Environmental Think Space

The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing – Albert Einstein

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Plastic Soup

Here’s a humorous video on a very serious issue: plastic pollution.

And on a more serious note:

“If you could fast-forward 10,000 years and do an archaeological dig … you’d find a little line of plastic. What happened to those people? Well, they ate their own plastic and disrupted their genetic structure and weren’t able to reproduce. They didn’t last very long because they killed themselves … The ocean is warning us, and if we don’t listen it’s very easy for her to get rid of us.” — Oceanographer, Curtis Ebbesmeyer, Ph.D.


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Let’s bring justice to the fishies and our oceans

The Black Fish is an international marine conservation movement on a mission to end the industrial overfishing of our oceans. Their most recent campaign in combatting illegal fishing involves the use of drones.

Shadow View (a non profit organization which provides multiple UAS solutions for conservation and civilian projects) provides the drones for monitoring the seas for black listed vessels and other illegal fishing practices.

Check out the video:

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Water Risk Mapping Tool

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The World Resources Institute  launched its Aqueduct mapping tool. For anyone interested in water problems this is definitely something to spend some time with.

It uses 12 water risk indicators to create various maps of where and how water risks may be prevalent:

1. Baseline water stress
2. Inter-annual variability
3. Seasonal variability
4. Flood occurrence
5. Drought severity
6. Upstream storage
7. Groundwater stress
8. Return flow ratio
9. Upstream protected land
10. Media coverage
11. Access to water
12. Threatened amphibians

It is possible to see risk factors by specific water-intense industries including agriculture, food and beverage, chemicals, electric power, semiconductor, oil and gas, mining, construction materials, and textiles.

It also includes a tab where you can view projected change in baseline water stress which are based on three different scenarios of climate change and socio-economic development created by the IPCC: the A2, A1B, and B1 scenarios.

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People love technological solutions … but why?


“The natural world is far better at generating the services ecosystems provide than we are at engineering them. Unlike real reefs, Florida’s and Alabama’s underwater scrapyards disintegrate within five or ten years of disposal to litter the bottom with old car parts and crumbling panels. Seawalls cost millions of dollars per kilometre to build and have to be regularly maintained at great expense, whereas saltmarshes, mangroves and coral reefs protect the coast far better and look after themselves. Fish ponds produce one or a few varieties of fish, usually with large subsidies from wild nature in the form of feed, clean water, land and waste disposal. The mangroves, saltmarshes and tidal flats they replace are nurseries to dozens to commercially important species that grow and disperse to sustain fisheries more widely. In New Zealand, tests with plastic seagrass showed that it attracted a considerable variety and abundance of fish. Many estuaries in New Zealand have lost nearly all their natural seagrass since the 1960s. But real seagrass is far better at the job, with the added benefits of oxygenating the water, filtering wastes, binding sediment, capturing carbon and providing food for a host of animals from turtles to snails. Natural habitats are solar powered and will continue to deliver their multiple benefits as long as the sun shines and we take care not to harm them. So why are we finding plastic and concrete solutions rather than preserving and protecting our natural resources?” — Callum Roberts Ocean of Life: How Our Seas Are Changing 


We should be working with nature rather than overexploiting resources and manipulating it to our liking. Finding this balance will be essential to our survival, not the planet’s. Robert’s goes on to describe the benefits of marine reserves or marine protected areas (MPAs) in strengthening the ocean’s variety and abundance and gives examples from the Philippines, Fiji, Belize, Egypt, the Bahamas, South Africa, Florida, New Zealand, Scotland among other places which have demonstrated the benefits of setting aside parks in the sea. These benefits have included:

increases in the abundance, biomass, diversity and productivity of many organisms;

reductions in the loss of threatened and vulnerable species;

helping ecosystems recover from natural and human impacts;

the provision of reference sites for the evaluation of threats to biodiversity;

‘Spill over’ of fish from sanctuaries into areas open to fishing;

building resilience to protect against damaging external impacts, such as climate change;

and helping to maintain local cultures, economies and livelihoods that are intricately linked to the marine environment.


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Happy World Fisheries Day?

There is a crisis in our oceans and that means there’s a crisis surrounding our livelihoods! Today, November 21st, is World Fisheries Day … today we should be celebrating any achievements in sustainable fisheries and more importantly creating an awareness about the dire state of the world’s fisheries.

The declining state of the global fisheries has been characterized as a crisis resulting from unsustainable fishing practices, such as overfishing, by-catch, and IUU (illegal, unregulated, and unreported) fishing. Its seriousness can be exemplified by fishery collapse (such as the notorious Newfoundland cod fishery), the declining global fish stock/catch and ‘fishing down the food chain.’ This has serious consequences for humans and ecosystems in terms of unemployment, economic losses, declining sources of protein, and losses in biodiversity.

Super quick bullets on some sad stuff:

— 75% of fish stocks are either fully exploited, over-exploited, depleted or recovering









— Over-exploitation has been documented as causing revenue and job loss:

– the aggregate global fleet of over a million industrial and semi-industrial vessels has been operating at an annual loss of some $50-billion each year — a collosal loss that is being compensated by government subsidies to vessel owners, and all at taxpayers’ expense

– small-scale fishing communities have faced the brunt of unemployment. Although employment in the fishing industry has been growing globally, it has been decreasing in developed countries that are capital intensive economies … the DFO moratorium on the cod fishery (1992) resulted in the largest job loss in Canadian history causing the unemployment of 10,000 fishers, 12,400 plant workers in 400 coastal communities

— Ghost fishing involves lost or abandoned fishing gear that continues to catch fish. It is environmentally detrimental and the fish caught are wasted.












— By-catch which entails the incidental capture of mammals, sea-birds, turtles, sharks and numerous other species that are not targeted by fisheries. In many cases these species are throw back alive, dead or dying into the ocean. Nets kill dolphins, porpoises and whales, longline fishing kills birds, and bottom trawling devastates marine ecosystems.

Super quick bullets on some hopeful stuff:

— Sustainable seafood comes from initiatives to recognize and/or certify seafood that is caught or farmed in ways that consider the long-term vitality of the harvested species, non-targeted species and/or the ocean environment, depending on the particular initiative. Although there are criticisms involved with some initiatives, this sort of mechanism is a step in the direction toward sustainable seas and seafood. Examples include Friend of the Sea, Marine Stewardship Council, Dolphin Safe, Naturland, Fair-Fish, Fish Wise, ThisFish.org, etc.










— Community Supported Fisheries, or CSFs, are tailored after the idea of community supported agriculture enterprises. A CSF contributes freshly caught local seafood to the local markets while providing fishermen with a better price on less catch. These programs operate and nurture the triple bottom line:

  • Environmental stewardship: to encourage an ethic of ecological stewardship that results in creative, community-based approaches to marine conservation.
  • Local economies: to increase the viability of traditional coastal communities by fostering economic opportunities that support natural resource-based livelihoods.
  • Social improvements: to cultivate ties and establish bonds between shoreside communities and inshore urban, suburban and rural communities by providing fresh, local seafood.

Examples include Fisherman Frank in Ireland and  Off the Hook in Nova Scotia.



“I fished with my father, so long long ago
We were proud of our trade, and in us it did show
We held our heads high, there was lots of fish then
That was the time, when we were proud men
We challenged great storms and sometimes we won
Faced death and disaster, we rose with the sun
We worked and we toiled, we strained our men brane
We were a proud people, will we ere be again?

My father is gone now, and the fish are gone too.
Abused and mismanaged, oh what can we do?
I’m too old to change, but what of my sons,
How will they know that we weren’t the ones?
DFO regulations permitted the rape
Of our beautiful ocean, from head land to cape
They brought in big trollers, they tore up our twine
Politicians don’t care for what’s yours or what’s mine.”

— Fisherman’s Lament by Great Big Sea