Massachusetts is a place where we value our ocean frontage, its beauty, magic, and its ability to give us recreation and sustenance. At W2O we are watching carefully as the protection of fish stocks collides with the protection/support of our local fisherman and fish related industries.
Off the coast of New England, our stock of Cod, the fish that Massachusetts calls its own, is “on the verge of extinction” according to scientist. Making real change so that the fish population can recover while supporting the efforts of our local fisherman and fisheries is a topic that our state has struggled with since the beginning of the decline of the once abundant Cod population from decades of over fishing. If confirmed, the new rulings on allowable catch this year will have a huge economic impact on the fishing community. If nothing is done, Atlantic Cod will be the fish that we will regret not saving from extinction.
From the New England Aquarium: “On January 30, the New England Fisheries Management Council met to decide on allowable biological catch (ABC) limits for cod in fishing year (FY) 2013 (which begins on May 1, 2013). This decision had been delayed since last year by the Council’s request for a new Gulf of Maine cod stock assessment to ensure the findings from the 2011 assessment were accurate. The results of the most recent Gulf of Maine and Georges Bank cod assessments show that both stocks have been overfished, with overfishing occurring every year since the beginning of the time series (1982). These results are in accordance with previous results, both the original Gulf of Maine cod stock assessment and the new one came to the same results.”
Here are some links about this topic (in the news today and some archival information) that might help you understand this huge issue.
W2O members crowding in to enjoy NEAq's Chef Bill Bradley's cooking demo
On January 10th, W2O Board member, Pam Holding, graciously opened up her lovely home to a W2O members only night, “Sustance for the “Sole.” NEAq Chef Bill Bradley and NEAq’s V.P. of Conservation and Sustainable Seafood expert (and W2O board member), Heather Tausag, treated W2O members to a free cooking demonstration and discussion about Sustainable Seafood. Beautifully presented delicious fish was served up and Heather and conservation staff member, Elizabeth Fitzsimons, helped W2O members navigate through the myths and facts about what to look for and questions to ask about sustainable seafood when purchasing at a restaurant or for cooking in your home. Bill Bradley spoke about easy plan ahead recipes to prepare for your family or guests (some linked here from the NEAq website).
Fish and Shellfish were generously donated by North End Fish Market.
Don’t miss out! Join Nowand find out why W2O members have so much fun learning about a variety of topics concerning protecting our life sustaining oceans.
NEAq Chef Bill Bradley with Host Pam Holding
The big new today, of course, is not new news at all. We are all feeling the effects of climate change and thankfully it is a “hot” (pun intended) topic in the press. Graphs and headlines that show that 2012 was the hottest ever on record are scary but hopefully will squelch the skepticism that still exists about whether or not our own actions are contributing to last year’s extreme heat and drought. Scientists are convinced that last year’s record temps are caused by “natural variability but “many of them express doubt that such a striking new record would have been set without the backdrop of global warming caused by the human release of greenhouse gases” (NY Times 1/9/13).
Tucked away in the Op-Ed section of the NY Times Thomas Friedman makes the analogy that we need to “tap the breaks” on climate change because we are “driving towards a cliff in a fog.” I won’t get political here but we all know that a cliff is a cliff and we can’t go over it-whether financially or environmentally. Mr. Friedman puts it eloquently: “Indeed we are actually taunting the two most powerful and merciless forces on the planet, the market and Mother Nature, at the same time. We’re essentially saying to both of them: “Hey, what’ve you got, baby? No interest rate rises? A little bitty temperature increase? Thats all you’ve got? I just hope we get our act tougher before the market and Mother Nature each show us what they’ve got.”
Meg Kelly and Dovey
When adventure calls for quick action and you must decide whether or not to take that tempting risk or to walk away, Meg Kelly tells her three daughters “Live to wimp again” a motto that she has carried with her for almost thirty years from her days as a National Outdoor Leadership (NOLS) participant.
W2O Board member Margaret Carter Holliday Kelly (I give you the long version of her name because it seems as impressive as her resume) graduated from Williams College with a degree in Economics but it is telling that she was a teaching assistant in Environmental Studies, a foreshadowing of things to come. After college and a few years in banking, she took a hiatus to do the NOLS program and lamented to one of her instructors that she wasn’t fulfilled and was searching for her vocation. That instructor, Steph Kessler, wife of current NOLS director John Gans (and that same instructor that gave her the “live to wimp again” motto) recommended that “she do something that she loves.” The door opened to conservation starting with a Masters of Environmental Studies from Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies and followed with a life long passion for stewardship of the natural world.
Meg is vital to the board of W2O. She brings expertise from her positions of President of the Weston Forest and Trail Association (merged recently with the formally named Weston Land Trust) and her work with the New England Aquarium as an Overseer.
Meg celebrates a big birthday this week and I asked her what that meant to her as it applies to her work in conservation. “I feel like there is some unfinished business-that I have work to do, work that will make a difference. I want to leave the world in a better place than it was in when I was born.”
Derek Speirs for the NYTimes
My favorite New Years quote (NYTimes 12/28) comes from Dr. Frank Convery, an economist at the University of Dublin, and refers to the strides made by Ireland to reduce their overwhelming fiscal deficit while creating low carbon emissions with the introduction of a carbon footprint tax. By introducing the tax and changing behavior, Ireland has reduced its emission by 15% since 2008. Dr Convery: “You don’t want to waste a good crisis to do what we should be doing anyway.”
I don't think they are looking for truffles
I was reading an interesting article about the decline of the Truffle in today’s NY Times. Seems like this delicacy of the rich is in decline and some believe it is because of hotter summers, little rain and points to change in climate as the culprit-making the harvest small and forcing the price to skyrocket. Interesting enough as it is to read about the decline of the truffle and its price rise to $1,200 a pound, it points to sadder realizations. We are all effected by climate change-but the poor, as usual, are and the ones who will feel it the most. How will someone in the South Pacific start a new life when they have to leave their home because rising sea levels has destroyed their island community? How will the poor deal with the rising rates of malaria and other disease that spike with warmer temperatures. CNN reports that millions will lose their livelihood because of desertification. I am not so worried about the truffle-but it just one more reminder of where we are headed.
NY Times/David McNew/Getty Images
Some of us know the terrible feeling of calling for a child in a crowded mall or on a busy street and realizing that your cries or the cries of your child might be drowned out by the noise around us. Now the ocean most precious mammals are sharing our dismay and being drowned out by noise pollution in our oceans, making it difficult for them to find their offspring, mate and prey. And we are to blame.
A recent New York Times article describes the underwater noise as deafening with blasting and gun firing for exploration of gas and oil and roaring noise coming from commercial and cargo ships traversing the seas at an ever more frequent rate. An amazingly distressing photo mapping image from The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) shows just how much of the area around your coastal waters is an underwater cacophony. NOAA ‘s mapping results highlight the urgency of protecting our ocean inhabitants-from ourselves.
Fracking Diagram from Legal Press
Whilst the Doha Conference on Climate Change focuses on policy-driven initiatives to limit CO2 emissions, an article in this month’s National Geographic demonstrates the importance (and questions) of commercially-driven action.
Fracking, the process of accessing natural gas deposits in shale, has reduced US reliance on dirty fossil fuels, such as coal and oil and helped reduce CO2 emissions by more than 7% since 2005 ( US Environmental Protection Agency).
The picture sounds rosy, except that as CO2 emissions have declined, methane emissions have risen and methane traps at least 25 times as much heat. Just last week the EPA released a study of its final research of hydraulic fracking and its effect on the environment. The Huffington Post published an article with the pros and cons that outlines the risks and the benefits. Could shale gas be worse for the environment than coal? Should we be investing in hydraulic fracking or look to renewable energy to help curb our emissions?
Still, some hope lies in the fact that the capture of methane is a great opportunity to slow global warming, since it is much easier to capture than CO2. Moreover, as a valuable fuel, it raises the possibility of its capture as a commercially-driven prospect rather than policy-driven. One thing that is very clear; there isn’t an easy answer and something needs to happen to protect our already fragile environment and the health of future generations.
Claire Calleawart is a W2O Board Member. She has her Masters in Zoology from Cambridge University. Read more about Claire in the November Board Member Profile
NPR’s Richard Harris’ report about the talks in Doha this month continue to highlight the need for countries to step up efforts to support treaties that will unite nations in the fight against climate change. There are so many complicated issues; can there be a single agreement, how will wealthy nations support vulnerable ones and protect them from loss, damage, disaster or even disappearance because of rising sea levels. 2020 is too late to rein in global warming.