The Beacon: suzannah's blog
It seems that Ted Danson is everywhere this week to speak out on ocean issues. The U.K. Daily Telegraph features an interview with Ted where he speaks out against overfishing of the shark species that sometimes goes into fish and chips, that favorite meal of the Brits.
One quibble, however: The article states that Ted "attacks" the dish of fish and chips. That's not quite accurate - Ted attacks overfishing, for sure, but not any one meal in particular. As long as we can source our fish responsibly and sustainably, Ted's happy - and so are the rest of us at Oceana.
Ted says, "Since the mid-1990s, tuna populations have spiralled downward, and scientists warn that an immediate moratorium on fishing is the only way to avoid an irreversible collapse ...Time is running out to save these sleek and powerful fish."
From an early survey of the (many!) comments, it seems the British people agree with Ted, although one smart guy notes "you don't have to be a genius or Ted Danson to know the problems the oceans face from overfishing."
True enough - but sometimes it takes star power to bring an issue into the limelight.
It's easy to believe that overfishing of the oceans is a modern phenomenon, a post-WWII industry dependent on technology and globalization to clear the sea out. While it's true that the last fifty years have seen an enormous decline in marine biodiversity, humans have been effective fishers for centuries. Callum Roberts chronicles old-time fishing in "The Unnatural History of the Sea," but a new discovery too recent to be included in his book demonstrates the fishing prowess of our forebears.
According to a BBC story, the Red Sea used to brim with giant clams that grew on shallow slopes just off shore. According to the fossil record, the clams' population dramatically dropped off with the arrival of humans in the area about 125,000 years ago.
More than a hundred thousand years of overfishing? That makes the wondyrechaun seem positively avant-garde.
Here at Oceana HQ, everyone has been buzzing about the new Batman flick. The consensus is that the movie is genius. Well, I hate to be the one to burst everyone's bubble, but it looks like Batman was no hero - to sharks, that is. Forget Jaws: the Caped Crusader was the original pop culture anti-shark rumormonger.
Callum Roberts, author of the excellent tome "The Unnatural History of the Sea," has tackled the nexus of ecology and economy in his blog on the Island Press website. Rising fuel costs, it seems, may be a blessing for stressed fish stocks now that many fishing ships can no longer afford to travel long distances for their catch.
I was inspired to write about this issue after reading an essay in Harper's about the fallibility of Gross Domestic Product. But Roberts introduces some concrete facts to put this all in perspective.
"If cod, haddock or flounder find their way onto your plate, the fuel cost of catching them was a third to a half of the weight of your fillet," he writes. "If line caught swordfish or tuna are your favourites, the fuel burnt to catch them was roughly equal to the weight of your fish portion."
Yikes. Fishermen are already protesting high fuel costs, and demand additional government subsidies to cover the difference.
Here at Oceana, we already know fuel subsidies are a bad idea. The fishing industry has depended on $20 billion in government handouts long before fuel costs skyrocketed. Thankfully our Cut the Bait team is already on the case, working hard at the World Trade Organization to ensure that subsidies don't increase - and that fish populations around the world get a much-needed rest.
Oh, sharks. When will you stop being terrifying?
Late last week, police charged a man with disorderly conduct for saying he spotted two great whites off the beach of Martha's Vineyard - the selfsame spot where movie-monster Jaws hunted humans in 1974.
Too bad the man's sighting was fabricated, and cleared the beaches for no reason. While the Jaws mythos is still going strong, your chance of being killed by a shark is one in 264 million.
This time of year, people flock to the beach - and whisper rumors of shark attacks. As a good Oceana reader knows, shark attacks are incredibly rare, and sharks have much more to fear from humans than vice versa. I've written a column about sharks and beaches for Away.com that you can read here. Don't miss my first column for Away.com on nesting sea turtles.
Today, Sprig.com features video from a recent Oceana event in New York. Check out what Ted Danson, Rosario Dawson and others have to say about saving the oceans.
Well, at least Stephen Colbert's take on the Arctic situation is pretty funny. A confluence of melting sea ice and increased demand for Arctic resources may spell disaster for the world's last great wilderness - ah, forget it. The video's much more entertaining than any description I can come up with, so click and enjoy.
The Standard-Times, a newspaper covering southern Massachusetts, features a blog about fishing issues. It's an appropriate topic for an area that has been part of America's oldest fishing communities. Waterscape polls its readers on fishing-related issues; currently, it wants to know whether you favor closing scallop fishing grounds to protect sea turtles. I think we know the answer to that one, right? Head on over and make your voice heard.
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