W2O intern Phoebe Racine’s Fishy Finds: A Summer of Takeaways

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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

Celebrate with W2O and The New England Aquarium at World Ocean Day

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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.

 

Is the Bag Reusable if it has an apple on it?

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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

 

Open Ocean Trading and the “Focus Fish” Initiative

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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 

 

 

W2O Board Member Profile: Linda Cabot

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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”

 

 

W2O Board Member Profile: Meg Steiner

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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.”

 

 

 

 

Leading the Way: Milton Academy’s Sustainability Club

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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.”


Whale of a Day

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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

 

 

W2O Helps the Ban on Plastic Bags Move Forward

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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