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A Few Simple Things You Can Do To Help The Oceans If You Don’t Have $53 Million Handy

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.


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Yesterday Oceana announced the exciting news that they are part recipients of a $53 million commitment over five years from Bloomberg Philanthropies as part of its new Vibrant Oceans initiative, meant to promote fishing reforms in Brazil, The Philippines and Chile, countries which host some of the world’s largest fisheries.

Other beneficiaries of the grant include Rare, a conservation non-profit that works at local and community levels to solve environmental problems, and EKO Asset Management, an ecologically-focused investment and advisory firm.

In a press release from Oceana, Paul Greenberg, author of the book Four Fish laid out the importance of enacting reforms: “If we don’t act now to protect our world’s oceans from over-fishing, we risk jeopardizing a vital source of food and income for billions of people – and permanently damaging a marine ecosystem that sustains so many species, including our own. . . Even though we are fishing more and using advanced technologies, the amount of fish caught has declined nearly 8% since the 1990s and demand for fish is projected to rise 20% by 2030.”

In the same release, Dr. Kristian Parker, Chair of Oceana Board of Directors, said: “I can think of few philanthropic investments that take on, in a significant manner, three major global challenges facing humanity: reducing future climate emissions from agriculture, protecting us from the loss of both terrestrial and marine biodiversity, and ensuring a healthy source of protein for the world, forever. Improving the fisheries policies of major fishing nations will do these things,”

While the Bloomberg investment is great news for the oceans, simple actions by regular folk will also be needed to ensure they remain a source of healthy food for future generations. My last post featured an interview with Andy Sharpless, CEO of Oceana, describing the need for industrial fishing reforms, but also the need for a change in our eating habits. In his book, The Perfect Protein, Sharpless and his co-author Suzannah Evans make the case for eating smaller fish, lower down on the food chain. To support that recommendation, they include a number of recipes from some top chefs that feature small, sustainable, and delicious ocean critters. Making use of these recipes is a great way to promote more sustainable eating.

Here are some additional suggestions to help you eat better and help the oceans:

1. Learn more! The following websites have a host of wonderful information about how to lessen your impact on ocean biodiversity and habitat, but also ways you can proactively take part in making the oceans healthier:

Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch
Fishwatch.gov
Oceana.org
New England Aquarium Sustainable Seafood Programs

2. Eat sustainable seafood. Channeling Michael Pollan, Sharpless and Evans provide this advice when it comes to eating seafood: “Eat wild seafood, not too much of the big fish, mostly local.” To help you do that, see the next step. In the meantime, opting for smaller forage fish like sardines, herring, or anchovies is almost always going to be better for you, and better for the ocean, than choosing the more expensive fish like tuna and swordfish.

3. Get Monterey Bay Aquarium’s mobile Seafood Watch app, or download the latest pocket guide for in-season sustainable seafood in your region. The easy-to-follow guides will let you know the best and worst choices for your plate.

4. Read this blog! Gotta plug the blog. I have another story in the pipeline that I’m really excited about that you should be seeing soon (about ocean vegetables–that’s all I’ll say for now), but my fellow SciAm Food Matters bloggers are sure to touch on this subject in the future, so stay in touch, and follow us on twitter.

If you missed it last week, here’s the video about Oceana and their work from the last post:

Patrick Mustain About the Author: Patrick Mustain is a Communications Manager at the Yale Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity. He is interested in how environmental factors (built, social, media, economic, etc.) affect health behaviors and outcomes, especially those places where media and public health intersect. You can find more of his work at his website, patrickmustain.com. Follow on Twitter @patrickmustain.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.






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  1. 1. schatzieD 12:05 pm 01/30/2014

    Thank you for your great article. Point(s) taken. Is there somewhere, like a blog or website, that you can suggest that lays out everyday ideas to help reduce carbon emissions other than the really obvious ones like drive less, lights off, less water bottles, etc.? Sometimes it just seems overwhelming and like there isn’t enough that each of us can do to help on a daily basis that we can incorporate into our everyday lives. Any suggestions that you have would be appreciated. Thanks.

    Link to this

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