To be a life scientist now, is to explore despair. Arriving for the glory of the natural world, the experts find themselves chronicling the end of species, of the climate, of the ecosphere.
I'm Alex Smith. We're going to dedicate this Radio Ecoshock program to the sea, and to one of it's lovers, Dr. Daniel Pauly, head of the Sea Around Us Project. His latest article, published in The New Republic magazine September 28th, 2009 is titled "Aquacalypse Now, The End of Fish". I'll tell you where to find more Daniel Pauly online.
We'll hear some clips from Dr. Pauly, and an interview with one of his prize students, Dr. Jennifer Jacquet at the University of British Columbia. Her paper shows that a third of our ocean harvest is being fed to pigs and chickens. That's right, in this upside down world, pigs may not yet fly, but they have been morphed into major ocean predators, thanks to our industrial food complex.
In our second half hour, we'll zero in on the mighty salmon. This popular food fish is challenged around the world by humans - their rivers dammed, streams destroyed, our sewage and warming oceans. No worry. We'll make our own - farmed fish. Our guest Catherine Stewart of the Living Oceans Society warns that aquaculture, from Scandinavia to Chile, is pushing out the sustainable wild stock. Horrible things are happening, in places you and I never see.
Our Radio Ecoshock show for March 23rd, 2007 carried a 47 minute portrait of Dr. Daniel Pauly, based on a speech he gave at the Vancouver Institute, among other sources. It's still a good introduction to the man and his work. I'll play you a couple of minutes, and then we'll go to more recent news from his institute.
The music clip in there was from "Fisherman's Blues" by the UK band "The Waterboys". Find them at www.mikescottwaterboys.com
Now let's go with a teaser from the Daniel Pauly article that kicked me into action, again, calling on you to help stave off disaster, down deep in our oceans. This is the opener from "Aquacalypse Now":
[End of Fish reading]
That was courtesy of The New Republic magazine. Get the rest at www.tnr.com.
In the show, we run a lively interview with Jennifer Jacquet, one of the new generation of scientists taking on the sea. She's the lead author on a new paper showing that a third of our fisheries catch is now going to animals, mainly pigs and chickens. It's a big conveyor belt taking the last of our sea creatures right into the agri-industrial complex.
Jacquett says consumer choice, knowing what to eat and not, is good - but nowhere near enough to preserve the fisheries. Pigs, chickens and farmed salmon don't get to chose their menus. We need to reach not just government, but the big fish companies, and the supermarkets - the big players that shape the ocean debacle.
We also chat for a moment about former ocean explorer and TV personality Jacques Cousteau. Why has he vanished from public view, and from the brains of the younger ocean science crowd?
Jennifer also talks a bit about Dr. Pauly.
I've covered scientist Dr. Daniel Pauly whenever I can. He's one of the most experienced. Other fisheries scientists use his calculations, and his software, to count the fish left on our oceans. Find his important speech to the Vancouver Institute on our Oceans page at ecoshock.org. That was delivered March 10th, 2007. I've titled it: Global Fisheries: Are the Gloom & Doom Justified? You'll find the full speech and the Q and A as free mp3 downloads.
Next I interview Catherine Stewart of the Living Oceans Society.
Catherine worked for 17 years as a Greenpeace campaigner, on both oceans and forestry issues. She represented Greenpeace in the negotiations with multinational forest executives, as they hammered out the Great Bear Forest agreement. That protected up to 50 pristine mountain watersheds along the Central and Northern coast of western Canada.
Then Stewart was hired by The Living Oceans Society to handle negotiations with a giant aquaculture company, Marine Harvest. It's one of three Norwegian fish-farming corporations straddling the world, from Canada to Chile to Europe. Living Oceans works in partnership with several other NGO's, including the David Suzuki Foundation, the Georgia Strait Alliance, and more. That's called CARR, the Coastal Alliance for Aquaculture Reform at http://www.farmedanddangerous.org/
Catherine and I cover the basics of salmon, followed by the latest moves to save the wild salmon from sea lice, pesticides, and escapes from farmed salmon pens.
You'll find out what you can do about it.
Salmon aquaculture, as we've heard, is simply unsustainable. Here is what Dr. Daniel Pauly said about it:
[Pauly on Aquaculture]
We could go on and on about the risks from fish farming. Just two quick examples. Toronto's Globe and Mail newspaper reported November 23rd that Asian Carp were poised to invade the Great Lakes. DNA tests showed this invasive species, which threatens to kill off most other food fish from the lakes, has bypassed a fence set up by the Army Corp of Engineers. The fence was suppose to stop the Asian Carp from traveling from the Mississippi River to the Lakes.
The Asian Carp was brought to the United States to control algae in catfish farms. Now it's poised to wreak major changes in both Canada and the United States.
Or how about this one: some aquaculture operations have been feeding dried cow blood to the fish. Now scientists are hurriedly testing to see if that practice risks transmitting Creutzfeldt Jakob disease, known as Mad Cow Disease, through farmed catfish. See the article in Science Daily November 6th, 2009.
On October 22nd, 2008, Daniel Pauly listened to a detailed listing of the Canadian government's failure to protect endangered ocean species. This was a break-through speech by a top government advisor, Dr. Jeff Hutchings. You can download his "Lament for A Nation's Oceans", as recorded by Radio Ecoshock, from the oceans page at our web site, ecoshock.org.
When it comes to protecting the oceans, Canadians have a wretched record. The U.S. isn't much better. The Europeans have already stripped their cupboards bare. The Japanese steal fish from people all over the world. It's sad, and it's madness.
By the way, the latest ocean science questions why so many ocean species died during the great extinction periods on land. Like the time the dinosaurs died, and the four previous great extinctions. Many scientists now believe the ultimate cause of massive marine die-off was ocean acidification, derived from excess carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
[Pauly on extinction from acidification]
Finally, what does an ocean scientist say, one he knows that democratic governments fund the industrial fisheries, the very machine that strips our ocean stock down to nothing? Dr. Pauly was asked to comment, and this is what he concluded:
Democracy isn't working. The scientists tell bureaucrats the fish are disappearing, and nothing happens, no matter who is in office. All we can do is raise Hell. If we try as individuals, like the old anarchists, Pauly says, we fail. The only solution is to organize.
[Pauly clip Democracy Deficit Raise Hell]
Join the people who care what is happening to our oceans. Find your regional non-profit, join them, donate, help. Organize, or we lose the lush gifts of the sea.
I'm Alex Smith. Thank you for listening to Radio Ecoshock.
We close with a clip "Fisherman's Son" from the Rankins.