April 30, 2004

Rock Lobstah: Marine Stewardship Council certifies 1st Mexican fishery

Motion in the ocean, ooh-aah. MSC says Baja's Red Rock Lobster
fishery meets their criteria for sustainability and is well managed.

Posted by Randy Olson at 06:00 AM | Comments (0)

Study Hall: "Our study shows there's a problem. Now let's go study it."

Every group had their own unique way of responding to the US Oceans
Report. The Nature Conservancy has decided in Florida to respond to
the big 3 year study by conducting ... a study.

Posted by Randy Olson at 06:00 AM | Comments (0)

April 29, 2004

ENN radio does segment on SB comedy: Randy Olson and Jeremy Rowley of the Groundlings held responsible for making fun of the oceans

Environmental News Network radio host Jerry Kay interviews Randy Olson
and Jeremy Rowley of the Groundlings in a 15 minute segment and asks
them why they are making fun of ocean decline.

The audio is downloadable -- just click on the April 28 segment in the
Show Archives (the SB piece begins 23 minutes into the show).

Posted by Randy Olson at 06:05 AM | Comments (0)

April 28, 2004

Evaluating USCOP: Why do you have to be so critical?

Why do some people feel the need to criticize the U.S. Commission on Oceans Panel (USCOP) preliminary report released last week? Because that's the only way you find out if it was worth anything -- poke it, prod it, see what it has to offer.

Oceana was not alone in feeling it lacked a plenty. Here's another good critique.

Posted by Randy Olson at 07:19 AM | Comments (0)

April 27, 2004

"Your cold, cold ocean": Climate change science in meltdown?

Just in time for the upcoming Hollywood blockbuster, "The Day After
Tomorrow," the conflict over whether and how to predict climate change
seems to be reaching a boil.

The real world situation over climate change is becoming as much of a
comedy as our Groundlings Senate film.

And for the hyper-skeptical take on it all, you simply MUST check out
what blockbuster sci-fi writer Michael Crichton had to say about,
"Aliens Cause Global Warming," last year in his Caltech Michelin
. Wacky-doodle-doo.

Posted by Randy Olson at 05:25 AM | Comments (0)

Protecting Hawaii's Coral Reefs

"Whatever you do in the mountains will end up in the ocean...We want to protect the reefs from upstream pollution."

Posted by Randy Olson at 05:17 AM | Comments (0)

April 26, 2004

What we've been saying about nature films: Nobody wants to SEE the bad news

This came up in our Roundtable Discussion over a year ago. Prominent ocean filmmakers Bob Talbot and Chuck Davis both talked about how you can make documentaries about the oceans that conclude with the obligatory footage of ocean decline and pleas for conservation, but the cable channels will ask you to cut the footage of dead oceans. "NOBODY WANTS TO SEE IT," is what they said.

So here's a NY Times review of a new nature film, "Sacred Planet," that points out exactly that.

And the bottom line on all this is that film is a VISUAL MEDIUM. The audience walks away with what they are SHOWN, not told. Show them pictures of a beautiful, healthy ocean and they will conclude the oceans are beautiful and healthy even if the voiceover is trying to tell them the oceans are in peril.

In between its far-flung stops, the movie offers standard but stirringly rhapsodic glimpses of nature: wheeling flocks of birds, schools of silvery fish, orangutans at play, snow-capped mountains, forests and canyons, often in time-lapse photography that makes the clouds rush overhead and shadows dart instead of creep.

What the movie lacks is contrast. The sped-up ribbons of traffic in a city look as pretty as the interior of a redwood grove. As for the perils of logging, one brief shot of a clear-cut forest flashes by so quickly it is almost subliminal.

Here are some of the things you will not see in "Sacred Planet:" a limping animal, a vulture, a mosquito.

Posted by Randy Olson at 05:34 AM | Comments (0)

Water Blogged: SB partner Oceana opens up a fellow blog

Partner group Oceana, who already have an excellent website, have just opened up a blog which is run by Jason Lefkowitz. This is how a genuine mass movement for ocean conservation arises -- with lots of these blog type things cropping up all over the place. The idea of daily discourse helps feed the flames of a developing movement. Just ask the people from the Howard Dean campaign who showed the country how this works last year.

I recommend you add their blog to your daily list of sites to check out.

Posted by Randy Olson at 05:29 AM

April 25, 2004

Turtles 3, Humans 1

Another minor victory for sea turtle protection (with the emphasis on

We've been keeping track...see the March 31st and March 14th entries.

Posted by Randy Olson at 08:42 AM | Comments (0)

Shifting Hoodlines: Heal the Bay brings ocean conservation to Compton

In a move that would make filmmaker Ifeanyi Njoku (SB Comedy Contest winner with "Shifting Hoodlines") proud, Heal the Bay oversees the removal of 10 tons of trash from Compton Creek.

compton creek.jpg
Photo credits: Stephen Cain, LA Regional Water Quality Control Board

Posted by Randy Olson at 08:39 AM | Comments (0)

April 22, 2004

Spiking a Bad Idea: fertilizing the oceans for CO2 uptake doesn't work

About 15 years ago, when everyone first started to notice things
getting warmer, some crazy scientists thought you cold suck the evil
carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere by fertilizing the ocean with
iron. The scientists were eventually shown to not be crazy -- iron
really is in short supply in many open ocean areas and can be the
element limiting phytoplankton growth. But the practical aspects of
fertilizing large amounts of the ocean were thought to be marginal at

Now here's a paper in Science last week that shows pretty clearly it
ain't gonna happen. You'd have to keep dumping iron in the same spot,
over and over, costing a fortune and probably poisoning other aspects
of the oceans. So much for quick fixes.

Posted by Randy Olson at 08:30 AM | Comments (0)

"Educated" Gov. Jeb Bush Ready to Ravage Florida Coral Reefs

"But after a month of what pipeline officials described as the
"education" of Bush and his colleagues, the governor and the Cabinet
approved the proposal with little discussion -- and no input from
environmental groups."

Here's the story...

Posted by Randy Olson at 08:29 AM | Comments (0)

April 20, 2004

US Ocean Commission Video: An homage to 1950's educational films

The U.S. Ocean Commission has created a splendiferously apt homage to
the old 1950's government educational films that used to warn soldiers
of the risks of sexually transmitted diseases. Check it out, it's a
work of art.

Posted by Randy Olson at 05:48 PM | Comments (0)

US Ocean Commission Report: Kudos to Oceana

The U.S. Ocean Commission released its preliminary report this morning. Most of the major conservation groups put out press releases in response, but as far as I can see, only one of them did a good job of critically assessing the report -- Oceana. Their press release offers the standard praise for such a thorough study, but they point to the lack of a clear action plan to actually change the course of ocean decline.

Here's a sample of their press release.

"The oceans have been mismanaged for decades, to the point that they're now on the brink of collapse," said Ted Morton, Oceana's Federal Policy Director. "The commission's report acknowledges as much, and we applaud it for recognizing the oceans as vital ecosystems that must be treated as such. Unfortunately, many of the recommendations rely too heavily on voluntary approaches and minor changes to existing systems that have proven ineffective."

Very well said.

Posted by Randy Olson at 05:46 PM | Comments (1)

April 18, 2004

The Latest on Release of Oceans Report: Tuesday morning, 9 am EST

See the news advisory and webcast info...

Posted by Randy Olson at 05:38 PM | Comments (0)

Little birds or big fishermen? An east coast dilemma

Populations of the little bird known as a red knot, which migrates from
Argentina to Canada, have dropped by 50% in the past five years. They
feed on horseshoe crab eggs. But fishermen are harvesting the
horseshoe crabs for bait in ever increasing numbers, thus removing the
food of the red knots. Check it out...

Posted by Randy Olson at 05:30 PM | Comments (0)

April 16, 2004

Countdown to U.S. Oceans Commission Report: coming 4/20

A tiny bit of suspense here -- what will the report say? Will it match
the Pew Report last year with a tone of urgency for the oceans, or will
it focus more on "how to get more out of the oceans." We'll see.

Posted by Randy Olson at 11:36 AM | Comments (0)

April 15, 2004

Planetary Decline: This is what we've been saying

This is an editorial from World Resources Director Jonathan Lash which
starts off with the same bleak assessment we have been saying -- that
we're losing the struggle to preserve the earth's environment.

Yes, we know the standard answer is, "So what are you gonna do about
it?" The starting point is to get the majority of the public to accept
this basic premise -- that we are losing. Studies indicate the general
public doesn't think that -- in fact most people think there are
already too many government regulations protecting the environment.
This what a survey by the Biodiversity Institute showed a few years
ago. And this is what we are mostly focused on -- trying to
communicate the truth about ocean decline -- it is real and it
continues to get worse despite a lot of hard working people.

Read this:

Despite two decades of international environmental agreements, and
great progress in controlling local pollution in some parts of the
world, the data show that the health of the natural systems that
sustain us -- oceans, the atmosphere, rivers, wetlands -- is declining.
Failed international commitments to address global environmental
problems have engendered growing cynicism and diminished hope.

Posted by Randy Olson at 09:00 AM | Comments (0)

April 13, 2004

S. California Runoff: Away from the coast, away from the problem

A major study from UC Irvine came out last week underscoring everyone's
fears of spending too much time in the ocean -- for every 2.5 hr/wk you
spend in the ocean you increase your changes of catching something by
10 percent. Which is very ugly news for surfers.

This is from an editorial in the LA Times this week in response to the
Irvine study.

Runoff is a regional problem, yet dozens of cities — almost all of them
far from the ocean, wouldn't you guess — have thrown up blockades to
avoid meaningful action. The water board that covers parts of Orange
and Riverside counties required cities to review their general plans to
see if they'd adequately considered water quality. The requirement
raised an outcry from almost every city that the water board was
interfering with land-use authority.

The mayor of one inland city complains that his city is almost fully
developed, and reviewing the general plan would do no good. But the
city of Newport Beach is also nearly built out, yet it finds plenty
that can be done. Fixes can be as simple as a grassy swath to absorb
runoff water before it hits a drain.

Newport Beach is taking several other steps that many other cities have
declared impossible. Its code-enforcement officers issue citations to
residents who, for example, hose off their filthy driveways and let the
oil and garbage run into storm drains. Its enforcement of the
pooper-scooper law has led to howls from equestrians who felt they
should be exempt. The city sends remote cameras through storm drains to
find companies illegally dumping waste.
So serious is Newport Beach about runoff that it handed out 250 of the
257 citations for runoff pollution in Orange County during the last

The San Diego water board is crafting rules requiring homeowners to
wash cars in nonpolluting ways. Those could involve using biodegradable
soaps or keeping water from running into the street by washing on a
lawn that absorbs the water. The complainers have some legitimate
gripes. The state's water boards laid down ambitious rules without
fully working out the costs. A coalition of about half of L.A. County's
cities won a judge's ruling in January that the state had imposed a
trash cleanup law without doing the required economic studies. And if
municipal budgets were ever tighter, it's hard to remember when —
though cities also were dragging their heels a few years ago when they
were flush.

Posted by Randy Olson at 06:27 AM | Comments (0)

April 12, 2004

Those pesky whales: Trinidad and Tobago want to fight back

The Minister of Environment of the tiny Caribbean island nation of
Trinidad and Tobago is tired of having gluttonous whales eat up all the
fish in the sea. He's ready to fight back by joining the IWC and
helping Japan and Norway, the poor nations who are stuck with the
lonely job of keeping whale populations in check.

"It's a big open sea; an environment that has all the marine resources
in there. If we are to manage our fisheries in a sustainable manner
then we have to take into account the impact of the whales on our

Posted by Randy Olson at 09:21 AM

Daniel Pauly: Star of Hollywood Ocean Night

Here's a recent essay on Dr. Daniel Pauly.

Posted by Randy Olson at 09:15 AM

April 11, 2004

Illegal Fishing in Australia: "We give up"

NORTHERN fisheries patrols, overwhelmed by an armada of illegal Indonesian vessels, have been ordered to let criminal fishermen go free.

Posted by Randy Olson at 06:32 AM

Alaska to Enviros: Then we'll drill the ocean!

Citing frustration with what he calls "America's extreme environmental community," Alaska Governor Frank Murkowski said last week he will do what he can to spur Arctic oil development in state offshore waters. "While the U.S. House and Senate remain gridlocked over opening ANWR for oil development, I am not burdened by that process," said Murkowski, who spent 22 years in the U.S. Senate before becoming governor in 2002. The oil and gas lease sales are planned for October. State waters extend out 3 miles in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas. See the full story.

Posted by Randy Olson at 06:28 AM | Comments (0)

April 09, 2004

European Eel Stocks: one percent is not enough

How the Europeans have fished their eels into oblivion.

Posted by Randy Olson at 06:06 AM | Comments (0)

April 08, 2004

Clean Cruising - Congress Concurs with Conservancy

Check it out...

Posted by Randy Olson at 05:20 AM

April 07, 2004

A couple of Hollywood Ocean Night write-ups

Our Hollywood Ocean Night event was covered by KTLA News in Los Angeles (1 minute segment) and "Celebrity Justice" (3 minute segment) which aired nationally on E!. Both segments were great, but being entertainment focused, said not a word about the two star scientists present, Jackson and Pauly. In contrast, this article in the Santa Monica Mirror gives a bit more of an ocean conservation angle.

And here's an entertainment version.

Posted by Randy Olson at 05:33 AM | Comments (0)

April 05, 2004

CCC = California Coastal Collapse - yes, it is that bad

See the full story in the Tri-Valley Herald.

Posted by Randy Olson at 05:25 AM | Comments (0)

April 04, 2004

The new hotels: where to see what used to be in the sea

In our SB STORIES is a tidbit from Scripps Aquarium in which a woman
wrote, "I'm bringing my daughter here to see what I used to be able to
see in the ocean."

And now introducing, the world's largest indoor hotel aquarium...

Posted by Randy Olson at 05:15 PM

April 03, 2004

Marine Turtle Conservation Act: why is U.S. Fish and Wildlife against this?

Congress moves to help endangered turtles...

Posted by Randy Olson at 07:01 AM

April 02, 2004

Salmon thugs: hatchery salmon are bigger and dumber

Should hatchery and wild salmon have equal consideration under the law
and protection programs? Experts say no.

Posted by Randy Olson at 06:10 AM | Comments (0)

April 01, 2004

Florida to Jeb Bush: "You gonna save our oceans or what?"

Check out this OpEd in the Florida Today

Posted by Randy Olson at 07:27 AM