts and it’s only going to get more dramatic,” Harley warned.
Published in the current issue of the journal Science, the study examines how rocky shore barnacles and mussels react to the combined effects of warming and predation by sea stars.
Harley looked at the upper and lower temperature limits of barnacles and mussels from the cool west coast of Vancouver Island to the warm shores of the San Juan Islands, where water temperature rose from relatively cool in the 1950s to the much warmer years of 2009 and 2010.
He found that in cooler locations, mussels and rocky shore barnacles could live high on the shore and be shielded from their predators. But as temperatures rose, barnacles and mussels had to move to lower shore levels — and be exposed to predatory sea stars, whose location has not shifted.
“Sea stars are the terrors of the intertidal zone,” said Harley, Vancouver Sun reports. “As it gets hotter you would expect [species] to just move down to lower positions on the shore where they wouldn’t be out of the water for so long. But things aren’t shifting in unison.”
As daily high temperatures during the summer have jumped by almost 3.5 degrees Celsius in the last 60 years, barnacle and mussels have moved 50 cm lower on the shore. However, the effects of predators, and therefore the position of the lower limit, have thus far remained unchanged.
“That loss represents 51% of the mussel bed. Some mussels have even gone extinct locally at three of the sites I surveyed,” said Harley.
He then found that when stress from sea star predation was reduced by using exclusion cages, mussels and other species were able to live in hotter sites where they usually can’t — and their populations there more than doubled.
“A mussel bed is kind of like an apartment complex – it provides critical habitat for a lot of little plants and animals,” said Harley. “The mussels make the habitat cooler and wetter, providing an environment for crabs and other small crustaceans, snails, worms and seaweed.”
In contrast with many previous studies on how species ranges will change due to global warming, this analysis does not assume that species will simply relocate to remain in their current temperature range.
As animals or plants are unable to change their habitat ranges, Harley told, the findings show that warming and predation together could spawn more widespread extinction than scientists currently anticipate.
“Warming is not just having direct effects on individual species,” Harley added. “This study shows that climate change can also alter interactions between species, and produce unexpected changes in where species can live, their community structure, and their diversity.”
The effect on fishers
Relatedly, UBC researchers have also determined how climate change can impact the economic viability of current fisheries practices. Fish stocks are already yielding fewer fish due to overfishing and environmental factors such as pollution.
“Climate change is likely to cause more losses unless we choose to act,” said Rashid Sumaila, principal investigator of the Fisheries Economics Research Unit at UBC and lead author of the study.
A collaboration between economists, biologists and climate-change scientists, the study gives a broad outlook of the effect of climate change on fisheries and their profitability; it was published online in the journal Nature Climate Change. It received the support of the Pew Charitable Trusts, National Geographic, the World Bank and the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
As waters warm, species move to cooler waters
Warming ocean temperatures have led many species to move farther towards the poles and into deeper and cooler waters. This means that while fishers in a few regions, such as Scandinavia in the far north, may benefit because they will now have more fish to catch, many others, and particularly fishers in the tropics, will lose an important food source along with their livelihoods. (Many fishers in tropical regions are poor and fish to feed themselves and their families.)
Researchers examined regional phenomena to help them find out what could happen on a global scale. For instance, lower catches of pelagic fish (such as sardines and anchovies) in Peru resulting from warmer waters during the 1997-1998 El Niño event caused more than USD 26 million in losses.
“For example, if you think about sardines on the Pacific Coast here: Whenever the temperatures are a bit higher, we see more sardines moving from Mexico through the US to Canada,” Sumaila noted, CBC News reports.
Fish survival is compromised
William Cheung, a biologist at the UBC Fisheries Center, said changes in temperature and ocean chemistry directly and adversely affect the physiology, growth, reproduction and distribution of marine life.
“Fish in warmer waters will probably have a smaller body size, be smaller at first maturity, with higher mortality rates and be caught in different areas,” he explained.
NOAA scientist and co-author Sam Herrick is calling for ongoing studies on how climate change and related factors will shape marine ecosystems and the productivity of fish populations.
Richer fish stocks = better adaptation to change
It was found that the bigger populations are, the better fish can adjust to environmental shifts such as warming temperatures. Minimizing the combined strains from overfishing, habitat degradation, pollution runoff, land-use transformation, competing aquatic resource uses and other anthropogenic factors will also contribute to helping stocks cope with climate change.
“We have to remember that the effect of climate change on the marine environment will occur alongside the impacts on land,” said Daniel Pauly, a UBC fisheries biologist and co-author. “It will not be easy to divert resources from one sector to help another sector. This is why a strong governance system is needed – to temper the losses on the sectors that are worst hit.”
In other words, government officials need to step up and work harder to stop overfishing and illegal fishing, reduce runoff from agriculture and other polluting sources, and fight habitat destruction, among taking other measures.
Take a small step to make a difference
In the meantime, if you eat fish, something you can do is commit to purchasing only sustainably caught seafood. Read more about how to do this here:
Related blog posts on Save Eco Destinations:
- Marine experts spell doom for world’s oceans, Pt. 2
- Marine experts spell doom for world’s oceans, Pt. 1
(This is part two of a two-part series on a report regarding the dismal state of our oceans. Part 1 of the series discusses the report’s findings and the primary ocean stressors currently involved.)
Entire marine ecosystems could disappear within a generation — a phenomenon that would take a devastating toll on humans, not just marine animals, according to the International Programme on the State of the Ocean (IPSO) report discussed in part one of this series.
You might be surprised to hear that shellfish and other marine animals comprise 15 per cent of animal protein for 3 billion people throughout the world, and another 1 billion people rely on fish stocks for their main source of protein. It’s important to remember that we need to preserve marine ecosystems, not only because they’re pretty to look at and something to explore when we’re taking a decadent beach vacation, but also because much of humanity’s food security is at stake here.
In fact, the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) last December released a report called “Environmental Consequences of Ocean Acidification: A Threat to Food Security,” noting that burgeoning greenhouse gas emissions may have more widespread and complex effects on ocean health than previously anticipated, and that the chemistry of the globe’s oceans is being altered at a rate unseen for 65 million years.
The report confirms worries that corals, shellfish and other organisms may have an increasingly difficult time surviving due to weakening skeletons, and demonstrates that ocean acidification combined with ocean warming would lower the range of temperatures in which crabs and other animals can thrive.
This could powerfully affect, among other factors, catches of shellfish; species reliant on coral reefs and those such as salmon that feed on shell-building organisms lower down the food chain. – FIS
What’s more, climate change is predicted to cause big dents in coastal fisheries resources in the Pacific Islands region, potentially slashing production by as much as 50 per cent by 2100, the Secretariat of the Pacific Community’s Heads of Fisheries communicated in March. It is forecasted that higher sea temperatures, ocean acidification, and loss of important habitats like coral reefs, seagrass beds and mangroves will dramatically affect the inshore resources that provide myriad coastal communities in New Caledonia, Papua New Guinea, and other impoverished countries with food and a livelihood. And let’s not forget that people who live off fisheries in various ways populate most countries on Earth, from the United States and Malta to Argentina and Pakistan.
Some 55 million years ago, 2.2 gigatonnes of CO2 were released annually for thousands of years and numerous species died out. Today, it is estimated that 2.2. gigatonnes of CO2 are shot into the atmosphere every year by deforestation alone.
“The rate of carbon dioxide emissions in the atmosphere and the rate of change in the oceans is extraordinary — there is a very urgent need to get that under control,” stressed Alex Rogers, a professor of conservation biology at the University of Oxford and lead author of the study.
And now, the most important part of this series:
What YOU can do
To address the findings, the IPSO report gives several recommendations, such as the creation of “a global body empowered to ensure compliance with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea” and steps to improve the fish stock sustainability.
Rogers suggested that anything from choosing the right kind of fish to eat to lobbying politicians helps.
I suggest that fish eaters scan Greenpeace’s canned tuna guide to make sure they are choosing sustainably caught tuna whose harvesting is not wiping out turtles, dolphins, or other species. Also, California’s Monterey Bay Aquarium has a seafood guide that’s really nifty (available as pocket or mobile, too) and the website is rich with information on related issues. Check out their recommendations!
Support green organizations like Sea Shepherd Conservation Society and Greenpeace, who work to both spread awareness about vital issues and fight the “bad guys” (in this case, Sea Shepherd – very courageously – goes after poachers hands-on, while Greenpeace targets harvesters of destructively caught fish and the companies that sell them, fights companies that pollute egregiously, and so on).
Attend clean-up days at your local beach or park. Go to Hands Across the Sand each year. Consider volunteering and donating whatever resources you have to anyone working toward a worthy cause.
Whenever a petition appears that could help ocean health, sign it. Visit sites like Care2 and Change.org and sign up for their newsletters to stay informed on new developments, learn how to help, and to find likeminded friends.
Together, we will make a difference.
“If I look at the mass, I will never act. If I look at the one, I will.” – Mother Theresa
(This is part one of a two-part series on a report regarding the dismal state of our oceans. Part two of the series tackles the situation’s repercussions on humans and what we can do to help our oceans recover.)
A team of marine experts announced this week a new summary report arguing that climate change and other man-made factors will spur colossal levels of extinction in the world’s oceans. The catastrophe is forecasted to be “unprecedented in human history.”
The proverbial excrement, it seems, is about to hit the fan.
Not surprisingly, it appears that changes in our atmosphere, ecosystems, and habitats across the planet are accelerating too quickly for many species to adapt and be able to survive.
“The speed of change, particularly related to climate change, is so great there simply isn’t time for marine life to adapt to these new conditions,” said Alex Rogers, a professor of conservation biology at the University of Oxford.
He explained that mass extinctions have been tied to considerable changes in the oceans’ carbon systems in the past.
“That’s what we’re bringing about through our own actions today,” he noted, reports ABC News.
Rogers and a team of 26 other researchers from various countries met earlier this year for a three-day workshop in England to study ocean stressors. Their full report is set to be published in the near future.
Ocean stressors at play
Ocean acidification is one key factor. Here’s what it’s about: carbon dioxide (CO2) (along with methane and other gasses) plays a huge role in heating up our planet and thereby causing climate change, which includes melting polar ice caps and rising ocean levels. Okay. What you might not know is that one-third of the planet’s CO2 is absorbed by the ocean, and that the more CO2 the ocean absorbs, the greater the waters’ acidity. This phenomenon is called ocean acidification and it’s noxious to our planet for many reasons. For example, rising acidity levels in our oceans have been found to:
- Impair fish hearing and smell, putting their survival in danger
- Kill off endangered species such as northern abalone
- Threaten the survival of krill, itself the basic food source of nearly all animals in the ocean
Apart from ocean acidification, rising water temperatures, overfishing, pollution, and even tourism are all exacerbating the rapid decline of species such as reef-forming coral. (Go here, here, and here for more on the state of coral reefs.)
Sharks and other species may be next, warned Rogers, lead author of the International Programme on the State of the Ocean (IPSO) report.
Further, he said that, in many cases, the impacts of ocean stressors were found to have a greater overall effect than any single effect when taken together. For example, the decline of coral reef ecosystems due to overfishing and reef bleaching, plus the acidification that causes bleaching, will eradicate “the most diverse marine ecosystems on the planet.”
“As we considered the cumulative effect of what humankind does to the ocean, the implications became far worse than we had individually realized,” Rogers said. “This is a very serious situation demanding unequivocal action at every level.”
Stay tuned for part two of this 2-part series.
Following up on my recent post discussing unsustainable fish deceptively marketed as sustainably sourced, I’d like to share with you that Greenpeace has released its latest Canned Tuna Guide in its continued effort to fight overfishing across the world’s oceans. (I’ve already shared the news via Facebook and Twitter, but it’s important enough that I wanted to write about it on here, too!)
If you’re a tuna eater – whether you consume canned, fresh, or whatever kind of tuna – and you’re interested in the future of tuna stocks (which you should be if you plan to continue eating it!) check out Greenpeace’s new guide.
The guide is meant to both inform consumers – like you! — whose increasingly raised awareness on the issue is leading them to opt for sustainably sourced fish, and to hold tuna brands accountable for selling unsustainable tuna to the unsuspecting public.
Check your supermarket to see if they carry the highest ranking brands in the tuna guide, so you can support the companies that are progressing toward environmental responsibility through the sustainable sourcing of their products.
This is how Greenpeace explains their ranking, based on an international canned tuna ranking system:
• 70%+ Good
An acceptable sustainable and equitable tuna procurement policy has been
obtained. Maintaining and improving these standards is essential.
• 40% – 69% Must improve
Initial measures have been taken to source sustainable and equitable tuna.
More concrete steps are needed to reach an acceptable standard.
• Less than 40% Very Poor
Urgent action is required to improve tuna procurement.
Criteria for the canned tuna ranking:
• If the tuna comes from overfished stocks;
• If the tuna comes from illegal vessels or companies;
• If the tuna can is labelled correctly; and
• If the tuna was fished using methods that result in high levels of bycatch.
Brands were also ranked on their:
• Commitment to not source tuna from proposed marine reserves.
• Commitment to equitable sourcing policy for tuna.
I will now shamelessly quote an article on the guide, since I wrote it and all. Here we go:
Since the beginning of Greenpeace’s first tuna ranking four months ago, Australian tuna brands have started to make ecologically sound progress. For the first time, Australians can now purchase a sustainable canned tuna brand: Fish 4 Ever, which ranked highest on the tuna guide at 86 per cent.
Fish 4 Ever uses pole and line fishing to source its entire range of tuna. It still sells overfished yellowfin tuna for 25 per cent of its range, but has vowed to move to 100 per cent skipjack tuna, the sustainable alternative.
Aldi, with a 57 per cent ranking, is the first supermarket to tout a sustainable seafood policy available online and to show support for marine reserves by not sourcing its fish from proposed Pacific high seas marine reserves. It has also publicly committed to halting the use of destructive Fish Aggregation Devices (FADs) fishing in its tuna range, which produces the bycatch of turtles, sharks and juveline tuna.
Independent retail supermarket group IGA got a 47 per cent ranking for also having introduced a sustainable seafood policy for its suppliers, while still catching its home brand Black and Gold tuna ranges with huge nets and FADs. The tuna used, however, is sustainable skipjack.
IGA has begun labelling its tuna cans to inform consumers which tuna species it sells and where it was fished.
“Before the guide came out, most people didn’t know where their tuna came from, or that turtles, sharks and juvenile tuna get killed in tuna nets,” said Greenpeace oceans campaigner Genevieve Quirk. “Since then, thousands of people have written outraged emails demanding that the tuna companies behind these brands clean up their act, and they’ve listened.”
IGA supermarkets and independent stores have also started stocking Fish 4 Ever.
“We became aware of the issues surrounding overfishing five years ago and wanted to offer Australians a sustainable option,” said Sandy Abram, Co-Founder of First Ray and distributor of Fish 4 Ever.
Last week I wrote about the efforts of certain companies to deceive consumers into thinking they are purchasing sustainably caught fish.
If you remember, I discussed the problematic Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), which offers eco-certification to fisheries across the globe and has never refused the certification to any fishery that has completed the certification process. Ahem.
Well, it turns out that the independent adjudicator has ruled in favor of MSC last Monday, which means that the endangered Fraser sockeye salmon stocks have been ruled sustainable. Environmentalists are wailing and independent salmon trollers railing.
The certifier will now submit the Final Certification Report to MSC, recommending that the Fraser River sockeye salmon fishery be certified as sustainable. The certifier may issue a certificate and MSC would announce certification after a final internal MSC review of the documents takes place.
So what’s the problem?
“This certification could actually result in well-intentioned consumers buying an endangered Fraser River sockeye with an eco-label on it,” explained Jeffrey Young, aquatic biologist with the David Suzuki Foundation, one of the groups who filed a notice of objection to the MSC’s intent to provide eco-certification to the stock.
I would like to reiterate that some Fraser River sockeye stocks harvested in the fishery that is getting certified by MSC are already classified as “endangered” by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada, and “critically endangered” by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, whose scientists consider overfishing a key threat to the stocks’ health.
Further, the Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) recently set up a commission to study the decline of the Fraser River salmon stock.
This is definitely bad timing for an eco-certification, don’t you think?
Next time you’re shopping for seafood, remember that MSC-certified seafood is probably not actually sustainably fished, and steer clear of Fraser River sockeye salmon.
These days, many seafood species are in decline and numerous stocks have already been depleted by overfishing. Various types of tuna and the Fraser sockeye salmon stocks in British Columbia, Canada, are all species under severe threat.
Part of the problem is fraud – and when eco-certifications are awarded without due consideration, without being truly warranted, everyone suffers (that is, the fish and those of us who care for the planet).
The London-based Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) offers eco-certification to fisheries across the globe. It has never refused the certification to any fishery that has completed the certification process. Fishy, isn’t it? And we’re not the only ones who think so. But I’ll talk more about the MSC when I discuss the sockeye salmon stocks below.
I’ve already blogged about the plight of tuna – bigeye, bluefin, and others – and the efforts of environmental groups like Greenpeace as well as those of entire countries who have called for an international ban on the tuna trade, focusing on bluefin tuna in particular. This call, by the way, has been futile. Some blame Japan and say officials from that country threatened representatives of poor African and Asia-Pacific nations at the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) meeting in Qatar last March, which was a complete failure. Whatever the case, tuna thus remains without official protection.
Fraser sockeye salmon
This time I want to discuss the plight of the Fraser sockeye salmon stocks in British Columbia on Canada’s Pacific coast.
The MSC has just has just certified three Canadian salmon fisheries as sustainable. As consumer awareness about seafood sustainability is growing worldwide, lots of companies are coveting and applying for the MSC label, which makes their seafood gain popularity in the market. You, Save Eco Destinations reader, may be one of the people who makes efforts to purchase environmentally grown or harvested foods. And you should be aware that the MSC is trying to fool you.
Sockeye salmon fished from the Skeena and Nass Rivers and from Barkley sound on Canada’s Pacific coast will now be sold with MSC’s coveted eco-label worldwide. But Dr Craig Orr, executive director of the Watershed Watch Salmon Society, believes this is, to put it bluntly, crap. He thus vowed that his organization will be supervising the fisheries to make sure MSC standards are being followed.
“The MSC has just granted eco-certification to three fisheries that routinely overharvest threatened and endangered salmon stocks,” said Orr. “As disturbing as this is, the MSC has placed several conditions for improvement on these fisheries, and we will be watching closely to see if these conditions are enforced.”
Earlier this year, his organization plus two other conservation groups from BC – the David Suzuki Foundation and SkeenaWild Conservation Trust — filed a notice of objection to the MSC’s intent to give the Fraser River sockeye salmon fishery eco-certification.
The certification was thus put temporarily on hold pending the verdict of an independent adjudicator, whose decision is expected by Saturday, July 10.
“We objected to the Fraser River certification because we believe it does not meet the MSC’s own minimum standards for certification, and that the management of the fishery is so dysfunctional that the conditions of certification are very unlikely to be met within reasonable timelines,” explained Greg Knox, executive director of SkeenaWild conservation trust. “Overfishing is a serious concern in the Skeena, Nass, and Barkley Sound fisheries, but the situation is not as dire there as it is on the Fraser,” he noted.
Under the MSC’s third-party certification process, firms hired by fishing industry “clients” decide if a fishery meets the MSC’s criteria for eco-certification. Again, I would like to note that no fishery has ever been refused certification after having finished the MSC assessment process and no objection to a certification has ever been upheld.
The three Canadian sockeye salmon fisheries were assessed by the independent organization Moody Marine Ltd, reported CBC News.
Some Fraser River sockeye stocks harvested in the fishery that is about to be MSC certified are classified as “endangered” by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada, and “critically endangered” by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, whose scientists consider overfishing a key threat.
A commission of inquiry by the Canadian Government recently targeted the Fraser fishery because of a major collapse of the fishery and prevalent concerns over mismanagement.
“Eco-certification can provide a powerful incentive for improvement in the way we manage our fisheries,” declared Aaron Hill of Ecologist Watershed Watch, “but it becomes meaningless when you set the bar too low, and certify unsustainable and mismanaged fisheries. It becomes fraud.”
The assessment for Fraser River began in 2009, when only 1.4 million sockeye salmon returned despite the Department of Fisheries and Oceans’ (DFO) forecast of up to 10.6 million, reported Vancouver Sun.
“It was a catastrophe,” said Sto: lo First Nation fisheries adviser Ernie Crey. “No one knows what happened to those ‘missing’ fish.”
Why the MSC’s certification means nothing
The MSC eco-label isn’t even good enough to meet the sustainability policies of some supermarket chains. Really. Retailer Waitrose refuses to carry MSC-certified hoki from New Zealand.
“The fact that the sustainability policy of one of the UK’s largest food retailers could not be met by fish carrying the Marine Stewardship Council’s (MSC) eco-label proves the council’s ineffectuality,” Greenpeace said last year.
Supermarket chains in the U.S. and Europe have refused to carry New Zealand’s orange roughy, a species that is MSC-certified even though it is endangered. This fish is harvested by bottom trawling, which is bad news for seabed communities and is one of the most environmentally destructive fishing methods in existence.
“This shows that even MSC certification is no guarantee of sustainability,” said Greenpeace New Zealand’s oceans campaigner Karli Thomas.
Greenpeace also believes Friend of the Sea (FOS), another eco-certification scheme, is unreliable. FOS even offers eco-certification for farmed fish. Imagine that! I won’t even get into how wrong that is (in this post).
Greenpeace believes that no certification system for sustainable seafood currently exists that is 100% reliable.
Further, Professor Daniel Pauly at the Fisheries Centre of the University of British Columbia and the principal investigator of its Sea Around Us Project accused the MSC last year of acquiescing to pressure from the Walton Family Foundation and Wal-Mart and being complicit to a scam.
“At first, the MSC certified only small-scale fisheries, but lately, it has given its seal of approval to large, controversial companies. Indeed, it has begun to measure its success by the percentage of the world catch that it certifies. Encouraged by a Walton Foundation grant and Wal-Mart’s goal of selling only certified fish, the MSC is actually considering certifying reduction fisheries, with the consequence that Wal-Mart, for example, will be able to sell farmed salmon shining with the ersatz glow of sustainability. (Given the devastating pollution, diseases, and parasite infestations that have plagued salmon farms in Chile, Canada, and other countries, this ‘Wal-Mart strategy’ will, in the long term, make the MSC complicit to a giant scam),” he wrote.
FYI, here are other fisheries hit by the MSC
“The Atlanto Scandian herring fishery is PFA’s third fishery to achieve MSC certification: its North Sea herring and its North East Atlantic mackerel fisheries were certified in 2006 and in 2009.” – FIS reported on July 8.
Others include Alaska flatfish, Eastern Canada swordfish, Norwegian cod and haddock, North Pacific albacore tuna, and the Aker BioMarine krill (Euphausia superba) fishery has been in the Antarctic waters of the Southern Ocean.
So what can you do?
Here are some neat recommendations (except for the MSC one).
Keep up the fight!
The United Nations (UN) is celebrating World Ocean Day on Tuesday, June 8th with the theme ‘Our oceans: opportunities and challenges.’
The celebration was instituted just last year and since then has been commemorated annually by conservation groups, schools, businesses and governments everywhere.
Reasons to celebrate World Ocean Day
Given the recent and very-much-ongoing BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, it’s an especially wonderful time to raise awareness about the oceans’ plights and learn how we can “make a difference” (or a phrase that doesn’t make you gag).
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moo said the ocean’s main three challenges right now are overfishing, climate change and pollution.
World Ocean Day allows us to:
- Change perspective: encourage others to consider what the ocean represents to them and our planet, which hopefully will get more people interested in respecting and working to preserve it for generations to come.
- Learn: read about and watch documentaries on marine life and the richness of life in our oceans, visit the beach, etc., – whatever you feel will allow you to bond with our planet’s natural bodies of water.
- Make adjustments: educate yourself about endangered marine species (e.g., bluefin and other types of tuna, swordfish, skates and rays, marlin, Atlantic cod and orange roughy) so you can cross that seafood off your shopping list – and remember to tell others why you’re switching! (Check out Greenpeace’s Seafood Red List here.) You can also read up on which supermarkets shun unsustainable seafood (so you can shop there), biodegradable pesticides and fertilizers for your backyard, wear biodegradable sunscreen, etc.
- Celebrate: take part in the day’s festivities! For instance, write a letter to BP about the catastrophe it’s caused in the Gulf of Mexico and take part in demonstrations and sign petitions against oil drilling.
The UN resolution
The UN resolution calls on user States and States bordering straits utilized for international navigation to keep working together to resolve issues regarding navigation safety, e.g., aids to navigation safety and the prevention, reduction and control of pollution generated by ships and other vessels.
Countries are being urged to consider becoming members of the International Hydrographic Organization, and to cooperate with that organization to boost the coverage of hydrographic information across the planet.
These orders are meant to strengthen technical assistance and promote navigation safety, particularly in areas of international navigation, ports and vulnerable or protected marine zones.
“The oceans play a fundamental role in our daily lives. They are an integral part of sustainable development and an important frontier for research. As scientists explore the oceans to increasing depths, they continue to discover new forms of marine life,” said Ki-moo.
“These investigations have great potential with regards to the improvement of human welfare. But if we are to benefit fully from what the oceans have to offer, we must address the harmful effects of human activities. The diversity of life in the oceans is under increasing pressure,” he added.
Ki-moo said marine ecosystems are being threatened by three major phenomena:
- The overexploitation of living marine resources;
- Climate change;
- Pollution from activities involving materials and hazards.
“The same applies to the increase in criminal activities, including piracy, which have serious implications for safety of navigation and the protection of seafarers,” he noted.
In keeping with my last post on illegal trading, I will continue discussing the conditions of some species on the verge of extinction. It helps to be aware of these so that you can report any suspicious activity to the proper authorities when you are in areas notorious for the illegal sale of animal parts – such as China, India, Thailand, Vietnam, Myanmar, Nepal, and various African regions. In my last post we looked at tigers, rhinos, and elephants.
I will now continue by discussing the depleted stocks of certain tuna species and Atlantic bluefin in particular. While this animal can still be legally traded, this will hopefully soon change.
Meanwhile, we can be aware of the types of tuna we consume and choose to purchase. Much tuna continues to be illegally caught and traded all over the globe and particularly in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.
The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) met in Doha, Qatar recently and discussed the state of numerous animal species across the globe. Very unfortunately, it actually decided to reject the proposal to ban the international tuna trade.
Last week, the European Commission (EC) warned,
“The failure of the United Nations (UN) wildlife trade body CITES to protect Atlantic bluefin tuna, a sushi mainstay, puts the species at risk.”
The situation is so dire for tuna and its management so pathetic, that Sue Lieberman, policy director for the Pew Environment Group in Washington, said
“The problem today is not there is serious mismanagement of trade in sharks, as for tuna, but that there is no management at all.”
I’ve discussed the perilous situation of certain tunas before. Many countries are still hoping for an international trade ban on Atlantic bluefin tuna, which is in great danger of extinction yet continues to be fished relentlessly by countries such as Japan, which prizes bluefin tuna as a traditional dish in the form of sashimi. It is a very valuable and revered tradition in that region to eat this animal, which complicates its stance on the issue (still, many tuna dealers support the ban, as they realize that without it Atlantic bluefin tuna will soon be simply gone forever).
“If action is not taken, there is a very serious danger that the bluefin will no longer exist”- said the EU’s Environmental Commissioner Janez Potoznik in a statement.
Please boycott certain species of tuna
Please boycott Atlantic bluefin tuna anywhere you see it for sale and consider educating sellers and buyers about the plight of this fragile species.
Other tuna species in a precarious position are Indian Ocean yellowfin tuna, Pacific Ocean (eastern & western) bigeye tuna, and North Atlantic albacore tuna – which are all overfished, according to the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (a global, non-profit partnership between the tuna industry, scientists, and the World Wide Fund for Nature).
This year, Greenpeace International added the albacore, bigeye tuna, blackfin tuna, pacific bluefin tuna, northern bluefin tuna, southern bluefin tuna and the yellowfin tuna to its seafood red list (Wikipedia).