Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Quick guide to sustainable seafood

A friend asked me about sustainable seafood and I promised some information

Here is the quick guide I promised

The link to the seafood guide is

and it is downloadable from the app store

There is also the ACF Sustainable Seafood campaign information http://www.acfonline.org.au/be-informed/oceans-rivers/sustainable-australian-seafood. There is a cool and neat interactive map. 

Greenpeace Australia is also in on the action with http://www.greenpeace.org/australia/en/what-we-do/oceans/Take-action/The-Seafood-Redlist/

And there is an excellent pdf for download there

A couple of general comments follow. With fish it is more sustainable if they are farmed in tanks on landed than in pens at sea. The drawbacks of pen raising are they are fed fish humans can eat, they are pumped full of antibiotics as the concentration of fish makes them susceptible to disease, they poop the antibiotics out into the environment and they poop. There is a very high concentration of fish poop beneath the pens which destroys the the environment beneath the pens. And some of the non-native fish escape into native waters. That said I understand Tassie pens are better than some. 

As a rule smaller fish are better to eat than bigger - that is better 'for the environment'. The better fisheries are certified by the Marine Stewardship Council. 

Generally wild caught fish are better for the person eating them than farmed as wild caught fish have a more diverse diet and are not pumped full of antibiotics. 

So there is an app, an interactive map and pdf. Good coverage.

Friday, July 13, 2012

FSC certification of the loggin of old growth in Karelia

"You can't say that FSC can protect all forests. If we (claimed) to protect every tree, no company would (register) with FSC. It is not realistic. It is always a compromise." That's what Andrei Ptichnikov, general manager of FSC in Russia said to Swedish journalist which was then on-quoted by the Guardian on May 29 this year. That FSC is willing to certifiying the logging of old growth forests - that's old growth forests- raises redwood-sized questions about the quality of FSC certification and how compromised that quality may be.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Dirtying the water

I am interested rivers and sediments and what is happening to our urban rivers and what happens when the water runs out into bay. There is not much doubt that we as urban residents are putting a bunch of stuff into the storm water which then goes out into the rivers and bay. In the little lane in the inner city that runs past my office where I am writing this is an example of what happens in microcosm. It is a tiny bluestone lane. And there is sediment that washes out into the drain in the middle on a day to day basis - year in year out - but it is small. What is making a difference is construction. Three sites are in various stages of development. One small house that backs onto the land is nearing completion, now they have timbered over what was once a garden to create and 'outdoor room'. The waste the washed into the land was mainly sand  - and some sawdust, food wrappings. There was a surprising amount of sand from such a small development. Further up they have knocked the back of a commercial building and brought in a bobcat to shovel out a lot of mud. And now the lane is coated in mud. And that will all wash into the river and ultimately into the bay. So to me it seems on a scale that is happening all over this city, construction is the issue. As we shorten the life cycle of our domestic buildings - the throw-away society driven by fashion - we create sediment to make our rivers and creeks and bays dirty. We clog them with sediment and make it tough for life to thrive in turbid waters.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Pretending to be an outsider is the fashion of conservative politics

It is curious how conservatives are positioning themselves as outsiders. As Katherine Murphy notes in today's Age: "This is the fashion of conservative politics." Nick Minchin does it. Even the Heartland Institute does it; yet they are supported by the blue rinse set of US corporates. The majority of the US legislature doubt anthropogenic climate change.  Yet the world has been turned on its head and it is the majority of scientists who support the view that anthropogenic climate change is happening that are the 'insiders' and representing "the establishment'. It is hard not to be sarcastic about this position of "I am just a poor little rich guy." Deniers compare themselves to Galileo, missing the point that they are the political establishment who are rejecting science, as the church rejected Galileo's science.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Here is a quote from Darwin that intrigues me (and many others):
I have, also, reason to believe that humble-bees are indispensable to the fertilisation of the heartsease (Viola tricolor), for other bees do not visit this flower. From experiments which I have lately tried, I have found that the visits of bees are necessary for the fertilisation of some kinds of clover; but humble-bees alone visit the red clover (Trifolium pratense), as other bees cannot reach the nectar. Hence I have very little doubt, that if the whole genus of humble-bees became extinct or very rare in England, the heartsease and red clover would become very rare, or wholly disappear. The number of humble-bees in any district depends in a great degree on the number of field-mice, which destroy their combs and nests; and Mr. H. Newman, who has long attended to the habits of humble-bees, believes that "more than two-thirds of them are thus destroyed all over England." Now the number of mice is largely dependent, as every one knows, on the number of cats; and Mr. Newman says, "Near villages and small towns I have found the nests of humble-bees more numerous than elsewhere, which I attribute to the number of cats that destroy the mice." Hence it is quite credible that the presence of a feline animal in large numbers in a district might determine, through the intervention first of mice and then of bees, the frequency of certain flowers in that district!
From the Origin, second edition, pp. 73-74:

 And I was listening to Off Track and that again reminded me of it. It was one of those delight full snap moments when life puts one card on top of another and there is lovely fit. The program is "Native Like a Fox" and it is well worth a listen. It poses the challenging question of when does the introduced pest become native and when does the native become a pest, and it relates it to the links in the food chain. Nice. Here's the link.

Friday, January 6, 2012

I have an affection for weeds, gritty little survivors who set up life anywhere. Discriminated against but tough. The heroic underdogs. I like finding life in the most unexpected places and that is often a weed. After all our magnificent eucalypts were once weeds living on the edge of a Gondwanan forest. (It took me time to digest that when I first read it. But this affection can be pushed too far and Emma Marris does that in her Rambunctious Garden. Let’s re-evaluate them but it is bizarre to elevate them to the top of the ecological pyramid of good guys.

While reading Rambunctious Garden: Saving Nature in the Post-Wild World by Emma Marris, a little over 50% through (by this point there is lots of questions, lots of sledging but no answers, which I am looking forward to).

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Marris's Rambunctious Garden too rambunctious?

I am annoyed by Emma Marris’s Rambunctious Garden, but maybe in a good way. It has certainly given me a new interest in invasive weeds, and a readiness to think differently. But and there is a big but, she seems to be simply saying bad stuff happens. Species ranges grow and shrink and species do go extinct – the world is really just one big garden for people to do as they like in it. And if we lose a whole bunch of interesting endemic species with short-lived, quick growing, rapidly seeding species who put little effort into their offspring. 

It is the economist’s view of ecology – a licence for greed and carelessness. Yes change happens but the rate of change in the past 200 years and especially the last 50 years is unprecedented. Ecosystems that have existed for 100s of years, 1000s of years (and that’s a lot of time in a world that marks itself as some 2000 years old), 100,000 of years, even millions of years, ecosystems that have co-evolved over many lifetimes are being destroyed in less than one. Yet she takes time out of the equation. Her position as an ecologist seems perverse. Yes climate change is changing the paradigm and we need to do some rethinking about what we consider "nature" and "wilderness'. Let's not throw the baby out with the bathwater. 

Is it important that the number of species on some islands are increasing though that is as the expense of the biodiversity of the world? Is that not obvious? Yes it is good to challenge prevailing wisdom, but what is she offering in its place? She seems to be picking around the margins, finding the exceptions, not the principles. The quality of the writing is disappointing for such a bold thesis. She is using language frequently to deliberately stretching the argument. She has eradicated time and the rate of change from her argument. Wow. Yes things have always changed chronologically and spatially but it is the rate of change that is a concern, a rate of change generated by the expansion of technology.

Maybe I have yet to read far enough. I am only 48% into the book (according the bar at the bottom of my kindle screen.) I look forward to writing again when I have finished the book.