Shark Sanctuary

Sometimes the simplest ideas are the most powerful. If you want to stop shark fishing and finning, don’t muck around with caps, fisheries management, and licenses. Address the problam directly and ban commercial fishing.

That’s the approach the Marshall islands took when they created the world’s largest shark sanctuary. Almost two million square kilometers of protected waters and reefs, WITH (and this is key, obviously) enforcement.

But there’s always a difference between the vision and the implementation. So it’s worth checking in on how the sanctuary is working out one year in. So the Pew Environment Group, which has been intimately involved in this effort, takes a look.

I’d love to believe things are going so well. And I love the fact that some people are now calling for a Pacific Ocean sanctuary. But I wonder what is happening with poaching. And “non-commercial” shark fishing. And commercial fishing of other species and bycatch. There is so much money in shark finning that there is always the danger that it will find a way to overcome, evade, or sneak through loopholes, in any sanctuary.

But those are challenges of implementation, and can be addressed with greater vigilance and funding. The essential point remains: sanctuaries are an immensely simple and powerful idea. And can do more to preserve and steward fish populations than any other approach.

Tsunami Delivery

We all know how much stuff humanity has. And when a tsunami hits alot of it floats away. Currently, the Pacific Ocean is acting as a conveyor belt for an enormous tide of man-made junk that is headed from Japan to either fetch up on California beaches, or dwell for eternity in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. I guess it is a good sign (of growing awareness that stuff matters) that the New York Times editorial board is alarmed, saying:

Scientists at the International Pacific Research Center, based at the University of Hawaii at Manoa in Honolulu, created a computer model to predict where the debris would go. Their animation shows a cloud looping across the northern Pacific, past Hawaii, out to the West Coast and back to Hawaii. They say it may make its first landfall this winter in Midway Island, then in Hawaii in 2012, and the West Coast in 2013. In September, a Russian ship sailing to Vladivostok spotted a fishing boat marked “Fukushima,” a TV, a refrigerator and other trash, validating the predictions.

But awareness is really only the first step toward actually doing anything about all the stuff we think we need (the second should be a progressive consumption tax). In the meantime, it will keep piling up across the natural world.

Here’s what the animation model–a real life disaster movie–looks like.

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