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Thursday, November 9, 2006

Net losses

Mike Fleury takes the bait.

Posted By on Thu, Nov 9, 2006 at 3:24 PM

Dalhousie University professor Boris Worm was in a hockey rink when he first realized that vast species of fish and marine biodiversity—all of the world’s currently fished seafoods—could be lost by 2050.

“I was overseeing a student exam—a part of my job that I don’t enjoy at all,” Worm recalls. “To distract myself, I was working on this data—and then this date came out. I found myself staring at this very profound thing, but in the most mundane environment.”

Worm was head of a major international study on the marine ecosystem, which led to the alarming prediction. The results of the study were published in the November 3 issue of the journal Science.

Since 1800, the study indicates that about 40 percent of costal species have been lost, and that roughly one-third of costal fisheries have collapsed. Similarly, the rate of decline in open ocean fisheries has been steadily increasing since 1950. The success of fisheries is critically dependant on maintaining marine biodiversity, says Worm.

“The ability of the ecosystem to handle climate change or over-fishing diminishes with each species that’s lost,” he says. “Right now, we still have the potential to recover, but we’re concerned that if we lose additional species, we’ll get to a place where the ocean does not deliver what it used to deliver—like what happened here on the east coast with the collapse of cod stocks.”

While it is not too late to reverse the trend, there is no silver bullet. A variety of actions—establishing networks of protected ocean areas, cutting down on destructive fishing practices, reducing pollution and cutting down on climate change associated with greenhouse gas emissions—need to be taken.

“It’s all in the Oceans Act, by the way,” says Worm. “The wording is all there. But there’s this huge disconnect between what people say they need to do and what they actually do.” Worm mentions an example from last month, when the federal Conservatives decided not to join in an international call for a moratorium on high-seas bottom trawling, a hugely destructive fishing practice.

“George Bush of all people wrote a memo saying he would support this being stopped. I mean, we’re kind of falling behind George Bush standard, which is arguably not the highest in the world. It’s pretty disconcerting.”

Salt shaken

We (as in we, the collective citizens of Halifax) have watched the salty fog debate for about a week now. Does salty fog exist? Is it a reasonable excuse to explain those crazy power outages? How salty does fog have to be before it becomes not just fog that is salty, but in fact, salty fog?

What a waste of energy! (The debate, not the actual waste of energy.) We aren’t naïve, Nova Scotia Power—we all know the truth. The power outages were obviously caused by Mercury Retrograde—the astrological phenomenon that happens three times a year when Mercury appears to reverse its regular movement through the sky. When Mercury appears to go backwards (literally), everything on Earth goes backwards (figuratively).

Take this explanation, taken from the most reliable source there is—the internet. “Businesses, travels and communications tend to experience delays and different problems…other processes that work with information may experience crashes, unexpected failures,” according to astrologyweekly.com. And when did the latest round of Mercury Retrograde begin? On October 28, lasting until November 17. See? It all makes sense! Salty fog my ass.

Fear the fog. Email: mikef@thecoast.ca

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