Monday, December 24, 2012

Happy Holiday Season



Puff yourself full of love and giving this holiday season.  And stuff your face with treats, if that's your thing. 

Happy Holiday Season from Eco Ocean.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Good Reason to Carry a Knife


Check out this great clip.  Divers cut marine debris from a whale shark near Socorro Island.  The debris, barnacled with age, had sliced deeply into the fish's body.  One moment of simple, exciting relief in an ocean of trouble.


Source: You Tube, r1primo

Monday, December 17, 2012

Thanks for the Menhaden Victory


With the arguably good result Friday of the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission voting for a 20% menhaden catch reduction, two big thanks are in order. 

People who wrote their representatives, signed petitions, called their commissioners, or educated someone about the issue deserve thanks.  Their efforts had an impact and are much appreciated.  This victory is theirs, too.

The other big thanks goes to the scientists, activists, fishermen, and environmentalists who have been working very hard on this for years.  They have thought about this little fish and worked to save menhaden often with no direct result.  They have stood in the rain and gathered signatures or worked through the issues in myriad meetings for hours and hours.  They have toiled over menhaden, and the little fish, the oceans, and all of us are better for it.  They deserve the applause.

For me, I am grateful that concerned citizens and dedicated professionals are looking out for the health of the oceans.  Their work is absolutely inspiring and they represent another kind of victory.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Board Votes to Reduce Menhaden Catch 20%


Baltimore, MD  --

At the fisheries meeting right now and happy to report the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission has voted to reduce the Atlantic menhaden catch by 20%.  This is a good result, but of course it depends on who you ask, and the small victory came not so easily.

Catch reductions were as one commissioner said "where the rubber hits the road".  Until today, the menhaden fishery has largely been unregulated with hundreds of millions of fish being ground up for fishmeal every year.  This has lead to a steep decline in the little fish, which feeds many valuable species including striped bass.  

Some people here wanted a bigger catch reduction then the agreed 20%.  The science seemed to call for at least a 50% reduction.  Over 11,000 people asked for a 75% to even a moratorium during the public comment period.  The representatives from Virgina wanted no reduction at all given that most of the fishery's jobs are in their state. 

When the meeting began, a 25% catch reduction was the option up for vote.  After several motions moving the target around from a call to postpone the vote to 2014, to a 10% reduction, and at another point a 15% reduction, the final agreed catch reduction was 20%.  Although these are cold numbers, the motions were steeped in emotion.

It started with ardent comments by commission members that prompted smatterings of applause, which were soon squelched by the chairman.  The audience appeared to be a collection of environmentalists, fishermen, union members, media, and others.  Although there was no tally, applause seemed to follow comments in favor of menhaden conservation.  But the audience was antsy.

At one point, people vocally expressed their displeasure using a sound you'd more likely hear at a baseball game in the Bronx, NY.  Those were silenced with a threat by the chairman to clear the room.  People in uniforms showed up.  I thought they were Maryland State Police troopers but someone later said they were in fact state fisheries officers.

The highlight was the audience turning into a sea of yellow as people stood holding up large black and yellow signs that read "I'm from xx and I support menhaden conservation".  A glance through the audience and I saw many signs from Maryland, a surprisingly large number from Massachusetts, and most of the balance with New Jersey and New York.

After the historic vote, several people had the "we'll take it" attitude, and many called it a victory.

"The 25% reduction from the 2011 menhaden catch (a 20% reduction in catch over a three year average) is a good start. Tens of thousands of people from all walks of life—anglers, business owners, birders, scientists, conservationists, and more—have long been urging this sort of action because they know what menhaden mean for their coastal ecosystem and economy. Today those voices were heard," said Peter Baker of the Pew Environment Group.

Although there was arguably a good result today, let's not forget that many people have been working very hard on all of this for years.  They have thought about this little fish and worked to save menhaden often with no direct result.  They have stood in the rain and gathered signatures or worked through the issues in myriad meetings for hours and hours.  They have toiled over menhaden, and the little fish, the oceans, and all of us are better for it.  They deserve the applause.

For me, I am grateful that such dedicated professionals are looking out for the health of the oceans.  Their work is absolutely inspiring and they represent another kind of victory.

No Menhaden Moratorium But Something



The end of menhaden week is here.  That was too fast.  I hope the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission votes TODAY to give menhaden a break.  I'm actually excited to watch the proceedings.

Even with a good outcome today, menhaden will continue to need our help and protection.  The fight goes on for this heavily depleted little fish with such big importance to healthy oceans. 

Interesting to note, ahead of today's meeting the ASMFC decided to consider only a catch reduction range from 0-50%.  The people who asked for 75% catch reduction or an altogether moratorium are already going to be disappointed -- those levels are not even on the table.

A recent press release from the commission talked about people requesting “reductions from 0 – 50% from current harvest” during the public comment period.  From this information, the impression is that a 50% catch reduction is the top of the range of reduction requests.  But it’s not.

On closer inspection, over 7,000 people wrote letters during the public comments that asked for a higher range, from a 75% reduction in catch to a moratorium.  Another 3,000 plus people asked for a moratorium only.  That’s 11,000 people, about 8% of all public menhaden comments, who asked for something much more significant than a 50% catch reduction.

The significant reduction requests are available for viewing only in the commission’s board document -- a 1,269 page tome of past meeting minutes, schedules, draft amendments, scientific papers, and public comment letters.  Here's a selection of some of those letters sent into the ASMFC with senders' names removed:

Subject: Draft Amendment 2 
To Dr. Louis Daniel, ASMFC Menhaden Management Board Chair:

I am urging you to take leadership in protecting the Atlantic menhaden from overfishing.
When we lose a species it's gone forever. As Aldo Leopoldo said 'the first sign of intelligent tinkering is to save all the pieces.' For the sake of future generations, lets do all we can not to lose any more pieces of our world's biodiversity.
xx

The following letter was submitted by 7,234 individuals.

Dear Dr. Daniel,
I am writing to urge the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission to immediately end overfishing of menhaden. The draft amendment includes an option with no fishing reductions in 2013. This would be unacceptable. To reverse menhaden's steady decline and allow quick recovery, I urge you to reduce catch by at least 75 percent and consider a complete moratorium on this important forage fish for 2013.
For 2013, the draft proposal’s largest option for reduction is half of recent years' catch. Any fishing above that threshold is unjustified for a forage fish in decline. You must act now to significantly reduce harvest and allow menhaden to recover and ultimately resume its role as the foundation of the ocean ecosystem.

Thank you for your consideration.
xx


Dear Dr. Daniel,
I am a New Yorker from the Midwood section of Brooklyn. The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission must immediately end overfishing of menhaden. The draft amendment includes an option with no fishing reductions in 2013. This would be unacceptable.
As you know, menhaden provide food for other important fish, like bluefin tuna, as well as protected marine mammals and birds. At the same time, menhaden face excessive exploitation by commercial fishermen.
Please reduce catch by at least 75 percent and impose a complete moratorium on this important forage fish for 2013.
For 2013, the draft proposal’s largest option for reduction is half of recent years' catch. Any fishing above that threshold is unjustified for a forage fish in decline. You must act now to significantly reduce harvest and allow menhaden to recover and ultimately resume its role as the foundation of the ocean ecosystem.

xx
Brooklyn, NY 11230

MY six reasons to LEAVE MORE MENHADEN in the water (Maybe you have your own): 
  • I like healthy striped bass, ospreys, oysters, crabs, whales, tuna, and cod.
  • I hate wasting things, and menhaden are worth twice as much in the water than out.
  • I’m pretty sure that domesticated animals, including cats and dogs, don’t need fish meal especially at the expense of the ocean.
  • I know that omega-3 nutrients are available from other sources.
  • I’m optimistic that we can balance industry and natural systems so that everyone benefits including future generations.
  • I know it’s the right thing to do.
What can you do to help Atlantic menhaden?


9 Ways to Take Action for Menhaden:

1. Write your ASMFC commissioners.
2. Attend ASMFC meetings. 
3. Attend the meeting in Baltimore this Friday (12/14/12).
4. Write your government.
5. Join menhaden campaigns.
6. Contribute to organizations supporting menhaden.
7. Avoid products containing fishmeal.
8. Write Omega Protein.
9. Go to the beach.

1. Write a note to your state’s Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission members (they decide how many menhaden to take out of the fishery).  Ask them to give menhaden a break.  There are 3 commissioners each for the 15 Atlantic states: ME, NH, MA, RI, CT, NY, NJ, PA, DE, MD, VA, NC, SC, GA, and FL.

Click “Commissioners” here to look up your reps and get their email addresses.  


Say whatever you want in your note but you may as well tell them why you love menhaden.  “They’re kinda cute.” or “I like those buggy eyes.” or “Catching striped bass is fun.”  Stuff like that.  Here’s some helpful talking points.


2. Attend the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission meetings.  Say something, even if it’s only “I’m from xx (your state) and menhaden are important to me.”  Go ahead, have fun expressing yourself. 

3. Attend the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission meeting in Baltimore this Friday, December 14th.  It’s free and open to the public.  I’ll see you there! 

Where exactly: Best Western Plus Hotel and Conference Center, Chesapeake Room, 5625 O’Donnell Street, Baltimore, Maryland; 410.633.9500.

4. Write your representatives in Congress and your Governor.  Find Senators here.  Find Representatives here.  Tell them menhaden are important and you.  They need to know the importance of this little fish to their voters. 

5. Join menhaden campaigns.  Stay informed, find opportunities to take action, and be inspired.  Pew is leading the charge and Menhaden Defenders are also in the fight with their Join the Battle for the Bunker campaign. 

6. Contribute to organizations like Earthjustice and the Sierra Club who have boots on the ground fighting for this fantastic little fish.  Any amount helps. Your kind generosity is always appreciated.

7. Avoid foods and products that contain fish meal.

8. Write to the Omega Protein company.  Ask them to give menhaden a break.  A serious break. Omega pulls the most menhaden out of the sea – 410 million pounds a year and counting for products like paint, water repellents, dog food, plant fertilizers, and supplements. 

9. Go to the ocean, get on it, get in it, walk along it, gaze at it.  Be refreshed and reminded of what's important.



Thursday, December 13, 2012

Mighty Menhaden



Welcome to Menhaden Week!  The little fish is in big trouble and the governing body, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, will vote on the fish’s fate at the end of this week. 

Little Big

Small brains guide brawny packets,
a little fish by linear ways
of rulers and man,
skin a crystal veneer,
an age old defense, stick together to look big,
they know in those scared bug eyes,
they will never be big
But men ought heed menhaden,
from sun they come, like everything,
the sugars of green floating free,
giving emerald living green-blue
so very small, very small
piled up into them by the billions
a bolt
passed onto swift predators
to beat their hearts fiercer still, 
hungry for life, hungry,
streaming in like terrors
a little bigger, bigger still,
keeping the pace at the speed of life,
the sun keeps shining
everyone eats, everyone eats,
the fish flashes white and silver
the circle keeps going
the light keeps all alive,
bright with muscle
of something for something
but just enough, enough
to carry it all from the beginning
this must go on,
like the solar arc across the sky
you see it,
to steal it is to entertain
a broken blue,
dark and empty

What can you do to help Atlantic menhaden?


9 Ways to Take Action for Menhaden:

1. Write your ASMFC commissioners.
2. Attend ASMFC meetings. 
3. Attend the meeting in Baltimore this Friday (12/14/12).
4. Write your government.
5. Join menhaden campaigns.
6. Contribute to organizations supporting menhaden.
7. Avoid products containing fishmeal.
8. Write Omega Protein.
9. Go to the beach.

1. Write a note to your state’s Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission members (they decide how many menhaden to take out of the fishery).  Ask them to give menhaden a break.  There are 3 commissioners each for the 15 Atlantic states: ME, NH, MA, RI, CT, NY, NJ, PA, DE, MD, VA, NC, SC, GA, and FL.

Click “Commissioners” here to look up your reps and get their email addresses.  


Say whatever you want in your note but you may as well tell them why you love menhaden.  “They’re kinda cute.” or “I like those buggy eyes.” or “Catching striped bass is fun.”  Stuff like that.  Here’s some helpful talking points.


2. Attend the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission meetings.  Say something, even if it’s only “I’m from xx (your state) and menhaden are important to me.”  Go ahead, have fun expressing yourself. 

3. Attend the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission meeting in Baltimore this Friday, December 14th.  It’s free and open to the public.  I’ll see you there! 

Where exactly: Best Western Plus Hotel and Conference Center, Chesapeake Room, 5625 O’Donnell Street, Baltimore, Maryland; 410.633.9500.

4. Write your representatives in Congress and your Governor.  Find Senators here.  Find Representatives here

Tell them menhaden are important and you.  They need to know the importance of this little fish to their voters. 

5. Join menhaden campaigns.  Stay informed, find opportunities to take action, and be inspired.  Pew is leading the charge and Menhaden Defenders are also in the fight with their Join the Battle for the Bunker campaign. 

6. Contribute to organizations like Earthjustice and the Sierra Club who have boots on the ground fighting for this fantastic little fish.  Any amount helps. Your kind generosity is always appreciated.

7. Avoid foods and products that contain fish meal.

8. Write to the Omega Protein company.  Ask them to give menhaden a break.  A serious break. Omega pulls the most menhaden out of the sea – 410 million pounds a year and counting for products like paint, water repellents, dog food, plant fertilizers, and supplements. 

9. Go to the ocean, get on it, get in it, walk along it, gaze at it.  Be refreshed and reminded of what's important.


Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Call Your Representative for Menhaden


The Johns have it.  Representatives John Sarbanes (MD) and John Carney (DE) have just drafted a letter to the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission asking for a reduction in the menhaden catch. 

The more representatives that sign onto it the better.  The deadline for signing on is tomorrow (Thursday, 12/13/12).

What can you do?  Please call your representative before noon tomorrow and encourage them to sign onto the letter.  Look up your representative's number here

I just did it for mine.  I also emailed my rep's office.  Read more about what to say at the Herring Alliance.

Here is a copy of the letter the reps will send: 

Mr. Robert E. Beal, Executive Director
Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission
1050 North Highland Street, Suite 200A-N
Arlington, VA 22201

Dear Executive Director Beal:

We are writing to request that the Atlantic State Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) end overfishing immediately and rebuild the Atlantic menhaden fish population as soon as possible by establishing a coastwide science-based catch limit and a firm commitment to meeting the rebuilding goals in Amendment 2.

In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, our Atlantic states are working together effectively in disaster recovery efforts aimed at restoring coastal businesses and ecosystems. In the same cooperative spirit, the ASMFC should act decisively to address menhaden depletion by passing Amendment 2 with a conservation plan that will quickly and effectively rebuild this resource and secure the extensive economic and ecological benefits it provides to our region.

Atlantic menhaden support billions of dollars of recreational and commercial activity from Florida to Maine.  Menhaden are often referred to as “the most important fish in the sea” because they are a critical link in the marine food web and prey for a wide diversity of fish, birds and marine mammals, such as striped bass, bluefish, Atlantic tuna, whales and osprey.  Atlantic menhaden supports one industrial fishery and nearly all Atlantic recreational fisheries.  According to the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration’s 2009 Fisheries Economics of the United States, recreational anglers took over 43 million fishing trips along the Atlantic coast in 2009, contributing nearly $11 billion in sales to the U.S. economy, $3.7 billion in value added impacts, while supporting over 90,000 full and part-time jobs. Given the significance of Atlantic menhaden to our recreational and commercial fisheries, as well as our tourism industries, we must avoid additional risks to Atlantic menhaden and focus on rebuilding this economic engine.

Currently, Atlantic menhaden provide only a fraction of their potential benefits because the population has been significantly reduced to less than 10 percent of levels seen in the 1980s. The population is currently subject to overfishing, and has been at or above this threshold for 54 of the past 57 years.  Overfishing may continue without an overall limit on the number of menhaden that can be taken from the Atlantic Ocean.  Vast quantities of Atlantic menhaden are caught in federal waters, yet the ASMFC has not taken steps to end overfishing in the state waters over which it has jurisdiction, nor made a recommendation that the federal government implement necessary conservation and management measures in federal waters.  Specifically, the ASMFC must take decisive steps to end overfishing in accordance with scientific advice, like federally-managed fisheries which require catch limits to end and prevent overfishing.

We commend the ASMFC for responding to more than 90,000 constituent comments in November 2011 by adopting new science-based rebuilding goals in Addendum V and developing Amendment 2 to end overfishing and recover from a historically low level of abundance.  The Commission can now ensure that the amendment process it initiated last year with strong public support will result in real changes on the water and in our coastal economies.

The ASMFC’s menhaden decision on December 14th can make a significant and lasting contribution to the success of East Coast state and federal restoration efforts.  In Amendment 2, we urge the Commission to manage menhaden based on the best scientific information available, to adopt a coast-wide annual catch limit that can be implemented in 2013, to manage to the target fishing level in as short a time period as possible and to make a firm, time-certain commitment to reaching those target levels, and to reduce catch immediately to end overfishing and rebuild the Atlantic menhaden population. These proactive and common-sense steps will put menhaden on the road to recovery, safeguard a key component of Atlantic Ocean ecosystems, and help sustain and grow our vibrant coastal economies.  Thank you for considering our request.

Menhaden by the Numbers



Welcome to Menhaden Week!  The little fish is in big trouble and the governing body, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, will vote on the fish’s fate at the end of this week. 


The Atlantic menhaden population is at its lowest point in 54 years, and the trend is down, down, down.

Menhaden stocks have declined 86% in the last three decades, due to industrial overfishing. 

Menhaden are worth twice as much in the water than not.  As feed for commercial species like bass, menhaden are the most valuable.

Some scientists and experts recommend a 50% cut in the menhaden catch, and management that allows menhaden stocks to rebuild to at least four times their current size.

When the fisheries commission asked for public comment on menhaden, 114,795 people asked for major reductions in the annual catch of menhaden and 594 asked for no reductions.  Over 11,000 people asked for a moratorium or a 75% reduction in fishing for menhaden.

Pew put together this great infographic on menhaden:


What can you do to help Atlantic menhaden?


9 Ways to Take Action for Menhaden:

1. Write your ASMFC commissioners.
2. Attend ASMFC meetings. 
3. Attend the meeting in Baltimore this Friday (12/14/12).
4. Write your government.
5. Join menhaden campaigns.
6. Contribute to organizations supporting menhaden.
7. Avoid products containing fishmeal.
8. Write Omega Protein.
9. Go to the beach.

1. Write a note to your state’s Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission members (they decide how many menhaden to take out of the fishery).  Ask them to give menhaden a break.  There are 3 commissioners each for the 15 Atlantic states: ME, NH, MA, RI, CT, NY, NJ, PA, DE, MD, VA, NC, SC, GA, and FL.

Click “Commissioners” here to look up your reps and get their email addresses.  


Say whatever you want in your note but you may as well tell them why you love menhaden.  “They’re kinda cute.” or “I like those buggy eyes.” or “Catching striped bass is fun.”  Stuff like that.  Here’s some helpful talking points.


2. Attend the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission meetings.  Say something, even if it’s only “I’m from xx (your state) and menhaden are important to me.”  Go ahead, have fun expressing yourself. 

3. Attend the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission meeting in Baltimore this Friday, December 14th.  It’s free and open to the public.  I’ll see you there! 

Where exactly: Best Western Plus Hotel and Conference Center, Chesapeake Room, 5625 O’Donnell Street, Baltimore, Maryland; 410.633.9500.

4. Write your representatives in Congress and your Governor.  Find Senators here.  Find Representatives here

Tell them menhaden are important and you.  They need to know the importance of this little fish to their voters. 

5. Join menhaden campaigns.  Stay informed, find opportunities to take action, and be inspired.  Pew is leading the charge and Menhaden Defenders are also in the fight with their Join the Battle for the Bunker campaign. 

6. Contribute to organizations like Earthjustice and the Sierra Club who have boots on the ground fighting for this fantastic little fish.  Any amount helps. Your kind generosity is always appreciated.

7. Avoid foods and products that contain fish meal.

8. Write to the Omega Protein company.  Ask them to give menhaden a break.  A serious break. Omega pulls the most menhaden out of the sea – 410 million pounds a year and counting for products like paint, water repellents, dog food, plant fertilizers, and supplements. 

9. Go to the ocean, get on it, get in it, walk along it, gaze at it.  Be refreshed and reminded of what's important.


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

A Matter of Menhaden

Welcome to Menhaden Week!  The little fish is in big trouble and the governing body, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, will vote on the fish’s fate at the end of this week. 

Menhaden is a little fish but a power pack of nutrients crucial to feeding bigger fish and mammals.  Also called bunker, bug eyes, fat back, and American sardine, the name menhaden comes from the Native American word Munnawhatteaug, which means "that which manures" (fertilizer).  Native Americans buried the fish next to new plant seedlings to promote growth.

Today, menhaden cannot grow fast enough.  The fish is rapidly disappearing from east coast US waters.  Here's a short video about what's going on and why menhaden matter.



"Atlantic menhaden stocks have declined 86% in the last three decades, due to sustained industrial overfishing.  The commercial menhaden fishery is made up of two sectors, a reduction fishery that comprises approximately 80 percent of landings, and a bait fishery that harvests the remaining 20 percent," according to Menhaden Defenders.


You get a good idea why over 128,000 people ( a new record) wrote the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission to ask for catch reductions. 

What can you do to help Atlantic menhaden?


9 Ways to Take Action for Menhaden:

1. Write your ASMFC commissioners.
2. Attend ASMFC meetings. 
3. Attend the meeting in Baltimore this Friday (12/14/12).
4. Write your government.
5. Join menhaden campaigns.
6. Contribute to organizations supporting menhaden.
7. Avoid products containing fishmeal.
8. Write Omega Protein.
9. Go to the beach.

1. Write a note to your state’s Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission members (they decide how many menhaden to take out of the fishery).  Ask them to give menhaden a break.  There are 3 commissioners each for the 15 Atlantic states: ME, NH, MA, RI, CT, NY, NJ, PA, DE, MD, VA, NC, SC, GA, and FL.

Click “Commissioners” here to look up your reps and get their email addresses.  


Say whatever you want in your note but you may as well tell them why you love menhaden.  “They’re kinda cute.” or “I like those buggy eyes.” or “Catching striped bass is fun.”  Stuff like that.  Here’s some helpful talking points.


2. Attend the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission meetings.  Say something, even if it’s only “I’m from xx (your state) and menhaden are important to me.”  Go ahead, have fun expressing yourself. 

3. Attend the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission meeting in Baltimore this Friday, December 14th.  It’s free and open to the public.  I’ll see you there! 

Where exactly: Best Western Plus Hotel and Conference Center, Chesapeake Room, 5625 O’Donnell Street, Baltimore, Maryland; 410.633.9500.

4. Write your representatives in Congress and your Governor.  Find Senators here.  Find Representatives here.  Tell them menhaden are important and you.  They need to know the importance of this little fish to their voters. 

5. Join menhaden campaigns.  Stay informed, find opportunities to take action, and be inspired.  Pew is leading the charge and Menhaden Defenders are also in the fight with their Join the Battle for the Bunker campaign. 

6. Contribute to organizations like Earthjustice and the Sierra Club who have boots on the ground fighting for this fantastic little fish.  Any amount helps. Your kind generosity is always appreciated.

7. Avoid foods and products that contain fish meal.

8. Write to the Omega Protein company.  Ask them to give menhaden a break.  A serious break. Omega pulls the most menhaden out of the sea – 410 million pounds a year and counting for products like paint, water repellents, dog food, plant fertilizers, and supplements. 

9. Go to the ocean, get on it, get in it, walk along it, gaze at it.  Be refreshed and reminded of what's important.


Monday, December 10, 2012

What the Heck is a Menhaden?


Welcome to Menhaden Week!  The little fish is in big trouble and the governing body, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, will vote on the fish’s fate at the end of this week.


What the heck is a menhaden?  Sounds like a town in Germany.

It’s a fish.  Atlantic menhaden to be exact.  But a very important fish.  A very important fish that is rapidly disappearing from US coastal waters.

This trouble for Atlantic menhaden is trouble for all the fish and mammals that eat menhaden including striped bass, tuna, cod, and whales.

“Scientists suspect that the ecological impacts of dwindling menhaden may be widespread. Studies of osprey and striped bass have revealed that menhaden has declined as a part of the diet of these predators.  Striped bass are showing marked signs of stress, malnutrition, and disease. The shortage threatens the East Coast's marine food web and could cripple commercial and sport fishing industries.

Striped bass fishing alone generates $6.9 billion and 68,000 jobs for the commercial and recreational fishing industries on the East Coast,” according to the Pew Environment campaign.

What can you do to help Atlantic menhaden?


9 Ways to Take Action for Menhaden:

1. Write your ASMFC commissioners.
2. Attend ASMFC meetings. 
3. Attend the meeting in Baltimore this Friday (12/14/12).
4. Write your government.
5. Join menhaden campaigns.
6. Contribute to organizations supporting menhaden.
7. Avoid products containing fishmeal.
8. Write Omega Protein.
9. Go to the beach.

1. Write a note to your state’s Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission members (they decide how many menhaden to take out of the fishery).  Ask them to give menhaden a break.  There are 3 commissioners each for the 15 Atlantic states: ME, NH, MA, RI, CT, NY, NJ, PA, DE, MD, VA, NC, SC, GA, and FL.

Click “Commissioners” here to look up your reps and get their email addresses.  


Say whatever you want in your note but you may as well tell them why you love menhaden.  “They’re kinda cute.” or “I like those buggy eyes.” or “Catching striped bass is fun.”  Stuff like that.  Here’s some helpful talking points.


2. Attend the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission meetings.  Say something, even if it’s only “I’m from xx (your state) and menhaden are important to me.”  Go ahead, have fun expressing yourself. 

3. Attend the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission meeting in Baltimore this Friday, December 14th.  It’s free and open to the public.  I’ll see you there! 

Where exactly: Best Western Plus Hotel and Conference Center, Chesapeake Room, 5625 O’Donnell Street, Baltimore, Maryland; 410.633.9500.

4. Write your representatives in Congress and your Governor.  Find Senators here.  Find Representatives here

Tell them menhaden are important and you.  They need to know the importance of this little fish to their voters. 

5. Join menhaden campaigns.  Stay informed, find opportunities to take action, and be inspired.  Pew is leading the charge and Menhaden Defenders are also in the fight with their Join the Battle for the Bunker campaign. 

6. Contribute to organizations like Earthjustice and the Sierra Club who have boots on the ground fighting for this fantastic little fish.  Any amount helps. Your kind generosity is always appreciated.

7. Avoid foods and products that contain fish meal.

8. Write to the Omega Protein company.  Ask them to give menhaden a break.  A serious break. Omega pulls the most menhaden out of the sea – 410 million pounds a year and counting for products like paint, water repellents, dog food, plant fertilizers, and supplements. 

9. Go to the ocean, get on it, get in it, walk along it, gaze at it.  Be refreshed and reminded of what's important.


Thursday, December 6, 2012

Brains and Business Brawn



What does $130 million get you?  Sixty six energy projects supported by the U.S. Advanced Research Projects Agency for Energy targeted at reducing the costs of clean energy.

MIT Technology Review hand picked five of these, including wind turbine blades made of fabric and a process to make the US less reliant on rare-earth metals.  The metals come primarily from China but are used in the production of hybrid vehicle and wind turbines.

Another project is a way to cut natural gas use in half and reduce emissions by turning the heat way up when gas is burned to make electricity.  If natural gas is the transition fuel on our way to renewables, this innovation would have obvious benefits. 

We have the brains, now let's show some business brawn.

See all the projects

image: bitcointalk.org

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Shoving Renewables Off the Fiscal Cliff


Another voice, this time a Congressman from Vermont, advises against throwing the renewable energy tax credit off the fiscal cliff.

The consensus is that if we shove this important incentive off that cliff, jobs, clean air, and opportunity go with it into the chasm.


"We need a national energy policy that moves towards clean energy...there's real opportunity in creating jobs if we move aggressively into standing up a clean energy economy," said Congressman Peter Welch on Vermont Public Radio News.  

"If the production tax credit that has powered the wind industry to record levels of installed megawatts over the last few years is killed, the American Wind Energy Association estimates that 37,000 jobs could be lost overall," according to Matt Sledge in the Huffington Post.

Then there's something we can all relate to -- clean air.  I'd like my air and the air of my friends and family to be clean as we run our lives on renewable, pollution-free energy.

What's more, government support of fledgling industries has significant precedence. 

"Throughout our country's history -- from aviation to agriculture, from biotechnologies to computer technologies -- the federal government has supported the private sector to keep the United States at the technological forefront of important industries.  To seize the clean energy opportunity, we must do so again - and we must act now," said Richard Kauffman, senior adviser to the secretary of energy.

image: 123rf.com

Friday, November 30, 2012

The Myth of Beating Nature



Can your past inform your future?  Of course it can, in good and bad ways, and beach replenishment and coastal re-building are no different.

This is a case of the bad but we can learn from it.  An audio story on Radio Times asks if beach replenishment is worth the millions in taxpayer dollars especially given the fact that the beach will soon be washed away again and replenishment begins all over.

It's like the Myth of Sisyphus. In Greek mythology, Sisyphus pushed a rock up a hill only to watch it roll back down, over and over again  forever he did this.  It was the epitome of the absurd to Albert Camus, the French philosopher.  

Post Sandy, knowledgeable people (Carl Safina Rebuilding After Sandy is Too Big a Risk, Orrin Pilky Retreat from the Beach) call for a reassessment of the knee jerk re-building in high risk areas along the coast.  Taxpayers pay for much of it and it's just putting people at risk again.

Sounds absurd but it happens all over the country including the Northeast US.  

"We can avoid damage like that of Hurricane Sandy if we encourage people to move and discourage further development," said Norbert Psuty, Rutgers Professor of Marine and Coastal Sciences in a New York Times discussion titled: Washed Away by Storms, Paid for by Taxpayers

Moving back from the shore is smart and sustainable.  It's not building as close to the water as possible, flattening the natural dunes, and replacing the natural shoreline with a built one.

Natural systems like dunes and wetlands protect the beach, inland ecosystems, and homes and memories.  It's wonderfully displayed in several places on eastern Long Island, New York.  But if you walk the beach in Long Beach Island, New Jersey, for example, it's like the beach is a sidewalk flush along rows of big houses.

It's time to take a lesson from this mess and build smarter. 

It's a tough one admittedly, because rebuilding, a close cousin to persevering, comes not from the head but the heart.  It's generally good to be "Jersey Strong" and to "Give no Ground".  Yet we're not winning anything with rebuilding.  Nature always wins.  We stand only to lose more lives and money.

At some point, Sisyphus has to walk away before his heart bursts. 

images: esteeklar.com, dailymail

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

German Clean Energy: Life Over Money



Germany is once again getting it done.  Already a quarter of their power grid is renewable and they have big plans for more.  So when someone says renewables are a technology or a free market problem in the US, that's baloney.  Case and point: the Germans.

When you read Truthdig's coverage of a recent renewable energy conference in Germany, you get just how much of an opportunity the US is squandering and the unfortunate irony of it all -- they even call it an American idea to begin with. 

Here's some: 

"Since 2000, Germany has converted 25 percent of its power grid to renewable energy sources such as solar, wind and biomass. The architects of the clean energy movement Energiewende, which translates to 'energy transformation,' estimate that from 80 percent to 100 percent of Germany’s electricity will come from renewable sources by 2050.

Germans are baffled that the United States has not taken the same path. Not only is the U.S. the wealthiest nation in the world, but it’s also credited with jump-starting Germany’s green movement 40 years ago.

'This is a very American idea,' Arne Jungjohann, a director at the Heinrich Boll Stiftung Foundation (HBSF), said at a news conference Tuesday morning in Washington, D.C.

The largest difference, panelists said, between Germany and the U.S. is how reactive the government is to its citizens. Democracy in Germany has meant keeping and strengthening regulatory agencies while forming policies that put public ownership ahead of private ownership.

'In the end, it isn’t about making money. It’s about quality of life.'"

image: cleantechnica.com


Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Turkey Day



It's Thanksgiving in the US, and somewhere between stuffing the turkey and our faces, it's time to ask what we are thankful for, which is not such a bad thing to ask.

I am thankful for a loving family and friends.  I am thankful for my health.  I am thankful for the gift of nature.

And they are all related.  That's why I'll keep harping about how important (and urgent) it is to support healthy oceans and clean energy.

Don't be a turkey, support the green and blue bountiful planet.

Happy Thanksgiving! 

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

How Green is Your Data?



That (annoying) Microsoft animated paper clip is back.  This time in human form as a reminder from Greenpeace that it takes huge amounts of electricity to run our modern online lives and it's time we asked where that electricity comes from.  Go Greenpeace.

It's not the electricity itself that is the problem -- it's the way it's generated.  If the electricity is being generated in the US, chances are most of it is made by burning fossil fuels like coal and natural gas, which is just not sustainable and causes that little giant thing you may have heard about called climate change.

So even darlings of generation progressive like Microsoft, Apple, Amazon, Google, and Facebook have to own up to the amount of dirty energy they consume.  I'd much rather store my data or buy stuff from a company whose cloud is clean and white rather than gray like the pall that spews out of a coal-fired plant.

It's only a matter of time before someone asks you:  'How green is your data?'

Like this:  I ride my bike, take mass transit, recycle, use reusable bags, support wind power, and enjoy the power of nature as much as possible so I don't want my online experience to be marred by dirty fossil fuels.

How green is your data?

image: adamz.co.uk

Thursday, November 15, 2012

You Decide



The other day, the Animal Planet show Whale Wars came up in a conversation with a friend who is well-versed in the environment but would hesitate to call himself an environmentalist.

I asked him: do you think Sea Shepard leader Paul Watson is a criminal or a hero?

He responded quickly: hero.

You decide.

Powerful nations have issued arrest warrants for Watson becasue he harasses Japanese whalers in the Southern Ocean.  The Japanese whalers apparently take advantage of a loop hole in International Whaling Commission rules and take whales for "scientific research".  This research hopes to catch and kill 900 whales -- 850 minke and 50 fin whales -- this season, according to the New Zealand Herald.  On some lists, fin whales are classified as endangered.

Sea Shepard will try once again to stop them from killing any whales.  Their methods include boat maneuvers to block the whalers and rancid butter tossed onto the processing decks of the whaling ships (it ruins the fresh whale meat).  There have been collisions, and it seems only a matter of time before someone gets hurt.

Some say they do not agree with whale hunting but they would like to see Sea Shepard do it in a different way.  Others say different ways have been tried including international legislation and steady condemnation by international groups, but these are not working.

Some contend Watson is just in it for the limelight.  Hard to know but anyway, so what?  His methods bring attention to the issue.

Maybe Watson is both a hero and a criminal.  One man's patriot is another man's terrorist?

Perhaps one relatively small organization challenging the national whaling fleet of Japan in the dicey Southern Ocean deserves the benefit of the doubt.

It's difficult to trust the Japanese intentions toward the oceans considering their ongoing behavior, which includes a relentless pursuit of the very last bluefin tuna despite the consequences, and their infamous dolphin slaughter at Taiji.  

Just because it remains legal does not make it right.  Maybe it's time to give the whales a break.  You decide.


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

We Left Silence



An ocean full of loud, mesmerizing sounds made from whales?

It fires the imagination, and it appears to have been the natural order of things for a long time until guess who found out whale oil made good flame.

Researchers dug back through records of Russian whalers (not the records they showed the taxman but the real records of how many whales they caught) to create a picture of whale abundance and undersea decibels.

In the 19th century North Atlantic, it would have been as loud as 126 decibels, enough to make Led Zeppelin proud, according to the LA Times.

What that means is that there were so many whales they filled the deep blue with lively sound.

When we hauled the last whale (almost the very last) out of the ocean, what was left?  Silence. 

Maybe too, the singular echo of a lone whale fading into the emptiness of extinction.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Like Mark Twain, Clean Energy is Alive and Well



Happily, clean energy is like Mark Twain whose "reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated."

Despite what David Brooks thinks.  Clean energy defenders thoroughly countered his recent attempt at clean energy's eulogy.  

That at least several influential people responded to Brooks's funeral dirge in the first place is reason enough for hope.  It's clear that clean energy is a business not a cause. 

Stephen Cowell, CEO of Conservation Services Group, provided several great points not least of which is that we need renewable energy in our future; calling it unnecessary is folly:

"We may be able to extend our fossil fuel addiction by another 30 years, but we can't afford to close our eyes to long-term reality in the face of short-term economic conditions. We must continue supporting renewable energy and efficient technologies, or the planet, us, our children and future generations will suffer." 

Cowell also challenged the so-called demise of clean energy investments:

"Despite a few that have not fared well, many clean energy investments are paying off. At a 90 percent success rate, they're far outpacing the success of private, venture-capital-funded companies and are employing thousands.

In terms of the loan recipients, the federal government has a very respectable track record. Of the 33 companies that received federal support, only three have gone out of business. This is hardly a "wasteful disappointment." We should celebrate these success stories, instead of allowing them to be overshadowed by the Solyndras of the industry."

Read his whole post here.

Meanwhile, Frances Moore Lappe, author of  Diet for a Small Planet, finds clean energy's strong heartbeat:

"Even here in the U.S., with our comparatively timid renewable energy platform, analysis by the Brookings Institution shows that despite the recession, from 2008-2010, US jobs in clean energy -- like smart grids, solar PV and wind -- outpaced our employment growth in other sectors by about two to one, thanks in part to the federal stimulus.

What's more, clean, technology-related jobs already outnumber fossil fuel jobs, even though those dirty jobs have benefited from billions of government support annually over many decades."

Read her whole post here.

As I'm sure Mark Twain toasted his own health (with much humor), I'll raise the cup to clean energy.  Long live clean energy.