Open Ocean Trading Company's Focus Fish Initiative

Open Ocean Trading Company’s Focus Fish Initiative

W2O wants to support the replenishing of our New England endangered fish population and wants, at the same time, to support our local fishing communities.  Sometimes we feel like the two ideas don’t always easily go hand in hand, especially with the recent quota cuts for fisherman in the Northeast. Some quotas will force fisherman into selling their boats and permits because they just can’t make a decent living with the current restrictions.  Hearing about a new initiative by Open Ocean Trading gives hope that the future of the small boat fisherman will be brighter.  This new Northeast company, Open Ocean Trading (OOT), is working hard to help small boat fisheries keep fishing.

Friend of W2O, Nancy Barrett, Open Ocean Trading’s Director of Business Development describes the Initiative for “Focus Fish:”

Now is the most critical time to keep these small boat fishermen in business. We must work together to preserve the proud and well-known fishing culture that has been woven into Boston and New England history.

Open Ocean Trading believes the solution lies in the supply chain. Everything starts with the fishermen.  They are the foundation of this fragile industry and if they go, the entire system (processors, wholesalers, dealers) will be pulled down with them.  The fish you and I eat will no longer come from our shores but will be imported from overseas via large vessels where fishery management is sometimes absent. If this happens, our seafood might be less traceable, questions will linger about whether it is responsibly harvested, and it might not be a healthy choice for the consumer. We all like to know where our fish is coming from and local seems like the best choice.

Right now, OOT is helping local fishermen survive by creating a new market for previously marginalized species inside the dining halls of universities and colleges in the Northeast.  These fish, now proudly called “Focus Fish,” are the species we need to focus on now-they are the most sustainable choices both for the environment and for our New England local fishing industry.

The beauty of Focus Fish is that it is varies regionally and seasonally. What is responsible to fish for, here, in New England, is different than what people should concentrate their purchasing power on in the mid-Atlantic or on the west coast.  For example, dogfish on the west coast is considered a “red light” species, but here in New England the stocks are rebuilt, and according to recent data, have become an additional stressor to the Atlantic Cod stocks because their bellies are full of juvenile Cod fish!

By creating a market for Focus Fish in colleges and universities, everyone wins – fishermen survive quota cuts and continue fishing, the supply chain avoids collapse, and college students are introduced to new delicious, nutritious, and local species.

OOT recently held a taste test of four New England Focus Fish; Redfish, Dogfish, Pollock, and Hake, at a local campus dining hall. The students surveyed showed that:

  • 88% of the students said they care about where their fish was caught and who caught it
  • 91% felt that having a role in sustaining local community fisheries was somewhat to very important
  • 94% thought the fish they tried was as just as good, better, or much better than fish they were familiar with eating

Wellesley College, located in Massachusetts, was the first school to team up with OOT to bring Focus Fish to their campus. They believed OOT’s forward thinking approach to the fishing industry reflected their own value of innovation and sustainability.

If you are alumni of a school that shares values about sustainability or have a connection to a school that you care about, recommend that they source Focus Fish through Open Ocean Trading and help sustain the fishermen in your area. Schools can use the supply chain that they already have in place, but now they will know exactly where the fish is coming from.  Using OTT makes a real, measurable impact on the industry while supporting local, traceable, nutritious, and delicious seafood.

For more info on Open Ocean Trading: www.openoceantrading.com  and a great video of how a local fisherman uses Open Ocean Trading to maintain a healthy, profitable product: http://www.openoceantrading.com/videos.html 

 

 

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”

 

 

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!

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.”

 

 

 

 

Emmie Atwood and Yuta Inumaru

Emmie Atwood and Yuta Inumaru

W2O Board member Lynne Taylor recently met with a group of inspiring teens working to improve awareness of reducing waste and plastics on the Milton Academy campus.

When the younger generation get involved things really begin to happen. Take the group of students who make up the Sustainability Club at Milton Academy, a K-12 day/ boarding school located in Milton Mass. These students, led by co-chairs, Emmie Atwood and Yuta Inumaru have made big things happen on campus. Atwood will tell you that most of their work is done behind the scenes but the results have been commendable. The club is fully charged to get their initiatives done.  Currently they are working with administration and Facilities Department to get the school on a compost system that will reduce waste and help the environment.  Atwood explains, “Although the school has been receptive, it still takes a lot of hard work and perseverance. Our team had to work out logistical details and financials before moving ahead with our proposal to the CFO of Milton Academy.”

Last spring the club not only managed to convince the administration to purchase more efficient toilet flushers in the dorms on campus, they also arranged dorm competitions to get students to reduce electricity consumption. “Once we present our strategies for sustainability, we get impressive support from the student body. But it still takes a strong voice and clear vision to get the work done,” comments   Atwood.

A recent highlight for Atwood and Inumaru’s team occurred just recently when the group convinced the school to reduce plastic consumption on campus.  Over 600 non-plastic water bottles were ordered to distribute to students-free of charge, an investment that most schools can’t make but one that shows a big return for our environment. The idea behind the big purchase is to set an example and have students, faculty and administrators use their personal water bottles instead of buying plastic water bottles. The change inspires conversation at the school and in and around the community. The school has already installed a water station so students can fill up without buying bottles from a machine.

W2O challenges and encourages Atwood and Inumaru to write to legislators about the in Bill to reduce plastic currently in committee at the State House. If anyone can start a student writing campaign, they can! (You do not have to be 18 or a registered voter to write.) These fabulous, motivated students are our next generations of stewards of our planet.

Looking to the future, The Sustainability Club has a long list of ideas to get and keep the Milton Academy community more involved in pertinent sustainability initiatives. “With help from a very motivated group of people, we know the work will get done”, explains Inumaru. “It is crucial for our Milton community and for our planet at large.”


 

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

 

 

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

If you are of certain age, you remember Richie Havens and his soulful voice as a Woodstock icon and alumni but some of his most important work was his overall contribution to children’s love of the natural world through his interests in ecology and the ocean. I met Mr Havens through work in the late 1980s when he visited my then office in NYC. Tall and unassuming in a long coat, he took up a lot of space and quite frankly, I was star struck and a bit shy of him. He asked me what I liked to do outside of work, putting me at ease.  I had just finished a long sailing trip (and missed a day of work, much to the chagrin of my boss,) so we fell into a conversation about the power the ocean and how it can effect your mood and influence your work. He said that the spiritual feeling that he felt around the ocean inspired his music and writing.

I didn’t know until today that he had founded the North-wind Undersea Institute and had also created the Natural Guard, an environmental organization to educate children about our natural world. Today I am mourning a musical steward of the ocean. RIP Richie HavensRichie Havens images

Meg Steiner, Barbara Burgess, Mary Alice Karol and Ellen Curren at the State House

Meg Steiner, Barbara Burgess, Mary Alice Karol and Ellen Curren at the State House

W2O Co Founder, Barbara Burgess and three other W2O Board members headed to the Boston State House today to testify to our State Legislature’s Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture in support of the Plastic Bag Reduction Bill #696.  What better to way to honor Earth Day than to stand up for what we believe in to protect our oceans by stating our views on the pollution and harmful effects to human health by those aerodynamic plastic bags choking our waterways, strangling our marine life and ending up in all of us. W2O joined The Sierra Club, Environmental America and other groups in support of the bill put forth by Democrat Massachusetts Representative of the 8th Essex District, Lori Ehrlich.

Some reminders of the issues at hand and a link to how you can help!

  • PLASTIC IS FOREVER (still ringing in my ears from our “Plastics in the Oceans, Plastics in You event and eloquently put by Dianna Cohen from Plastic Pollution Coalition-plastic breaks down into tiny bits that are ingested by our fish and wildlife and then in turn is ingested by us and IT NEVER GOES AWAY
  • Plastic clogs our waterways, costs municipalities in clean up efforts, and end up in our oceans, collecting in huge gyres that can never be cleaned up
  • “Biodegradable” doesn’t exist when speaking of plastic (bags or any kind) and companies that tell you that their bag is going to “break down” are not telling you the science. In order for a bag to decompose, it needs the perfect conditions of sun, heat and lack of moisture.  Most bags are in our trees, landfills and waterways and are not basking in the sun for hundreds of days waiting to break down. Just refuse plastic bags!

Act now! Use this link to the Sierra Clubs easy guide and Write your legislator and Protect What YOU Love!

w2o-post-3

Photo: Brian Skerry

 

A W2O member pointed me towards an interesting conversation yesterday from NPR’s “On Point” with Tom Ashbrook and his guest, W. Jeffrey Bolster, author of a new book “The Mortal Sea: Fishing the Atlantic in the Age of Sail.”   Understanding the economics, politics, and social perceptions currently and in our history helps frame why it is so vital that we protect what we love.  In his book, Mr. Bolster quotes one of our great writers and lovers of the natural world, Rachel Carson. Again, we are reminded that it is easy to see how our land resources and their natural beauty have been effected by our choices, but we struggle to grasp the image of an ocean in trouble.

In 1951, Rachel Carson wrote this in “The Sea Around Us

“He (mankind) cannot control or change the ocean as, in his brief tenancy of the earth, he has subdued and plundered the continents”

Of course we know she was mistaken, but clearly, this smart, educated, well respected woman was caught up in the public perception that the ocean, as Bolster says, was seen as abundant, lush and untouchable for many. This just reconfirms and makes me want to shout out our mission statement for W2O, so I will repeat it here!

W2O

Promoting healthy and sustainable oceans through education that inspires advocacy and action