Climate Change Could Ignite 'Fish Wars,' But It Doesn't Have To
By Amy Mcdermott
Wars are coming. They will begin with fish. Or so it would seem, as swirling schools of little bass and other seafood species dart across political lines this century.
Fish will cross unprecedented political boundaries by 2100 because of climate change, according to a recent study in the journal Science. Seventy or more countries will share new fisheries in the next 80 years, the study found, as fish relocate in response to ocean warming. Schools that once swam off a single nation will straddle two, sprawling across political borders they didn't cross before.
Countries will learn to share quickly or fight.
"When fish move across political boundaries, we're not good at sharing initially, or even for decades," said Malin Pinsky, an ecologist at Rutgers University in New Jersey and Oceana science advisor, who led the recent study. "That causes conflict to erupt."
Fights over fisheries are nothing new. French scallop fishermen lobbed rocks and smoke bombs at British boats off the Coast of Normandy last month: the latest in their 15-year battle over scallops (with tensions dating back at least 200 years). Iceland, Norway and the European Union have such bad blood over mackerel that Iceland withdrew its bid to join the EU in 2015. The U.S. and Canada are forever beefing over cod. But the speed and scale of change this century is unprecedented, experts say, and could have resounding political and environmental aftershocks.
"These problems might start in fisheries, but they often spill out beyond fisheries as well," Pinsky said. Bickering about fish has been a top cause of armed conflict since World War II. Consider the headline-making row between French and British fishermen last month, whose anger boiled down to disagreement about who can fish where. It's a spark that can ignite militarization when maritime borders are poorly defined, and countries are competing for a limited resource, according to one analysis.
If those countries get grabby, they can overexploit the fishery. Imagine two people facing a delicious piece of cake, Pinsky said, each suspicious that the other won't share. Both will lunge and "eat as much as they can, quickly," he explained. "In some ways, that's what's happening with fish."
Future feuds seem likely, but fish wars aren't guaranteed. Looking across countries that have shared well in the past, and countries that haven't, patterns of good behavior do emerge. Trust, cooperation and smart planning point the way to a less conflicted future.
Build Trust Early
Sharing seems like standard good behavior. Indeed, people—and governments—can be great sharers, with a little time to warm up to the idea.
Consider the Pacific island nations of Kiribati, the Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Tuvalu and the Federated States of Micronesia: eight tiny countries that cooperatively manage the largest tuna fishery in the world. "They've built trust amongst each other over 30 years," said Kate Barclay, a marine social scientist at Australia's University of Technology Sydney.
Trust pays dividends in a complex cap-and-trade scheme for the region's skipjack tuna. It works like this: Every year, all eight countries agree how many days, total, commercial skipjack fishing will be allowed in all their waters. That's the whole pie, of which each country gets a slice—an allocation of days, which they can sell to foreign vessels for single-day fishing access, typically at a cost of $10,000 to $14,000 each, said lawyer Transform Aqorau, who pioneered the management system.
Trust comes into play because skipjack tuna don't hang out around every island every year, meaning some countries will sell out of fishing days, while others won't. In this system, the islands that sell out of days first just buy unused days from their neighbors. So even though the fish are unevenly spread in the water, everyone profits.
"There's been a great appreciation for a long time, by these small island nations, that they need to work together to achieve their mutual ends," said fisheries scientist Johann Bell of the University of Wollongong, Australia, and of Conservation International. Licensing fees paid by foreign fleets can account for as much as 80 percent of government revenue, he explained, "so they've got a huge stake in this."
And because there's a cap on fishing days available—the whole pie for all the islands—skipjack aren't overfished. Of course, there is some quibbling between countries over their allocation of days, Aqorau said, but overall, it's a successful system.
More countries will confront the question of sharing this century. The Pacific Islands are managing well, because they built trust early. At the broadest level, Rutgers' Pinsky said, avoiding fish wars "is about building trust before there's a crisis."
Don't Benefit at a Neighbor's Expense
Knowing that skipjack migrate, "the Pacific Islands could have said OK, well it's the luck of the draw, boys," Bell said. "If it's in your country you make a lot of money that year. If not, you don't."
Instead, small neighboring nations worked together to their mutual gain.
Thousands of miles north, in the considerably colder waters of the Barents Sea, Russia and Norway cooperatively manage another migratory fish: cod. While cod may be the poster child of overfishing in North America, it's thriving across the Atlantic.
Barents management worked where North America's failed, because Russia and Norway follow science-based catch limits set by a joint fisheries commission, wrote biologist John Waldman of Queens College New York, in Yale 360. The United States and Canada, on the other hand, managed cod independently in most places. The two countries just lunged for it.
Today in the Barents Sea, whether cod fishermen are Russian or Norwegian, they're free to fish off either country. When cod migrate, fishermen can follow. Neighbors don't shut each other out to get ahead.
Common decency may seem motivation enough, but altruism isn't necessarily a good foundation for policy, points out sustainability scientist Jessica Spijkers, a co-author of the recent Science study and doctoral student with the Stockholm Resilience Center and James Cook University in Townsville, Australia. Selfless ideals don't hold up well, she said, when a country's people are desperate, or in crisis.
For Norway, Russia and the Pacific Islands, playing nice benefits their neighbors. But more importantly, cooperation benefits themselves, more than going it alone. Lofty ideals might bring some countries to the table, but self-interest keeps them there. It's when neighbors feel stepped on that sharing breaks down.
Think Like a Fish: Without Borders
There are no walls in the ocean. Fish swim freely. Managing them as though they adhere to political lines sometimes doesn't work.
North American cod were overfished, for example, in part because Canada and the United States generally managed their fish separately on either side of the border. Overfishing is easy when one country has total control, Waldman said. Whereas, when two countries share responsibility, one side always keeps an eye on the other. In the Barents Sea, by contrast, cod are managed as one regional population. The same is true for skipjack in the Pacific.
Managing wild fish like, well, wild fish, makes a lot of sense, said Stockholm's Spijkers, but expanding management to international, regional scales is also challenging. One way to do it, she said, would be to create one international fishing fleet, that targets all the commercial species in a region. Then divide up that catch by country.
"Fish are so regional, I would say the fleet should be as well," Spijkers said. "That would be just brilliant."
Other resources, like rivers and forests also span borders, and in general, countries are better at sharing those than they are at sharing fish, Spijkers said. Part of the reason fisheries still cause such conflict is because the oceans are huge, hard to study and until recently, fish were considered an infinite resource. That Wild West mentality is finally changing, she said, and none too soon, as fish relocate this century.
"Shifts will happen. It's a reality, at least according to the models," Spijkers said. "It's time to start thinking about what we can really do, before these things erupt and become gridlock."
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Material Revolutions: Shirts Made from Shellfish, Biodegradable Rum Bottles and Reusable Fast Food Containers
In the age of consumption, sustainability innovations can help shift cultural habits and protect dwindling natural resources. Improvements in source materials, product durability and end-of-life disposal procedures can create consumer products that are better for the Earth throughout their lifecycles. Three recent advancements hope to make a difference.
1. Allbirds Shirts Made From Shellfish<p>Sustainable sneaker start-up <a href="https://www.allbirds.com/pages/apparel" target="_blank">Allbirds</a> is known for its thoughtfulness for consumers and the environment. The four-year-old shoe company has become hugely popular by creating comfortable shoes made from responsibly sourced materials like tencel and wool, reported <a href="https://www.fastcompany.com/90565358/allbirds-new-clothing-line-includes-t-shirts-made-from-discarded-crab-shells" target="_blank">Fast Company</a>.</p><p>Recently, Allbirds launched its debut apparel line with garments for men and women made with eco-friendly materials that have a low carbon footprint, the report said.</p><p>Introduced along with the line is a new t-shirt material called "TrinoXO," which is made from wool and discarded snow crab shells from Canada's seafood industry, reported <a href="https://www.cnbc.com/2020/10/20/sustainable-sneaker-start-up-allbirds-is-selling-sweaters-t-shirts.html" target="_blank">CNBC</a> and <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2020/10/20/business/allbirds-sustainable-apparel/index.html" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">CNN</a>. The shells are the "number two discarded resource on earth," Allbirds claims, reported <a href="https://www.menshealth.com/style/a34427585/allbirds-apparel-clothing-line-review/" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">Men's Health</a>.</p><p>"Discarded material is the holy grail when it comes to sustainable fibers," Jad Finck, Allbirds head of innovation and sustainability, told Fast Company. "It's far better for the environment than getting raw materials from scratch."</p><p>The shells have antimicrobial properties that keep clothes fresh even after hours of wear, without the need to add "extractive" materials like zinc or silver, Men's Health reported. This allows for longer periods of wear between washes, reducing clothes' environmental footprint.</p><p>"We knew we wanted to be a real brand, and had this vision that we'd be an innovation company first, and a product company second," co-founder Joey Zwillinger told <a href="https://www.vogue.com/article/allbirds-launches-clothing" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">Vogue</a>. "And our products would solve problems for people in a natural way, and show the world that you don't have to compromise on the planet for amazing products."</p>
2. Bacardi Biodegradable Rum Bottles<p>By 2023, <a href="https://www.bacardi.com/us/en/" target="_blank">Bacardi</a> rum will be sold in 100% biodegradable bottles, <a href="https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20201021005281/en/Bacardi-First-in-Fight-Against-Plastic-Pollution-With-100-Biodegradable-Spirits-Bottle" target="_blank">Business Wire</a> reported.</p><p>The alcohol giant is collaborating with Danimer Scientific, a leading developer of biodegradable products, to create the new bottles using the natural oils of plant seeds such as palm, canola and soy, the report said.</p><p>According to <a href="https://sports.yahoo.com/bacardi-to-make-100-biodegradable-spirits-bottle-124436841.html?guccounter=1&guce_referrer=aHR0cHM6Ly93d3cuZ29vZ2xlLmNvbS8&guce_referrer_sig=AQAAAE1Wl8ONNdph3ID8reylzGM8dbX575Mk96Jw6z3kHZaGjKCz_UgQgxH0Q1n3RNCzhOMBEZ7fAIf8iiOXLRtY9VVHNZsmb-w1VOJnGlzIbuwhmoBo_KOV4dba8FoWrkgmmwwCyQZnRoTL0Uda6HQ4pE5ewGWh2pwQzjS3gKAe1ynm" target="_blank">Yahoo Finance UK</a>, the new bottle will biodegrade in a wide range of environments, including compost, soil, freshwater and seawater. After 18 months, the bottle will disappear completely without leaving microplastics.</p><p>"Nodax PHA is one of the most promising eco-friendly materials in the world today because it delivers the biodegradability that consumers demand without losing the quality feel they receive from traditional plastic," said Danimer Scientific chief marketing & sustainability officer Scott Tuten, reported <a href="https://www.thrillist.com/news/nation/bacardi-biodegradable-spirits-bottle-plastic-free-packaging" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Thrillist</a>. "The material provides the best of both worlds, and we look forward to working with Bacardí and incorporating PHA into their iconic packaging."</p><p>Bacardi is also creating a sustainably sourced paper bottle, Yahoo reported.</p><p>The manufacturing of both new bottle types will save energy over petroleum-based plastic ones. Bacardi plans to share the technology with competitors to help in the global fight against <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/tag/plastic-pollution" target="_self">plastic pollution</a>, and aims to be 100% plastic-free by 2030, reported Thrillist.</p>
3. Burger King Reusable Fast Food Containers<p>Fast food giant <a href="https://www.bk.com/" target="_blank">Burger King</a> plans to launch reusable Whopper boxes and soda cups by next year. Partnering with TerraCycle's zero-waste packaging division Loop, Burger King will nudge customers to return the specialized packaging for hygienic washing and reuse, similar to how milk bottles used to be returned, reported <a href="https://www.marketwatch.com/story/can-burger-kings-reusable-packaging-change-fast-food-forever-11603392581" target="_blank">MarketWatch</a>.</p><p>"During COVID, we have seen the environmental impact of <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/air-pollution-food-delivery-plastic-waste-2648454324.html" target="_self">increased takeaway ordering</a>, which makes this initiative by Burger King all the more important," said Tom Szaky, TerraCycle and Loop CEO, according to MarketWatch.</p><p>Customers who don't feel comfortable can opt-out of the service, <a href="https://www.abc10.com/article/entertainment/television/programs/the-buzz-burger-king-to-test-reusable-packaging-in-2021/77-f01f1b70-05b7-436d-9971-a7dd6081249b" target="_blank">ABC News</a> reported. Those who are willing to try will be charged a small deposit upon purchase, and when the packaging is returned, they will receive a refund, reported <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2020/10/22/business/burger-king-reusable-packaging-sustainability/index.html" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">CNN</a>.</p><p>Burger King and TerraCycle are aiming for a container that can be used at least 100 times, reported <a href="https://www.fastcompany.com/90566995/burger-kings-new-whopper-packaging-isnt-greasy-cardboard-its-reusable" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">Fast Company</a>.</p><p>"The benefit is, you're able to serve your guests without having to create that single-use item in the first place," Matt Banton, global head of innovation and sustainability at Burger King, told <a href="https://www.fastcompany.com/90566995/burger-kings-new-whopper-packaging-isnt-greasy-cardboard-its-reusable" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">Fast Company</a>. "This product is durable enough to go through the system multiple times, so it's ultimately reducing our environmental impact, and minimizing the amount of single-use packaging that we have to produce as well."</p><p>Burger King has also committed to sourcing 100% of its customer packaging from renewable, recycled or certified outlets, and recycling all customer packaging at its restaurants in the United States and Canada by 2025, reported CNN.</p>
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The ghoulishly named ogre-faced spider can "hear" with its legs and use that ability to catch insects flying behind it, the study published in Current Biology Thursday concluded.
"Spiders are sensitive to airborne sound," Cornell professor emeritus Dr. Charles Walcott, who was not involved with the study, told the Cornell Chronicle. "That's the big message really."
The net-casting, ogre-faced spider (Deinopis spinosa) has a unique hunting strategy, as study coauthor Cornell University postdoctoral researcher Jay Stafstrom explained in a video.
They hunt only at night using a special kind of web: an A-shaped frame made from non-sticky silk that supports a fuzzy rectangle that they hold with their front forelegs and use to trap prey.
They do this in two ways. In a maneuver called a "forward strike," they pounce down on prey moving beneath them on the ground. This is enabled by their large eyes — the biggest of any spider. These eyes give them 2,000 times the night vision that we have, Science explained.
But the spiders can also perform a move called the "backward strike," Stafstrom explained, in which they reach their legs behind them and catch insects flying through the air.
"So here comes a flying bug and somehow the spider gets information on the sound direction and its distance. The spiders time the 200-millisecond leap if the fly is within its capture zone – much like an over-the-shoulder catch. The spider gets its prey. They're accurate," coauthor Ronald Hoy, the D & D Joslovitz Merksamer Professor in the Department of Neurobiology and Behavior in the College of Arts and Sciences, told the Cornell Chronicle.
What the researchers wanted to understand was how the spiders could tell what was moving behind them when they have no ears.
It isn't a question of peripheral vision. In a 2016 study, the same team blindfolded the spiders and sent them out to hunt, Science explained. This prevented the spiders from making their forward strikes, but they were still able to catch prey using the backwards strike. The researchers thought the spiders were "hearing" their prey with the sensors on the tips of their legs. All spiders have these sensors, but scientists had previously thought they were only able to detect vibrations through surfaces, not sounds in the air.
To test how well the ogre-faced spiders could actually hear, the researchers conducted a two-part experiment.
First, they inserted electrodes into removed spider legs and into the brains of intact spiders. They put the spiders and the legs into a vibration-proof booth and played sounds from two meters (approximately 6.5 feet) away. The spiders and the legs responded to sounds from 100 hertz to 10,000 hertz.
Next, they played the five sounds that had triggered the biggest response to 25 spiders in the wild and 51 spiders in the lab. More than half the spiders did the "backward strike" move when they heard sounds that have a lower frequency similar to insect wing beats. When the higher frequency sounds were played, the spiders did not move. This suggests the higher frequencies may mimic the sounds of predators like birds.
University of Cincinnati spider behavioral ecologist George Uetz told Science that the results were a "surprise" that indicated science has much to learn about spiders as a whole. Because all spiders have these receptors on their legs, it is possible that all spiders can hear. This theory was first put forward by Walcott 60 years ago, but was dismissed at the time, according to the Cornell Chronicle. But studies of other spiders have turned up further evidence since. A 2016 study found that a kind of jumping spider can pick up sonic vibrations in the air.
"We don't know diddly about spiders," Uetz told Science. "They are much more complex than people ever thought they were."
Learning more provides scientists with an opportunity to study their sensory abilities in order to improve technology like bio-sensors, directional microphones and visual processing algorithms, Stafstrom told CNN.
"The point is any understudied, underappreciated group has fascinating lives, even a yucky spider, and we can learn something from it," he told CNN.
There are many different CBD oil brands in today's market. But, figuring out which brand is the best and which brand has the strongest oil might feel challenging and confusing. Our simple guide to the strongest CBD oils will point you in the right direction.
In 'Road Map for a More Sustainable Future,' NY Regulator Tells Banks to Consider Climate Risks in Planning
By Brett Wilkins
Regulators in New York state announced Thursday that banks and other financial services companies are expected to plan and prepare for risks posed by the climate crisis.
A NASA spacecraft has successfully collected a sample from the Bennu asteroid more than 200 million miles away from Earth. The samples were safely stored and will be preserved for scientists to study after the spacecraft drops them over the Utah desert in 2023, according to the Associated Press (AP).