Our Oceans, Our Lives
The Last Oyster Haul?
Thanks to greenhouse gas emissions, it’s looking like my days as a commercial fisherman are numbered.
I’ve been working the sea on-and-off my whole life. At 15 years old I quit high school to work the lobster boats out of Lynn, MA; later I fished cod and crab boats on the Bering Sea. As over-fishing decimated the cod stocks, I headed back home to Newfoundland to try my hand as a fish farmer growing halibut and salmon.
Now I’m an oyster man, growing 100,000 organic oysters a year on a 40 acre plot in the Long Island Sound. I see myself as a new breed of green fisherman, who have shifted from hunter-gatherers trolling the seas in search of declining fish stocks, to ocean-based farmers, sustainably growing shellfish on small plots of ocean acreage for local markets. (Oysters rank as one of the top “super green seafoods” by the Environmental Defense Fund.) Continue Reading…
BP: No Friend of the Oysterman
With gallows humor, my fellow oystermen around the country have been passing around a Youtube clip of a 1960 educational film produced by the oil industry entitled “Lifeline to an Oyster.”
This reel explains how in the late 1950’s Louisiana oystermen began sounding the alarm that oil production in the Gulf was killing their oysters. The American Petroleum Institute came to the rescue, donating $2 million to researchers at Texas A&M University to “figure out the problem” by studying the effects of oil on oysters. Any guesses on the results?
Turns out oysters love oil.
According to the narrator, after six months of living in a simulated oil spill “The test oysters showed no ill effects from oil. As a matter of fact the test oysters were so happy they brought forth new generations to share their lot. They never had it so good!” Scientists are shown explaining to eager oystermen why oil is a friend not foe of the oyster industry. Continue Reading…
The Coming Green Wave: Ocean Farming to Fight Climate Change
For decades environmentalists have fought to save our oceans from the perils of overfishing, climate change, and pollution. All noble efforts — but what if environmentalists have it backwards? What if the question is not how to save the oceans, but how the oceans can save us?
That is what a growing network of scientists, ocean farmers, and environmentalists around the world is trying to figure out. With nearly 90 percent of large fish stocks threatened by over-fishing and 3.5 billion people dependent on the seas as their primary food source, these ocean farming advocates have concluded that aquaculture is here to stay.
But rather than monolithic factory fish farms, they see the oceans as the home of small-scale farms where complementary species are cultivated to provide food and fuel — and to clean up the environment and fight climate change. Governed by an ethic of sustainability, they are re-imagining our oceans with the hope of saving us from the grip of the ever-escalating climate, energy, and food crises. Continue Reading…