Support Legislation – Good For Fish & Fishermen

Redfish illustration by Dina Chapeau, ORI 2013

Redfish illustration by Dina Chapeau, ORI 2013

Dear Senator,

I am writing to support a strong Magnuson Stevens Fisheries Management Act, including more funding for the fisheries science and management necessary to adequately implement the law. There is much to put on the table for the Senate’s consideration – both positive and negative, what’s working and what’s not. Only the broadest and deepest perspectives will enable determinations of where and if modifications are needed. More science, not less, is necessary to inform the responsible stewardship that drives fishery decisions.

To take an ecosystem-based approach to manage hundreds of marine fish populations is a bit more complicated and unpredictable than is rocket science. To sustain fish stocks through perpetuity while always having a great diversity of healthy seafood available for all is a bit more difficult than is operating a widget factory. Because the ocean contains interrelationships between animals that we do not yet understand, and because the seas are changing in both expected and unexpected ways at the same time, the management of fish populations must be responsive and adaptive to changing conditions. Our best hope is, therefore, increased science and increased information from fishermen, subsistence users, interest groups and individuals. More science, not funding cuts, and more dialogue, less dogma, is needed for sustainable fisheries management.

The Magnuson Stevens Act sets the parameters for managing the fishing industry of this country. Under this law the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) and the Fisheries Management Councils have moved in the right direction to implement ecosystem-based management. Only 27 marine fish populations are currently subject to overfishing. NMFS and the Councils manage 446 fish and fish stock complexes. Of these 230 are commercially significant, the great majority of which are either in the process of recovery, rebuilt, or sustainably managed.

The redfish in New England, for example, suffered when Clarence Birdseye developed freezers for Gloucester fishing boats. In 1932, 100 metric tons of redfish were landed. In 1952 130,000 tons of redfish came ashore to market and the redfish population crashed. Frozen redfish had become the fish of choice for many and fed the U.S. military in the 1940s. Unlike most fish, the redfish gives birth to live young. Managers responded with a number of strict fishery management measures. A redfish rebuilding plan was implemented. The significant sacrifices of fishermen paid off and the Acadian redfish population rebounded. Managed by the New England Fishery Management Council’s Northeast Multispecies Fishery Management Plan, redfish were declared fully rebuilt in June of 2012.

Nationwide, the United States has made unprecedented strides to end overfishing and rebuild depleted fish populations over the last fifteen-plus years. NMFS reports that 34 federally-managed fish populations have been rebuilt from depleted or overfished levels since 2000. And the number of fish populations subject to overfishing is the lowest ever reported and less than half what it was a decade ago. This recent success is rooted in the Magnuson-Stevens Act’s requirements to end overfishing and rebuild overfished fish populations. To ensure continued success in restoring and maintaining healthy U.S. fish populations and fostering a sustainable, prosperous future for fishing communities, Congress must maintain, and not weaken, these core conservation requirements of the law.

Today we see fish in the wild and can always select from an array of fresh seafood thanks to the Magnuson Stevens Act and yeoman work by the Fisheries Councils informed by NOAA science. Conditions for fish and fishermen are only getting worse with increasing pollution, algal blooms, loss of nursery habitats, ocean dead zones, acidification, warming waters and shifting currents. Please keep the Magnuson Stevens Fisheries Management Act strong and ensure sufficient funding for its implementation so that new challenges may also be met and responsible stewardship of fish and fishing communities furthered.

MA Residents Disagree Strongly with AG’s Call to Take More Codfish

Credit: Doug Costa, Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary

Cod Credit: Doug Costa, Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary

Massachusetts residents sure do love cod, swimming wild or with tartar sauce.  When Attorney General Martha Coakley called for taking of the last cod by taking legal actions to call into question the work of the NOAA Fisheries Northeast Fisheries Science Center, the recommendations made by the Council’s Scientific and Statistical Committee, and the management measures developed and agreed to by the New England Fisheries Management Council – more than a few people from more than a few MA towns were not too pleased.  Here are some words from around the Commonwealth to the AG to save cod. What do you think?

The NEFMC called for a 78% reduction in the target total allowable cod compared to 2008. The 2013 Gulf of Maine cod annual catch limit, that you are questioning, is 1,829,837 pounds.  This is similar to the 1999 cod target total allowable catch of 1,924,000 pounds. NEFMC is permitting fishermen to go out for cod by choosing the liberal end of a quota range put forth by the scientists (the range offered was from 78% reduction to no take). Do you think this compromise number should stand, or there be a no take, or more cod permitted taken?  Currently 2,084 favor the compromise approach.

It’s not the local fisherman’s fault that corporations and industrial fishing fleets have raped and poisoned the sea, but that’s already happened, and absolutely nothing will be left without these limits being fully enforced. The fisherman are due some compensation. Tax the corporations that put them out of a livelihood, but protect the wildlife or there will be no future life in the sea. Ian, Arlington, MA

When the first settlers arrived, cod was so thick in the Cape Cod waters that it could be caught by hand.  We are now on the verge of wiping out the species entirely. Let the science industry determine the catch amount and give subsidies to the fisherman who have to forgo their fishing for a few years. The fisherman not allowed to catch one year, should be at the top of the list for the next.  Esther, Arlington, MA

It’s time we learn to balance our pocketbooks with Nature’s needs, or we won’t be getting anything from her at all. Let’s not kill the golden goose. Heather Gray, Ashfield, MA

I want a sustainable fishing industry. Allowing fishermen to catch as much as they want only makes it harder for them to sustain their way of life in the future. We need to let cod rebound fully.  Leah, Ashland, MA

Please save our planet and fish stocks. Fishermen will have to adjust, not the other way around, or there won’t be any fish for future generations. Let’s not be penny wise and pounds of fish foolish. Let the Cod Schools replenish  so people can eat and fisherman can fish for centuries to come. Rick Myers, Ashland, MA

Short-term gains for fishermen this year will not serve anybody well in the long term. Cod need time to recover. Nini, Bedford, MA

Raising the cod catch limit now only further exacerbates the effects of overfishing. Without time for numbers to recover, the current supply of cod will soon be fished out. And then what? Linda, Belmont, MA

I know this is a difficult issue – I lived for a couple of years in Atlantic Canada and saw the hardships that shutting down the industry caused there. I also saw an industry that has re-tooled and a cod population that is re-surging. Thanks! Paul, Berkley, MA

If higher cod catches crash the species, which is already under great stress, there will be NO cod fishery. Don’t be penny wise and pound foolish! Brenda, Bolton, MA

It’s important to realize that local short-term needs be carefully balanced with long-term survival.  Fishing the sea to extinction will leave us all gasping for survival. Susan, Boston, MA

There will be no fish left for fishermen if you continue to not preserve the ones left. Lynn, Boston, MA

Martha, your approach will just increase the pain for fisherman in the near future.  Michael, Boston, MA

Please be a responsible environmentalist. Without sustainable fish supplies the fisherman will hurt even more in the future.  Beth, Boylston, MA

Codfish are part of the ocean’s web of life. Undo one thread such as the cod, and the whole thing unravels. Brian Gingras, Braintree, MA

These are concerns for just one more species at risk because of the actions of man. Valerie, Brewster, MA

This is my favorite fish. I love native wild caught cod and want them protected Linda, Brighton, MA

Cod is a vital resource and if the levels become too low, then fishing will be cut completely. Let them recover to higher levels and then let the fishing increase. Judi, Brighton, MA

If we do not limit fishing, there will be no fish for the fisherman in the long-run. We must limit to keep the fish as well as the fishing industry going. Do not raise the fishing limit! Maria, Brookline, MA

Help our oceans stay viable! Meghan, Brookline, MA

It’s best to take the long view wherever possible.   Michael, Brookline, MA 02445

As we catch & slaughter our cod, along with other species in our fisheries to extinction, so go our very own quality of existence. Preventive proven science over immediate transitive profits & jobs should, always, be the first priority…respectfully…. Bob, Bryantville, MA

If cod catch limits are increased, it will hasten the day when there are so few left that it will not be worth fishing for them. Then the fishermen you claim to be helping will find another line of work (hopefully). Robert, Cambridge, MA

I think you have been a truly exemplary Attorney General, and this is the first time I have disagreed with a stance you’ve taken. As the former long-time partner of a commercial fisherman, I am writing out of concern for fishing people as well as fish. We all need the Fisheries Management Council, not just the endangered cod, and to keep it viable we have to sustain it with trust. The devastation to the region’s economy and culture of a permanently destroyed cod fishery would be a high price to pay for higher catches now, when such catches are even possible.  Mary, Cambridge, MA

Let the fisheries council do their job!! We cannot afford to lose all the cod fish because of a short-sighted demand. Save the cod!  Harper, Cambridge, MA

Without protections, the fish will disappear. We have to look past our immediate needs. Kristen, Cambridge, MA

Our region has been in denial about dwindling stocks of cod and other fish for generations. As a result we have consistently failed to take the necessary action on catch limits. Wendy, Cambridge, MA

For a cautionary tale of inaction and bungled management, we need only look to our north. In 1992, the once abundant cod stocks off the coast of Newfoundland collapsed. Some 19,000 fishers and plant workers were directly affected and up to 20,000 other jobs were lost or harmed. To this day, the fishery is closed and Newfoundland cod stocks have not recovered. According to Mark Kurlansky, author of the book Cod, “One of the greatest obstacles to restoring cod stocks off of Newfoundland is an almost pathological collective denial of what has happened.”  Berl, Cambridge, MA

It’s important to pay attention to this huge issue. Please act for the greatest good of the fisheries and the cod by encouraging sustainability and gaining disaster relief. Susan, Cambridge, MA

If we want to catch and eat cod in the future, we need to protect some breeding stock now. Allowing unsustainable catches now may benefit some fishermen for a couple of years, but soon they will be looking for a new line of work. Robert, Cambridge, MA

Recovery of the cod population is a matter of science and management.  It is not something that the courts should be called on to decide.  Please use the resources of your office to   go after sources of pollution that are threatening the viability of the environment that sustains the cod population as it struggles to recover. Ann, Cambridge, MA

Massachusetts was founded on the Cod Fish. It is a symbol of prosperity. Imagine Cape Cod and the Commonwealth without these majestic fish? Staying on current course will yield this result. Science is telling us to to the right thing. I am imploring you to do what is right by the science to create healthy Cod populations and fishing livelihoods.  Archie, Charlestown, MA

Raising the catch limits on cod will not help fishermen because there are not enough cod left for them to meet the higher limits. Last year, despite the latest technologies, fishermen were only able to land 60% of the quota.   Louis, Chelsea, MA

First Cod, eventually the entire ocean, if irresponsible capitalists are permitted to continue. Ramsay, Cherry Valley, MA

I rarely eat meat, so most of what I do eat is fish. Cod is my faorite fish, and with fishermen only being allowed to catch a smaller and smaller number, the prices are going higher and higher. I can no longer afford to even eat fish very much anymore and rarely can afford the fish I love. Ellen, Chicopee, MA

Let the recovery continue.  Jean, Chicopee, MA

The balance in the ocean is delicate. We need to stop over-fishing and let the cod recover. Deborah, Clinton, MA

It is imperative that the Commonwealth’s resources be preserved and enhanced. In so doing we must err on the side of caution because the loss of biodiversity – especially a species as historic as the cod – has economic damage that cannot even be quantified. Efforts would be far better spent subsidizing sustainable alternatives to codfishing. Christopher, Dover, MA

They need time to reproduce.. you have no idea how overfished the oceans are with our human population explosion. You can’t play politics with this issue and the oceans can’t reproduced in the same way as farm animals. Even that is inhumane!  People need to use common sense, bite the bullet and compromise! We need to start NOW allowing the sea to replenish the life that has been overfished. Experts in the field have been citing this for years. Just like anything else, it’s time to think ahead. Susan, Eastham, MA

Short-term gains from over-fishing only result in long-term losses for everyone, especially the cod fish. Mary Jo, Florence, MA

The cod and all marine animals have to stay alive. The human population must go down and eventually be halved, and all nonhuman species need to be brought up to completely sustainable numbers. I do eat meat and fish, but fish needs to be eaten responsibly right now. Eventually I hope that the cod on the sides of both Old and New England can once again, be so numerous, you can walk on their backs! Angie, Framingham, MA

I love eating cod. It is a very healthy food. Please help Massachusetts maintain a sustainable fishery so that generations to come will be able to enjoy this delicious fish.  Spending precious state resources to sue a federal agency whose mission is to use science to help us have a sustainable fishery isn’t a wise use of taxpayer’s money.  I want my taxes to support the sustainability of our precious fisheries.  Please don’t waste time and money on this short-term and ill-advised attack on science.  I am shocked that you would even consider this action.  Nina, Framingham, MA

Short-term fixes are often short-sighted. For the long-term good of the cod and the fishermen, follow the science.  Susan, Gardner, MA

Science, not politics, should determine what fishermen can take from the water.  Pandering to fishermen, or any other constituency, is really unattractive and Martha Coakley should be ashamed of herself for doing so. Maurene, Gloucester, MA

We need sustainable fishing. These fish are part of the food chain for other fish and animals. We have to share the planet, and the ocean is part of the planet.  Fishermen need help, but retraining should be part of that.  We can’t fish out the oceans! Lana and Richard, Great Barrington, MA

We need to manage the oceans with sustainability as the highest priority. That will support the fisherman most in the long haul! Elaine, Great Barrington, MA

Cod had been around for hundreds of years, and now they have been overfished without reassuring signs of a healthy comeback. And you want more to be fished? If the fishermen are unhappy now, they’ll be even unhappier when the cod are gone. If they don’t care about what fish will be gone in a few years, maybe you should. Linda, Harvard, MA

We have to do the right thing. If needed, allow the fishermen some tax credits. Nancy, Haverhill, MA

Cod and other species that are in danger of extinction should be protected. We have the know how.  Eric, Holden, MA

I want my children to be able to eat cod, which very few people do these days because it’s become so rare and, thankfully, protected. It’s very close to my heart, especially since it’s the namesake fish of the Cape where I was born and do my own fishing.  James, Jamaica Plain, MA

I wish our descendants to have a robust marine ecosystem, such that everyone can enjoy eating fish, and fishermen can take catch easily and without fear of diminishing the source.  This requires better husbandry now.  Sara, Jamaica Plain, MA

Having just listened to an eloquent speech by Sylvia Earle about the oceans, I am dismayed by the fact that overfishing is so rampant and that the fisherman are not given limits as the oceans are being depleted of fish. What will happen when the fish are gone, when the reefs and other beings are gone. What will happen then? What will those fishermen do? Unless something happens now there will be no fish left and the fishermen will have no jobs anyway. All who live in the oceans are vital. The oceans are being abused and there is no one to blame except us who take more than we need. Well, I don’t eat fish so I am not part of the problem but I would like to be part of the solution. Kate, Jamaica Plain, MA

We need to save this iconic species for future generations. Lisa, Lancaster, MA

Over-fishing destroys the entire ocean ecosystem. As the ocean covers over 70% of the planet, this has much larger potential for disaster than just a higher price for fish and chips.  Sara, Leicester, MA

I’m 78 years old.  I remember when cod was so plentiful that it was served to the help when I worked as a waitress at the Kenmore Hotel. I’d like this noble fish to become plentiful again. Nancy, Lenox, MA

I believe that NOAA is guided by good science, and as painful as the reductions in the cod quota will be, they are essential to the long-term preservation of this resource, and the New England fishing industry.  As a Massachusetts citizen, I want help for the people who make their livelihood through fishing, but I don’t believe the answer comes from ignoring the hard facts.  Federal assistance to blunt the impact of these reductions makes more sense.  Leda, Lexington, MA

We need to think of the future and not deplete our waters of cod and other fish. Please heed the suggestions of this council and fight for more money not for an increase in the quota.  Valerie, Ludlow, MA

Do Not Increase The Quota Because We’re Killing Them All Off, Almost To Extinction. James, Lynn, MA

Cod is such an integral part of New England both historically, and in modern times. It helped us and other countries to develop as we were able to catch it in abundance and dry it for later use. It is a unique species, which we should protect for the future, not over-fish just to make a few extra bucks today. You are not doing the fishermen any favors if the population is wiped out. Leslie, Lynn, MA

We’ve decimated so many species. It is impertive that they managed in a way that allows them to come back. Danya, Lynnfield, MA

What good does it do if 10 years from now there are NO fish to catch? What will fishermen then do for a living? Our ocean fish stocks are severely depleted worldwide, would you have future generations of New Englanders live without fisheries?  Debbie, Malden, MA

What happens in a few years when there are no fish for the fisherman to catch? It’s not rocket science.  Karen, Mansfield, MA

I believe we are entering a time of major transition relative to our ways of understanding, beneficial nutrition, our food supply and the limits of natural resources. There is no avoiding the reality that many of these changes, including the limitation of fishing cod, will impose hardship. It is necessary to find ways to help people whose livelihood has depended on unsustainable paradigms to find new ways to support themselves and their families. Mary, Marlborough, MA

Increasing fishing quotas will only deplete the ocean’s populations sooner. We have reached a tipping point on this planet. We need to get smarter. I live in a coastal community that has a hardy population of fishermen. I do not wish them ill, nor can I increase fish populations. As a society, we must do what we can to prevent these resources from disappearing.  Kathryn, Marshfield, MA

What happens when we fish so much that certain fish become extinct. Then what? For these fishermen, this is their living. Let the fish replenish and while this is happening, you must give relief funds to those men with families and also to the fishermen who don’t have families. They all have to live.  Walk in their shoes and see how it feels!  Lita, Middleton, MA

I grew up eating cod, and eat fish at least 3 times per week as part of a healthy diet. I want there to be fish left for my great grandchildren to eat. That’s not going to be the case if we continue to allow overfishing. I am also concerned about our fishing industry and fishermen. However, I don’t think increased catch limits are the way to go.  Margaret, Milford, MA

It is past time for our country to act as mature human beings. We must accept that we live on our planet and by our decisions affect all life here. Is it possible to turn our backs on all those who offer money in exchange for our souls. We must show respect for each other as well as towards Nature. We forget that we are just A part OF Nature. Barry, Montague, MA

I understand the plight of the fishermen, but they are hunting wild animals and there is not an infinite supply of wild cod. They cannot even catch 60% of their limit. They need to face the facts just as other workers in other fields do when they can no longer reap a harvest or reap money. The fishermen see their work as a way of life, but so do other workers and they have to adjust to supply and demand. Vi, Nahant, MA

The cod fish population is one key component of the New England fisheries environmental health. Over-fishing of any species will throw the entire system off balance. Please use common sense to allow this species to recover! Marie, Nantucket, MA

Fishermen are their own worst enemy. There are few fish because fishermen knew no rules. Now, like typewriter salesmen, their industry is crashing. So it goes. At least in this case, if left alone, they might get some of it back. Scott, Nantucket, MA

Our fish supplies must be carefully managed. Tomorrow is more important than today.  No fish story! Carolyn, Natick, MA

It’s time we all work together to save the cod who decorate the Massachusetts legislative room. Stop short-term posturing and get cod fishermen who care about the future some help to get through this time of change. Sarah, Natick, MA

Do something now before it’s too late for cod. Barbara, New Befdord, MA

Cod is one of my most favorite fish meals. I have ceased purchasing it because I have read that there are not that many cod left. If I and others don’t buy it, then perhaps the demand would go down and the cod would have a chance to replenish their kind. If fisherman are now to have increased quotas of cod, that will drive them into even leaner numbers. It will hurt the fish and the fishing industry, which depends on them for work.  Peggy, Newburyport, MA

 

We need to protect our ocean resources. Don’t be a science denier. It is in the long-term interest of the fishery and the fishermen to preserve this precious resource. Peter, Newton, MA

I am very disappointed that Martha Coakley has gone ahead with this deeply flawed, misguided lawsuit. Political interference like this action only leads to the continued destruction of our fisheries, and then we all lose. The facts are that New England’s cod stocks are at nine percent of healthy levels and have declined by almost 80% since the 1980s. Numbers of young cod growing to maturity are at all-time lows.  The Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries scientific fish survey of its coastal waters last fall found the lowest number of cod that have ever been recorded in the history of the state survey.  It’s likely that fishermen caught just a fraction of their allotted cod quota last yea – not because of regulations, but because the fish are not there. Alison, Newton, MA

I do not particularly like cod. I am concerned about the health of fish and sea animals in the ocean. I am of the strong belief that if you tamper too much with nature’s balance, you are bound to create problems for everyone in the ecosystem. Are these fish important for other aspects of marine life, ecosystems? Do we yet understand the impact of changing the populations of specific sea creatures? I am in support of laws that protect fish. We do need to move forward and accept the fact the ocean is changing and will continue to change. These changes will impact fisherman. The reality is  fish growth patterns and fish populations change. If any one were to actually look back in history this has been happening for hundreds of years. The fisherman need funding. They have worked very hard to put fish on the table for the masses. They deserve a little gratitude and it would be a shame to lose masses of fisherman because we cannot support them in their hour of need. Andrea, North Attleboro, MA

Once they’re gone, they’re gone. Randi, Northampton, MA

If we fish out the oceans, there will be no fish. It is that simple. We as people are over populated. Humans need to stop reproducing. Cathy, Northboro, MA

We can not save the fishing industry by pushing cod to extinction. To destroy our environment and endanger our own survival as a species (yes, endangered humans) in the name of preserving jobs is suicidal addiction behavior. Our “leaders” (this includes you) have no business destroying our threadbare resource base while claiming to be minding the future or “protecting” jobs. If people in positions of power can’t develop some political courage, they will destroy everything.  How many jobs will be left when the political class is through bowing to every moneyed interest? Clifford, Northfield, MA

When you ran against Scott Brown you were too quiet and invisible. You never let people know of your many accomplishments. Now, you are too vocal. Yes fishermen need jobs, but overfishing the stock is shortsighted and ill advised. Use your considerable authority to take action for a healthier fishing industry in the future and find short term assistance or redirection for fishermen. Laura, Onset, MA

If there are concerns please work them out without filing suit.  Thanks. Jeffrey, Pittsfield, MA

Cod was once a great resource for this state, but unbridled greed and ignorance nearly destroyed this fishery. We need science based regulations, not catering to the fishing industry. Marcia, Plainville, MA 02762

I feel that it is important to make sure these fish have a good enough population to maintain themselves before we decide to go and fish for them. I think it is better to be able to fish for some (even if it is less), then not have any at all due to overfishing. Ashley, Plymouth, MA

I’m deeply sorry for the current fishermen, but much more interested in the science, future fishermen, and the food supply. Donald, Plympton, MA

Let the fish win not the political agendas, the fish can be a “forever” resource if managed correctly, not a quick profit chance. Eugene, Quincy, MA

I care for all marine life and I don’t like to hear that their being overfished to the point of extinction. If we need to put quota’s on the cod than so be it. Let’s help the oceans recover not destroy it.  Lynn, Randolph, MA

I care because extinct is forever. Katrin, Rockport, MA

The fishermen are going to be hurt further if we do not do something to protect the cod stocks now. We need to make major changes in how we take care of the ocean and all its inhabitants, and this is one small start. Fishermen can be creative and start new businesses, or work in another way in the fishing industry. Give them disaster relief so they can start something new and protect the ocean environment. Danby, Rowley, MA

The Cod has been a symbol for me, for the Native Americans, and early settlers. We are so fortunate to have such a variety of good food here in the US and the North Shore. Unfortunately, with pollution and increasing populations, it is critically important to be mindful of our consumption of cod (and other fish/animals). We must do this to keep this wonderful fish from to become extinct. We have the obligation to care for the earth & sea and its inhabitants. Our very lives depend on it! Georgette, Salem, MA

Very simply, I care about cod because I’m from Cape Cod. The very name evokes images of the fish that is often taken from the very waters surrounding the peninsula.  So many tourists come to the area expecting to be able to eat this very fish.  It behooves us to find a fair and equitable way to sustain the population of fish while not destroying the lively hoods of fishermen. Jonathan, Sandwich, MA

When we pay attention to the environment, everyone benefits, cod, other fish, and humans alike. Cathleen, Savoy, MA

Cod, as we all know, has been over-fished for a long time – until it’s existence was virtually threatened. Things are better now, but not as they once were and should be. I ask you to return to return to the 2003 cod-fishing quota.  I, myself have not bought and refuse to buy cod until I am convinced it’s numbers are up sufficiently. Thomasyne, Scituate, MA

Limiting the cod harvest would also enhance the long-term prospects for fishermen. Take fewer fish and sell them at a higher price.  Paul, Sharon, MA

Your actions in this case seem politically motivated. Mary Barbara, Sherborn, MA

Martha Coakley – A lot of businesses are hurting nowadays. I’m sorry that fishermen are included in this group, but the fact is they will hurt no matter what as fish numbers continue to stay low. Keep the catch limits at the quota recommended by NOAA. Maureen, Somerville, MA

I want more cod, less petty obstructionism! Jay, Somerville, MA

I find it funny that the AG thinks she knows more about the oceans, sea life and fishing than the experts who are educated in such matters. I am quite sure she would not like it if they tried run her office. Paul, Stoneham, MA

Overfishing is a huge problem, and if we don’t do something about it now, there will be no more fishing industry in the future. Sherry, Sudbury, MA

This is too important to be a political football. The health of the ecosystem has to take precedence over human squabbles or else there won’t be anything left to squabble over. Thomas, Sudbury, MA

Rather than increasing catch limits for fish that are not there, we need to implement conservation policies to protect the environment in which the fish live. How can you raise catch limits when poor environmental policies have diminished their numbers? Karen, Wakefield, MA

WE NEED TO SAVE OUR SUPPLY OF FISH! Eric, Watertown, MA

Are we trying to take action to save fish forever in New England waters or to save fishermen for a year or two? Think about it. Please. Peg, Watertown, MA

Look at what happened to the Codfish populations in Nova Scotia!! You can’t save the fishing industry when you make the big sized fish go extinct!! This is the result of years of inappropriate fisheries regulation and ocean degradation. Cynthia, Westhampton, MA

The ocean’s fish are a national food source, not a guaranteed resource to exploit for those who harvest them. First priority is sustainability. If a fisherman over-capitalizes or fails to adapt to changing regulations that is a business failure on their part and not a resource management issue. Peter, Westminster, MA

Thanks to over-fishing, the ecosystem has become unbalanced, degraded, and it will take a long to come back. There is no guarantee that it will rebound. If we are not careful, it won’t be able to rebound. If we continue to lose nurseries of fish  and polluters, fish will not rebound. So many polluters dumping in the ocean, seas, as well as rivers and ponds. Fast speeding boats and  fishing boats, polluting the waters every year!  Joanne, Weymouth, MA

As a consumer as well as a caring citizen, I believe our country has a moral duty to not overfish and drive a species out of existence. Over 3/4ths of the world, including a great many of our people, depend on fish as a major, healthy part of their diet. Our fishermen deserve to find success in their very important livelihoods. Besides all this, to keep the ocean ecosystems healthy, we need all the help the fisheries Mgmt. Science Center can give us. We need help to greatly reduce the extremely harmful nitrogen polluting fertilizers still used and keep all the life in the sea healthy since we want to be healthy. Carol, Winthrop, MA

I may never catch one, and the way things are going, I may never eat one. Michael, Woods Hole, MA

So much has happened in our own ocean waters. Killing off healthy cod is an absolute mistake. These fish have been the only ones to sustain themselves  after the massive oil spill off the coast of Louisiana. Most other species have died because of the high concentration of oil in their own living quarters,  killing them off one by one. Some species were ones of rare existence. So please don’t kill off the one species that survived the oil spill and then subsequent nuclear waste from the Japanese melt  down of its nuclear reactors. If there are too many, cordon them off from other areas so that they remain in one area as a constant source.  Sincerely, Judy, Worcester, MA

Lawn care industry greed kills fish

The fertilizer industry is fighting a bylaw that Falmouth town meeting passed that would limit fertilizer use within 100 feet of an estuary and town-wide reduce application by five times the amount recommended by the Massachusetts Association of Lawn Care Professionals.

The fertilizer industry is fighting a bylaw that Falmouth town meeting passed that would limit fertilizer use within 100 feet of an estuary and town-wide reduce application by five times the amount recommended by the Massachusetts Association of Lawn Care Professionals.

Thanks to the Cape Cod Times for publishing this opinion piece of mine on June 13, 2013.  I am now meeting with state legislators on Beacon Hill to accomplish responsible lawn care practices throughout the state.  It is just wrong to have spent thousands of dollars installing a new septic system to see one’s neighbor spreading excessive fertilizer on a May or June day.  There ought to be law where I can say: Hey that stuff kills fish. Don’t apply that now because this is the time of the most harmful algal blooms fed by nitrogen from lawn fertilizer.  Save it for September and you need only apply one third of that to maintain a green lawn.  Save the rest to spread in April when cooler weather and shorter daylight won’t let the algae consume it. I save money by using the grass clippings on the lawn.

On May 15, the attorney general’s municipal law unit issued the decision that the fertilizer industry’s state law trumps a town’s right to regulate lawn care applications. Falmouth cannot limit citizens to 1 pound of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet. Instead, the industry/state standard of 5 pounds nitrogen per 1,000 square feet holds.

A striped bass or clean beach is a terrible thing to waste for monetary greed by one industry. Expect to see more dead fish as the weather warms, daylight lengthens, and fertilizer-nitrogen chokes waterways and litters shores with stinking slime.

The Massachusetts Association of Lawn Care Professionals, the Retailers Association of Massachusetts and Scotts Miracle-Gro Co. are scamming lawn owners into using five times more fertilizer than needed. They pushed through the state law with their “science” preventing municipalities from regulating lawn fertilizer applications. Falmouth’s bylaw was consistent with the practices of many golf courses that know better. They save money while keeping their grass green and putters satisfied.

The out-of-state industries’ deception was discovered by Falmouth managers when excessive fertilizer run-off combined with nitrogen from septic systems caused algae to bloom in Long Pond. The algae may have released toxins, and blooming algae consumed the entire dissolved oxygen, killing for first time in local memories many striped bass and one horseshoe crab last July. Death came in the combination of warm weather, the longest daylight periods of the year, and nitrogen-fed algal blooms depleting the oxygen.

Falmouth has 15 estuaries, more than any other Massachusetts municipality. Its attempt to combat the harmful algal blooms plaguing its shores came in the form of a bylaw limiting residents to a pound of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet of lawn each year. The bylaw also prohibited the application of fertilizer between Oct. 16 and April 14. During the growing season, from April 15 to Oct. 15, fertilizer application is banned during heavy rain and banned within 100 feet of water.

Fertilizer regulations are not new for Massachusetts coastal communities. The first one was passed by the Puritans in 1639, when they prohibited the use of cod or striped bass for fertilizer. Their concern was driven by a notable population decline of the two best eating fish.

In August, the Massachusetts Association of Lawn Care Professionals, the Retailers Association of Massachusetts and Scotts Miracle-Gro Co., anticipating local responsible stewardship initiatives by towns, acted swiftly to pass a law that gives the state sole authority to regulate fertilizer applications. The industries know better, but are too addicted to profiting from increased fertilizer sales every year to inform lawn owners of the proper amount of fertilizer to put down.

Of course, residents may voluntarily follow Falmouth’s lead to modify their lawn care practices on the land to save the sea while maintaining green grass. I recommend four simple steps: right place, right stuff, right amount, at the right time.

Right place means do not fertilize lawn within 100 feet of water or wetland. Fertilize adjacent portions of the lawn and let it spread on its own. Leave the grass clippings to feed the lawn, and fertilizer may not be needed every year.

Right stuff means slow-release or timed-release nitrogen, at least 50 percent. Even better is 100 percent, which costs more but requires fewer applications. Slow release nitrogen feeds the lawn grass over time, and use of 100 percent slow-release nitrogen eliminates the gassing out of nitrous oxide from lawns. Nitrous oxide is the third worst greenhouse gas after carbon dioxide and methane, lastingin the atmosphere for 120 years.

Right amount: about 1 pound nitrogen per 1,000 square feet of lawn. Excess fertilizer is bad because bacteria fix inert mercury to the nitrogen, creating methyl mercury, a poison that bioaccumulates in our seafood.

Right time is crucial for restoring clean water and healthy striped bass. Do not fertilizer when the ground is frozen. Do fertilize in April — breakfast time for lawns — and again in September if your lawn calls for it.

By taking four lawn care steps, Cape Cod can have green lawns, clean water, more pleasant beaches and no fish kills.

Coakley calls for taking of last codfish

Attorney General files law suit over fishing cuts to kill more cod

Credit: Doug Costa, Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary

Credit: Doug Costa, Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary

Cod are Political Capital for Attorney General in Suit Against NOAA

May 30th, Martha Coakley with lawmakers and fishermen by her side on Boston’s Fish Pier cast a wide net of accusations against NOAA, NMFS and the New England Fisheries Management Council.

Demonstrating an astounding lack of knowledge of how fisheries management is based on sound science for sustainable seafood, the AG stated: “Even if NOAA’s fish counts can be reversed in 2012 or 2013, that may prove far too late.” That’s not science, that’s politics.

How many mistakes can you find in the AG’s 1 minute video: http://bcove.me/7atdlpsb  I count five.

  1. The government has failed in its responsibility in recognizing the devastating impact of its regulations on our families. The laws call on fisheries councils to manage a sustainable fishery and not to aid this year’s fishermen with overtaking of declining stocks. That would only hurt fishermen the next year.  Relaxing the catch quota in 2008 is hurting fishermen now when they can find very few cod.
  2. It is not too much to ask if the science be credible and reliable, even if NOAA’s fish counts can be reversed in 2012 or 2013.  Government funding restricts the Science Center from surveying fish to every three years.  To reverse fish counts on years when fish were not counted is not science.
  3. NOAA must take steps to mitigate that harm.  The science calls for a closure of the cod fishery until stocks are rebuilt.  However despite the science, NOAA did take steps to mitigate harm by permitting fishermen to fish for cod yet again.
  4. “Built on, we believe, an imperfect science.” A “perfect science” is known to most of us as religion. Science is a process of experimentation, observation, questioning, recording and going ‘round the carousel again.  Science involves muddling through, trial and error, doing one’s best with incomplete knowledge.
  5. NOAA’s regulations are a death penalty on the fishing industry of Massachusetts as we know it. NOAA’s regulation of cod rolls the quota numbers back to the 2003 level of take.  It has been many decades since cod was a major source of income for any one. Meanwhile the fisheries council has restored red fish, pollock and white hake.

The Fisheries Management Science Center counts fish stocks every three years.  There is no science for reversing counts made in the past year or months.  In 2008, one of seven fish trawls found an astounding number of cod feeding on sand lance above sandy bottoms.   This one finding led to an increase in the permitted cod take for the first time ever.  For three years fishermen could take more cod. However, try as they might, last year only 60% of the quota was caught.  In the 2011 survey, much fewer cod were found.  Sand lance breeds every six or seven years, so there was no reason for cod to school in one location convenient to the surveyors.

Despite calls for a more complete closure of the cod fishery by the Conservation Law Foundation, NOAA permitted fishermen to go to sea for cod by calling for a 78% reduction in take from the liberal 2008 quota numbers. This puts the cod limit back to the 2003 take – hardly the end of fishing, as we know it.  With the introduction of freezers on ships by Clarence Birdseye in the 1930s, fishermen have diversified their take to more than cod.  Redfish, white hake, and pollock are all being managed sustainably by the New England Fisheries Management Council in concert with NOAA.

Maggie Mooney-Seus, a spokesman for NOAA, summarized sentiments well in the Boston Herald article.  She acknowledged in a statement that the regulations this year are “severe”, but “necessary” because of the low levels of fish, including cod.

It is unfortunate that the Massachusetts Attorney General has decided to pursue this course of action, rather than working with us cooperatively to identify constructive solutions for helping fishermen, such as refocusing energies on healthy, abundant groundfish and other species,” she said. “It is time for us to look forward, not backward, if we are going to be able to help fishermen through this difficult transition.”

For the love of Cod – Tell the AG to move forwards, not backwards. Comment and sign ORI’s letter.

It Takes a Pride of Individuals to Save a Dolphin

It takes a pride of individuals to save a dolphin

I am writing to thank the individuals who recently donated to our save the dolphins of Indian River Lagoon Florida campaign. Your thoughtful support has raised sufficient funds so that I may go to Florida early next week to meet with colleagues and experts.

The problem we are challenged to solve –nitrogen pollution of the ocean- is so complex and fraught with misinformation shrapnel put up by the industry that it takes a pride of individuals to save a dolphin and to save an ecosystem of unsurpassed wildlife diversity. Fortunately there are a good number of excellent experts and advocates in the communities of Indian River Lagoon.

Leesa Souto, Ph.D. is first on my list because she recently became Executive Director of the Marine Resources Council (MRC). MRC has been combining good science with local volunteers to restore the Indian River Lagoon for 27 years. With ten scientists and over 800 volunteers who are active every week, MRC restores over eight million square feet of fish habitat and plants over fifty thousand native plants every year. MRC works to create a consensus with the local community and businesses and has stopped the discharge of billions of gallons of sewage and industrial wastewater into the Lagoon and raised millions of dollars to preserve sensitive fish nursery habitats.

Leesa comes to the Marine Resources Council with a Ph.D. in stormwater management and pollution abatement from the University of Central Florida. Leesa was Director of Public Education at the University of Central Florida Stormwater Management Academy and served on the Brevard County Natural Resources Council. Last summer fewer dolphins died in Indian River Lagoon. However, much of the seagrass died during the hot sunny summer months. Loss of the base of the lagoon’s food pyramid has got everyone concerned and researchers at the Marine Resources Council are looking for answers to perplexing questions that relate back to surface run-off and pollution.

Marty BaumAs of September 2012, Marty Baum is the Indian Riverkeeper. Marty is deeply connected to Indian River Lagoon. Marty writes: “My family has been living along its shores, trading and fishing upon its waters since 1866. The Indian River gives to us all. The estimated annual economic value of the Indian River Lagoon is $3,725,900,000. That is a staggering economic impact that affects both the communities and economies from Titusville all the way down to Jupiter. Everyone along Indian River Lagoon is directly dependent upon the health and vigor of the ecosystem. We must demand clean water. Every single one of us via our property values, wages, tax bases, services, recreation or our direct livelihoods, benefits from our association with the Lagoon. Essentially, everything about our way of life here is enhanced and given greater value due to the influence of the Indian River Lagoon.”

I will also meet with Captain Nan Beaver of Sunshine Wildlife in Stuart. Capt Nan first introduced me to the wonders of Indian River wildlife taking me out on her education boat into the lagoon. A certified Coastal Master Naturalist by Florida Atlantic University, Nan has been directing on-water education programs since 2000 on the natural history of bottlenose dolphins, manatees, turtles, wood storks, ibises and magnificent frigate birds of the Indian River Lagoon. You may listen to my conversation with Nan on Moir’s Environmental Dialogues.

Your donation to the Ocean River Institute makes it possible for me to listen and learn from the people of this place. Your support enables ORI to get their words out, “surface truth” what is happening to Indian River Lagoon and what we may do to improve conditions for wildlife and people, and to restore clean waters by stopping nitrogen pollution. You may also reduce nitrogen pollution by forwarding this blog to others. Thank you for helping out.

Help Stop Toxic Harmful Algae in Florida to Save Dolphins

Drawing by a youth in Stuart Florida urging County Commissioners to ban fertilizing healthy lawns from June 1 to Sept 30. A time when professionals and golf courses do not fertilize, but lawn-owners are suckered by words printed on the fertilizer bags to fertilize in Spring, Memorial Day, Fourth of July, Labor Day and in the Fall. This may be okay for Anchorage AK but not sunny Florida!

Nitrogen is the worst pollutant of our oceans. In Florida’s Indian River Lagoon, it is making dolphins sick by turning the water into a toxic soup every summer. A population of bottle-nosed dolphins swims their entire lives in Indian River Lagoon.  The dolphin population outside the Lagoon shows less signs of stress with significantly less skin-eating fungal infections. For a number of summers more than 40 Lagoon dolphins have died when nitrogen and chlorophyll levels are highest. The most recent scientific studies found more than 50 percent of them are ill and that they live, on average, only half as long as their free-ranging kin out in the Atlantic. Toxic green algae-slime is causing fish kills, destroying sea grass beds, creating ocean dead zones, and making dolphins suffer.  This is why we are asking our global community to support this local project.

You may sign ORI’s petition and ad a comment in your own words. Good comments are remembered by decision-makers longer than is the number of signers. Or you may sign our petition on Causes.  Please do not sign both or more than once unless it is to comment or change a comment because we work hard to remove redundancies before delivering your letters.

The most dolphin deaths were in Martin County.  The Ocean River Institute worked here with local residents and the County Commissioners to enact a county ordinance.  It took seven months to make the adjustments to behaviors of lawn owners that will result in cleaner waters, less slime on beaches and healthier dolphins. With this success, we turned our attention to the other four counties around Indian River Lagoon.  Chairpersons of two county commissions followed Martin County’s example, were met by fierce opposition and were defeated. Your support is needed now to get dolphin-saving stewardship enacted in the other counties.

Your contribution of 10 dollars will help our campaign efforts as we recruit support and raise awareness within these communities.  As hot, sunny summer days loom closer our top priority is to ensure that the remaining counties feel the nation’s pressure to improve lawn fertilizer practices with responsible stewardship ordinances.

Encouraged by Martin County’s success with three steps of respecting setbacks from waterways, at least 50% slow release and take a fertilizing holiday from June 1 to September 30th, two other counties put forward very similar regulations to reduce nitrogen pollution.  These good efforts were defeated by misinformation.  This despite last summer’s harmful algal blooms being so bad that sea grass beds died due to insufficient sunlight getting through the green slimy water.  Sea turtles, fortunate to escape the dolphins’ burden of the skin-eating fungal infections, depend on sea grass for food.

I am writing to ask you to reach into your pocket to help us save dolphins, clean water and see beaches without algal slime in Florida’s Indian River Lagoon.  Let me explain why $10 will go far to achieve these objectives.  We are asking of lawn-owners to save money by fertilizing at the same times that agricultural businesses and golf courses fertilize – not during the summer months when heavy rains wash it all into the waterways.  Any dollars lost by fertilizer companies are dollars saved in the pockets of lawn owners.

Fertilizer sales are likely to go up in the weeks before and after the lawn-fertilizing holiday.  That’s good for business and it is okay for saving marine life because the suffering/deaths are during the ban period when waters are warmest and day length longest.  This is the time when nitrogen is the limiting factor to algal blooms.  June 1 to Sept 30th is when nitrogen pollution run-off does the most damage, a time when algae beasties are most hungry for growth.

“I am so grateful for ORI’s efforts to clean up our coasts and to restore healthy oceans. Living on Tampa Bay where I regularly see the dolphins, I am that much aware of what a terrible loss if there weren’t organizations to advocate for them”.

-        Carol from St. Petersburg, FL, on 12/7/12

For people like Carol to observe healthy dolphins and experience clean beaches are quality of life issues.  For most of us including me, just knowing dolphins are swimming free unencumbered by disease and stress is reassuring. Your contribution to save dolphins from nitrogen pollution will benefit us all.  I believe there will come a tipping point when enough counties practice responsible stewardship that saves lawn-owners time and money, all counties will follow like crocuses blooming in the spring.

On January 29th, ORI’s annual dinner honoring educational and advocacy programming in Indian River Lagoon will be held in Stuart Florida. Last year we honored a Martin County Commissioner as blue green hero for enacting responsible stewardship regulations during the summer months.  This year we have seen two similar county ordinances go down in defeat and in a third county middle school students presenting the merits of three steps for lawn care were scolded for advancing “totalitarianism.”

We won’t be fooled again.  We ask for your $10 to hear loud and clear your call for healthy dolphins and clean water.  With every donation we will be able to print, bind and distribute more petition letters; register for more tabling events in affected communities where we gather more signers and supporters; and, purchase more display advertisements in local print media.

By you acting more globally from all over with $10, we will accomplish more locally in the four counties where the dolphins are suffering.   With your assistance, we will make sure that fertilizer ordinances are passed, nitrogen pollution reduced, and the public educated in lawn care practices that will save time and money, while lessening suffering by dolphins and reducing harmful algal blooms.  We are on course and gaining momentum; it is simply a matter time.  Your contribution today will help save dolphins sooner.

For $10 your voice will be heard more widely. You will be recognized on The ORI Supporters poster at the Stuart dinner and be posted on our website. Let’s come together in clear testimony as to who cares for savvy responsible stewardship of wildlife.  If you are not completely satisfied in sharing in the pride of giving, we will return to you the pages printed or portion of advertisement paid for by your contribution.

Modifying people’s behaviors to better their environment is challenging. I invite you to take this opportunity to join us and together we will face ocean pollution challenges to save dolphins. First steps are always the hardest ones to make.  With one path-breaking county, the others need only follow your lead. Please make a $10 donation to help the Ocean River Institute stop nitrogen pollution of the ocean today!

100 Million Menhaden Fish Saved by Decisively Acting Fisheries Commission

Save Menhaden signs waved at Baltimore meeting of the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Council.“We’re overfished; we’re overfishing. … If we don’t do something, it’s likely the long-term viability of [the menhaden] fishery is going to go away,” said Louis Daniel, North Carolina’s fisheries director and chairman of the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission.

Friday, at a hotel in South Baltimore, Daniel masterfully maintained order. Only once was there cause for him to say the room would be cleared if the 360 plus spectators did not behave respectfully of the commissioners. The Commission agreed to manage the menhaden fisheries by a vote of 13 to 3. The Commission made a historic decision to manage the fishery under a quota-based management system for the first time ever – harvest will from now forward be managed by an annual Total Allowable Catch (TAC). They took the vital step of correcting its biomass reference points so they are now consistent with the mortality reference points and make it even clearer that this stock is overfished.

The menhaden catch will be immediately reduced by 25% from last year’s catch through a catch history-based quota setting approach based on 80% of the average of the past three year’s catch; this is not enough of a reduction (we asked for 50%), but it is a substantial step in the right direction. And, fishing practices and menhaden stocks will be reassessed in two years.

The total available coastwide catch for menhaden for 2013 will be 170,800 metric tons, a 25 percent cut from 2011. That catch will be shared between a commercial menhaden reduction fleet, commercial bait fishermen and recreational fishermen. Approximately 100 million individual menhaden fish were saved by Friday’s action of the Commission. The number of fish saved is approximate dependent on the same year class of menhaden being fished next year as last with 80% going to processing and 20% going to bait to support anglers and other fishermen.

Capt. Paul Eidman, a New Jersey recreational fishing guide who depends on healthy menhaden stocks, said the meeting was attended by hundreds of anglers from Maine to Florida who were against the exploitation from Maine to Florida. “Clearly the ASMFC took notice of us today,” Eidman said.

The fishery had never been subject to catch limits along the entire Atlantic coast — a rarity in contemporary fishery management — allowing fleets to harvest virtually unlimited amounts from the ocean (reported by the New York Times).

“The Wild West fishery that’s been going on with menhaden — to have a fishery that’s essentially been unregulated, it’s unheard of,” said Darren Saletta, the executive director of the Massachusetts Commercial Striped Bass Association.

“When we first started fishing for menhaden in Chatham, it was not a problem to go out with just a grappling hook and catch 20 in 20 minutes,” said Capt. Dale Tripp, who has operated commercial and charter boats in Cape Cod since 1973. “Now, you can’t go out with a gill net and catch 20 in two hours.”
Many blame the “reduction fishery,” which harvests about 80 percent of the menhaden that come out of the sea each year. It is for the most part operated by a single company, Omega Protein, which grinds up the fish for use in fish-oil dietary supplements, fertilizer and animal feed.

“It is absolutely crumbling, what’s happening to the fish,” said Chuck Howard, a longtime striped-bass fisherman from Rockville, Md. “Anybody who thinks it’s a better use to grind them up and send them to China, rather than have them swimming in the Chesapeake Bay and filtering our water, has to explain to me why that’s a good idea.”

The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, meeting before a packed ballroom of partisans in a Southeast Baltimore hotel, ended years of debate over whether the fish were in trouble and voted overwhelmingly for the first-ever coastwide limit on the ecologically and economically important species. The lopsided 13-3 vote represented a compromise between appeals for a much steeper cutback in the catch and pleas to go easy until further study could determine how big a cut is needed. (Baltimore Sun)

The commission’s action comes two years after its scientific advisers warned that the coastal menhaden population had declined to 8 percent of historic levels and had suffered from overfishing over most of the past half-century.

While conservationists and anglers had argued for cuts of 25 percent or 50 percent or even for a moratorium, commercial fishing interests questioned the commission’s science and urged that cuts be delayed or at least minimized until more study could be done to verify the condition of the fishery. Fortunately for menhaden and for sustainable fisheries, the Commission acted decisively and will commence the practice of responsible stewardship.

View the Video: Help Save Menhaden: Quite Possibly, the Most Important Fish in the Sea   Click here for video

Peter Baker has a few words on the importance of ASMFC decision today.

Mighty Green MA, The hour the ship comes in. . .

Boston Harbor, The hour the ship comes in

Mighty Green Massachusetts
The hour that the ship comes in

And the words that are used for to get the ship confused will not be understood as they’re spoken. For the chains of the sea will have busted in the night and be buried at the bottom of the ocean.

A song will lift as the mainsail shifts. And the boat drifts out to the shorelineAnd the sun will respect every face on the deck the hour that the ship comes in.” excerpt from: When The Ship Comes In by Bob Dylan ©1963, 1964 Warner Bros Music.

On Nov 6th the choice is clear. Mighty Green Massachusetts,

On Beacon Hill one third of the Democrats and two thirds of the Republicans acted to advance responsible environmental legislation in 2012.  We can do better.  Sixteen green legislators and candidates are being challenged. Vote for responsible stewardship.

For Senate:  Mike Barrett (Lexington) and Jamie Eldridge (Acton),

For the House: Denise Andrews (Orange), Josh Cutler (Duxbury), Carolyn Dykema (Holliston), Patrick Ellis (Sandwich), Anne Gobi (Spencer), Kate Hogan (Stow), Kay Khan (Newton), Jason Lewis (Winchester), Barbara L’Italien (Andover), James O’Day (Worcester), Angelo Puppolo (Springfield), David Rogers (Belmont), Tom Sannicandro (Ashland), and Carl Sciortino (Medford).

We understand that ours is not just a fight to save the Commonwealth’s natural resources; these are fights to save the neighborhoods where we live, the open spaces where we recreate, the waterways, coasts and ocean where we work and play, and the health of citizens suffering from pollutants.

We all drink the same water and enjoy the same rivers.  The Sustainable Water Resources Bill establishes a process to develop science-based stream flow standards to document groundwater input and to ensure that fisheries and other fresh water species are sustained while meeting water supply needs for public health and safety.

The Dam Safety Removal and Repair Bill will increase opportunities to remove unneeded dams and help restore rivers to a more resilient, natural condition reducing the risks of flooding and enabling aquatic animals to survive.

We believe protecting the wild is part of our responsibility to future generations.  A new Endangered Species Act will address community concerns about managing development in a sustainable way to protect state listed species as well as places special to people.

The Old Growth Forest Permanent Protection Bill protects old-growth forests for the purpose of protecting exemplary forest habitats, maintaining biodiversity and establishing ecological benchmarks for assessing the health of forests statewide that includes a system of permanent old-growth forest reserves.

We believe that common sense stewardship of America’s resources is everyone’s responsibility.  The Expanded Bottle Bill will extend the state’s bottle bill beyond a refundable nickel deposit on carbonated beverage bottles to include containers that hold water, ice tea and other non-carbonated beverages, and to benefit bottle redemption businesses.

For ourselves and for our children’s children we believe in eliminating pollution and reducing toxic chemicals that bioaccumulate in our bodies over time and can be passed to our children.  The Safer Alternatives to Toxic Chemicals Bill will curb the use and proliferation of toxic chemicals by mandating when there is a safer alternative it must be used. Entrepreneurs who develop safer chemical alternatives are assured of sales in Massachusetts.

The Massachusetts League of Environmental Voters endorses candidates for State Senate and the House of Representatives who have worked together to advance environmental legislation in keeping with the Commonwealth’s conservation legacy of Frederick Law Olmsted, Charles Eliot, James J. and Helen Osborne Storrow.  Only by acting locally with responsible stewardship and sustainability do we become global in our conservation of the planet.

How green is your Beacon Hill legislator?

For the complete list of MLEV endorsed candidates and Senators: http://www.oceanriver.org/MightyGreenMA-Senate2012.php

Complete list endorsed by MLEV with district description: 
http://www.oceanriver.org/GreenBeaconHillLegislators2012.php

 The Massachusetts League of Environmental Voters, 12 Eliot St, Cambridge, MA 02138 ~ 617 661-6647 ~ www.MightyGreenMA.org

Save Ice Birds of the Arctic Ocean From Polar Bears

 

Black Guillemots stand by polar bear proof nesting boxes.

 

A population of black seabirds, later called “guillemots,” survived the last Ice Age near the North Pole by fishing the cracks that opened and closed in the ice.  Throughout the year, these birds dove for arctic cod beneath the ice.  Today, black guillemots are challenged by shrinking pack ice reduced due to global warming.  With retreating ice, birds must fly further for arctic cod to carry back to feed burgeoning chicks and fledglings on land.  Parental birds must spend more time away searching for a forage fish that is also the primary food source for narwhal, belugas, ringed seals, arctic char, Greenland halibut, and Atlantic salmon.  Russian fishing boats taking Arctic cod as by-catch in the capelin fishery have made the search more difficult.

A wisp of a barrier beach island, Cooper Island, lies in the Beaufort Sea twenty five miles east  of America’s northern most point of land, Plover Point, above Barrow Alaska.  The island is so exposed that the tallest land plants are wildflowers that shelter amidst the pebbles.  Spartina salt marsh grass grows taller in patches on the island’s backside away from the crash of Arctic Ocean.  Yellow-billed loons ride easy on gray water downwind of the island’s salt marsh.  The loons look supersized as if wearing survival suits because they are larger than the common loon.  The yellowish or ivory-white upturned bill, body length of 35 inches and wingspread of 55 inches makes this high Arctic loon unmistakable for anyone who has seen common loons.

Crossing ice-strewn seas beneath a leaden sky to a pea-stone gravel Cooper Island beach, I met George Divoky late one unremittingly bright mid-summer night.  We walked up the beach to the top of the island, about 50 feet above sea level.  George’s solo shelter consisted of a small wooden structure which would have looked more in place over an ice fishing hole.  Beyond was the Arctic Ocean stretching east and west.  The sea lapped over marble-sized stones that shifted, crunched and tumbled with the role of each wave.   The shore was littered with gray wooden munitions box tops.  Nails sticking straight out told of how the boxes had been blown apart by the government when they closed the military station, once on alert for Russian missiles.

Black guillemots are known to breed on rocky islands or the talus slopes of headlands.  In 1970 George Divoky found the same bird species nesting on gravel shores beneath weathered grey wood on Cooper Island.   Guillemots are duck like in size, complete with bright red webbed feet.  However, standing sentry around large bits of grey wood, the black birds with white wing patches are more upright then any duck and sport black pointed bills.  Guillemots are closely related to puffins.  Like puffins, they swim underwater easily propelled by partially opened wings.  Unlike puffins, guillemots are strong swift flyers and depend on the fish the live beneath the ice.

Supported by the Friends of Coopers Island, George Divoky has returned to the birds of Cooper Island every year since 1974 to measure, observe and record life in 200 wooden nest boxes.   Each bird has distinguishing leg bands.  Some of the older birds have returned to Cooper every year for thirty years.  The Cooper Island bird colony has provided dramatic evidence of the deleterious effects of rapid decreases in snow and ice cover.  The retreat of ice and the turning of snow to rain is the result of global warming caused by increasing amounts of carbon molecules in the atmosphere and corresponding increases in atmospheric temperatures.  George lifted the corner of one box to reveal a new phenomenon, a horned puffin sitting a on a shallow nest.  Puffins, open water feeders from the Berring Sea, have begun to replace the ice birds in their nesting boxes.

A greater disruption for the nesting birds has been the arrival of wayward polar bears.  Polar bears, forced to swim to land after major reductions of Arctic sea ice cover, came ashore to devastate the guillemot colony.  Bears destroyed guillemot nest boxes, ate eggs and nestlings.  The result was reduced breeding success on Cooper Island to near zero by 2009.  Meals that were more fluff than substance, allayed hunger for a very short time.

After that plundered year, George came up with a solution to protect breeding birds and their chicks. By modifying hard plastic cases, George created “bear-proof” nest sites. Nanuk Protective Cases, a company appropriately named after the mythological Inuit master of polar bears, provided some cases. Guillemots have moved into their new homes with great success.  However, more “bear-proof”  Nanuk case nest sites are needed to restore the ice bird population to its pre-polar bear level.  Meanwhile, some guillemots are changing their food from ice-bound fish to more readily available open water marine life.

We invite you to join with Friends of Cooper Island in sponsoring ice bird nesting boxes and assisting George Divoky with his continuing research of the black guillemot colony. By acting together we can make a village for nesting ice birds. We can make a difference to preserve wildlife during a period of unprecedented environmental change and development in the Arctic.

Sponsorship of a Nanuk case nesting box provides you with a real connection to the Arctic and an epic study monitoring the consequences of too much carbon in the atmosphere.  You will receive benefits that include periodic emails informing you of the background of the banded pair of birds breeding in your specific nest sites.  Follow status reports of guillemot eggs and nestlings.  View images of your nest sites, parents and nestlings.

Adopting an ice bird nest box is an excellent educational aid for a school class or individual child.  We may assist in the survival of Arctic wildlife.  With your sponsorships comes the positive feeling from knowing you are helping breeding birds and fledglings to live in a landscape suffering from carbon-loading of the atmosphere.

The 2012 ice bird breeding season is beginning.  Please sponsor a nest box today. An annual sponsorship for a minimum $100 tax-deductible donation, the cost of one box, can be made through Friends of Cooper Island’s website (www.cooperisland.org).  George would also welcome any question or comments.  

 

National Ocean Policy to Inform Government from the Bottom-up

For me the concept of a National Ocean Policy dates back to the mid 1980s and Charles H. W. Foster’s book Experiments in Bioregionalism.  In Massachusetts, Foster understood, as did Charles Eliot before him, that natural resource management had to occur in transboundary settings.  Think ecosystem as defined by natural boarders.  The problem was managers were mandated to think and operate only within man-made boxes of municipalities, counties, states and nations.

The necessity of a top-down National Ocean Policy is that it instructs managers to work in collaboration across managerial boundaries. The wonder of the National Ocean Policy was for leadership of the Interior (the National Park Service), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the Coast Guard and the Navy to announce that they would work together across institutional boundaries, share resources, reduce redundancies, and develop more robust solutions for responsible ocean stewardship.

Implementation of the National Ocean Policy is now being challenged simply because the call for working across institutional boundaries came from the President by Executive Order. It was not requested by Congress.  While a most appropriate action for the Commander in Chief, the President belongs to one political party.  Today the other political party can not abide by the president’s order.  Their complaint is not based on the merits, other than more government is bad.  Based solely on party dogma, they campaign to gut funding for the National Ocean Policy and thwart its implementation.

The irony is that funds requested for the National Ocean Council are not for government agencies, not to make big government bigger. Funds are required to host listening sessions across the nation.  It is wrong to deny funding for the processes that inform government from the bottom-up.  For less command-and-control Washington and for more locally- informed government fund the National Ocean Council.

Citizens must rally to right wrong and demand that Washington enable the National Ocean Council the ability to listen locally and be informed regionally. Attempts to shut down local dialogues and regional discourses in the service of responsible ocean stewardship are un-American. We demand implementation of the National Ocean Policy.  The National Ocean Policy will foster responsible ocean stewardship for the benefit of the ocean, our coasts and beaches, marine wildlife, and ultimately us all.  Let’s get it together, release the silos of government, and commence effective bioregional management.