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ENVS 17 Marine Policy class visit to the New England Aquarium
October 4, 2011

Oceans Ecosystems

db On October 4, 2011, students in the ENVS 17: Marine Policy class journeyed to the New England Aquarium in order to observe the ecological systems they read about for class and to interact with oceans experts from many different fields. They were lucky to be able to join the group Women Working for the Oceans (W2O) for an IMAX presentation by National Geographic photo-journalist Brian Skerry. Brian uses his amazing photographs to tell stories about oceans ecosystems that are threatened due to human action. Then, Vice President for Research, Scott Kraus, gave a special presentation on the Aquarium's research and outreach programs for the class. After these talks, the students had about three hours to explore the aquarium itself before heading over to Legal Seafoods for a sustainable seafood dinner. There, one of the chefs gave a short introduction to their criteria for sustainability and answered many questions. Profs. Anne Kapuscinski (conservation biologist and chair of ENVS) and D.G. Webster (political economist and ENVS 17 professor) were also on hand throughout the day to answer students’ questions and highlight points of interest.

As part of the learning process, students were required to write a short essay on what they learned from the visit related to either oceans ecosystems or sustainable seafood. Their essays along with pictures from the day are posted below.

Phoebe Reid: Artificial Ecosystems

dbAt the New England Aquarium in Boston many artificial habitats must be created for the multitude of different species that inhabit the varied fabricated ecosystems. From the salt water to fresh, deep-ocean to shallow mangrove, Turpin to Amazonian anacondas – each species requires slight variations. Some of these subtleties are feasibly implemented or brought in from the wild, however others, such as a life size coral reef, currents, temperature, and light, have to be human controlled.

The coral reefs in the tanks are almost entirely constructed out of fiberglass due to the fragility and extremely long growing time of real coral. How might this affect the ecosystem? One affect is that some fish, such as parrot-fish feed on live coral, and this consequently changes their food source. Most of the fish and predators we saw don’t actually eat their natural food source while in captivity, but are rather fed vegetables (like peas and corn) or krill. This not only substitutes for missing elements of the trophic web (such as plankton), but also prevents excessive predation by top-level predators, such as the sharks.

The exhibits ranged in water temperature and light intensity. Some tanks were kept very dark so as to simulate a nocturnal or deep-ocean environment, whereas others were kept much brighter. The deep-ocean tank is kept at a temperature of about 74°F so as to simulate a coral ecosystem, with a varying level of light, with the most light at the top of the tank (from natural as well as artificial light) as would be found in the ocean, with extra light entering the sides of the tank from the viewing decks, possibly creating a brighter environment than would be found in the wild.

How do these changes ultimately affect the animals? Are all these human interventions for our own benefit, to be able to see these wild animals in captivity? Or is it worth the effort for educational purposes? …Just some krill for thought.

Meghan Duff: Coral bleaching

db On the field trip, we learned a lot about the composition, function, and general importance of the different ecosystems that make up our planet’s oceans, ranging from tropical ocean ecosystems to polar ocean ecosystems. Although there are many different kinds and variations of these oceanic ecosystems, they all must support life and help regulate life (and climate, etc.) outside the oceans as well. Therefore, alterations of ecosystems due to human impact become a huge problem today. Humans contribute to many problems that ocean ecosystems face, including coral bleaching, disruptions in the food chain, and habitat depletion.

Humans have both a direct and indirect impact on coral bleaching. Scuba diving and snorkeling are common activities in tropical destinations, significantly those with stunning coral reefs. An excess of tourism and human contact with the coral and kill it and cause bleaching; if a diver kicks a polyp or colony of coral with his/her fin when swimming by, the coral can die and is considered bleached also because the algae living symbiotically in the coral dies, giving off the “bleached” or white coloring as opposed to the bright coloration.

Humans also cause coral bleaching in an indirect way. Emitting an abundance of fossil fuels causes the climate to warm and that along with the depletion of ozone causes the sea temperatures to increase. An increase in water temperature, even by only several degrees, can cause the bleaching of coral. This is because the algae living in the coral gives it its color, but these algae can only live in specific water conditions, i.e. specific water temperatures. Just like enzyme denaturation due to an increase in temperature, these algae simply cannot function and therefore die. The National Geographic photographer who gave the presentation said that 50% of the oxygen in our atmosphere and environment comes from the plankton and algae in the oceans, and much of this comes from the photosynthetic algae living in the coral reefs. So, bleaching is obviously a huge threat not only to aquatic ecosystems, but also terrestrial ecosystems.

Robert Maycock

db During our trip to the Boston Aquarium, we were informed of the unique coral reef ecosystem in the Phoenix Islands. The Phoenix Islands are made up of eight islands, located in the central Pacific Ocean. There is only one populated island, Kanton. For the majority of history, these remote islands have been largely untouched and therefore are home to one of the most vibrant marine ecosystems on earth. In recognition of its importance, the greater marine area of the Phoenix Islands has been inscribed as the largest, and deepest, protected UNESCO World Heritage Site, in 2010.

The Boston Aquarium is currently participating in a ten year research plan of the area (PIPA). Research into such pristine ecosystems has bared fruit. A balanced coral reef ecosystem should be comprised of enough predators, such as groupers and sharks, to equate 85% of the reef’s biomass. This finding contradicts traditional thought that believed a healthy reef was made-up of few predators, and many more small-to-mid sized fish.

Currently in PIPA, research is being conducting on the connection between reef and deep water ecosystems. The Phoenix Islands are the tops of ancient seamounts which allow shallow coral reef and deep-water ecosystems to coexist side by side. The implications of significant connection would draw further scrutiny to the way in which we treat deep water areas. Perhaps, countries would become more stringent on marine pollution if they understood it affected their precious coral reefs.

However, most importantly, the Phoenix Island marine ecosystem provides an example to the world of what our coral reefs should look like. When standards degrade each generation and memory is short, it is important that marine policy makers are aware that the plethora of marine life documented by 18th century explorers is fact, not fiction.

Daniel Chiniara

dbWhile tanks are great for viewing specific species on multiple trophic levels, the aquariums cannot model complete ecosystems with a producers, consumers, and decomposers. While coral is present, most tanks contain an artificial reef. The lack of sustainable vegetation from the lowest trophic level of algae and other producers create the tasks of maintaining the plant life and feeding the herbivores. To make the tanks kid friendly, the staff must also feed the carnivores to prevent predator prey relationships to develop. Due to tank size, larger members of ecosystems cannot be present in all tanks. To account for these larger apex predators, the sharks, rays, and eels are put in the four story tank but are so concentrated that there is an unrealistic distribution among animals.

To keep all species healthy, the aquarium intentionally avoids most symbiotic and parasitic relationships from smaller species by putting their new subjects in quarantine for a few months. The aquarium targets the invasive species through testing, so they can exclude them from the exhibit. The aquarium also excludes a new, influential presence in these species’ natural ecosystem, human waste. While Brian Skerry presented photo after photo of affected animals, there was never a fish that lived in a soda can at the New England Aquarium even if they exist in nature. For the most part, the aquarium tanks give the illusion that the oceans are still pristine. On a whole, the tanks modeled the oceans well but could not contain a sustainable, teeming ecosystem like the ocean.

Francois Patterson

dbThe ocean’s ecosystems are highly connected and very sensitive. If one species is taken out of the food chain, the entire network is out of balance. And self-correction nature’s attempts are not always successful and take a very long time. Large quantities of quaternary consumers are annually being exterminated at an alarming rate by overfishing, and bycatches.

Top predators like sharks are at extreme low right now due to hunters who are profiting from their fins to meet the demand in Asia, and some populations are being killed off for sport. Tons of shark fins are sold to in Asian market so they can be used in shark fin soup while the rest of the shark is disposed of. Other people have found an alternative way to exploit sharks – ecotourism – which actually accumulates more money annually and does not cost the sharks their lives. Another major issue that is impacting the shark population is bycatches. Bycatches are when fishing boats unintentionally catch untargeted species in their nets. Fishermen are catching a ton of sharks in their huge nets as they carelessness drag them through the ocean and scrape the ocean floor.

These bycatches are not only slaughtering the quaternary consumers like the sharks but other parts of the food chain within the ecosystems are being killed as well. As the net swallows the sharks who are trying to feed on the schools of fish – the main target – benthic life forms are being picked up off of the ocean floor; and consequently an entire ecosystem is being wiped out, except for the plankton who are small enough to escape through the nets. One the researches at the New England Aquarium informed us of more eco-friendly, efficient ways of fishing with large nets, however it is too expensive for the most fishermen.

 

Sustainable Seafood

Mark Sheridan

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Due to a rising global human population, increasing demand for seafood, and malicious fishing practices, many fish species have fallen victim to overfishing. The commercial fishing technique of trawling, commonly used for harvesting shrimp among other aquatic organisms, can result in hundreds of pounds of bycatch per serving of shrimp. Other aquatic organisms such as blue-fin tuna have simply been over harvested. The rise of aquaculture does not provide a solution to the problem. Aquaculture can contribute to the issue by requiring large inputs of smaller wild fish to feed the fish they are raising. Pollution, antibiotic use, aquatic habitat destruction, and cross contamination between wild fish and farm-raised fish are additional issues with aquaculture. Sustainable seafood in the 21st century requires careful and diligent practices by fisherman and consumers alike. Fortunately organizations such as the New England Aquarium and Legal Sea Foods Restaurant are promoting sustainable seafood by working with fisherman and educating consumers. Legal Sea Foods only serves wild seafood that is ocean friendly for human consumption or farm raised seafood from environmentally responsible aquaculture operations. The status of fish populations are always changing which requires the restaurant managers to stay up to date on the latest news. The New England Aquarium works with fisherman to develop alternative fishing methods that reduce bycatch and informs aquarium visitors on ways to be educated and critical consumers of sustainable seafood. Fish are a rich source of many nutrients and are a part of the diet and food culture of humans throughout the globe. The fishing industry is also a major provider of jobs in many coastal regions. In order to protect the health of ocean ecosystems and ensure our ability to continue to consume seafood, it is essential we all employ sustainable seafood practices.

Lynn Jones

dbEvery time a ship goes out to capture shrimp using a large net that they drag across the bottom of the sea or ocean, they usually capture a lot of unnecessary fish called bycatch. Each time they use the net they usually only capture a handful of shrimp and a lot of other fish that end up dying and thrown back into the ocean. The fishermen can’t use the extra fish they catch, because there usually isn’t a market to sell all of it. All these fish are thrown back into the ocean into what is called a dead zone. An important part of sustainable seafood is ordering items on the menu that people don’t normally get. If we try new items and don’t focus so much on the regular seafood that is high in demand, then we would have more diverse markets and some pressure would be taken off of salmon, cod, crab, lobster, and other seafood that people eat the most.

Madi Gamble

dbSeafood is a vital source of protein to people all over the world. However, humans do not always catch or buy their seafood in sustainable ways. In today’s globalized market, it is easy to buy fish and shellfish that have been caught thousands of miles away. Transporting this seafood uses a huge amount of energy, especially when one considers refrigeration and preservation during transportation. But there is much more to sustainable seafood than just considering how locally it is caught. Fishing methods must also be taken into account. Many fish, shellfish, and shrimp are caught by bottom trawling, a process in which a net is dragged along the seafloor. Not only does bottom trawling physically destroy the benthic ecosystems over which the nets are dragged, it is also an extremely indiscriminate way of catching a specific organism. The non-targeted animals that are caught in bottom trawlers are called bycatch, and are usually killed and then discarded after the target organisms have been removed. The greater the amount of bycatch, the less sustainable the fishery. Long-line fishing is a better alternative to nets, but still results in some bycatch. Besides considering the wastefulness of some fishing methods, one must also remember that fish play vital roles in all ocean ecosystems. Overfishing of stocks is a huge problem in the seafood industry. Removing too many fish from a certain population or ecosystem takes necessary food away from top predators such as sharks and sea lions, and can also remove top-down control on organisms at lower trophic levels like sea urchins. Thus, catching seafood in a sustainable manner may be difficult and expensive, but it is necessary to ensure that stocks of fish and shellfish are preserved for the sake of their ecosystems and future generations of people.

Hayley Brown

dbAt the New England Aquarium we learned about the importance and urgency of restoring ocean habitats and protecting marine life. One of the most effective ways to restore ocean habitats is through sustainable fisheries practices and the purchasing of sustainable seafood. Now, efforts such as the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s ‘Seafood Watch Cards’ and the Marine Stewardship Council’s eco-labeling system are beginning to bring sustainable seafood into the public eye, and consumers are beginning to choose sustainable seafood over exploited species such as Bluefin Tuna. Restaurants like Legal Seafoods are good models for the future of seafood consumption and the shift to more sustainable fishing practices.

Fishery depletion is an umbrella to a host of pressing issues including pollution, bycatch, biomass decline, and habitat destruction. Unbeknownst to most consumers, over the past decade scientists and marine researchers have observed an alarming decline in the abundance of commercialized seafood species; populations are collapsing and commercial fisheries are capturing continuously smaller yields despite the use of new technologies and an increased fishing effort.

Sustainable seafood often comes from sustainable aquaculture plants that utilize offshore closed circulating systems, eliminating the problem of waste disposal and escapism; sustainable seafood can also be wild-caught as long as the means by which it was caught does not harm other species or the target species surrounding habitat. For example seafood caught by means of ocean trawling is not sustainable, nor are fish caught with long lines. Some sustainable fishing techniques include the use of ‘turtle-safe’ pursiene nets and the enforcement of ‘fishing seasons’ where fishermen are prohibited to fish during spawning seasons.

Emily Cambern

dbThere was a lot of discussion on our trip about the current attempts at sustainable seafood and the best ways to fix the problems with fishing. One of the main problems that needs to be addressed with farming is the fact that many farms are in an area that do not have strong currents, so the effluent or fish excrement remains in that are rather than being spread out by the currents. Even with wild fishing there can be problems because the long lines often get a fair amount of bycatch, but more work has been done to address this issue. When it comes to choosing between farming and wild fishing, there really isn’t one better solution. We cannot just fish in the wild because with the demand, resources will be greatly depleted, but at the same time we cannot just use farming methods to get our fish because there are many environmental consequences that come from farming. For example, two of the most popular types of seafood eaten are salmon and shrimp, and those are also two that cause serious environmental damage when farmed. The best solution is to find a balance between farming and fishing in the wild so that we do not deplete the fish, but we are still able to meet demand.

Magi Nelson

dbIn order to improve the sustainability of the seafood industry, a market for sustainable seafood must exist. Consumers have to be convinced that there is additional value in seafood that is caught with practices that are less damaging to the surrounding ecosystem than traditional fishing practices. Suppliers have to be educated in their buying practices, realize that sustainability is a marketable quality in their product, and refuse to buy from farmers that don't have sustainable practices. This would force the shrinkage of the market for traditionally caught seafood. The New England Aquarium has set up their Sustainable Seafood Advisory to work with suppliers and evaluate farms to make recommendations as to how to improve their sustainability, and make their farms more efficient. An improvement in efficiency not only means reducing bycatch, but also reducing the amount of pharmaceuticals used, and lowering the ratio of feed to amount of meat produced. So far they have partnered with some of the nation's leading suppliers like Darden, Gorton's, and Giant Market. To make the seafood industry more sustainable, more than the education of farmers and the development of new technology must occur. Everyone in the industry, including middlemen and the public, must be made more sensitive to sustainability in order to create a market that demands sustainable practices.

Maya DeGroote

dbAfter our field trip, I feel as if the term “sustainable seafood” is a difficult term to define. A variety of factors must be considered when determining if a type of seafood is sustainable including methods of fishing, the species population, where the organisms were harvested, and how the removal of the organisms impacted the ocean ecosystem. The aquarium does have a group called the Sustainable Seafood Advisory Services and they include a team of seafood sustainability experts whose main focuses include: to evaluate, compare and rank wild and farmed species, to emphasize continual, incremental change, to encourage and observe market mechanisms, and to provide opportunities for consumer education. I saw that this last goal, to educate consumers, was already put in practice in the aquarium on signs and the pamphlets about how “Your seafood choices matter.” In addition to government regulation and policies, which can be slow for a variety of reasons we have discussed in class, one of the most important ways we can improve seafood sustainability is by the consumer actively showing an interest in how the fish was harvested. The scientist whom we spoke to also made an important point about how boycotting certain fishes is not as effective, however, as one might think because the information never reaches the fisherman about why their fish or seafood is not being bought. This is where the SSAS tries to come in and thus is so vital to bridging the gap between fisherman and consumers in order to allow for effective seafood practices to be developed.

Daniel Fang

dbI’ve always loved going to aquariums. They always seemed like such places of wonder, containing worlds of animals and fish not normally seen. To this day, I still have a deep appreciation for aquariums and their work in trying to educate the general public about conservation of ocean ecosystems (although their unintentional contribution to invasive species is rather unfortunate). I would say we were extremely lucky to hear from National Geographic photographer Brian Skerry, and I definitely felt his story told through photography impacted me the most. Very often we hear or learn about issues such that we have a lot of head knowledge on what is affecting various environmental ecosystems. I know that industrial emissions produce acid rain which kills trees. Likewise, I’ve learned that modern day fishing and bottom trawling is extremely destructive and has a lot of bycatch, organisms unintentionally caught by the nets. But even the obscurity and technicality of that word, bycatch, disconnects us from the actuality of what is actually happening. Until, that is, we’re hit with a visual reality… we don’t believe until we see. I felt like that’s what happened yesterday when I saw, for the first time, the hard-hitting photograph of the fisherman’s hand holding 6 or 7 shrimp after an hour’s worth of bottom trawling, and the piles and piles of benthic organisms, fish, anemones, you name it, all killed for the sake of those six or seven shrimp. It was very disheartening. During the lunch discussion with Scott Kraus, I asked about other methods of trawling that would perhaps be gentler to marine communities. Pingers are able reduce bycatch of whales, dolphins and purpoises, and certain high-tech solutions are out there that entail using complex sonar systems to maintain very specific net heights, but these solutions are simply not feasible for the many low-income countries whose economic vitality is dependent upon their fishing industry. This only convinces me more of the importance and further complexity of the policy side of marine problems. How can economies, the livelihood of all people, and the environment be reconciled? The fact that all of these listed are inextricably linked makes the prospect of solving these problems through policy that much more interesting.

Matt Stanton

db At the aquarium yesterday, we viewed artificial oceanic ecosystems. In the large glass tank, Sharks and other large predatory fishes circled around the tank. Smaller fishes swarmed around in schools, and aquatic plants and corals littered the “sea” floor. Viewing this cross-section of oceanic life made it very apparent how ecosystems are held together by food webs. It is in our best interest to fish sustainably in order to keep these ecosystems alive and well enough to provide us with food and recreation.

When we fish, we disturb ecosystems more than we realize. Dredging the sea floor increases turbidity and also disrupts the lives of bottom dwelling fishes and plants. Fishing nets not only catch vast quantities of fish, but also can entangle large oceanic mammals. In fact, about 80 percent of Atlantic right whales have scars on their exteriors from entanglement.

On top of these reckless practices, overfishing is common, and highly unsustainable. Take sharks as an example. According to an article in the Huffington Post (see my post for 10/6), 73 million sharks are killed each year just for their fins. If humans continue to kill sharks at this rate, some shark species will be extinct quite soon. If sharks are gone, ecosystems lose an apex predator that keeps populations of large fish in check through predation and eats dead fish (detritus) to keep the ecosystem clean. Without sharks, entire ecosystems collapse in a vicious spiral down the food chain.

That’s why fishing sustainably is important. Policy and technology ensure that fishing is sustainable and noninvasive. For example, quotas are issued to fishermen to ensure they don’t overfish. Boat license prices are ratcheted up. Nets are employed with pingers. These are just a few ways to ensure seafood is caught sustainably and carefully.

Gianna Guarino

dbAs we learned at the New England Aquarium today, there are a plethora of ways to create a seafood industry that is sustainable. Currently, there are many problems with the manner in which we fish seafood. Bycatch is extremely problematic, along with entanglement issue of larger animals, such as whales, sharks, and dolphins getting caught in fish nets. There are two directions from which to tackle the larger issue of bycatch. Bycatch is obviously problematic because we are killing much more that what is being marketed and consumed, therefore, we are harming and taking from our ecosystems much more than is necessary. One direction that we can help to reduce the issue of bycatch is by helping to make the fish that are caught, killed and dumped back into the ocean marketable. Therefore, from the consumers point of view, this involves broadening the range of seafood that we choose to eat. Although this may not seem like a solution with a direct impact on sustainability of fisheries, its long terms effects could be significant. Another way to target and decrees bycatch is by changing fishing methods. Swordfish is often caught with the long line method, where a fisherman will put out a long line with many hooks attached and then will catch everything that bites the line. In swordfish fishing, a method to reduce bycatch would be to catch the swordfish by harpooning them after using a pole and line method. Although each way to reduce bycatch is very different, bycatch is a huge issue that we as seafood consumers should be aware of as we are enjoying seafood. We should also make efforts to educate others about the things we can do to help sustain the ocean, and the seafood that we love.

Claire Pendergrast

dbAs we learned from the New England Aquarium scientist who talked to us during lunch (Scott Kraus), the New England Aquarium is an active proponent of sustainable fishing practices and sustainable seafood. They advise large seafood retailers on environmentally responsible aquaculture and fishing practices in order to encourage them to adopt sustainable practices. This enables many members of the seafood industry to practice environmental accountability and incorporate sustainability at all parts of the supply chain.

The Aquarium does rigorous research at all levels of the seafood industry, sending their researchers to individual stocks and farms to evaluate environmental outputs, impacts of operations on other species affected by the industry, fish health, and feed type. They use a decision-ranking tool to assign a sustainability rank to each provider and each report contains detailed purchasing recommendations. This allows restaurants and consumers to make informed decisions about where their seafood is sourced from and allows them to offer their customers an environmentally safe and verifiably sustainable product.

The seafood industry is by nature international, as the oceans are a shared resource. This means that Aquarium researchers travel the globe in order to compare and evaluate fisheries and aquaculture farms. They travel from Iceland to Canada to Japan where different fishing operations are centralized. Each country has its own restrictions and regulations, so what may be legally permitted in one country may not be considered sustainable in another. The Aquarium strives to provide an international standard that will guarantee to consumers that their seafood is ocean-friendly. The Aquarium website also provides a list of ocean-friendly seafood suggestions, recommending that consumers choose options that are not overfished or whose fishing methods do not have deleterious environmental consequences.

Source: http://www.neaq.org/conservation_and_research/projects/fisheries_bycatch_aquaculture/sustainable_fisheries/index.php

Katie Gougelet

dbDuring our lunch presentation, we discussed some of the ways that the New England Aquarium is trying to make the seafood market more sustainable. Other aquariums, such as the Monterey Bay Aquarium of California, are getting involved my distributing business cards that explain which fish are sustainable and which should be avoided. In contrast, the New England Aquarium is taking a different strategy. They are intervening directly with companies within the fishing industry in attempt to make their practices more sustainable.

The aquarium has adopted this strategy for a few reasons. First, the direct intervention technique helps those in the fishing industry understand the reasons why a particular part of their industry is sustainable, versus the cards, which essentially support a boycott that the industry will suffer from, and may not fully understand the reasons for. The NE aquarium strategy also employs market incentives to encourage sustainable practices on the fishing industry’s part. If companies meet sustainability standards set forth by the aquarium, then they receive their stamp of approval, which makes concerned consumers more likely to buy their product.

Although the aquarium is not congress or even a legislative body, I feel like their way of indirectly managing fisheries is an effective type of marine policy, or resource management, in and of itself. In my opinion, directly affecting the fishing industry is more effective in the long term than handing out cards, which will only reach and educate a certain fraction of the population. Educating and providing incentives for the fishing industry will have a much larger impact, for changes in policy on that level will reduce unsustainable fish consumption by every consumer in the industry. This is a rare example of a win-win situation for environmentalists and the industry, but it is certainly good news for depleting fish stocks around the world.

Jennifer Dyment

dbWhen the class visited Legal Sea Foods, Prof. Kapuscinski asked the question of whether the restaurant was certified under any of the environmental certification initiatives. The chef responded by saying that he was unsure but that Legal Sea Foods likely did. After checking the Legal Sea Food website, it appears as though Legal Sea Foods doesn’t advertise any third party eco-labels but rather relies on its own reputation of having clean and safe seafood.

Marine Steward Council (MSC) is an example of a third party organization that offers eco-labeling and rewards sustainable wild catch fisheries with a visual endorsement. Restaurants and food suppliers can use the endorsement if the seafood was purchased from a certified fishery. This gives consumers knowledge about whether the seafood is sustainably harvested which is an economic incentive for food suppliers and fisheries. The MSC sets standards for commercial fisheries which allow certifiers independent of MSC to access the fisheries and issue accreditation. To maintain use of the label, fisheries must continue to meet these standards. According to the MSC website, about 7 percent of the world’s seafood currently has MSC certification and about 23 percent of consumers in developed world countries recognize the MSC endorsement. About 94 fisheries have been accredited to meet their standards and 118 are currently being assessed, according to Jacquet et al. (2010). Recently, many groups including the Greenpeace and some branches of WWF have disagreed with some of MSC’s standards, calling them too loose and easy to meet. Because of the voluntary nature of the certification, only a sliver of seafood is certified leaving a large percentage of harmful fisheries running and causing environmental devastation. Jacquet et al. (2010) criticize the certification program stating that protected marine areas and lobbying to remove fishery subsidies is a better way to spend money and effort.

Jacquet, J., Pauly, D., Ainley, D et al. 2010 “ Seafood Stewardship in Crisis.” Nature 267: 28-29

Acknowledgments

dbProf. Webster and the Environmental Studies Program would like to thank Bill and Barbara Burgess for suggesting the field trip and providing both logistical and financial support to make it happen. We'd also like to thank the members of Women Working for the Oceans for welcoming our students to their event with Brian Skerry, who gave an amazing talk, and Scott Kraus for giving a great presentation about the aquarium's activities. Amy Whitehead and the rest of the aquarium staff did excellent work accommodating our group.

Prof. Webster would like to express her personal appreciation to Kim Wind for providing invaluable assistance during the organization of the trip and for putting together this great web page with Maya Johnson '14. Wayne Barstad and Tyler Morgan also came along to help keep everything moving smoothly. Thank you to the Rockefeller Center for additional funding.  And last but certainly not least, many thanks to Anne Kapuscinski and the Environmental Studies Program for moral and financial support of the field trip.

Photos by D.G. Webster and Dan Fang.


Click here to see a movie of Sea Dragons

Click here to see a movie of a school of herring

Last Updated: 11/1/11