SeaKeepers' Currents

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Students Help Launch a SeaKeepers Drifter off the Coast of the Bahamas

DISCOVERY Yacht M/Y Defiance Promotes Education

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In January 2014 Claudia Potamkin, the owner of DISCOVERY Yacht M/Y Defiance, invited 20+ Bahamian school children onboard her yacht to participate in an exciting and eventful day of ocean exploration and marine science education. The day was topped off with the successful launch of a SeaKeepers Drifter off the coast of the Bahamas. Several students assisted in the actual deployment of the drifter into the water along with Claudia Potamkin, SeaKeepers President & CEO Richard Snow and Director of Programs and Policies Brittany Stockman.

The SeaKeepers Drifter has the ability to monitor surrounding water conditions such as surface temperature and current direction and report these measurements, along with its position, back to NOAA or other interested parties, via satellite.  With a 400-day lifecycle, every deployed drifter floats along the surface of the ocean, collecting valuable information with the potential to be used to better understand things like weather and hurricane formations, ocean currents and marine debris patterns.

We look forward to continuing to work with DISCOVERY Yacht owners like Claudia Potamkin and facilitating the deployment of more drifters in the future.


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2013 Bal de la Mer & SeaKeeper Award Presentation Sponsors

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The International SeaKeepers Society announces this year’s winner of its SeaKeeper Award – The Sargasso Sea Alliance. This is the first time SeaKeepers has honored a group and not an individual.  This is also the first time in 15 years the Bal de la Mer has been held outside of Monaco.

SeaKeepers selected The Sargasso Sea Alliance (SSA) for their extraordinary commitment to ocean conservation.  David Shaw, the Founding Chair, along with Executive Committee members Richard Rockefeller, Howard Roe, Kirstina Gjerde, Derrick Binns and David Freestone will accept the 2013 SeaKeeper Award on behalf of the SSA.

The SSA was formed in 2010 under the leadership of the Government of Bermuda. Its mission is to preserve the ecologically significant Sargasso Sea.  The Sargasso Sea is home to multitudes of threatened and endangered species including sea turtles, humpback and sperm whales, but remains largely unprotected.  The SSA has taken giant strides to improve management and afford legal protection for this floating rainforest of the Atlantic Ocean.

The Bal de La Mer  enjoys the support and prominent leadership of Event Chair, Skip Zimbalist, Founder & President of Active Interest Media and a remarkable Honorary Committee chaired by Patty Elkus, Founding Member of SeaKeepers. Honorary Committee members include Dr. Sylvia Earle, Fabien Cousteau, Jean-Michel Cousteau, Gary Jobson, Wendy Benchley, Dr. Walter Munk, and Zandra Rhodes, among others.

The event will be held at the St. Francis Yacht Club on Monday, September 9th in San Francisco. Guests will be treated to a special guest appearance by Al Jardine of The Beach Boys in honor of David Shaw and the SSA, to present Jardine’s new music video “Don’t Fight the Sea”.

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Building Environmentally Conscious Habits

Written by contributing blogger Sebastian Alarcon Leon

The Ugly Journey Of Our Trash. An infographic by Project AWARE

Small Changes Can Actually Make A Big Difference

You’ll be surprised by the amount of little things you can do every day that help preserve both the ocean and the environment in general. Whether you’re trying to be more environmentally conscious or just trying to be frugal, these seemingly trivial actions can have a dramatic impact on both the environment and your budget.

  • Turn the air conditioning off when you’re not home! AC consumes a bunch of energy. By reducing the amount of time you have it on, you can help reduce overall energy use, not to mention your utilities bill!
  • Disconnect your idle chargers! I bet you didn’t know that nearly 75% of all electricity used to power electronics is consumed by products that are switched off. Only 5% of the power drawn by a cell phone charger is used to charge the phone. The other 95% is wasted when it is left plugged into the wall. Turning off power strips also helps!
  • Re-use plastic products!  Things like water bottles, containers, and plastic bags can be reused which prevents them from becoming waste and further contaminating natural resources. In a world where few people are aware of their ecological footprint, everyone who chips in makes a difference.
  • Clean up after yourself! Everywhere. Littering, especially in coastal areas, can be exceedingly detrimental to the ocean and marine life. There has been a huge growth in the death of animals thanks to the astounding amount of plastic littering their habitats. Be kind to your beach.
  • Cut back on seafood! Seafood products are generally more expensive than beef or chicken anyways, so cutting back on it every once in a while will benefit both you and seafood populations. The more people that think twice before ordering that delicious salmon carpaccio, the less demand the human population asserts on already over-exploited fisheries.
  • If you’ve gotten this far, have the decency to recycle.


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High Stakes on the High Seas: Why cruise ships pollute.

Written by contributing blogger Michael Moore Jr.  Edited by Brittany Stockman.

I recently ran into an old high school friend.  After exchanging the usual pleasantries, this happened:

“What are you doing lately?”

“I work for a nonprofit that protects and restores the sea. You?”

“I work for a major cruise line.  You probably hate major cruise lines.”

I was a bit taken aback.  I do not know if I hate the cruise industry. I wouldn’t hate a hotel on a nature preserve.  A hotel on the nature preserve contributes to the greening of the modern world, by allowing people to enjoy nature while promoting environmental conservation.  Animals that live in nature preserves are kept under a watchful eye.  If their population starts to dwindle, measures are taken until the animals bounce back in number. If visiting tourists do not see rare animals thriving, the hotel loses business.

To learn more about why this works, let’s take a small example and extrapolate to the big picture.  If there is an empty lot on a city block which isn’t owned by any of the surrounding neighbors, it will typically become overgrown.  Soon, it might even fill with trash.  Although the neighborhood as a whole would benefit from a clean lot, no one in particular wants to be the one to take responsibility.  The lot will become increasingly dilapidated over time, creating an unsightly area.  Essentially, this is the “Tragedy of the Commons.”

Take the same situation but assume that the empty lot is owned by a homeowner on the street.  Intuitively, she mows the lot and keeps it clean. Perhaps, she puts up signs that warn against littering.  She does this because the lot is her private property.  She might plant flowers, bushes and trees and perhaps allow the public to visit.  Now, we start to see the correlation between ownership and preservation.

Similarly, ocean stewardship benefits from distinct property rights; however, there is a key difference in regards to the cruise industry.  No one owns the high seas; the ocean is a common resource.  The area beyond each nation’s 200 nautical mile Exclusive Economic Zone is simultaneously no one’s territory and everyone’s territory.

Like the hotel on a nature preserve, the cruise industry also exists to bring tourists closer to nature.  Unfortunately, just two decades ago, a cruise ship was one of the most polluting machines in existence.  Cruises dumped tons of garbage and waste-water into the ocean.  At one point, the industry accounted for as much as three-fourths of the waste entering the ocean.  Cruise lines would ignore environmental regulations because of the lack of incentive to care for this open-access resource.  Why should they bear the costs of disposing of such waste if they could do it for free?  Just like the abandoned lot in the city, the oceans might just benefit from the assignment of property rights.

On the bright side…

Born of a realization that the sea is not as infinite and resilient as it once seemed, major seafaring corporations have begun to recognize the folly of polluting their main attraction. The cruise industry has made significant progress to reduce its negative impact on marine resources. In fact, the amount of waste cruise ships produce and discard has decreased continuously over the past 20 years.  Now you see, even without distinct property rights, the cruise industry managed to develop a sense of stewardship over the oceans. They still have a long way to go, but encouraging this feeling of ownership is a giant stride in the right direction.

For works cited contact: junior@moore-and-co.com


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Day Six: Bluefun Tuna

Let’s begin: Today is day six of the “Fish are Friends” pledge.  The fish that will tempt me the most over the next few months is the delectable bluefin tuna.

FACTS

  • That $14 piece of toro on your plate may actually be one of three species: Atlantic bluefin, Pacific bluefin or southern bluefin.
  • All populations of bluefin tuna are overfished, which means they are caught at a rate faster than they can reproduce.
  • Most studies agree that over 80% of the bluefin population has disappeared over the past 40 years.
  • Despite calls to reduce catch limits, scientific recommendations are repeatedly ignored. Fisheries management institutions tend to focus debate on “how much overfishing to allow rather than how to effectively end it.”
  • In May of 2011, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Organization (NOAA) declined to protect Atlantic bluefin tuna under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), despite widespread scientific consensus that their survival as a species is threatened.
  • Atlantic bluefin tuna (Thunnus thynnus) is listed as endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), and the southern bluefin tuna (Thunnus maccoyii) is listed as critically endangered.
  • The tuna fishery often catches sharks, rays and other fish as bycatch.
  • Due to absurd demand for bluefin in high end sushi markets, the occurrence of illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing has skyrocketed.
  • In November, fishermen off Nova Scotia killed a thousand pound bluefin, which will sell for over $30,000 US and produce nearly 20,000 pieces of sushi. Sylvia Earle compares the consumption of bluefin tuna to dining on snow leopards or pandas.
  • One of only two confirmed total spawning locations, the Gulf of Mexico, was recently polluted by 210 million gallons of oil after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

Hopefully, you’ll keep this in mind the next time you’re tempted by that amazing sashimi lunch special…


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Fish are Friends Pledge

"I am a nice shark, not a mindless eating machine. If I am to change this image, I must first change myself. Fish are friends, not food."

“I am a nice shark, not a mindless eating machine. If I am to change this image, I must first change myself. Fish are friends, not food.”

On December 7, I pledged to help raise awareness for my favorite underwater friends by not eating fish for the next 90 days (and hopefully the next 90 days after that).  The inspiration behind the new diet was my rediscovery of Sylvia Earle’s The World is Blue: How Our Fate and the Ocean’s Are One.  (Let’s be honest, I was also motivated by the squad of fish-addicted sharks in Finding Nemo…)

Not only do I adore the taste and texture of fish, I relish in the multitude of health benefits associated with their consumption.  Generally, fish are low in calories and ‘bad’ fat content yet high in Omega-3 fatty acids and protein.  For years, I have avoided species such as sea bass and grouper and I have become quite familiar with the gentle teasing and mocking from those who find my actions futile.  (Friend: “Ah yes, Brittany will have the filet of baby grouper, please.”)

Expanding these restrictions to all species will be the most challenging lifestyle change I’ve ever tackled.  As a pessimistic environmentalist, I highly doubt my choice will in any way affect society’s demand for fish; however, I can no longer dine on fish with a clean conscience.

Here’s the plan: every few days I will post about a certain fishery and explain exactly why I choose not to consume this product. When acquaintances, friends and family ask me why I’m not ordering the sea bass sashimi with yuzu, salmon roe and truffle oil at Zuma, I’d like to have every statistic and fact backed up in hopes of encouraging others to think twice before eating fish.

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