Lost at sea? Here are ready-mined terms and facts that are easier to comprehend. They might be hard to swallow but follow these leads in the right spirit and we could possibly see some tangible long-term yields across the globe.
Did you know that for every kg of prawn you eat this holiday season approx 6-9 kilos, [sometimes more] other fish and marine species would die in trawler nets? The extra, unintentionally fished marine life called bycatch is discarded dead or dying. Often, these are juvenile species that don’t fetch a price but they definitely pay a huge sum themselves in terms of never reaching maturity or reproducing, thereby reducing their total species population.
OK, so you’re a vegan. But you use plastic.
Get a taste of this. Scientists predict by 2025 the ocean will contain 1 ton of plastic for every 3 tons of fish. Plastics disintegrate very slowly into microplastics (sesame seed sized plastic bits) that move in the ocean, absorb DDT and collect in the currents. The fish, birds and turtles mistake these microplastics for food and bigger fish eat smaller ones. Their bodies can’t rid of the toxins fast enough and it ends quite tragically. This is called Bioaccumulation. It takes place within an organism when the rate of intake of a substance (in this case toxic chemicals) is greater than the rate of excretion or metabolic transformation of that substance.
So what does your exfoliating face wash have anything to do with the price of fish?
Your favoured brand stands out in a shop shelf because it probably contains colourful microbeads (a type of microplastic) or tiny plastic pellets generously added to personal care, cosmetic and household cleaning products like your body scrubs, washing powders. And toothpaste. Teeth feel squeaky clean?You’re a regular at the sea-front promenade. Ever wonder about the mangroves it replaced? Or why storms batter your city annually?
Mangroves reduce wind and high waves as they pass through mangroves, lessening damage during storms. Wide areas of mangroves have been known to reduce tsunami heights. Mangroves are carbon-rich habitats. Their dense roots build up soils, increasing soil thickness that may be crucial as sea levels rise. Mangroves and seagrasses capture carbon monoxide from the atmosphere a hundred times faster than terrestrial forests. Take a deep breath.
It seems appropriate to talk of human-induced Marine Death zones now.
These are hypoxic (low-oxygen) areas in the world’s oceans and large lakes, caused by “excessive nutrient pollution from human activities”. Chemical runoff from our industrial waste, fertilizers and use of fossil fuel to our daily floor cleaners find their way into our rivers and oceans killing massive swathes of fish and marine species. There are 405 identified dead zones worldwide.
Planning a long cruise?
I read that a one-week voyage on a cruise ship with 2, 200 passengers and 800 crewmembers generates 210,000 gallons of sewage and eight tons of garbage. Marine pollution analysts in Germany and Brussels say that such a large ship would probably burn at least 150 tones’ of fuel a day, and emit more sulphur than several million cars, more NO2 (nitrogen dioxide) gas than all the traffic passing through a medium-sized town.
Do take the kids [our future stakeholders] to see a coral reef a.s.a.p. #investintheenvironment
Be positive. Stay healthy. Be conscious. Happy holidays.
PS: And oh here’s some further reading for the beach.
Some sources and references via:
Photo credit: Lalitha Krishnan. All photos are copyrighted.
One thought on “Know your Bycatch before your Bitcoin. And take a good look at your toothpaste.”
Lalitha, you’ve drawn attention to some crucial statistics and information that affects our planet. Do nothing about it, we’re doomed as a race, sooner rather than later. Awareness is the first step towards taking action. I will share to that end, but also be more cognizant… byGod, you’ve thrown enough light to keep us busy for this lifetime. No, that’s not a joke.
To end on a positive note, yes there’s hope, if we collectively and individually take corrective action beginning ‘now’. Finally, I cannot exit or bypass a comment that’s hovering in my head. Superb photos! Thanks.