June 23, 2005

6/23 - Is NOAA Throwing in the Towel on Fish Stock Rebuilding?

A lot of people think so according to the Naples News.

Commercial fisheries species: Grab 'em while you can?

Posted by Randy Olson at 12:51 AM

June 21, 2005

6/22 - Does anyone mind that we're raising a generation that finds nature to be boring?

Yes, I know you have a son or daughter or niece or nephew who just loves nature. I'm talking averages here. The average American kid. Not the kids of ocean conservationists. The average American kids are changing. The video game addiction level in America's youth has reached the point where its effect on sports viewing is measurable according an article yesterday in the NY Times. If its that strong to make a dent in such a standard pastime of growing up in America, what's the effect on how much kids go out in nature? One first attempt to comment on this was provided by, "Last Child in the Woods: Saving our children from nature deficit disorder" by Richard Louv (btw, its about time for us to do a new top ten books list). Is anyone thinking about the consequences of living in a country where adults someday will find nature to be not sufficiently stimulating to bother preserving? How are the major environmental organizations responding to this growing crisis? (by printing more brochures, yea!)
Nature: better figure out a way to make it interactive, or else.

Posted by Randy Olson at 10:25 PM

6/21 - The Endless Frustration of the Fishery Marine Councils

Here's an editorial in the International Billfish News that concedes, "... fishing ain't what it was not so long ago," then examines the frustrations of the 8 regional Fisheries Marine Councils that carry some of the blame. More to the point, The Ocean Conservancy has produced an excellent "Overfishing Guide" that shows you how each region is faring, with the Caribbean doing the worst.
TOC guide.jpg
The Ocean Conservancy's Overfishing Guide: You can see why Alaskan fish tend to occupy the best positions on most Sustainable Fish Guides.

Posted by Randy Olson at 10:21 AM

June 17, 2005

6/20 - Greenpeace: A driving force for the east coast Menhanden issue

Check it out -- in the words of the Maryland Star Democrat:

"...the industry put forth four recommendations with an all-or-nothing, in-your-face attitude. All four were voted down. Then, Greenpeace made the proposal to shut down the menhaden fishery altogether to let the species recover. That proposal by a 2.5-million member organization with a record of hard-nosed conservation activities, has changed the tide of menhaden management."

The article also has an excellent title: "Up The Creek: Old-timers can recall a much healthier Bay."
greenpeace ship logo.jpg
I shall refrain from raving about Greenpeace because people from some of our other partner groups have gotten cranky about it in the past.

Posted by Randy Olson at 01:32 PM

June 16, 2005

6/17 - Is Disney for REAL? Serving SHARK FIN SOUP???

Check it out -- on msnbc.com -- they report that Disney is making plans to serve shark fin soup at their new park in Hong Kong when it opens in September.

Are they for reals???
And over at the Disney Living Seas Pavillion you'll see piles of finless sharks!

Posted by Randy Olson at 09:23 PM

6/16 - Junk is Junk: Are we shifting the baselines for California oil rigs?

Will there come a day when the ocean is filled with discarded junk, and yet there are so many fish swimming among it all and we have so totally shifted our baselines that we look at it with pride?

In the standard "two steps forward, one step backwards" fashion of politics, the Pacific Fishery Council announced new bans on bottom trawling along the coast of California and Oregon. But at the same time they designated 13 Southern California oil rigs as Habitats of Particular Concern (HAPC), the highest level of importance. Is it really a good idea to call junk piles "prime habitat." Maybe. But everyone needs to keep in mind this age old problem of shifting baselines. And doesn't this start to set a precedent for the owners of sunken ships to argue against their removal by saying they are on their way to becoming a HAPC, just like the oil rigs?

Warner Chabot of the Ocean Conservancy rightly notes, "The Fishery Councilís decision was like putting lipstick on a pig. Faced with a billion dollar cost to remove their aging oil rigs, the oil industry has invested millions in a 10-year campaign to portray the legs of their old oil rigs as an ocean gardens of Eden.
Is this a sight of beauty or what?

Posted by Randy Olson at 12:08 PM


Everyone interested in how to effectively communicate ocean conservation needs to check out Totuga Marina and take a few notes. And then realize that several major U.S. conservation groups refused to support their sexy ad campaign because they thought it was too sexist. Stupid, stupid ocean conservationists. These are powerful, specific, and fun ads that go right to the heart (and crotch) of the issue -- trying to get macho males in Mexico to stop eating turtle eggs.

I'm really sorry to say this so bluntly, but the oceans of the U.S. are doomed to decline because of the clueless prudes who hold sway in the positions of power. Its time for the people with the money to realize that facts and figures are not going to save the oceans. The audience has changed. How long will it take for this to be grasped?
Tortuga Marina.jpg
The creator of this ad campaign GENUINELY knows how to communicate

Posted by Randy Olson at 08:46 AM

June 15, 2005

6/14 - Tree Envy: The oceans could use a group like Rainforest Action Network

I went to a talk last night by Michael Brune, Executive Director of Rainforest Action Network. Now that's a group with some guts and savvy. Over and over again they are in the board rooms of logging companies and Burger King and Home Depot explaining to them, "Either you're going to change your business practices, or your clientele is going to hear from us." And guess what happens. These days when the companies hear about one of them acceding to the demands of R.A.N., the other companies call Michael to find out what they need to do to avoid having him visit them. The R.A.N. folks have a lot cooler vibe than the "we don't want to piss off the fishermen," attitude I heard when I first entered into this stuff four years ago. And by the way, I got yet another excellent phone call yesterday from a woman in Northern California who lost her job in the fishing business due to fishery closure, saw the Tiny Fish PSA on television, visited our site, called me up and said, "right on, what can I do to get involved." And my answer was, "go make a damn film about all the other people in your community that have lost their jobs from fishery mismanagement." We need more documentation of it.
The logo says it all: an aggressive animal, rather than a happy dolphin or whale. R.A.N. kicks ass.

Posted by Randy Olson at 10:50 AM

June 14, 2005

6/13 - Florida Moves Toward Ecosystem Based Management (before its too late)

I spent a very interesting 5 days last week in the Florida Keys on a mission for Shifting Baselines. If ever there was the ultimate SB location, that's it. There's 100 years of decline there. In Karen Demaria's book of oral histories of the Keys there are quotes of workers at Fort Jefferson in the 1930's talking about "the good old days" when you could make a decent living off fishing. By the late fifties things were bad enough for a group to come together and create John Pennekamp Underwater State Park. Since then, the ravaging has gone unabated.

I listened to tales from veteran fishermen, dive operators, underwater photographers ... no one was happy with the current state of things. The highlight of the week was an hour long discussion with novelist Carl Hiaason who has lived in Islamorada for 12 years. He pretty much echoed the what he said in a 60 Minutes segment on him a couple months ago -- that the degradation of the Keys continues, which is a shame.

But the worst part of it all is the lack of agreement among scientists on the causes, which has probably hampered the environmental effort as there is so much disagreement over whether its all due to nutrient input, over-fishing, coral disease, coral bleaching ... on and on. Lots of factors, all interacting. Lots of headaches. But a fascinating place, nevertheless. And a place of endless SB experiences as new tourists come in every day and think they are looking at what's natural. Hopefully new efforts at ecosystem based management will help a bit.

Florida Keys residents flee the opening of lobster mini-season.

Posted by Randy Olson at 08:36 AM

June 13, 2005

6/12 - Clam Slam in New England

Bad times for clam lovers this summer with a record level outbreak of red tide.
No clams for you!

Posted by Randy Olson at 09:29 AM

June 08, 2005

6/8 - Barbara Boxer introduces new Ocean Legislation

Cinderella Woman... Ron Howard should have considered more casting choices, Barbara Boxer might just be my new hero. Her new oceans bill is big news down in Florida. Here's the article in the
Naples Daily News.
Move over Jeb, Barbara is making all the improvements in your state

Posted by Ty Carlisle at 02:02 PM

June 02, 2005

6/2 - Open Loop LNG Terminals: Sucking the life out of the ocean?

Is everyone clear on what "open loop technology" means for these LNG terminals that are now being debated? Open loop means sucking in gargantuan volumes of seawater that gets sterilized before returning to the sea. One biologist in Louisiana calculated that the local red drum (a popular recreational fish) population would decline by 8% if proposed facilities are constructed. But here's an editorial thanking the governor for opposing the technology.

LNG terminals: combined terrorism and environmental threat?

Posted by Randy Olson at 01:02 AM