New England Fishing Communities Being Destroyed by 'Climate Shocks'
By Eoin Higgins
The climate crisis is hurting the New England fishing industry, claims a new report published Monday, with a decline of 16% in fishing jobs in the northeastern U.S. region from 1996 to 2017 and more instability ahead.
University of Delaware researcher Kimberly Oremus' paper, "Climate variability reduces employment in New England fisheries," was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
"This is an important signal to incorporate into the fisheries management process," Oremus told Science X. "We need to figure out what climate is doing to fisheries in order to cope with it."
Oresmus found that the fishing industry is in trouble due to variations in ocean temperature. Of particular concern is the Gulf of Maine, an area of the ocean warming faster than nearly any other in the world.
"New England waters are among the fastest-warming in the world," said Oremus said. "Warmer-than-average sea-surface temperatures have been shown to impact the productivity of lobsters, sea scallops, groundfish and other fisheries important to the region, especially when they are most vulnerable, from spawning through their first year of life."
As The New Food Economy explained, the New England fishing industry has been under threat for decades due to overfishing and climate change.
Due to overfishing, cod stocks are nearly depleted. To avert complete collapse, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration now sets limits on fish catches, or quotas. In the past decade, catches have plummeted, from 100 million pounds of cod in the early 1980s to a fraction today.
Oresums told HuffPost's Alexander Kaufman that while her research shows the fisheries' decline is driven by warmer winters, she wasn't able to get a full picture of the crisis.
"This doesn't capture all the anthropogenic climate change," said Oresmus. "There's probably additional warming on top of the variability that I don't account for."
According to Kaufman:
The Gulf of Maine, which stretches from Nova Scotia in Canada to Cape Cod, Massachusetts, has warmed faster than 99% of global oceans, increasing by an average of 0.11 degrees Fahrenheit per year over the past three decades. While temperatures fluctuate, melting Arctic ice is weakening the southward current that once flushed the basin with cold waters from Greenland, putting the basin's temperatures on a firm upward trajectory.
The effects have made the fishing industry even less predictable than in years past. Record lobster hauls over the past decade in Maine now look set to decline, according to two studies published in the past month. The New England fishery for Northern shrimp, once a winter mainstay, is set to remain closed for a seventh consecutive year. An iconic seafood processing firm in Gloucester, Massachusetts, went bankrupt in May.
Ultimately, Oresmus told The New Food Economy, New Englanders have to prepare for a different-looking coastal future.
"The individuals who can't weather these climate shocks are the small mom-and-pop businesses and smaller fishing establishments," said Oresmus. "There are communities that are just not going to be fishing communities anymore."
Reposted with permission from Common Dreams.
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Jean-Marc Neveu and Olivier Civil never expected to find themselves battling against disposable mask pollution.
When they founded their recycling start-up Plaxtil in 2017, it was textile waste they set their sights on. The project developed a process that turned fabrics into a new recyclable material they describe as "ecological plastic."
Mounting Piles of Waste<p>It is not only the streets of Chatellerault where pandemic pollution is piling-up, but also the world's beaches and oceans. Once there, they can take up to 450 years to degrade and disappear.</p><p>Esther Röling, co-organizer of the annual Adventure Clean Up Challenge held on Hong Kong Island, has seen this waste firsthand. In October the sports challenge pitted teams against one another in a competition to remove trash from 13 hard-to-reach coastal areas around the city.</p><p>They find tons of both disposable and reusable masks, said Röling. "You wonder how it ended up there. Was it just thrown on the ground? Or was it in a garbage bag that broke open?"</p><p>Almost 10,000 kilometers away in Antibes on the sunny French Riviera, it's a similar picture. For the past few months, divers and clean-up volunteers working with an ocean clean-up non-profit called Operation Mer Propre have been collecting an increasing number of masks found on land and in the sea.</p><p>"Since the beginning of the lockdown when we started to count, we've reached 800, 900, [and now in total] 1000 masks," said co-founder Joko Peltier. </p><p>According to <a href="https://unctad.org/news/growing-plastic-pollution-wake-covid-19-how-trade-policy-can-help" target="_blank">UN estimates</a>, up to 75% of all coronavirus-related plastic could end up as waste in oceans and landfills.</p>
The Limits of Recycling<p>Yet not all are convinced the recycling of this waste is possible on a global scale. </p><p>"What those citizen groups are doing is really beneficial but once they collect it, it should just go to a landfill or an incinerator. They shouldn't necessarily expect it to get recycled," said Jonathan Krones, an industrial ecologist and visiting assistant professor of environmental studies at Boston College.</p><p>That's because mask recycling programs like Plaxtil are few and far between and most don't have the benefit of a readily adaptable production process. </p><p>Even in countries with solid recycling infrastructure, he says, the system is designed to separate out specific types of waste like bottles or cardboard.</p><p>"I imagine that it would be technically feasible to develop a separation process to filter out masks, but there simply aren't enough of them to make that economical," he said.</p><p>Collection is a big hurdle, he adds. Since each mask only weighs a fraction of a gram and they're scattered on roads or mixed with other trash, it is difficult and costly. </p><p>"You need a lot of raw material of the right quality to make investing in the recycling technology and the recycling system worthwhile," he said.<span></span><br></p>
Hemp, Sugar Cane and Sustainable Alternatives<p>Some projects are instead addressing the material used to make masks.</p><p>French company Geochanvre have created a mask made primarily from hemp, while in Australia, researchers at the Queensland University of Technology are experimenting with a disposable product made from agricultural waste. </p><p>Biodegradable options are exciting alternatives to reduce the fossil fuels needed for the creation of plastic-based masks, said Krones, but they don't absolve the wearer from the responsibility of what happens afterwards. </p><p>Bio-based masks often need their own composing solutions, he explains, because in landfill they can produce high amounts of the greenhouse gas methane when anaerobic bacteria feeds on the organic material. Methane is known to be significantly more potent than carbon dioxide.</p><p>"I think as long as we have in our mind that we want to have disposability, we're going to have to wrestle with a variety of different sorts of environmental tradeoffs," he said, adding that reusable, fabric masks are the best option available to most people.</p><p>Precimask is developing a clear face covering with an optional visor made from hard plastic, designed to be long-lasting.<br></p><p>Air enters either side of the cheeks through a technology normally found in pool filters and car exhaust systems, said company spokeswoman Juliette Chambet.</p><p>"We wanted to make ceramic-based filters that would be washable and cleanable, which would allow them to be reused as many times as desired without having to buy a new consumable or produce waste," she said. </p><p>Ultimately, encouraging mask wearers to think about the entire lifecycle of a mask is key, explains Neveu. </p><p>"We want people who put on the masks to realize that they are also responsible for the waste, he said. "It's not inevitable that this [pandemic] will become an environmental catastrophe.</p><p><em>Reposted with permission from </em><em><a href="https://www.dw.com/en/covid-19-recycling-pollution-trash-pandemic/a-55707817" target="_blank">Deutsche Welle</a>.</em><a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/r/entryeditor/2649032193#/" target="_self"></a></p>
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