The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
The Gulf Oyster Situation Is Very Bad, But There’s Hope
By Dan Nosowitz
There are several huge, pressing problems facing oysters in the Gulf. The Deepwater Horizon oil spill killed billions of oysters, droughts and floods upwards from the rivers that feed the Gulf have fed damaging amounts of sedimentation into the ocean, and pollution and development remain major issues. But, according to a big new report from the Nature Conservancy, there is hope—and even a plan.
Oysters are vital to the ecosystem of the Gulf of Mexico in multiple ways. Aside from being a near-$100 million-per-year industry, oyster beds perform the same role as coral reefs do elsewhere, breaking waves and protecting shores from the wrath of the ocean. They also, as do other bivalves like clams and mussels, serve as filtration systems for the water. Generally speaking, if a usually-rich bivalve population is struggling, it means the entire ecosystem is in serious trouble.
Seafood Source notes that the oyster population in the Gulf is in dire straits. Alabama cancelled its entire oyster season this year due to low oyster numbers, the first time such a cancellation has ever happened. Following the oil spill, oyster populations dropped to a small fraction of their typical numbers, and haven't nearly recovered. The Nature Conservancy report estimates that 85 percent of the oyster reefs are lost.
But, happily, hope and resources are not quite as scarce as the oysters. As part of the settlement after the oil spill, BP paid about $160 million for oyster restoration, easily the largest amount of money in US history ever specifically dedicated to that task. The report itself reviews the current conditions across the Gulf, and lays out possible strategies for oyster restoration projects; Nature Conservancy is particularly emphatic on the subject of collaborations between fishermen and the government.
At the same time, the Nature Conservancy also announced two projects of its own: two artificial oyster reefs, both in Texas. One will be in Galveston Bay, a 50-acre project. Another, a 60-acre reef in Copano Bay, will cost about $5 million (those funds will be from the BP settlement), with construction beginning next month. The plan for the Copano Bay reef includes one section open to commercial fishing and another to be protected; the oysters themselves will be seeded this winter and allowed to grow, undisturbed, until 2021.
Reposted with permission from our media associate Modern Farmer.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Allegra Kirkland, Jeremy Deaton, Molly Taft, Mina Lee and Josh Landis
Climate change is already here. It's not something that can simply be ignored by cable news or dismissed by sitting U.S. senators in a Twitter joke. Nor is it a fantastical scenario like The Day After Tomorrow or 2012 that starts with a single crack in the Arctic ice shelf or earthquake tearing through Los Angeles, and results, a few weeks or years later, in the end of life on Earth as we know it.
Air pollution particles that a pregnant woman inhales have the potential to travel through the lungs and breach the fetal side of the placenta, indicating that unborn babies are exposed to black carbon from motor vehicles and fuel burning, according to a study published in the journal Nature Communications.
Teen activist Greta Thunberg delivered a talking-to to members of Congress Tuesday during a meeting of the Senate Climate Change Task Force after politicians praised her and other youth activists for their efforts and asked their advice on how to fight climate change.
The University of California system will dump all of its investments from fossil fuels, as the Associated Press reported. The university system controls over $84 billion between its pension fund and its endowment. However, the announcement about its investments is not aimed to please activists.
By Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala
World leaders have a formidable task: setting a course to save our future. The extreme weather made more frequent and severe by climate change is here. This spring, devastating cyclones impacted 3 million people in Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe. Record heatwaves are hitting Europe and other regions — this July was the hottest month in modern record globally. Much of India is again suffering severe drought.
By Mark Hertsgaard
The United Nations Secretary General says that he is counting on public pressure to compel governments to take much stronger action against what he calls the climate change "emergency."