December 22, 2005

12/22 - What Would Jesus Captain? Fishing boats are leaving harbor lower in the water than returning.

"This is the only major industry in the world that is getting more and more energy-inefficient," said Daniel Pauly, director of the Fisheries Center of the University of British Columbia and one of the report's authors.


Converting a lotta fuel into a few fish

Posted by Randy Olson at 12:18 PM | Comments (0)

December 16, 2005

12/16 - We've Come A Long Way, Baby: SB 3 yrs later

In November, 2002, I published my OpEd on the relatively new term, "shifting baselines." That same month I searched the term on Google and found only one relevant reference -- an essay in the Palm Beach Fishing Club newsletter by Tom Twyford about the shrinking size of ocean game fish. The only other science based references were to neurophysiology and the shift of baselines when measuring nerve impulses. That was it. Pretty much a clean slate.

Now search the term on Google. You can go 30 pages at least and still be finding essays and discussions of the term. Whether we helped to propagate it, who knows, but regardless, it was the goal of this project -- to see the term absorbed into common usage -- and it appears it has been achieved. My marine ecologist friends tell me there are now routine discussions of shifting baselines at their meetings and no one in the room has a quizzical look of, "what's that mean?" The fact is, the term has now made its way to everything from the oceans to the taste of chocolate.

Dr. Jackson aboard the U.S.S. Pristine congratulates the troops on understanding the true meaning of shifting baselines

Posted by Randy Olson at 02:22 PM

December 14, 2005

12/15 - Mass Media for Psychological Warfare: the U.S. military knows what its about

What can you say about the importance of spending HUGE amounts of money on mass media, except to point out that the U.S. military understands why you do it. Ocean conservationists should as well.


How to make things happen: Spend money

Posted by Randy Olson at 08:55 AM | Comments (0)

December 12, 2005

12/12 - LOUISIANA: Where (once again) are the ocean conservation groups in the Katrina recovery planning???

I'm sorry to be "a voice of negativity" (as one major ocean conservationist recently called me) in all this, but I'm about to stick my neck out on the intelligent design-evolution controversy with a documentary feature film so I have little respect for those who are afraid to go near conflict. But more importantly, WHY aren't all the ocean conservation groups, with their multi-million dollar budgets, playing a major role in the debate over how to recover from Hurricane Katrina?

In today's NY Times is a big article about the debate over whether to rebuild in the wetlands or hand them back to nature. But you won't find a single mention of any conservation group in the article. There ought to be a very loud voice coming from ocean conservation groups supporting the latter option (restoring wetlands)-- they ought to be down there educating the public and government agencies about the need for healthy wetlands. They have so much resources for public education. I just don't understand why they don't engage in this and play a leadership role.

Sorry. I just don't get it. Is it a lack of flexibility and spontaneity -- i.e. a natural disaster doesn't fit into the ten year plan? And its no good to talk about all that the groups may be doing "behind the scenes" -- the fact is they are playing no role in communicating this issue to the public. They should be.

Making wetlands into wet lands in Louisiana

Posted by Randy Olson at 09:11 AM | Comments (0)

December 05, 2005

12/6 - "Jellyfish" Attack in Canada! This is a job for ... me

Yikes. The creatures that I spent 5 years studying on coral reefs around the world are now invading the mussel and scallop beds of Canada. The genus name is Didemnum (I did my Ph.D. dissertation on the larvae of Didemnum molle). They're also called Sea Squirts, and apparently are overgrowing mussel and scallop beds, sounding very much like an invasive species. Good luck to the Canadians.


The offending sea squirt smothering mussels in New Zealand

Posted by Randy Olson at 12:50 PM | Comments (3)

December 03, 2005

12/5 - Rotten Jellyfish Award Nominee: the Echizen Jellyfish that's eating up China's fisheries

Ever since last summer I've been seeing a lot of people coming to our website by searching the term "echizen jellyfish" (we have a tracking feature that tells us how people found our website). Now I see why that's such a popular term to search -- the Chinese are currently waging war against the giant jellyfish, and this article from The Economist says there are 4 suggested causes for the sudden jellyfish blooms:

1) Increased Coastal Development - providing more surfaces for the sedentary stage of the jellies
2) Coastal Development - nutrient input has increased the jellies' food supply
3) Over-fishing - removal of plankton eating fish has produced more food for jellies
4) Global Warming/Climate Change

Jellyfish and bacteria, that's what you get when the ocean is infeer-eee-ya

Posted by Randy Olson at 10:13 PM | Comments (1)

December 02, 2005

12/2 - Boycott Flashback: Greenpeace takes on Gortons

Remember the seventies when there used to be boycotts of products (what, you weren't even born then? sorry). Once upon a time, before the board of directors of conservation groups were all C.E.O.'s of corporations, there used to be organized boycotts of offending companies. Some groups, like Greenpeace, are still able to remember how that worked. And lately they've been targeting Gorton's, not with a boycott, but at least with a "send them a message" campaign. Greenpeace is still cool.

Greenpeace grills Gortons

Posted by Randy Olson at 01:38 AM