Earth Day, Ocean Style
by John Hocevar
April 19, 2007
Happy Earth Day, Water Planet! While it may not always be easy to smile about the state of our oceans these days, I hope you feel good about your efforts to help protect them. (And if you’d like to do more but aren’t sure how to help, our friend David Helvarg’s book "50 Ways to Save the Ocean" is a great source of ideas!)
Speaking of books, Bruce Franklin has a great new book that you may want to check out. "The Most Important Fish in the Sea" tells the story of menhaden, a fish you may know from Greenpeace’s battles to stop Texas-based factory fishing company Omega Protein from mining it into oblivion. Bruce explains the importance of menhaden as a source of food for other species along the Atlantic coast, and as a filter-feeding, plankton-eating part of the answer to our increasing problem with Dead Zones. There are even some nice photos from a couple Greenpeace actions in there.
Unfortunately, the situation with Omega Protein and menhaden is getting even worse. With all their spotter planes and high tech gear, Omega still couldn’t find menhaden in the Chesapeake last season, and traveled all the way up to federal waters off New Jersey to search for fish. This is not a good sign, as the Chesapeake is the most important nursery area for menhaden. And new data shows that large striped bass, which should be eating a LOT of menhaden, are going hungry. You’d think this would be enough to wake up the Atlantic States Fisheries Commission, but… you’d be wrong. Stay tuned, because this one is going to get interesting.
Another interesting showdown is just ahead: the International Whaling Commission meeting in Anchorage next month. Last year, Japan was able to buy enough votes to get a slim majority, but Greenpeace has been working hard together with several governments and other organizations to turn that around. We won’t know for sure until the meeting is over, but I think we may be able to win this one for the whales. It’s going to be close though, and we can use your help. Stop by our website and join the fight to save the whales!
The more each of us does for the planet, the happier our Earth Days will be. Keep up the good work –