Shrimp? Being Mindful of the Oceans around the Holidays

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Shrimp seems like the perfect holiday cocktail party and buffet table staple-decadent, but low in calories and perfect along side a glass of celebratory champagne.  Shrimp is one of the most consumed seafood products in the world and folks enjoy it without too much thought of how catching it harms our oceans.  When you learn the facts, you may never look at shrimp the same way again…and we hope you make other choices like oysters, mussels and clams, (which as filter feeders, are great for our oceans and for you) the new staples of your holiday indulgences.  Lobsters and crabs, caught in pots, are also ocean friendly and delicious alternatives to shrimp.

Photo courtesy of National Geographic

Photo courtesy of National Geographic

Andrew Sharpless, CEO of Oceana, summed it up very well on Thursday nights lecture series at the New England Aquarium, “They are called shrimp, right? Because they are…shrimps!  The net that we use to catch shrimp have tiny holes and therefore collect unintended species or bycatch. For every pound of shrimp we eat, three pounds of bycatch are caught along with it.”  According to Sharpless’ book  The Perfect Protein,  76% of marine life that shrimp trawlers haul isn’t shrimp. Most distressing is that thousands of the marine life caught in shrimp nets are endangered sea turtles. Shrimp is also farmed and some folks may think that is a good alternative to risking the wild caught shrimp with its bycatch issue, but this also turns out to be a disappointing story. Again, Andrew Sharpless writes, “…(T)he majority of farmed shrimp comes at a heavy cost to the environment, with pristine tropical mangroves destroyed to make way for industrial farms that spread pollution and disease. These farms not only degrade the environment but also the prospects for artisanal fishermen, who watch as habitat crucial to their local fisheries is demolished.”

In The Perfect Protein Sharpless talks about the benefits of eating abundant wild seafood, avoiding the species that he calls the “big fish” and encourages you to eat local. The book includes recipes from famous chefs and most can be prepared in under 20 minutes. The Perfect Protein is the “Perfect” gift of knowledge and insight for family and friends interested in protecting the oceans and making healthy choices for their family and friends.

For those of you that have to eat shrimp and love it like I do, the New England Aquarium recommends US farmed shrimp from Green Prairie Shrimp in Alabama. The owners are committed to the environment and very careful about best practices to ensure that their products and the land used to farm them are sustainable. Some Whole Food stores carry it but be careful of labels, they also sell from farms in Thailand. I emailed Green Prairie Shrimp and received this note from owner David Teichert-Coddington:

“The Whole Foods Market sells our shrimp in that area, although I am unsure
if every store carries them.  You may find them in the frozen seafood
section as a “club pak”, or they might have them thawed in the seafood case.
The club paks will have our name on them, but the thawed shrimp are not ours
unless they are labeled as USA farmed.  The seafood counter folks will tell
you where the shrimp are from.”

 

Finding the Answers to Key Ocean Issues

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4x6_LunchboxTag.Oct2013_PRINT

 

At the recent W2O event, featuring Celine Cousteau’s “A World Beneath the Waves: Being Human in the Sea” we asked our guests to take home this action card and to find the answers to these ten important questions about Ocean Issues.  By researching and knowing the answers to these questions, you become an ambassador for the ocean; able to speak to friends, family and your community about what they can do to protect our blue planet.

 

1.  What are the top five threats facing our oceans?

  • Overfishing
  • Loss of endangered species, and habitat
  • Pollution
  • Climate Change
  • Acidification  (read more here)

2. How does the state of the cod fishery in New England compare to that of the fishery in the northwestern U.S.?

NOAA’s “FishWatch” website provides useful information on the status of various fisheries. Which should you feed to your family? Read here about Pacific Cod and compare here with the Cod of the Northeast.

3. Why are farmed shellfish generally OK to eat?

Through its work on sustainable seafood, the New England Aquarium is a wonderful resource for your questions about farmed shellfish. Find out how shellfish species are grown and harvested, their nutritional value, how to choose them at the grocery store, and even how to cook them! Oysters! Mussels! Clams!

4. Why will climate change cause the seas to rise and how much of an increase can we expect by 2100?

To answer this question and find out what everyone should know about Climate Change, President and CEO of the New England Aquarium Bud Ris, put together a list of the best resources and latest science on this important topic. For basic information about Climate Change and its effect on all of us, he suggests this article by the Union of Concerned Scientists that has an easy to read info graphic as well as a question and answer format. For information about the Boston area, his presentation on Climate Change Sea and Sea Level Rise in Boston Oct 2013, gives us an overview of what to expect if sea levels continue to rise in our back yard.  The most authoritative source on the latest science about Climate Change comes from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. In this article, you can dive deep into the issues, and, learn why its authors say “Human influence on the climate system is clear. This is evident from the increasing greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere, positive radiative forcing, observed warming and understanding of the climate system.”

5. What happens to coral reefs if the water around them gets too warm?

Find out why Coral Bleaching endangers and upsets the entire balance of coral existence, and affects the health of all ocean animals here. Check out this short video “Coral Breakup: A Tragic Love Story” to find out why species have to rely on each other to survive, and how Coral Bleaching can ruin this relationship.

6. What are the principle threats to the North Atlantic right whale?

The New England Aquarium is a global leader on whale research and partners with shipping and fishing industries to reduce two major threats to the North Atlantic right whale: entanglement in fishing gear, and collisions with large commercial ships. The endangered and majestic North Atlantic Right Whale’s  scientific name is Eubalaena Glacialis, which in Greek means”well or true” and “icy” (referring to the cold waters of the Atlantic.) Read about the whales and follow NEAq’s blog, which introduces you to some of the recent sightings off our coasts. 

7.What is wrong with shark finning and what is the legislative initiative underway in Massachusetts?

Sharks have inhabited our oceans for 400 million years, but now scientists warn that existing shark populations cannot sustain the current level of exploitation. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species estimates that 30 percent of pelagic (open ocean) sharks are threatened with extinction.  Like the slaughter of African elephants for their ivory, massive overfishing of sharks is largely driven by the market for their fins—which can be worth anywhere from 20 to 250 times the value of the meat, depending on the species.  Every year, tens of millions of sharks are killed for their fins, primarily for use in shark fin soup. H.3571, a bill introduced by Representative Jason Lewis, will ensure that Massachusetts ceases to be a part of the destructive global shark fin trade by banning the possession, trade, and sale of shark fins. Similar bans exist in Hawaii, California, Washington, Oregon, Illinois, Delaware, Maryland, New York, American Samoa, Northern Mariana Islands, and Guam. An exemption exists for dogfish and skate species. Click here to read more about the purposed MA bill:  MA Shark Finning Factsheet H 3571 ALL LOGO 8-13.

8. What is bycatch and what can be done to reduce it?

Bycatch happens when fisherman, dragging nets, and scraping ocean floors from trawling, catch marine animals that are not their intended catch. The unintended catch is then thrown back into the ocean, usually stressed and dying. Thousands of sea turtles, seabirds and marine mammals die as a result of becoming bycatch victims. The New England Aquarium leads a consortium on bycatch problems and solutions.

9. What is causing the plastic gyre in the middle of the Pacific?

Plastic Gyres are in the news. But how can you separate myth from fact?  Check out this information and video and learn the truth about plastic pollution.

10. What are the most important things we can do to help solve the problems facing our oceans individually and as a community?

What people eat, and how they move around, have some of the biggest impacts on two of the ocean’s most important problems: overfishing and climate change.  Influencing change often comes from small group discussion with peers. Community level action focused on seafood markets and transportation options that reduce carbon emissions are so important. Getting an entire community or company involved will have a much bigger impact than anything you can do on your own.

  • Talk to your friends and community groups about what fish they eat, and encourage them to speak to ask questions about where the seafood is sourced at restaurants and supermarkets.
  • Promote low-carbon transportation alternatives (e.g. high-speed rail, expanded mass transit, car sharing, bike sharing, installing bike lanes) and encourage the purchasing and use of fuel-efficient cars and trucks.
  • Include ocean conservation organizations as part of your annual giving.

For seafood ideas see:

http://www.neaq.org/conservation_and_research/projects/fisheries_bycatch_aquaculture/sustainable_fisheries/celebrate_seafood/ocean-friendly_seafood/index.php

http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2013/10/08/230494959/fish-for-dinner-here-are-a-few-tips-for-sea-life-lovers?utm_content=socialflow&utm_campaign=nprfacebook&utm_source=npr&utm_medium=facebook

For tips on low-carbon transportation, see:

http://www.ucsusa.org/global_warming/what_you_can_do/practical-steps-for-low-carbon-living.html

 

 

 

 

 

W2O and NEAq hosts Celine Cousteau on October 22nd

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Photo-Capkin van Alphen-CauseCentric Productions

Photo-Capkin van Alphen-CauseCentric Productions

Photo: Capkin van Alphen-CauseCentric Productions

Photo: Capkin van Alphen-CauseCentric Productions

Tickets are going fast for the Celine Cousteau event “The World Beneath the Waves: Being Human in the Sea” on October 22nd.  Here are some wonderful photos by Capkin van Alphen-CauseCentric Productions, to entice you and give you a preview of the wonderful images that will accompany Ms. Cousteau’s presentation about how important it is to protect the environment and especially our oceans.

Photo: Capkin van Alphen-CauseCentric Productions

Photo: Capkin van Alphen-CauseCentric Productions

Photo: Capkin van Alphen-CauseCentric Productions

Photo: Capkin van Alphen-CauseCentric Productions

Roz Savage Stopped Drifting and Started Rowing

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Roz Savage courtesy of her website: http://www.rozsavage.com/expeditions/

Roz Savage courtesy of her website: http://www.rozsavage.com/expeditions/

 

 

Roz savage sat down and wrote two obituaries for herself. One about her then current life as a consultant and the other detailing all her hopes and dreams about what she wanted to become and what type of person folks would remember her as. She chose to change her life completely and is detailing her amazing transformation in her new book Stop Drifting, Start Rowing about her solo crossing of the Pacific Ocean...IN A ROWBOAT.  Her vantage point (pretty low in the water, vunerable and awestruck), her successes and struggles engage us in a conversation with ourselves about our own journey and our obligations to protect our blue planet and especially the health of our oceans. Pre order the book now and help Roz gain a spot on the Amazon book charts that will then be visible to the casual book browser. Help her spread awareness about ocean conservancy.

The Ocean Heals Us-Time to Return the Favor

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Ask just about anyone and they will wax lyrical about the healing properties of the ocean. Folks swear by a trip to the sea to heal everything from sore muscles to anxiety. How many period pieces of literature have we read or seen on TV that mention the trip to the seashore as a restorative outing, one that will revive you, healing you from exhaustion or a broken heart?  Times haven’t changed! At W2O we are so enamored of the ocean, its beauty and the way that it can make us feel.  So much so that earlier this year, at World Ocean Day, we asked children just that….How does the Ocean make you feel?  “Empowered,” “Safe”, “Free,” “Refreshed,” and my favorite, “like I have a lot of unique friends” are just a few of the 300 wonderful answers that we received.

I love this video from Kimi Werner, artist, Patagonia Surf Ambassador, and the 2008 National Spearfishing Champion. With spectacular images and her soothing narration she tells us how connected she is to the ocean. She explains, “I don’t really feel like it should be man and the eco system because I believe man is part of the eco system and realizing that helps me to strive to find my place in it.” It is a lovely testament from someone who makes her livelihood and fulfills her passion from her ocean work. The ocean takes care of us and Kimi reminds us that we need to return the favor: “The moment we stop taking care of nature..that is when everything is going to be lost.”

Kimi Werner by Jeff Johnson courtesy of fcdsurfboards.com

Kimi Werner by Jeff Johnson courtesy of fcdsurfboards.com

Kimi Werner photo by Wayne Levin courtesy of Huffington Post

Kimi Werner photo by Wayne Levin courtesy of Huffington Post

 

 

 

Celine Cousteau; Maximizing the Third Generation Role Model

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Celine CousteauIf you are of a certain age, the name Cousteau brings back thrilling memories of sitting in front of the rabbit ear antenna era TV with family watching the adventures aboard the Calypso of a particularly intriguing French man opening our eyes to the wonders of the ocean.  The legacy lives on with some of the Cousteau family continuing that passion for exploration in the natural world. W2O and The New England Aquarium are delighted that Jacques Cousteau’s granddaughter, Celine, will be presenting “The World Beneath the Waves: Being Human in the Sea” about the intersection of nature and culture on October 22nd at the NEAq’s Simon Imax Theater.

Growing up with an expedition photographer mother and a seaworthy, scuba diving grandmother, Celine had role models whose life choices influenced her to feel like she could do just about anything. “These women naturally did these things that they loved” she says, and Celine was a young adult before she realized, because of her own choices, how strong those influences were. She was encouraged to seek her own career path and studied art and psychology (undergrad) and intercultural relations (graduate school) before starting CauseCentric Productions, a non-profit organizations with the motto line of “Exploring the World. Communicating the Stories. Connecting Humans and the Environment.”  She talks about her journey of doing many different things in her life (including her new role as a mom to her 20 month old son) as a “snaking path that recently has merged into one amazing place to be in” and she says she doesn’t take that for granted. Celine’s form of expression through careers in art, photography, storytelling and business have enabled her to “use different methods of communication to describe cultural and environmental stories” to her audiences. “This is my life, this is what I am doing and I want to maximize this for other people. Supporting causes makes me feel good.”

 

 

Uh Oh! “BAGNESIA;” Tips for Remembering Your Reusable Bag

By | Action today, In the News, Sustainable Living, Uncategorized, W2O Blog | No Comments

Bagnesia/HeatherHeather is a busy working mom who is thoughtful about her usage of single use plastic. She packs her children’s lunch boxes with care, limits her use of unnecessary plastic items and brings her reusable bags to the grocery story….unless she is having a bout of….BAGNESIA!  It happens to all of us. We head out to the grocery store with our list, are distracted by work or getting children into their car seats, get to the store and wammo! We realize that we have forgotten the reusable bags!  Should she buy another one?  Can she manage without one? (Did she read W2O’s blog about transporting groceries plastic free?)  Can her children help her carry items that can be transported without a bag at all? Will her husband chide her (again) about buying more bags each time she has forgotten them? What memory tricks could she use to try and remember those bags in the future?

W2O’s tricks for remembering your reusable bag:

  • Buy some really great bags that are small enough to fit into your pocket or purse. Small Footprint Family writes a great blog about figuring this out and recommends Envirosaxs, which fold up small and come in a variety of cool and pretty styles.
  • After unpacking your bags, hang them on the same hook as your car keys
  • Put your shopping list pad and list into a reusable bag. If you don’t have “listnesia” you will remember both!
  • Put a note or reminder in your car.  Conserving Now has an unobtrusive non adhesive cling sticker reminder that might be the perfect choice.DSCN3816

Always remember to wash your bags often and keep them for the specific use of grocery shopping. Designate other bags for when you are headed to the mall. Remember, even the smallest efforts will increase your awareness. Good for your health and good for our beautiful oceans.

 

Isn’t it our turn? W2O Protecting our Neighbors While Protecting What We Love

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Wasserman cartoon from The Boston Globe

Wasserman cartoon from The Boston Globe

In this day and age, with so much internet access bringing our planet closer and closer together, I would now consider most nations my neighbor. I text folks in Australia, facebook with people from Asia and Europe and tweet with the world.  I think it is time we begin to respect our “neighbors” when it comes to climate change and our own emissions and pollutants that effect our back yards and the back yards of our those friends thousands of miles away. Lets face it, we are the culprit of many of the issues that the islands in this article from The Japan Times (found on The Daily Climate, one of my favorite sites) refers to.  Nations are facing impossible predicaments; abandoning the home they love and making a move to higher ground.  What a sacrifice and a sad choice to have to make.

Interesting too, is the fact that the small Island Nations in this article are taking unprecedented steps to change their own footprints in recognition that there must be systemic change. “The islands, which produce less than 0.1 percent of the world’s emissions, say they are leading by example. Most have started to substitute the expensive diesel they must traditionally import to generate electricity with renewable energy, including coconut power — biodiesel derived from homegrown coconut palms to power cars and outboard motors. The Marshall Islands has converted its outer island communities to solar energy and Tokelau has become the first territory in the world able to meet all its electricity needs with solar power. The Cook Islands and Tuvalu are aiming to get all of their electricity from renewable sources by 2020.”

Its our turn to make some changes and reduce our own emissions and waste for the sake of our neighbors (who unfortunately are the first of many populations to feel the direct effects of rising seas from a warming climate) and for our own good.  All too soon, we will be the ones having to up and move from our declining shores, relocating from places that we love.

 

W2O’s Back to School Lunch Packing Tips. (Can we avoid the plastic bags?)

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It’s back to school time and W2O has some simple suggestions for making choices that are good for your family and good for our environment and oceans.  Cringing at the plastic sandwich bag these days? Me too. But what are the alternatives. How do we choose and invest when our little ones might be tossing the contents in the trash?  (Some training is required) Does your teen come home without the cap to the water bottle? (And the training never stops!) W2O has some tricks, reasonably priced options (well, one extravagance! Adults need to eat too!) and easy tips for you.DSCN3808

For the true investment: Whimsy Snak Pak suggested by Plastic Pollution Coalition

For the true investment: Whimsy Snak Pak suggested by Plastic Pollution Coalition

"Light my Fire" Kids Spork from reusit.com

“Light my Fire” Kids Spork from reusit.com

There are a ton of products out there. I've included the ones that are less costly here.

There are a ton of products out there. I’ve included the ones that are less costly here.

Sometimes you do need to reach for a sandwich bag substitute-choose these!

Sometimes you do need to reach for a sandwich bag substitute-choose these!

The "Reuseit" website is handy because it has replacement caps for almost all styles of reusable water bottles. http://www.reuseit.com

The “Reuseit” website is handy because it has replacement caps for almost all styles of reusable water bottles. http://www.reuseit.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

W2O Intern Phoebe takes the temp on Brookline’s Bag Ban

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At Women Working for Oceans we have been promoting the passing of the Plastic Bag Ban of Massachusetts. Our newest member of the W2O team, Dartmouth rising senior, Phoebe Racine, went to Brookline, a suburb of Boston that has passed a municipal bill banning plastic bags, to interview businesses, find out what people think of the ban, learn how it might influence their choices and affect business when is enacted in December. 

On a Wednesday in the ides of November, Brookline was the first town in Massachusetts to enact a ban specifically on plastic bags and polystyrene to-go containers. Brookline’s hope was to start a movement. They wanted to pave way for towns, cities, counties and states throughout the East Coast to pass similar bans. And start a movement they have. Since the ruling, Manchester-By-The-Sea and Great Barrington have followed suit. However, Brookline was not the first to ban one time use plastic bags, only the first to do so specifically. In 1989, Nantucket banned a wide array of plastics, including the plastic bag. Today, four Massachusetts towns have a bag ban in place. In my interview with Town Meeting member, Clint Richmond, he explained that these four towns represent 1% of Massachusetts. As for the other 98% of the state, W2O hopes that Massachusetts will pass Bill H696 and thus enact the first ever, statewide plastic bag ban.

In our push for the bag ban we believe it imperative to explore a ban’s effects on towns who have passed such laws. I went to Brookline to interview businesses and take a lay of the land. What I found surprised me.

The Brookline Town Council set the ban to start December 1st of 2013, allowing over a year for businesses to prepare. At the time, Brock Parker of The Boston Globe reported that, “As many as 90 businesses will have to deal with the plastic bag dilemma in the coming months.” The ban will affect businesses over 2,5000 sq ft in size and franchises with more than two sites within Brookline. In Brookline I spoke to local businesses and in particular businesses who I knew would be affected. I went to CVS, Stop & Shop and Walgreens and was surprised by the lack of knowledge about the upcoming ban. With less than five months before the ban is to start, I envisioned that owners, managers and employees alike would be aware of what was to come. As the first town to enact such a bill in the state, I believed that this was either exciting or unfortunate news for businesses and for people who live or work in Brookline. However, I spoke to several managers and all were unaware that there was a ban set by Town Council. (Maybe a majority of employees are traveling in to work from out of town..)Most felt that the ban would not affect their business.

After calling CVS and Walgreens corporate offices all I hear was ‘I-don’t-know-I’ll-have-someone-call-you-back.’ (Still waiting..)  A representative from the CVS Massachusetts district development office did think through the issue with me and said, “I’m not sure. We used to have a Green Bag Tag, (a reward system for using a reusable bag) maybe we’ll go back to that?”

While the reactions from store managers and representatives from corporate spoke with relative lack of knowledge or neutrality, a video published on June 24th by journalist Jonathan Satriale showed an overall positive reaction from Brookline shoppers. Set outside Booksmith in Coolidge Corner, the video “Brookline Plastic Bag Ban Reactions” captures the thoughts and statements of 10 Brookline residents. Susan Davis admitted, “I try not to use plastic bags anyway. I try to bring my own. I think it (the bag ban) will encourage me more to bring those bags.” Gary, however, reminded us, “how many people do you see carrying reusable bags? It’s all fine, but there is always another side of the coin.” Overall most residents interviewed believed such a ban will make them “more responsible.”  To watch the video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b3aY_nESNIY

Do you think a plastic bag ban in your town would make you ‘more responsible?’ How do you think you’re community would react to such a ban? Please let us know!