W2O Blog

Posted on 07/10//13

W2O intern Phoebe Racine is a member of the Class of 2014 at Dartmouth College. She studies Environmental Studies and Anthropology. This summer she is conducting a research project on Recirculating Aquaculture Systems, and is interning at the Healthy and Sustainable Food Program at the Harvard Center for Health and the Global Environment, and Women Working for Oceans.

Phoebe Racine


I’m Phoebe Racine, a rising senior at Dartmouth College and I’ve chosen to spend my summer doing research and then some more research. With two Dartmouth advisors, the lovely Anne Kapuscinski and Kim Locke, I have been reading deeply into the literature of food energy, but more specifically the energy that goes into and out of fish farming-aquaculture. At the Center for Healthy and Sustainable Food at Harvard, I’ve been working for Barton Seaver, where I’ve also been researching food energy and additionally nutrition. Finally, with Women Working for Oceans I’ve been able to see more of the action! I’ve attended state meetings in support of the State Bill to ban plastic grocery bags and have begun to write articles for blogs. Kapuscinski and Locke work extensively on Integrated Food Energy Systems, Seaver is a renowned seafood chef turned restorative seafood extraordinaire and W2O is a Boston-based nonprofit that works towards bettering our ocean through education and advocacy. You could say I’m lucky to have such (cough cough intimidating) cool bosses!

        But here is something I’ve learned through many hours of internet searches, countless articles and papers read, and multiple phone calls and meetings-putting fish on the table is confusing! What’s healthy? What’s sustainable? If I want to eat fish, which fish should I choose? These are just few of the questions I still think about and fuss over. However, today I have more answers than I had yesterday and I want to share with you some of my takeaways. Hopefully, you’ll find these both interesting and surprising!

1. 36% of all fish caught end up feeding pigs, chicken and farmed fish.

  • What this means: Livestock need certain levels of protein in their diet and for a long time these “trash fish” have been the cheapest way to get that protein.

  • What you can do: avoid eating carnivorous or omnivorous farmed species like shrimp, and in the case of land animals, do your best to eat grass fed or cage free.

2. More than “75% of global fisheries are traded while only 7% of meat, 17% of wheat, and 5% of rice is traded.” (Costa-Pierce et.al. 2011)

  • What this means: The fish you’re eating likely has hefty food miles attached to it! Ouch. However, there is hope, see number 4.

3. “At present, approximately 40% of all consumed fish and shellfish are farmed, and a 70% increase in aquaculture production by the year 2030 is predicted (FAO 2004).”

  • What this means: Aquaculture is fast growing field, which, overall is a wonderful thing! However, many of our farmed seafood products come from developing countries with looser regulations. Farmed seafood in developing countries have a whole host of pros and cons that deserve a book rather than a blurb on a blog post.

  • What you can do: Look at where your farmed fish is coming from. If it doesn’t give you a real location, than I say don’t buy it.

4. The LARGEST Recirculating Aquaculture farm is located in the U.S.! It’s called Blue Ridge Aquaculture and is located in Virginia.

  • What this means: Recirculating aquaculture is a type of fish farming that recycles more than 95% of its water. It therefore significantly limits pollution into the surrounding environment, recaptures nutrients, and halts the spread of disease and invasive species.

  • What you can do: There is an awesome, healthy, relatively sustainable source of fish that could be only minutes away from you! Buy American farmed fish if you can, you’d be supporting a growing field that’s rapidly improving its science.

5. Did I just say healthy? Why yes. “Fish are the most valuable foods for human nutrition, disease prevention, and brain development of any foods since they have the highest nutrient density (highest protein and oil contents in their flesh) of all food animals (Smil, 2002). ”

  • What this means: Fish are awesome sources of protein and nutrients!

  • What you can do: Don’t be afraid to eat fish. It’s widely agreed upon the the health benefits of eating fish at any stage in your life far outweigh the costs.

6. But isn’t seafood expensive? Not always! Canned seafood is actually a great and (often) cheaper alternative.

  • What you can do: When buying canned seafood make sure to go for a BPA free can with a brine or water base rather than oil. Since oil is not soluble in water omega-3s are maintained at the same levels as you would find in regular fillets.


Fish, let alone food, can be a confusing topic. I hope I’ve provided you either some clarity or some information (also some links below) that is easy to keep with you.

All my best, Phoebe Racine

Fish or Foe?

Fishing for fast, easy nutrition? Consider Canned!

Blue Ridge Aquaculture

W2O’s ocean friendly restaurant list

Posted on 06/16//13

 

How does the Ocean make you feel?

How does the Ocean make you feel?

We asked attendees at the New England Aquarium’s World Ocean Day event a simple question; “How does the Ocean Make YOU Feel?  Our table attracted children of all ages and backgrounds.  The response was not surprising-but the depth of passion for writing and illustrating the answer was just inspiring.

 

Posted on 06/08//13

How does the Ocean make you feel?

How does the Ocean make you feel?

Join W2O us tomorrow 11-4, for a celebration of World Ocean Day on Central Wharf right near (and sponsored by) the New England Aquarium.  Family activities including a scavenger hunt, cooking demos, and live blue fun for the whole family. Tell us how the Ocean makes you feel.  More information HERE.

 

Posted on 06/05//13

BlueMind3 in Block Island, RI (photo: David Pu'u)

BlueMind3 in Block Island, RI (photo: David Pu’u)

Last week, W2O members visited Block Island, RI for the BlueMind 3 conference hosted by Ocean activist and scientist, Wallace J. Nichols. The conference included a variety of interesting ocean passionate folks including artists, educators, ocean advocates, and neuroscientists.  Yes, neuroscientists!  And they were the stars of the show, explaining to us that the ocean effects the brain in specific calming ways and reminding us that the message of hope for saving our oceans comes from communicating that beautiful feeling that comes over us when we are near or in its precious, powerful, magical presence.

Some memorable quotes from speakers at the conference:

“We speak of saving the ocean and the earth. In reality, it is the other way around. The ocean and earth save us!  Engaging hearts and hands accesses the mind. The extent of labor leads to the love and success of a project”  Ocean Matter’s Laura Parker Roerden

“I am in awe of the tenderness at this conference.”  Artist Ran Ortner

“The rythm of the ocean is ominous, heavy yet delicate and transparent.”  Artist Ran Ortner

“Beauty is the great connector. We don’t need to impact everyone, we only need to impact the right person and sometimes that is the person right in front of you” Photographer David Pu’u

“We need to remember the architecture of what we are doing.”  Photographer David Pu’u

“The word “sustainability” means only what we can sustain and the status quo.  We need to search for abundance and restore the resources because if we are the problem, we are also the solution.”  Conservationist and Chef, Bart Seaver

“We don’t (do conservation and awareness) to speak louder, we do it because it might make a difference.”    RI Poet Lisa Starr talking about conservation and caring for the ocean

“Choosing Block Island is giving us a bird’s perspective. On and island, we can come together and take in Island wisdom.”  Wallace J. Nichols introducing Block Island resident Lisa Starr

“Truly stating facts does not result in people making change.”  Dr. Helen Riess

“You won’t surf like me, you will surf like yourself.”  Van Curaza-Operation Surf and Van Curaza Surf School

“Why do we call this Planet Earth? It should be called Planet Ocean!”  Cartoonist Jim Toomey

 

 

Posted on 05/22//13

Plastic

Plastic

Apple would like us to think that its plastic white bag is a reusable bag. We might use it to take out the trash, but we certainly aren’t carrying it to the grocery store or using it as our “go to” environmentally friendly cool bag…It is Plastic. W2O believes that it is like any other single use bag-a pollutant that clogs our waterways, threatens marine animals and ultimately is a health risk to us.  Isn’t it time for Apple, an innovator on many levels, to make a great branding bag made out of a material other than plastic? Tell us what your think. Vote on our Facebook page.    Steve Jobs named Apple after his apple orchard and said in his commencement speech to Stanford University in 2005 that  “Whole Earth Catalog was the Bible of his generation.” I am sorry he is gone. I would have liked to have had this discussion with him..As our friends at Plastic Pollution Coalition  tell us:  Plastic Pollution is a health risk. Plastic is Forever.

Read more about the M.A. Bag Bill

 

Posted on 05/12//13

Linda sailing in Maine

Linda sailing in Maine

W2O Board Member, Linda Cabot remembers her “Ah Ha!” moment when she realized that there were other women out there that were as passionate about the subject of protecting our blue planet as she is. “I remember thinking, Oh My God, there are other women who care and have come together to find a solution!”  She joined W2O because of similar mission and goals that she had set out to accomplish when establishing ” From the Bow Seat”, originally a film to help her daughters understand the environmental issue of the Gulf of Maine, but now a educational tool to inspire high school students with an Ocean Awareness Essay and Art Contest and scholarship award. In the film, Linda and her daughters interviewed biologists, fisherman, lobstermen and conservationists. “Persistence and optimism are good qualities,” says Dr. Steve Kress, an ornithologist from the film reintroducing the Puffin to Eastern Egg Rock Maine. “No species should be lost. People can restore species and this is what restoration is about. If you go into this (conservation), you have to stay in for the long run. It sometimes takes decades to see results but then the rewards are all around us.”

Linda, an artist, writer, filmmaker, mother and ocean advocate (and Overseer at the New England Aquarium) is inspired by the power of the women of W2O and happy to have collided with the group’s “positive energy”. She sits on W2O’s Membership Committee and lends her artistic flair for outreach to our W2O community.

Linda Cabot's "North Haven"

Linda Cabot’s “North Haven”

 

 

Posted on 05/08//13

Leave Only Footprints” transported us to a faraway, magical place where we were immersed in the beauty of an exotic under water world.

Speaking to a sold out audience, photographer Keith Ellenbogen, Randi Rotjan, Ph.D. (New England Aquarium’s Associate Research Scientist), and Heather Tausig ( VP of Conservation, New England Aquarium) provided an inspirational narrative about the Phoenix Islands Protected Area (PIPA).

These incredible story-tellers took us on an educational journey to the remote island nation of Kiribati and introduced us to the untouched and bountiful marine life of The Phoenix Islands. PIPA is one of the largest and most ambitious marine protected areas ever created by a developing country. It is also one of the largest marine protected areas (MPA) in the Pacific Ocean.

Bud Ris with Dr. Teura Toatu, Executive Dir. of The PIPA Trust

Bud Ris with Dr. Teura Toatu, Executive Dir. of The PIPA Trust

 

Thank you to all of you who took action and added ocean preservation to your philanthropic dance card!
More than $12,000 was raised!
Your support of the Phoenix Islands Protected Area
(PIPA) Trust is so very much appreciated!
Here is a wonderful photo of Bud Ris, President and Chief Executive Officer, New England Aquarium and Dr. Teuea Toatu (PIPA Trust Executive Director) acknowledging the gift W2o made possible.

Together we are making a difference!

Posted on 05/01//13

Meg Steiner

 

Meg Steiner feels strongly about the interconnectedness of all but loves to work on a local level. For years she has volunteered in land conservation in Weston as well as on the State level with The Trustees of Reservations. It was a natural progression to incorporate the ocean into her volunteer work. She feels that being a part of W2O is a perfect way to educate and inspire people. “Everything we do to help care for our planet has magic in it.”

Her work as a Board Member for the Weston Forest and Land Protection and her passion for Women Working for Oceans are only the bookends to Meg’s other interests. This May, she will graduate, after three years of intensive study, from the Rhys Thomas Institute of Energy Medicine Program as a registered healer. “You learn and care and if you are fortunate, you need to give back.”  Meg is giving her time and energy to W2O in a big way. Her expertise comes from years in the high tech industry and sales. She brings energy to our organization by tackling tasks that insure connections with community and businesses.

Meg grew up in the Boston suburbs near where she still lives and volunteered as a young girl at Drumlin Farm and The New England Aquarium. She attended Colby Sawyer College and also has a B.A. in Psychology, graduating as a Davis Scholar, from Wellesley College.

“I start the day out grateful. I can fall in love with the day on the way to the compost bin.”

 

 

 

 

Posted on 04/29//13

 

The Right Whale

The Right Whale

I love that members and friends are sharing the wonders of the ocean.  Just seems like I have had a day of whale information sent to me.

From our friend and Board Member, Linda Cabot, information from her fab newsletter “From the Bow Seat” highlights the work of 16 year old Noelle Anderson. Check out her fourteen minute film about the Right Whale: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=m6ppjveVxE0.

National Public Radio’s weekly “Living on Earth” series features whales of the New England coast and examines their hunting techniques:http://www.loe.org/shows/segments.html?programID=13-P13-00017&segmentID=7

 

 

Posted on 04/23//13

Legislature Marks Earth Day by Advancing Ban on Plastic Bags
BOSTON – On Monday, April 22, the Legislature’s Environment and Natural Resources Committee, held a special hearing on proposals to ban plastic carryout bags. They immediately voted to advance the bill, taking this critical first step. The bill will now move forward and could face a final vote within the next few weeks.
Plastic bags have been singled out as a one of the most visible and dangerous types of litter. The bags take up to 1000 years to degrade, and when they do, they break up into smaller and smaller bits, never going away. They are deadly to wildlife, which mistake them for food or become entangled in them. Turtles, whales, seals, birds, and fish are the most susceptible to ingesting them, suffering a painful death as the plastic wraps around their intestines or they choke to death. Some animal species, already threatened due to issues such as overfishing or habitat loss, could face extinction.
Plastic bags also don’t biodegrade; they simply break into ever smaller plastic bits, never disappearing from our environment. These small bits, known as micro-plastics, attract toxins and carcinogens, which eventually enter the food chain, and displace food supplies in the world’s oceans.
“Like urban tumbleweeds, plastic bags end up airborne in trees, clogging storm drains and polluting our oceans. Every time we utilize a plastic bag we are contributing to leaving our planet worse for the generations that will follow us,” said State Representative Lori A. Ehrlich, (D-Marblehead), the lead sponsor of H696 “This legislation will put Massachusetts on the map as a beacon for responsible consumer behavior and environmental stewardship.”
“Over 380 billion plastic bags are used every year by Americans, and only about 5 percent are recycled. The widespread use of plastic bags has serious consequences for the environment: littering our coastlines, using up the equivalent of billions of gallons of petroleum and killing millions of animals every year. It’s time to ban this dangerous product and encourage the use of more sustainable alternatives,” said State Senator Jamie Eldridge (D-Acton).
“This is a major step in the right direction for Massachusetts. With this ban, we would become one of the leaders among governments acting to protect the world we live in. We don’t have to accept plastic bags choking our oceans, rivers, birds, and animals. We can start being part of the solution,” stated Representative Denise Provost (D-Somerville).
Reps. Ehrlich, Provost, and Sen. Jamie Eldridge each sponsored similar bills to ban plastic bags.
Numerous cities and countries around the world have enacted plastic bag bans. In fact, Nantucket, Massachussetts was one of the first in the world, enacted over 20 years ago. In the last year, Brookline and Manchester-by-the-Sea joined with their own plastic bag bans. Every county in Hawaii has passed a ban, but passage of this bill would make Massachusetts the first state to pass a statewide ban.
This bill would ban single use plastic bags from chains and large stores and would require paper bags to be comprised of recycled material. Many grocery stores have already implemented these policies, so this would not have a significant impact.
The Massachusetts Sierra Club and other public interest organizations have been attempting to pass statewide legislation to ban plastic bags. “Public support for banning bags is overwhelming,” said Phil Sego of the Sierra Club. “Readily available sustainable substitutes make banning plastic bags a common-sense policy to protect the environment.”
“Nothing we use for five minutes should harm our oceans for generations to come,” said John Rumpler, senior attorney for Environment Massachusetts.  “It’s time to say goodbye to the plastic bag.”
Also testifying in favor of a ban were Women Working for Oceans (W2O), Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, and Brookline Town Meeting Member Clint Richmond.
Article submitted for publication to the Boston Globe by The Sierra Club